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Category — Freedom and Free Enterprise

The Not Given State of the Union Address (Freedom 101 over ‘the road to serfdom’)

[Last night, President Obama did not deviate from his interventionist, centralist approach to governing America, including with energy policy. This post reverses the mindset to a speech with a free-market, classical-liberal President at the podium.]

“My fellow Americans, I come before you tonight to deliver my sixth State of the Union address at a time of continuing economic disappointment and social uncertainty across our great nation.

“I have spoken to you more than once about the country’s need for ‘hope and change.’ I have tried to begin that process over the first five years of my presidency. But I now realize that I had been looking in the wrong direction for that new and better America.

“Not long ago, while looking under my bed in the White House for the terrorists that the NSA assures me are everywhere and against whom they must surveillance each and every one of you to keep you safe, I found some books that must have been left there by former President Ronald Reagan.

“They included F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom; Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson; Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose; Ayn Rand’s Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal; Julian Simon’s The Ultimate Resource; plus a pamphlet reprint of a chapter from a book by Herbert Spencer called ‘The Right to Ignore the State.’

“For some reason, none of these works were assigned or recommended to me by my ‘progressive’ university professors or socialist mentors. [Read more →]

January 29, 2014   1 Comment

Thanksgiving: The Birth of American Free Enterprise

“In the wilderness of the New World, the Plymouth Pilgrims had progressed from the false dream of communism to the sound realism of capitalism. At a time of economic uncertainty and growing political paternalism, it is worthwhile recalling this beginning of the American experiment and experience with freedom.”

The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620, were not only escaping from religious persecution in their homeland. They also wanted to turn their back on what they viewed as the materialistic and greedy corruption of the Old World.

Plymouth Colony Planned as Collectivist Utopia

In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s “Republic,” in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness.

What resulted is recorded in the diary of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked the land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood. [Read more →]

November 28, 2013   2 Comments

U.S. Declaration of Independence (and declaration against government dependence)

 “In inspiring words, the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence insisted that each man should be considered as owning himself, and not be viewed as the property of the state to be manipulated by either king or Parliament.”

The Declaration of Independence, signed by members of the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, is the founding document of the American experiment in free government. This is well taught and known.

But what is too often forgotten is that the Founding Fathers’s Declaration argued against the heavy and intrusive hand of big government. And it true today when dissident groups invoke the memory of the revolutionary period to call for political change anew.

For … and Against

Most Americans easily recall those eloquent words with which the Founding Fathers expressed the basis of their claim for independence from Great Britain in 1776:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

But what is usually not recalled is the long list of enumerated grievances that make up most of the text of the Declaration of Independence. The Founding Fathers explained how intolerable an absolutist and highly centralized government in faraway London had become. This distant government violated the personal and civil liberties of the people living in the 13 colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America. [Read more →]

July 4, 2012   2 Comments

Obama Speech Shocker: “Keynesianism, Malthusianism Have Compromised My Presidency” (Credits IHS seminars for his intellectual turnaround)

It was supposed to be a speech about government engineering for job growth, including giving America another dose of “green jobs.”

What it turned out to be was the greatest surprise in the history of presidential speechmaking–a prime time address that the founding fathers would have applauded.

And the genesis of last night was several months ago when Obama decided to audit (through remote technology) the summer seminars held by the Institute of Humane Studies at George Mason University to learn about the ideas and ideals of a free society.

“‘Sleep less, think more’. That intrigued me,” said Obama after his address calling for deregulating the tax code by eliminating special provisions across-the-board; privatizing an estimated $1.5 trillion in federal assets over the next four years  to transition away from New Deal/Great Society welfarism; and establish a commission to explore separating government from money and banking.

There was much more in the transformational speech too, including a new approach to energy policy keyed on energy density as an environmental litmus test, an idea most recently associated with the work of Robert Bryce.

“I owe a lot of this to IHS and their faculty,” Obama also stated in his post-speech debriefing.

[Note: this is a parody--keep reading]

IHS Summer Program

Here is IHS’s description of its summer program, two of which were viewed remotely by Obama.

Explore ideas that shaped the modern world—ideas that helped end slavery, introduce religious freedom, and inspire the women’s suffrage movement. Discuss the fundamental, yet-still-contested idea that individual rights precede governments. From breakfast ‘til the evening reception, debate the ideas of liberty with peers from around the world and exceptional professors. 

The seminars teach students about classical liberalism (really libertarianism in today’s political vernacular). Ideas such as individual rights and free markets are applied to topics in economics, history, philosophy, law, and political science. Austrian School economics is very prominent.

Seminars explore natural rights; the establishment and purpose of private property rights; limited government; peace and foreign policy; free trade; and the morality of business and free enterprise.

Obama picked from 12 seminars introducing the ideas of liberty. “As the program advertised, I deepened my understanding of ideas that allow humans to flourish and prosper.” [Read more →]

September 9, 2011   6 Comments

Craig Biddle: “What to Celebrate on the Fourth of July”

The nefarious Joe Romm at Climate Progress (Center for American Progress) is trying to muddle the true message of our founding fathers this July 4th, replacing “independence” with “interdependence.” Under this hubris, a lot of alarmism and Big Government Energy comes in. Here is part of Romm’s post:

Not bloody many people will be pursuing “happiness” under [future climate] conditions. They will be desperately trying to avoid misery, when they aren’t cursing our names for betraying our moral values.

If we don’t aggressively embrace the clean energy transition starting immediately with the climate bill in front of Congress — and help lead the entire world to a similar transition — then the Ponzi scheme we call the global economy will probably be in some stage of obvious collapse by our 250th anniversary, July 4, 2026.

Please Joe, take a day off from alarmism. Fire up the grill, shoot some fireworks, and chill!

Regarding ‘interdependence,’ it is a fallacy to believe that government coercion makes us social, and a free society makes us atomistic–quite the reverse. Government creates us versus them–those with special privilege (the net tax consumers) versus the rest of us (the net taxpayers). Free trade and voluntary relations create real interdependence because we have to please each other in a world of persuasion.

Ed Crane, the president of the Cato Institute, has insightfully explained how civil society is fostered by freedom and replaced/destroyed by political society. Disputing Robert Reich’s notion that “either we are all in this together, or we’re a bunch of individuals who happen to live within these borders and are mainly on their own,” Crane writes in the latest Cato Policy Report:

The choice is hardly between in-this-together sheep and atomistic individuals. Tocqueville was astounded at the many ways Americans loved to work together. Granges, churches, business associations, volunteer fire departments—the list was pretty much endless. 

That said, these associations were voluntary and the government had nothing to do with them. If there is one thing that identifies American exceptionalism, it is a fierce individualism. Americans don’t like to be told what to do—especially by bureaucrats.

So this is a good time to revisit what the meaning of our national holiday. It is about independence, about liberty. Such is what Craig Biddle understands and put so well at The Objectivist Standard blog.

What to Celebrate on the Fourth of July

by Craig Biddle

On July 4, 1776, the Founders declared to the world not only that the colonies would henceforth be independent from Britain, but also, and more fundamentally,

that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

This was the beginning of the first moral country on earth—a country in which individual rights were to be explicitly recognized and protected. [Read more →]

July 4, 2011   3 Comments