Classical Liberalism and the Rule of Law

The history of liberty and prosperity is inseparable from the practice of free enterprise and respect for the rule of law. Both are products of the spirit of classical liberalism. But a correct understanding of free enterprise, the rule of law, and liberalism (rightly understood) is greatly lacking in the world today.   Historically, liberalism…

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Culture Wars and Immigration

A common objection to immigration in the 21st century is an appeal to the protection of national culture. Letting more immigrants into a country, according to the cultural objection, would have the undesired effect of changing the cultural landscape and social customs of the destination country.   Consider the rhetoric of the most high‐​profile and outspoken…

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How “Capitalism” Became a Dirty Word

What does “capitalism” really mean?   The word “capitalism” carries a lot of baggage. It is a word many people try to avoid using when extolling the virtues and achievements of the free enterprise system. To understand this, we must look briefly at its historical origins.   Karl Marx Started It    It was in…

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FDR’s “Four Freedoms” and the Evolution of Freedom

One of the most impactful speeches in American history has just passed its 80th anniversary—Franklin Roosevelt’s famous 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech.   The speech introduced cognitive dissonance into Americans’ understanding of freedom that is still cited today as justification for expanding government power over citizens’ lives. If we want to advance our “General Welfare,” as…

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4 Questions to Ask When Debating Inequality

The change in the presidency is not going to reduce the amount of time and energy people will be spending debating the question of rising inequality. In fact, I would expect to see such debates become even more frequent and more intense.   I have written a number of articles, and given many talks, on…

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Literature and Economics: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Abstract It is often said that literature and economics are different disciplines, and never shall the twain meet. However, the theme of money has arrested and animated the imagination of writers since time immemorial. The converse is also true, with economists like Adam Smith deploying literary techniques in his magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations.…

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The Unfairness of Equal Outcomes

When I talk to student groups about inequality, one of the first things I ask them to do is consider a mental experiment. Imagine a society in which, for example, the richest 20 percent of households earn an average of $60,000 per year and the poorest 20 percent of households earn an average of $10,000…

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Capitalism and the Family

It is hard to think of a human social institution that has undergone more change in less time than has the family in the last several decades. Although the magnitude and rapidity of those changes are exaggerated by the unusual stability in the family from just after World War II until the mid-1960s, the 40…

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