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Showing posts from 2009

Health-Care Reform and Wealth Re-distribution

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One of the biggest contributors to personal bankruptcy in America is health-care debt. This can be created in a number of ways: an accident, such as breaking your arm; as people get older their bodies begin to shutdown; people can be born with conditions requiring constant medical care; and in many cases people choose to use medical services such as in the case of an intentional pregnancy. My wife and I recently had our second child. Considering the expenses involved in child-birth, we would be on the hook for the equivalent of a new mid-sized sedan had we not had health insurance.

The reasons medical services have gotten so expensive have been analyzed by various economists. According to Milton Friedman, "The high cost and inequitable character of our medical care system are the direct result of our steady movement toward reliance on third-party payment." These third-party payers include insurance companies and governments. So involved is government in health-care, that Fri…

The First Christmas - A Libertarian Event, Too

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Christmastime is arguably the best time of the year. We all know the reasons why, though many forget. My intention with this short essay is not to examine those, the most important parts. Rather, what I thought I'd share here are the details that make the Christmas story a libertarian event, too.

The mere birth of Jesus Christ upset the local government authority, King Herod. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, we read, "Now when Jesus was aborn in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him." Herod immediately schemed to slay the babe because he believed he was a threat to his throne. As we can plainly see, Christ's first enemy was the state.

Thankfully, this scheme was revealed, "The angel of t…

In Defense of Ebenezer Scrooge

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I couldn't believe it when I saw it. A defense of that universally-loathed villain Ebenezer Scrooge. I recently came across this exceptionally written piece and absolutely must share it. I should warn you, however, that reading this may well destroy for you what is regarded as a well-beloved Christmas story. It did for me. No more do I have the same opinions of Scrooge or even Bob Cratchit. Actually, although it's caused me to remove this story from favorites list, I'm glad I've read this piece as it has connected my study of economics with my childhood. Written by Butler Shaffer, an excerpt:
It is instructive that Dickens tells us virtually nothing about the nature of Ebeneezer's business. We know that he is something of a banker or financier, but we are told nothing about the nature of his investments. Even if he has not been a creative entrepreneur himself, he has, presumably, been responsible for financing many successful enterprises, which have not only benefit…

Preamble to The Bill of Rights

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In celebration of today, Bill of Rights Day, I share the preamble of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution (emphasis added):

The Bill of Rights
The First 10 Amendments to the
Constitution as Ratified by the States
December 15, 1791
Preamble

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New York,
on Wednesday the Fourth of March,
one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States,…

10 Tenets of Freedom

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Fantastic list created by Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation, detailing 10 tenets of freedom. Excerpts from each tenet, read the entire 2-part article here:

Income Taxation
How can a person be considered truly free if the state has the power to take whatever percentage of income it wants from him? Whether the state sets the percentage at 5 percent or 100 percent, the principle remains the same: By wielding the power to set the percentage, the state effectively becomes the master of the people, who in turn become the servants.
Free Trade
From the standpoint of individual freedom, why shouldn’t people be free to trade their money and other property with others, anywhere in the world? It’s their privately owned property, right? It doesn’t belong to society, or to the majority, or to the state. They earned it. It belongs to them. By freely entering into trades with others from around the world, they are not only exercising an important right, they are also improving their ec…

The Debate Continues

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I've been involved in a small debate over at LDSFreemen.com. The introduction to my latest contribution:
Caleb Smitherson, Chris Brown and I have been involved in a debate of sorts regarding what the Book of Mormon says regarding tax and limited government. Caleb’s position is that God has authorized some coercive taxation and limited government. Chris Brown’s position is that Caleb Smitherson has misinterpreted his quoted Book of Mormon passages. This debate continues with Caleb Smitherson’s latest, found here.

My own views on using scripture to justify public (secular) government are laid out here. As well, a look at the libertarian principle of self-ownership by Caleb Smitherson is here, which kicked off this discussion (with my response). Whatever the merits of Caleb Smitherson’s And Chris Brown’s arguments, I leave those to them to refute. The purpose of this short article is to make a few corrections to Caleb Smitherson’s explanation of libertarianism and his interpretation o…

O = W

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Just made this graphic. Pass it on.


Imagining Liberty

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No one says it quite like Mencken:
The fact is that liberty, in any true sense, is a concept that lies quite beyond the reach of the inferior man’s mind. He can imagine and even esteem, in his way, certain false forms of liberty–for example, the right to choose between two political mountebanks, and to yell for the more obviously dishonest–but the reality is incomprehensible to him. And no wonder, for genuine liberty demands of its votaries a quality he lacks completely, and that is courage. The man who loves it must be willing to fight for it; blood, said Jefferson, is its natural manure. More, he must be able to endure it–an even more arduous business. Liberty means self-reliance, it means resolution, it means enterprise, it means the capacity for doing without. The free man is one who has won a small and precarious territory from the great mob of his inferiors, and is prepared and ready to defend it and make it support him. All around him are enemies, and where he stands ther…

God and Secular Government

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Introducing scripture into any argument centered on using the coercive hand of secular government is dangerous. What is characterized as scripture is not the same for everyone in a multi-cultural society such as America. Whether or not what one set of scriptures says is okay for secular government to do is just in the eyes of the true God, promoting those actions diminishes your objections of the promotion of like actions by those who believe in the divinity of a different set of scriptures. Let's think about it.

Assuming its accuracy, this 2-part article written by Gabriel Fink uses the Book of Mormon to show that God has authorized a limited form of secular government, as well as some coercive taxation. Now, I accept the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and assuming these scriptures have been interpreted correctly, I accept as well that God has authorized limited government and coercive taxation. But this does not move me to promote limited government and some coercive taxa…

Self-Ownership and God

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In a recent essay on LDSFreemen.com, the author begins, "Contrary to libertarian philosophy, man does not have the right to full ownership of his body." He then goes on to explain in his thesis that the "the right to full ownership of the human body belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ." While I don't disagree with this belief (of course it may not be presented here correctly, theologically speaking), I do object to it being used to critique the libertarian principle of self-ownership. And here's why.

Whether or not you believe that God exists, or that he owns our bodies, it must be understood that libertarian philosophy only concerns the relationships between mortal men. It does not concern the relationship between men and animals, or men and the earth (insofar as it unrelates to other men). And it absolutely doesn't concern the relationship between men and God.

Don't misunderstand me. What a man does with himself in relation to anything may or may not…

The State and Proper Role of Government

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Among those who promote liberty, it is a fundamental principle that the proper role of government is to "secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens." Further, government can only perform those functions delegated to it by "the people". Since the people have the inherent authority to defend themselves and retaliate against wrong-doers, they are able to delegate that authority to others. The people do not have the authority to take the honestly acquired property of one person or group of people, without their consent, and give it to others. Thus, the people's government cannot possess such authority. This is the great fallacious foundation of socialism and communism, and every other form of statism and collectivism. Under this principle, it must be asked if the institution known as "the state" operates under the proper role of government. I seek to answer that question in this brief essay.

The State

We must first consider what exactly the stat…

Shouting Fire and Property Rights

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A year ago I quoted Murray Rothbard on what he had to say about shouting fire. Sheldon Richman recently argued the same thing, rather conclusively in my opinion:
The "fire in the crowded theater" matter is not an exception to free speech but a recognition of property rights, of which free speech is but a derivative. There's no right to "free speech" on someone else's property. If you buy a theater ticket and then endanger the audience by falsely yelling "fire," you have (among other things) violated the terms of your being in the theater. There's no need to claim an exception to the free-speech doctrine. Properly conceived, free speech is ultimately a property right.

The Omnipotent State

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Via Karl Hess's essay "The Lawless State", ask yourself these questions to determine how you view government:
Do you feel that the state is more important than you are?Do you feel that the state should enjoy freedoms that you do not?Do you feel that the state should be able to rise above the law?Do you feel that you could not live unless the state protected you?Do you feel that you could not thrive unless the state nourished or subsidized you?Do you feel that service to the state is more desirable or more noble than service to your self, your family, your neighbors, or your own ideals?Do you feel that it actually is a privilege to pay taxes?Do you feel that since the government, the state, is more important than any one man, that every single man should be prepared to give his all, even his life, to or for his government?Do you feel that the state is something with a life and identity of its own, beyond the men who might hold office in it?Do you feel that "the govern…

Vices Are Not Crimes

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Liberty is often categorized into types: economic freedom, political freedom, freedom of conscience, etc. One who seeks to promote freedom and liberty must consistently promote all types of liberty, so long as those freedoms do not infringe on the liberties of others. I consider moral freedom one of those liberties that must be protected.

For that we come to what is called vice. "Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property," says nineteenth century libertarian Lysander Spooner in his essay "Vices Are Not Crimes". Statists, conservatives and liberals, who use the state to promote their ends, will often support laws against vice. What vices have been prohibited have changed over time and change from one political arena to another. For example, drinking alcohol, considered a vice by many, including myself, was once prohibited in the United States in the early twentieth century, but not any longer. Smoking and chewing tobacco are not currently ill…

Public Option is a Trojan Horse

This quick video shows all the big Democrat players talking about the public option paving the way to an eventual single-payer system. President Obama told reporters that those claiming the public option was a Trojan horse for such were lying. Who's lying? You decide (YouTube, 4m, 8s):

Add LibertySearch.info to Your Browser

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I've enabled adding LibertySearch.info to your browser's search bar if you use either Firefox or Internet Explorer. It's very simple.

For Firefox, go to http://www.libertysearch.info. Once loaded, click the drop-down on the search bar (as seen below in the picture) and click "Add 'LibertySearch.info". Done.



For Internet Explorer (IE), go to http://www.libertysearch.info. Once loaded, click the drop-down on the search bar (as seen below in the first picture) and click "Add Search Providers" and then "LibertySearch.info". It will then ask you if you want to add it as a search provider (as seen below in the second picture). Click "Add Provider". Setting as your default is optional. Done.




You're now set to use LibertySearch.info directly from your browser!

Introducing "LibertySearch.info"

I'm happy to announce the creation of my latest website, LibertySearch.info. I'm constantly going to Google and searching for things on specific sites that I've come to trust as valuable resources on liberty. I decided to create a one-stop search that is limited to just those resources. Check out LibertySearch.info and if you'd like, there's code on the right to put the search bar on your own site. Enjoy!

End The Fed Now

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There's one reason why the dollar has lost 95% of it's value since 1913, the economy experiences booms and bubbles, and then busts, government has grown, liberty has been lost, and massive, on-going wars have been financed all over the world. That reason is central banking. In the United States, central banking is known as the Federal Reserve System. Ron Paul's latest book calls for the end of the Federal Reserve System. Here are a few excerpts from his chapters in "End the Fed" explaining why we must abolish the Federal Reserve:

Why You Should Care
"Everybody thinks about money and almost everybody wants more. We use money without thinking much about its nature and function. Few of us ask where it comes from, who controls it, why it has value, and why it loses value from time to time.

In the same way, most people accept the Federal Reserve, the manager of the nation's money stock, as an indispensable institution that the United States cannot function with…

Current State of IP is a Joke

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Whatever your feelings towards intellectual property (IP), I think it's obvious that IP law around the world, and especially the United States is in dire need of serious reform (unlikely, says Stephan Kinsella). Patent and copyright limits need to be reduced substantially, as well as what is and isn't patentable. From the the Against Monopoly blog comes this list of outrageous patents (click through for outrageous judgements too):
Amazon's "one-click" patent, asserted against rival Barnes & NobleCendant's assertion that Amazon violated Cendant's patent monopoly on recommending books to customers (since settled)The attempt of Dustin Stamper, Bush's Top Economist, to secure a patent regarding an application for a System And Method For Multi-State Tax Analysis, which claims "a method, comprising: creating one or more alternate entity structures based on a base entity structure, the base entity structure comprising one or more entities; determinin…

Small Self-Introduction

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I recently wrote a self-introduction for the LDS Liberty discussion group I thought I'd share here (hyperlinks added):
My interest in liberty and economics started through reading the weekly columns of economists Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell in my local paper (Deseret News). From there, I explored the world of economics and have fallen in love with the Austrian School.

Understanding economics helped me see the consequences of bad public policy, usually passed under the best of intentions. I recommend everyone get a basic understanding of economics. As Ludwig von Mises, pioneer of the Austrian School, said, "A citizen who casts his ballot without having to the best of his abilities studied as much economics as he can fails in his civic duties." As well, Murray Rothbard, also a pioneer of the Austrian School, said "It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ B…

In an Ideal America

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Every person should be free
to pursue his ambition to the full extent of his abilities, regardless of race or creed or family background.
to associate with whom he pleases for any reason he pleases, even if someone else thinks it's a stupid reason.
to worship God in his own way, even if it isn't "orthodox."
to choose his own trade and to apply for any job he wants — and to quit his job if he doesn't like it or if he gets a better offer.
to go into business for himself, be his own boss, and set his own hours of work — even if it's only three hours a week.
to use his honestly acquired property or savings in his own way — spend it foolishly, invest it wisely, or even give it away.
to offer his services or products for sale on his own terms, even if he loses money on the deal.
to buy or not to buy any service or product offered for sale, even if the refusal displeases the seller.
to disagree with any other person, even when the…

Inventions as Scientific Discoveries and IP

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In an LDS Liberty group topic about intellectual property, I had these thoughts about inventions being scientific discoveries and the consequences of that. My particular example is the cure for cancer, but the same point applies to any drug that saves lives, or invention that makes life easier:

I thought I'd turn this on it's head a little. Considering patents for drugs. I see inventions as nothing more than scientific discoveries. A discovery that if I combine this widget with that widget, I have an invention I can do this with. Likewise, if I combine this chemical with that chemical, I have a new drug that fights this disease.

Now, regardless of how many resources I've expended leading to the new discovered drug, once discovered, what right does the discoverer have to monopolize it? Let's pretend someone finds the cure for cancer. He immediately patents it and takes it to market. As one producer with a monopoly on the cure for cancer, he's able to charge a higher…

Some Personal Views on Government

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In one of the many discussions I've been involved with at the LDS Liberty discussion group, a friend asks, "How long can self government by self sustaining?" I'd like to share here my latest reply to his inquiring on how I (and the others in the group) see things. This is not all-encompassing when it comes to my personal views on government:
Gabriel,

A few points and then I can answer some of your questions:

(This is from my own understanding. I consider myself a student, and probably always will.)

First, Minarchism is the political philosophy that holds limited-government as the ideal. Many libertarians and Constitutionalists are minarchists, at least on the Federal level. I've heard from Constitutionalists that held rather statists views when it comes to State and local governments. I've also heard from libertarians that advocated centralized, Constitutionalism (14th amendment promoters). Wikpedia's entry on minarchism is found here: http://en.wikipedia…

The Income Tax and State Sovereignty

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J. Bracken Lee was the Governor of the State of Utah from 1949-1957. He wrote the forward for a book titled The Income Tax: Root of All Evil by Frank Chodorov. This book is on my to-buy list. What Lee wrote is well worth a read:
This was, to be sure, "the home of the free and the land of the brave." Americans were free simply because the government was too weak to intervene in the private affairs of the people — it did not have the money to do so — and they were brave because a free people is always venturesome. The obligation of freedom is a willingness to stand on your own feet.

The early American wanted it that way. He was wary of government, especially one that was out of his reach. He had just rid himself of a faraway and self-sufficient political establishment and he was not going to tolerate anything like it in his newly founded country. He recognized the need of some sort of government, to keep order, to protect him in the exercise of his rights, and to look after his…

Do We Ever Get Out of Anarchy?

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I've encountered a very interesting essay that asks whether or not we ever get completely out of anarchy, by Alfred G. Cuzan. Anarchy, as defined by libertarian-anarchists, in this case our author, is "a social order without Government, subject only to the economic laws of the market." And Government is "an agent external to society, a 'third-party' with the power to coerce all other parties to relations in society into accepting its conceptions of those relations." Contrast big-g Government, or the State, fitting this definition, to little-g government, or governance. In the words of John Hasnas, anarchy "is a society without [G]overnment, not a society without governance."

It must also be mentioned that anarchy and chaos or disorder are often used synonymously. This is an error. Although chaos and disorder may arise in an anarchic society, they are not synonymous with anarchy. Disorder and chaos may also arise in the total State society, as …

TIME Interviews Ron Paul

This is a fantastic interview by TIME with Ron Paul. He is currently the most principled politician in Washington, and we would all be better off listening to his arguments, (YouTube, 6m, 21s):

Free-market Regulation

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This week, I took my bed-ridden wife (temperamental pregnancy) for a walk in a wheel-chair. We decided to go to a new El Salvadorean restaurant a few blocks away and try it out. The restaurant is located within a small residential-area strip mall. This particular residential area is mostly middle to low income class. The restaurant was small and had about 5 tables. It didn't have much by way of decorations, but was painted yellow and brown on the inside. The owner, who took our order, is an El Salvadorean immigrant and was extremely friendly. He's trying to start a business, after all.

We ordered and he shortly brought us our food. As we sat their eating, I began to reflect on what types of inspections and certifications he must have gone through in order to get permission to serve us. As I looked around at the place, at the floor, and into the kitchen, it occurred to me that the only person's opinion that counts on whether or not this restaurant is a fit place to eat, is …

Free-market Health-care Solution

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It's not too difficult to understand:


Spectacular Failures

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David Z at the no third solution blog had this to say about U.S. government failures:
For the record:
Social Security was established in 1935 – they’ve had 74 years to get it right; it is broke.Fannie Mae was established in 1938 – they’ve had 71 years to get it right; it is broke. Freddie Mac was established in 1970 – they’ve had 39 years to get it right; it is broke. Together Fannie and Freddie have now led the entire world into the worst economic collapse in 80 years.The War on Poverty was started in 1964 – they’ve had 45 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our hard earned money is confiscated each year and transferred to “the poor”; it hasn’t worked.Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965 – they’ve had 44 years to get it right; they are both broke; and now our government dares to mention them as models for all US health care.AMTRAK was established in 1970 – they’ve had 39 years to get it right; last year they bailed it out as it continues to run at a loss!This year, a trilli…

The Boom-Bust Cycle in Few Words

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In a review for Ron Paul's latest bookEnd the Fed, David Gordon gives a short and precise description of the boom-bust cycle (or business cycle, or trade cycle):
Far from being a means to maintain monetary stability, as its supporters falsely insist, the Fed through expansion of bank credit bears primary responsibility for the business cycle. The expansion temporarily lowers the money rate of interest below the true market rate, largely determined by people’s time preference, i.e., their preference for present over future goods. Businesses, with money available, expand; but the new projects cannot be sustained. When the monetary expansion ceases (if it doesn’t, we will have hyperinflation, with disastrous consequences), these new investments must be liquidated. The process of doing so is the depression.Explaining this has been one of the greatest advancements in economic theory over the last century, yet too few understand it. Much more in depth analyses can be found here and here

The Man Who Saved a Planet III

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I just couldn't pass this by without sharing it here. Donald Boudreaux, in his usual eloquent sting comments on Borlaug's contribution, from a 2004 Cafe Hayek post:
Relatively few people recognize Mr. Borlaug’s name. Makes me think of the world as a place in which melodramatic loud-mouths thunder to and fro in the foreground while actually doing very little of any value but stealing all of the credit for civilization and its benefits. Meanwhile, in the background, millions upon millions of decent, creative people work diligently at their specialties – welding, waiting tables, writing computer code, performing orthopedic surgery, designing shopping malls, running think-tanks – each contributing to the prosperity of the rest. Some contributions are larger than others – as Dr. Borlaug’s certainly is – but even a contribution as colossal as his is quickly taken for granted, any potential notice of it submerged beneath the swagger and bellicosity of the political classes who pretend…

The Man Who Saved a Planet II

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The father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, passed away today at the ripe-old age of 95. Many don't know who he is. I recommend reading up on him through the links offered on my first Borlaug post, found here. Economist Steven Horwitz on the passing:
The man who saved countless millions, if not billions, of lives as the father of the Green Revolution has died at 95. If you've never heard of Borlaug, you should have. And the fact that you haven't, and that the media pay orders of magnitude more attention to dead politicians of all parties who achieved their fame by killing and impoverishing about as many of our fellow humans, is one of the tragedies of our day.

Hopefully the advances that Borlaug's work made possible will not be lost in a rising tide of radical environmentalist criticisms. The Green Revolution wasn't perfect, but no other 20th century event did more for the betterment of humanity on balance. Think of it this way: Borlaug's legacy is…

Minarchism & Anarchism

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I consider myself a student when it comes to libertarian thought. There's still much to learn and explore. One of the biggest debates among libertarians is between minarchy, minimal or limited public government, such as that established by the U.S. Constitution, and anarchy, the absence of public government or the absence of the state.

Among my so far limited amount of study between the two, I have yet to encounter a truly appealing and constructive view into what is called market-anarchy. (This is also called anarcho-capitalism.) That is until I read this article by the libertarian philosopher Roderick T. Long. I am not yet prepared to come down on either side, but this essay is deserving of my sharing it here. He explores the possible fulfillment of constitutionalism in market anarchy. His introduction:
A legal system is any institution or set of institutions in a given society that provides dispute resolution in a systematic and reasonably predictable way. It does so through the…