My latest post at Learn Liberty explores the close parallels between certain arguments for immigration restrictions and gun restrictions: A common argument for restricting immigration to the United States and other developed countries — maybe even the most plausible one — runs like this. Opening the borders will bring in people who will consume more … Continue reading What’s Wrong with Immigration Restrictions? The Same Thing That’s Wrong with Gun Control
Is Free Will a Noble Lie?
Belief in freedom of the will has many beneficial consequences. Lab experiments have shown that people reading deterministic, anti-free will statements are more likely subsequently to cheat in their own favor. Researchers have even identified some of the chemical processes in the brain associated with diminished belief in free will: Since the publication of these … Continue reading Is Free Will a Noble Lie?
Free State or Bust
On Saturday I moved with my family to Lebanon, New Hampshire. I am teaching for a year in the Government Department at Dartmouth College. Although my reasons for leaving my tenure-track job at Buffalo were several, I decided last year to apply almost exclusively to jobs in New England so that I could fulfill (early) … Continue reading Free State or Bust
Marriage and Culture Change
My marriage is a sacred compact between my wife and me before God. No law, proposition, or court decision can ever change that. The government's recognition of my marriage did not make it the sacred compact that it is; the government's recognition of anyone else's relationship does not affect what mine is; and no legal … Continue reading Marriage and Culture Change
“Suits and Sandals”: Different Freedom Indices for Different Folks
This post will illustrate how users can customize the freedom index according to their own judgments about how various policies affect freedom. In particular, it will show how the weighting for tax burden can be significantly reduced and explores the consequences of this choice. It will also discuss briefly how abortion policies might be included … Continue reading “Suits and Sandals”: Different Freedom Indices for Different Folks
Freedom in the 50 States Teaser #3: Weighting the Variables
The new, book-length edition of Freedom in the 50 States: Index of Personal and Economic Freedom will be released on March 28 by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. In the days leading up to release, I will be "teasing" a few of the novel findings and methods from the study. Here at Pileus, … Continue reading Freedom in the 50 States Teaser #3: Weighting the Variables
*Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom* (Fred McMahon, ed.)
That's the title of a new book from America's Cato Institute, Canada's Fraser Institute, and Germany's Liberales Institut, which aims to create an index of personal freedom around the world. This is a welcome addition to the Fraser Institute's Index of Economic Freedom, and I dare suspect that William Ruger's and my personal and economic … Continue reading *Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom* (Fred McMahon, ed.)
Can New Hampshire Be the Hong Kong of America?
Pileus's own Jason Sorens is, among many other things, the founder of the Free State Project. The FSP is an initiative that aims to put the convictions of people who talk about individual liberty to the test. Its proposal is based on the straightforward premise that a relatively small number of committed and organized activists can … Continue reading Can New Hampshire Be the Hong Kong of America?
The “New Hampshire Advantage”: Nearly Killed Off in 2009-10
Here is what my coauthor William Ruger and I wrote about New Hampshire in the 2011 edition of Freedom in the 50 States: Index of Personal and Economic Freedom: New Hampshire is by our count the freest state in the country. Depending on weights, however, it really shares the slot with South Dakota. New Hampshire … Continue reading The “New Hampshire Advantage”: Nearly Killed Off in 2009-10
From the Comments (Thought Experiment on Freedom)
From "A Thought Experiment on Freedom," I thought these comments were worth highlighting. FreeDem: Freedom is more than marginal tax rates and the monetary value of different policies. Is there a way to calculate it though? I don’t know. I think of something like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we need a hierarchy of liberty/freedom that … Continue reading From the Comments (Thought Experiment on Freedom)
A Thought Experiment on Freedom
Imagine two countries, each the size of the U.S. In one of them, the average tax rate is 1% (of income) lower than the other, but unlike the other it randomly selects ten innocent individuals for execution each year (perhaps ritual human sacrifice!). Assuming personal income of $12 trillion like the United States, the lower … Continue reading A Thought Experiment on Freedom
The Social Insurance State is the Administrative State
At Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Jason Brennan takes up the question of which country is most libertarian and lodges a complaint against global "economic freedom" indices: This index may understate how anti-libertarian the United States is. After all, the index penalizes countries if their governments spend large amounts on social insurance. Yet classical liberals and neoclassical … Continue reading The Social Insurance State is the Administrative State
CEOs vs. Small Business Owners on Which Policies Make for a Business-Friendly Climate
What do big businesses and small businesses want from government? Pretty much the same thing.
Identify the Speaker
The press is quite pleased with President Obama’s proclamations on gay marriage. The evolutionary process appears to have finally come to a conclusion. Yet, it might be useful to place the President’s epiphany in historical context. To assist in the process, I have placed several quotes from past and present elected officials on the issue … Continue reading Identify the Speaker
Moral Philosophy & Dogmatism
Political libertarians are a motley lot in terms of their moral philosophies. There are three dominant strands - utilitarians like Milton Friedman, deontologists like Robert Nozick, and teleologists like Ayn Rand - but I've also met egoists, postmodernists, and Rawls-style egalitarian consequentialists. In debates over moral foundations, Randians often ally themselves with the deontologists in … Continue reading Moral Philosophy & Dogmatism
Liberty as Amenity: Freedom, Migration, and Growth
Is liberty an "amenity" that people find attractive? We know that people do not necessarily tend to vote for liberty, in part because they are politically ignorant or even irrational, but when it comes to where they choose to live, people can be expected to pay close attention to how the laws in different places … Continue reading Liberty as Amenity: Freedom, Migration, and Growth
How Do Conservative Paternalists Define Freedom?
Having taken on left-liberals in my last post, it's only fair to take a shot at the right too. Here's the Deseret News editorializing on why our recommendations for Utah are wrong: The report's authors are clear about their definition of freedom. "In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, … Continue reading How Do Conservative Paternalists Define Freedom?
How Do Libgressives Define Freedom?
Matt Yglesias throws some scorn the way of Freedom in the 50 States 2011: Reasonable people can disagree as to whether there’s more freedom in Los Angeles or Brooklyn, and there may be good reasons to move from either place to Sioux Falls, but obviously “for the freedom” is not one of those reasons. For … Continue reading How Do Libgressives Define Freedom?
Freedom in the 50 States
I've just gotten back from a Cato Institute event discussing the new study, Freedom in the 50 States, with my coauthor William Ruger, John Samples, and Michael Barone. I'll post the video when it's available. The Mercatus site for the study allows you to download the study and to use a calculator to see how … Continue reading Freedom in the 50 States