The Ratification Debate: A Standing Army vs. the Militias

[This passage is excerpted from Murray N. Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty, vol. 5, The New Republic: 1784–1791.]  One of the most important aspects of the proposed Constitution was its authorization for a permanent national standing army, a striking contrast to the simple reserve constituting the state militia. The standing army was a particular objection of the Antifederalists, who, in the liberal antimilitary tradition, believed such an army to be inimical to the liberty of the American people. In contrast, the ex-Continental Army officers, particularly the higher officers, yearned for the power, the…

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Why the Regime’s Regulatory Power Is a Standing Threat to America

Whenever some foreign regime that is independent of the U.S. Empire goes after dissenters, U.S. officials trot out the First Amendment to show how different the United States is. Here, people are free to criticize government officials without fear of being put in jail or otherwise punished for exercising their free speech rights, they proudly point out.  However, what goes unexplained in such pious proclamations is why so many leading executives in big American companies remain silent when it comes to America’s foreign wars, foreign interventions, coups, alliances with dictators,…

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Mortgage Companies Cash in on Pandemic Relief

The nation’s billionaires are catching plenty of grief for profiting from the pandemic. All they are guilty of is providing services people wish to pay for. Nothing wrong with that. Then there are the mortgage companies. It turns out they are turning a good profit off Uncle Sam’s forced forbearance plan.  Ben Eisen writes for the Wall Street Journal, “Mortgage companies have ramped up their purchases of government-backed mortgages in forbearance, and they are selling these loans back to investors at a profit.” In a bit of pandemic crony capitalism, mortgages…

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Capitalism Isn’t a Modern Invention. It’s Medieval.

During the eighteenth century, capitalism in Europe “took off” in a way it had not done before, and as a result the West surpassed all other areas of the world in economic growth. What led to this transformation? Max Weber offers the most famous answer. In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), he traces the new system to the Puritans. Before them, though there were rich merchants, substantial savings and investment by private individuals was unusual. The Puritans changed matters. They viewed the self-disciplined pursuit of wealth…

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The Fed Plans to Raise Interest Rates—Years from Now

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee voted to continue with a target federal funds rate of 0.25 percent, and to continue with large-scale asset purchases. According to the committee’s press release: The Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to…

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Wages, Prices, and the Demand for Money: Keynes Got It All Wrong

Markets clear. Or so was the accumulated wisdom in the half century before John Maynard Keynes. The British economist proposed a novel theory of economics in 1936 based on the opposite premise: markets don’t clear. While Keynesian theory is quite complex and his book widely regarded as unreadable, in his system, chronic idleness of useful resources is the rule. In Keynes’s world, the market can find a market-clearing price through decentralized adjustments for most preferences among most goods. But two particular preferences are problematic in that the price system does…

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