COVID Panic: The New War on Human Rights

COVID Panic: The New War on Human Rights

05/05/2020Ryan McMaken

In a world where the Left has declared everything from abortion to social media to be a human right, it is disheartening, to say the least, that so many who think of themselves as "progressive" have embraced wholesale violations of real human rights: namely, the rights to seek employment, to freely assemble, and to exercise one's religion.

The ban on searching for employment is the most damaging in its immediate effects, and the war against this right looks something like this: in the name of preventing the spread of disease, civil governments have taken to issuing decrees—in many cases without any sort of legal process that allows for appeal or public debate—shutting down businesses and prohibiting the free exercise of one's right to seek employment.

Why Looking for Work Is a Basic Human Right

In other words, individuals have been prohibited from entering into peaceful voluntary agreements with others to sell their labor in exchange for wages. For those who earn a living through independent contracting or selling goods and services, the effect is the same: commerce with others is forbidden, with the result being impoverishment and a loss of one's income.

In the American context, this is violation of several rights outlined in the Bill of Rights, most especially the property rights outlined in the Fifth Amendment. To be cut off from one's own labor and one's own right to enter into contracts is fundamentally a destruction of the basic right to control one's own property. But, of course, these rights are not specifically American. All human beings have these rights, whether recognized by government officials or not. A farm worker in Tanzania has these rights just as much as an insurance agent in Baltimore. To ignore these rights is no less backward than ignoring rights to free speech or the right to not be enslaved. Any governmental attempt to seize property in this way requires—morally speaking—due process.

The Inequality of Shutdowns

Those in favor of lockdowns and impoverishing millions insist that there is no other way. Unless we outlaw employment for millions, we are told, the death toll will be unacceptable. Of course, when pressed for what death toll is "acceptable," no answer is given. Is it six hundred thousand (the number who die from cancer in the US each year)? Sixty thousand (the number who typically die in the US from flu and pneumonia each year)? Some lesser number? One? This figure remains a great mystery. We are only told that human rights are null and void until the "experts" decide otherwise.

Politicians still, begrudgingly, allow some people to exercise their right to work for a living. These people are the ones in so-called essential lines of work. Which types of work are essential? Well, that's up to the arbitrary whims of the state governors who now rule by decree (and collect six-figure paychecks while cosigning others to unemployment). In some places, hardware stores are "essential." In other places, they are not. In some places, diagnostic procedures to find brain tumors are deemed "elective" and therefore verboten. In other places they're allowed.

Should private citizens violate these many prohibitions and limitations, the result is anything but voluntary: the state uses force (or the threat of force) to impose fines, jail time, and to revoke business licenses.

The result, of course, is mass unemployment and the loss of access to a wide variety of goods and services, including housing, transportation, education, insurance, and even basic necessities like food. The newly and forcibly unemployed are expected to be content to sit at home, go on welfare, prepare for bankruptcy, and watch their children go hungry. 

Meanwhile, those who complain about the regime's callous and immoral disregard of human rights are denounced by the ruling (and very well-paid) technocrats.

Some especially out-of-touch pro-shutdown "COVID Warriors" rationalize it all by insisting that these prohibitions on earning a living are, as Dr. Anthony Fauci claims, mere inconveniences. It's easy to see why someone like Fauci might think this way. His government salary is $400,000 dollars (not including whatever lucrative contract work he has on the side), and there is little risk he'll be missing any mortgage payments any time soon. 

Similarly, lots of white-collar "creative class" types who can work from home delight in lecturing other people about "staying home" and "flattening the curve" while working-class people who work in fields that require human interaction are just out of luck. Some simply can't afford to give up their incomes and wait around for small, inadequate government checks that may take weeks to arrive. At some point in the near future those checks will stop coming, an even in places where the state plans to ramp up welfare spending, the fact is a community must produce wealth before wealth can be distributed. An economy that is in decline will simply be redistributing a smaller and smaller pool of resources. 

Not surprisingly, some business owners and contractors will try to open their businesses anyway. And some workers will still try to provide services in the marketplace—which is now a black market thanks to government decree.  In these cases, the police—i.e., more government employees with safe jobs and hefty paychecks—intervene and arrest business owners, just to make sure the destitute aren't allowed to bring in a few bucks.

Those who support this systematic use of violence and harassment of peaceful citizens insist they have the moral high ground, and the crusaders for public health contend that they are are the only ones who care about human life while those execrable working-class barbers, hygienists, and front desk receptionists care only about filthy lucre.

The Costs of Unemployment and Isolation

In the real world, however, cutting people off from earning a living comes with many costs indeed. There is a growing mountain of data showing that unemployment leads to more deaths via drug abuse, suicide, and stroke. Other side effects are even more grim, such as the increase in domestic violence and child abuse recorded during these "stay at home" orders.  Forcing people into isolation comes with real physchological effects that shorten lives.

But ignoring this reality is to be expected of those who have adopted the tunnel vision of the busybody and the public moralist. In the minds of the COVID Warriors, all that matters is the lives of the people the COVID Warriors have deemed important. Everyone else's life and well-being is of lesser importance. If there's more suicide and more child abuse, that's too bad, but it was all "worth it." 

It should not surprise us that this war on human rights—led largely by smug intellectuals, billionaires, and politicians—has come wrapped in the mantle of moral supremacy. But such is the usual m.o. of those who view human rights as an inconvenient impediment to one's agenda. The Soviets insisted that they represented "the workers" and a revolution in favor of a more just world. The slave drivers of the Old South equated slavery with civilization itself. The absolutist monarchs of Renaissance Europe told themselves they were defenders of culture and God and national "honor." Then, as now, moral crusaders justified the destruction of dissidents, traitors, and anyone else who refused to repeat some variation of the slogan "We're all in this together." 

The 2024 Republican Primary and Ron Paul’s Continued Relevance

1 hour agoTho Bishop

Last night’s fourth Republican Presidential debate offered the most substantive outing so far of 2024’s political circus. It was also a debate outside the confines of the traditional corporate press. Broadcast on the up-start NewsNation and headlined by the moderation of podcast host Megyn Kelly, the debate touched on topics that outlets like Fox News and NBC refused to touch, including the victims damaged by covid-19 vaccines.

The narrowed debate field, featuring only four candidates: Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Chris Christie, once again illustrated a common theme of the primary cycle, a the divide between the neoconservative old guard committed the American empire, and a new wave of conservatives more skeptical of foreign entanglements and general hostility to the professional political class of Washington.

Given Christie’s withering polling numbers, it was Haley who faced the greatest scrutiny as the modern-face of the Bush-era GOP. Ramaswamy, her most aggressive and combative foil, frequently attacked the former UN Ambassador for connections to the military-industrial complex and the underlying corruption that has infected US foreign policy, at one point stating "This is a women who will send your kids to die so she can have a bigger house." If nothing else, Ramaswamy has made the term "neocon" into nothing short of a slur in Republican politics.

While the demand for leveraging debate performances into viral social media moments have long  theatricality over substance, the focus of figures like DeSantis and Ramaswamy is worth noting. While campaign rhetoric should be best viewed from a cynical lens of political opportunism, the deliberate choices made by candidates seeking to elevate themselves out from the shadow of Donald Trump reflects their own beliefs of Republican voters desire.

In recent years, there has been a targeted crusade among elements of the “conservative movement” to dismiss the appeal of libertarian ideas. Elements of the national conservative movement have joined forces with progressive critics of free markets, lambasting free market capitalism as “failed neoliberalism” and absurdly suggesting that the modern failures of the Republican Party is the result of the GOP’s “capture” by libertarians (if only!) Others have advocated for replacing “woke” big government policies with their dream of a “conservative” administrative state. While this cynical rejection of America’s founding values has gained traction among a certain segment of intellectuals and think tanks, there seems to be little to demonstrate that it is gaining much traction among the Republican’s targeted electoral base. 

Unsurprisingly, it was recently revealed that certain organizations at the forefront of this anti-libertarian right have themselves been beneficiaries of progressive financiers. American Compass, who has led the charge to revive Hamiltonian economic policy in the political right, was revealed to have received over a third of its funding from left-wing patrons.

This is not a surprise. As I noted in an article earlier this year, contrasting paleoconservativism from the economic nationalist right:

It is worth noting the differences in the stated goals of paleoconservatives and of the economic nationalists of American Compass. Paleoconservatives often voice a desire to protect the provincial life of rural and agrarian societies in the Jeffersonian tradition. Modern economic nationalists, in contrast, favor more ambitious plans for national industrial power and are far more comfortable in cosmopolitan company.

While one is far more likely to see quotes from Austrian economists shared by Elon Musk lately than offered from a Republican debate stage, many of the go-to targets from DeSantis and Ramaswamy echo a Rothbardian-hatred for Washington. Both call for the abolition of government agencies. Both have attacked the Federal Reserve. Both have highlighted the weaponization of the regime against political opponents and connect this to their concerns about Central Bank Digital Currencies. For good measure, Ramaswamy has included in his pitch calls to abolish the FBI.

Following last night’s debate, in an interview with Kelly, Ramaswamy was asked what he saw as a potential path to victory, he identified one his target demographics for Iowa and New Hampshire: "We are seeing a lot of people coming to our events...many of them are coming with Ron Paul shirts."

Again, while these rhetorical appeals to voters who shared the same libertarian instincts that helped propel Ron Paul’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012 should not be viewed as a committed dedication to same principles that motivated Dr. Paul, and while current polling shows little chance of a candidate like Ramaswamy of taking his message to the general election, what it does show is that the appetite for such messaging is far greater than many in the national conservative orbit would want to believe.

There is no Ron Paul running in 2024, but the movement he inspired is still one that candidates have to reckon with.

QJAE: Étatisme as the Root of Development Economics

Abstract: Development economics has invested substantial effort in formulating policies aimed at initiating development in underdeveloped countries, with a notable emphasis on the role of government. This article focuses on the transition from early intellectual forerunners such as John Locke, David Hume, and Adam Smith to the subsequent theories of development. Previous examinations, notably by Lewis (1988) and Sen (1983), have argued that if growth is taken as the definition of development, then Petty, Hume, and Smith are predecessors of development economics. However, a gap exists between this observation and the subsequent trajectory of development economics. This article investigates the prevalent role of the state in shaping development strategies, exploring the maturation of state duties based on modern political concepts from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and investigating the transformation in the twentieth century of government’s responsibilities, specifically in the context of the United States’ progressive movement. By tracing the historical evolution of state involvement, this article shows that the concept of “étatisme,” advocating robust state engagement in economic affairs, emerges as a pivotal but often overlooked factor in the emergence of development economics. This finding illustrates why development economists’ policies historically place such significant emphasis on government intervention in the market in underdeveloped countries.

Read the full article in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. 

JLS: Toward a Free Market Approach for Describing and Measuring Literary Archetypes and Tropes

12/06/2023William Hanff

ABSTRACT: This research proposes a free market approach to describing and measuring popular culture archetypes and stereotypes that result from the contemporary political culture of digital communications and an economic system of transmedia narratives. First, an historic overview of libertarian literary theory is given. Three existing systems of measuring archetypes and tropes are then described: crowd-sourced wiki projects (e.g., TV Tropes), academic classification systems (e.g., Aarne-Thompson index), and corporate marketing research (e.g., Neilsen PRIZM). Each system is evaluated based on (1) division of labor, (2) voluntary exchange, (3) gains from trade, and (4) openness to spontaneous order.

Read the full article at the Journal of Libertarian Studies. 

Fred Glahe, R.I.P

12/06/2023Ryan McMaken

Unfortunately, I'm only finding out about this now:  

Fred Glahe, who was an economics professor at the University of Colorado for many years, passed away on April 19, 2022. Fred was a longtime member of the editorial board of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, and was the author (among many other things) of some very useful texts on business cycles and the Hayek-Keynes debate. Specifically, he co-authored with John Cochran (also, R.I.P.The Hayek-Keynes Debate: Lessons for Current Business Cycle Research, (reviewed in QJAE here). He edited Keynes's "The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money", A Concordance, and also authored economics textbooks including Macroeconomics: Theory and Policy.

His obituary, posted by the family, reads in part: 

Fred graduated from Purdue University in 1957 with a BA in Aeronautical Engineering and worked briefly at the Allison Engines division of General Motors on jet engine design and testing. Fred went on to receive his masters and PHD in Economics at Purdue in 1964 and became a Professor of Economics at the University of Colorado in 1965. At CU Fred founded The Economic Institute for Research and Education (EIRE) as well as authoring multiple textbooks and articles. Fred retired from CU in 2006. ... Some of Fred’s interests included anything mechanical especially cars and airplanes. He loved British television, classic movies, model cars, and was active in his church. Fred was a fixture at the Village Coffee Shop, eating breakfast and reading the Wall Street Journal.

When I was at CU in the late 1990s, Fred taught intermediate macroeconomics and ECON 4999 known as "Economics and Film," which required us to apply economic theory to analyses of various films. Naturally, the course drew on his extensive knowledge of film.  I took both of these classes, and Fred became something of an academic advisor to me. He is the reason I attended Mises University in 1998—based on his recommendation. For most economics students at the University of Colorado, Fred was surely the only exposure most of us would have to the Austrian School at the University. For some of us, it stuck!

Fortunately, his family has also posted some photos online, including one with a guy named Murray Rothbard some readers will recognize: 

His campus office contained lots of good Austrian materials. Note the images of Mises and Hayek (and Menger) on the wall: 

Like Lew Rockwell, he owned some New Deal propaganda artifacts, such as this NRA poster.  Those who spent any time in his office will recognize the image below the poster as a map of the Gulag archipelago: 

Visiting the home of Adam Smith: 

Fred was a fellow practicing Catholic. Requiescat in pace! 

EU-China Leadership Summit: Protectionism on the Agenda

On December 7, the European Union and China are having their first in-person summit in four years, with the presidents of the European Commission and European Council, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel respectively, flying to China for the event. Playing the role of trapped-in-the-middle in the US-China trade war, EU rhetoric has these gallant diplomats riding off to Beijing to restructure the bilateral trade relationship. However, their statements have made it clear that they don't care about European prosperity at all and that Europe's biggest threat is far from China's "unfair trade practices," but the protectionism pushed by EU officials themselves.

Protectionism and Mercantilism from Brussels

Von der Leyen and Michel are going to China with a heap of demands utterly at odds with good economic policy, not to mention the free-trade spirit and philosophy of the European Union. Here are some of the demands:

· Ending Chinese "Overcapacity"

Aggregate domestic demand has decreased in China in the last few years, but Chinese factories haven't decreased production accordingly, instead exporting to Europe at prices that EU firms can't compete with. If China does not stop overproducing, the EU will be forced to institute tariffs to preserve "a level playing field."

This point is horrific for two reasons. Not only do European officials want to deprive their citizenry of more affordable products in order to support non-competitive firms, but apparently, they're willing to take advantage of China's command economy to control global production. The EU presumes to have a "market economy," but evidently that only applies within European borders. Getting a foreign government to control the production of goods based on bureaucratic whims rather than market demand is no problem.

· Reducing the Trade Deficit

EU diplomats are going to go to Beijing and demand that Xi Jinping himself decrease the European trade deficit with China, specifically by increasing the purchase of European exports. Here we see that despite several centuries of evidence against it, EU officials are still pushing mercantilism.

· Raising Electric Vehicle Prices

In an utterly baffling move, von der Leyen and Michel plan to propose "price undertaking" to Xi Jinping and Li Qiang. In other words, they'll ask that Chinese firms raise the prices of electric vehicles exported to Europe to bring them in line with domestic prices. This is in the same summit during which the very same diplomats will be pressuring China for more participation in "multilateral efforts against climate change."

The top three nations for EV purchase subsidies are all in the EU: France with 5,000€, Germany with 4,500€ and the Netherlands with 2,950€. [5] In other words, the EU massively distorts the prices for EVs under market value yet will now simultaneously distort it in the other direction by statutorily increasing EV imports by 20 percent.

And again, this is European indirect price control. EU politicians mostly avoid controlling prices within the EU, but they apparently have no problem getting a communist dictatorship to do it for them by setting prices on exports.

Motivation for These Demands

Of course, you can guess the official reason for this protectionism: jobs. The diplomats in question have been pretty candid, too. They need to save jobs in the face of Chinese competition in the EU market ahead of the June 2024 European Parliament election.

Economists know this reasoning rings hollow. There isn't a finite number of jobs. If a Chinese firm outcompetes a European EV manufacturer, a handful of jobs are lost. For example, let's say that lower prices on Chinese EVs managed to drive Volkswagen, the EU's largest manufacturer of EVs, completely out of business, laying off its roughly 500,000 European workers. That would still be less than 0.2 percent of the entire EU working population.

Meanwhile, Chinese firms, state-run or not, cannot sell EVs to Europe for free. They will trade for something, and new industries will form providing new jobs.

The numbers tell the whole story. According to economist Thomas Sowell, all the EU's protectionism saves the bloc around 200,000 jobs at a cost of $43 billion per year, or some $250,000 per job. [6] Considering the average EU job barely pays a 10th of that, the consequences of protectionism are quite palpable.

It's clear that von der Leyen and Michel aren't trying to save jobs, they're trying to save companies. In other words, they're trying to prop up wealthy businessmen who have failed on the market.

What About Market Fairness?

Europeans are generally well enough educated to know that free trade benefits them and the jobs argument is bogus. Therefore, modern politicians like von der Leyen and Michel must tack on the myth that trade must be "fair." Presumably, Chinese firms do not provide goods at lower prices because they have any kind of comparative or absolute advantage but rather because the Chinese government conducts "unfair trade practices," such as:

  • Subsidizing Chinese firms;
  • Failing to protect European intellectual property;
  • Purposefully weakening the Yuan to promote exports;
  • Providing barriers to foreign investment, leading to a trade surplus.

The Chinese government does do all of these things, but they are only "unfair" to the Chinese people—and a handful of European business owners. In some cases, a Chinese firm may outcompete a domestic European firm not due to a real advantage, and that is unfortunate for the owners. However, they still represent a very small constituency compared to the hundreds of millions of Europeans who benefit from lower prices paid for by Chinese citizens whose taxes go to subsidization and who cannot use their weak currency to buy superior imports.

In the end, this justification falls as flat as "jobs." In reality, EU diplomats are transparently working at the behest of European corporations, not European consumers.

Results of These Initiatives

What will happen if von der Leyen and Michel get their demands? In short, Europe will become slightly more impoverished. Prices will rise and prices will be distorted, leading to a misallocation of resources. The real purchasing power of every European will drop.

If that sounds severe, it only goes to show that it isn't China's so-called unfair trade practices that are harming Europeans. It's our government.

The Real Problem With Our Foreign Policy

12/05/2023Ron Paul

Over the weekend Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin explained to the American people what’s really wrong with US foreign policy. Some might find his conclusions surprising.

The US standing in the world is damaged not because we spent 20 years fighting an Afghan government that had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11. The problem has nothing to do with neocon lies about Iraq’s WMDs that led untold civilian deaths in another failed “democratization” mission. It’s not because over the past nearly two years Washington has taken more than $150 billion from the American people to fight a proxy war with Russia through Ukraine.

It’s not the military-industrial complex or its massive lobbying power that extends throughout Congress, the think tanks, and the media.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California’s Simi Valley, Austin finally explained the real danger to the US global military empire.

It’s us.

According to Secretary Austin, non-interventionists who advocate “an American retreat from responsibility” are the ones destabilizing the world, not endless neocon wars.

Austin said the US must continue to play the role of global military hegemon – policeman of the world – because “the world will only become more dangerous if tyrants and terrorists believe that they can get away with wholesale aggression and mass slaughter.”

How’s that for reason and logic? Austin and the interventionist elites have fact-checked 30 years of foreign policy failures and concluded, “well it would have been far worse if the non-interventionists were in charge.”

This is one of the biggest problems with the neocons. They are incapable of self-reflection. Each time the US government follows their advice into another catastrophe, it’s always someone else’s fault. In this case, as Austin tells us, those at fault for US foreign policy misadventures are the people who say, “don’t do it.”

What would have happened if the people who said “don’t do it” were in charge of President Obama’s decision to prop-up al-Qaeda to overthrow Syria’s secular leader Assad? How about if the “don’t do it” people were in charge when the neocons manufactured a “human rights” justification to destroy Libya? What if the “don’t do it” people were in charge when Obama’s neocons thought it would be a great idea to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically-elected government?

Would tyrants and terrorists have gained power if Washington did NOT get involved? No. Tyrants and terrorists got the upper hand BECAUSE Washington intervened in these crises.

As Austin further explained, part of the problem with the US is democracy itself. “Our competitors don’t have to operate under continuing resolutions,” he complained. What a burden it is for him that the people, through their representatives, are in charge of war spending.

In Congress, “America first” foreign policy sentiment is on the rise among conservatives and that infuriates Austin and his ilk. He wants more billions for wars in Ukraine and Israel and he wants it now!

And our economic problems? That is our fault too. Those who “try to pull up the drawbridge,” Austin said, undermine the security that has led to decades of prosperity. Prosperity? Has he looked at the national debt? Inflation? Destruction of the dollar?

There is a silver lining here. The fact that Austin and the neocons are attacking us non-interventionists means that we are gaining ground. They are worried about us. This is our chance to really raise our voices!

Originally published by the Ron Paul Institute. 

Abraham Lincoln—War Criminal

We frequently read today about war crimes, such as bombing hospitals. In World War II Britain bombed civilians in Dresden and the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In war, we are told, “anything goes.” Abraham Lincoln followed this barbaric policy, and those who treat him as a “hero” have much to answer for.

In his definitive book War Crimes Against Southern Civilians (Pelican 2007), the historian Walter Brian Cisco blames Lincoln for a brutal campaign of Terror against the South:

“A Review of War Crimes Against Southern Civilians by Walter Brian Cisco (Pelican, 2007).

Walter Brian Cisco is a lifelong scholar of American Civil War history, a professional writer, and researcher with many respected publications on the subject including States Rights Gist: A South Carolina General of the Civil WarTaking a Stand: Portraits from the Southern Secession MovementHenry Timrod: A Biography, and Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior, Conservative Statesman. In his latest book War Crimes Against Southern Civilians, Cisco writes on a subject that many historians have avoided, war crimes committed by the Union forces on the civilian population of the South beginning in the early years of the Civil War.

In his book, Cisco does a commendable job of uncovering historical records from the time period in citing from sources that include accounts from enlisted Union soldiers that were involved in the events, official reports, letters, diaries, and various other testimonials from civilians that tell of the monstrosities committed against Southern population throughout the Civil War. Early in his book, Cisco clearly states Lincoln had adopted the “black flag” policy and this policy was executed by several Union commanders in dates far preceding the better known Sherman’s March to the Sea. “Warring against noncombatants came to be the stated policy and deliberate practice in its subjugation of the Confederacy. Abraham Lincoln, the commander in chief with a reputation as a micromanager, well knew what was going on and approved” (pg. 16). Several pieces cited support this claim and are presented throughout the book.

The evidence offered supporting the “black flag” policy adopted by the Lincoln administration is done in numerous ways. A few examples presented are incidents such as the 1861 St. Louis massacre in which twenty-eight civilians lay dead in the streets of St. Louis and seventy-five others were wounded by the hands of a force of between six and seven thousand Union regulars and German volunteers commanded by Capt. Nathanial Lyon (pg. 22 and 23). The 1862 occupation of New Orleans in which Maj. General Benjamin Butler, establishes martial law whose “decrees were worthy of a czar” and in one infamous order, commanding Union soldiers to treat the ladies of the town as prostitutes which could be “construed as a license for rape” (pg. 65). Other accounts are crimes committed against non-combatants were the attacks on Southern pacifist religious refugees, in which Sheridan’s army robbed, plundered, poisoned wells with dead animal carcasses, and burned their houses to the ground during the Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1864 (pg. 124). Cisco cites several instances in which slaves and free blacks were robbed, raped, and killed by the hands of Union soldiers. Cisco’s book is filled with damning evidence of the war crimes committed by the Union forces on the South. Any reader of this book has to question how a soldier in the U.S. military could justify the inhumane actions that were taken against a civilian population which included the elderly, women, children and slaves. The accounts of Union aggression stated seems surreal and brings forth a question of fallacy that has been planted in the minds of generations of Americans far from what the Union cause truly was about.

War Crimes Against Southern Civilians chapters are organized by engagements recorded from 1861-1865 and follows the timeline very closely. The organization of the chapters is done in a manner that it is easy for a reader to follow and creates a clear account of how these events progressed throughout the war. The author also does a good job citing sources in the book and those that are used are accurate, but the format used in citing the information are not very user friendly. The pages within the text are void of footnotes and somewhat of a nuisance for readers who want quick access to citations presented on the page they are reading. Cisco does not include any footnotes in the book or endnotes at the end of each chapter, but instead lists all notes at the end of the book. Even though the book is well written, improvements could be made through the way notes are arranged and should do so if an updated version of the book is ever released.

Without question, the author writes from a Southern perspective in presenting the atrocities Southern citizens were subjected to by Union forces. Many historians might discount Cisco’s work for representing only the Southern viewpoint of the war in this book. However, through writing in a Southern viewpoint, Cisco has brought forth a piece of history that is unknown to many readers of Civil War history. The majority of books written about the Civil War give a very limited account of the events that took place with the intent of glorifying the actions of the Lincoln administration and the Union army. Cisco’s contribution of the historical accounts of the Civil War is commendable and he meets a difficult subject matter head-on that other authors have purposely neglected. The facts Cisco presents, instills his readers with facts that contribute a more complete understanding of events that forever changed the course of a nation.

Read the full article at

Can Libertarians Win in Georgia? (The Country, Not the State)

12/04/2023Ucha Goshadze

While much of the attention is now focused on Argentina and Javier Milei's electoral triumph, we can also discover some success stories in other parts of the world, most notably in the republic of Georgia, where a libertarian party called "Girchi" has been fighting for freedom since 2015.

Georgia has harsh drug laws, and in many situations, the penalties are harsher than those for crimes like theft, rape, and robbery. Girchi, as a party pushing for individual autonomy and personal freedom, has been lobbying for more liberal drug laws. This campaign culminated in a civil disobedience act on New Year's Eve in 2016, when Girchi leaders and supporters openly planted the cannabis seed at the Girchi office premises.

Their efforts in 2017 ended in the Georgian Constitutional Court ruling in Girchi's favor, stating that the criminal punishment for cannabis use is unconstitutional, essentially decriminalizing cannabis use in Georgia. Later, on the same grounds and in favor of Girchi, the Constitutional Court abolished all administrative fines for personal consumption of marijuana, making Georgia the first country in Europe and the ex-Soviet area to achieve such an expansion of personal freedoms.

Girchi is opposed to most private-sector regulations and has spoken out against them on numerous occasions. In 2019 Girchi established Shmaxi, a ride-sharing firm, as an act of civil disobedience in response to enacted regulations for taxicabs to be exclusively painted white. Up to 500 people joined the campaign and registered to drive their cars through Shmaxi. Despite the fact that the company was registered as an academic institution on wheels, teaching passengers libertarian ideology, numerous drivers still got fined for breaking the taxi regulations.

Georgia still maintains mandatory military service, which limits thousands of people's autonomy and forces them to serve the government against their will. However, Georgian legislation exempts clergy from mandatory military duty. To utilize this loophole, Girchi's church, the Christian Evangelical Protestant Church - 'Biblical Freedom', was officially registered in 2017. The loophole was employed by 'Biblical Freedom' to assist young men who did not want to serve in the army.

Those who do not intend to join the army are given certificates indicating that they are “priests” of the Church. It effectively exempts individuals from compelled military service, allowing them to spend their lives according to their own free will. Ordination takes only a few minutes and costs $17; after that, individuals are exempt from the draft until the following year, when they can be ordinated again. The government also offers the 1-year postponement, but it is for $675 and now to be increased to $1685. Since its inception, the church has managed to rescue around 50,000 people from this sort of modern slavery.

Girchi won four seats in the parliament in the 2020 parliamentary elections, and while four deputies may not seem like much, they have managed to expose hundreds of wicked regulations to the public while the media's attention was drawn to other nonsense and absurd mainstream narratives. Three unjustly imprisoned inmates were also liberated because of Girchi's involvement and activity in parliament.

Libertarian MPs have also been embroiled in heated parliamentary debates over an immoral conscription law that aimed to eliminate Biblical Freedom. After many hours of filibuster attempts and even brawls with government MPs, the legislation was only passed after 9 months (ordinarily, the government passes laws in a matter of weeks).

And even then, it proved ineffective because Biblical Freedom continued to exempt individuals from the army, as priests are allowed to demand alternative non-military service. Since there were no vacant positions for hundreds of people who now demanded alternative service, the government was left helpless, and they are now once again planning to amend the law to close this loophole.

Girchi, like Milei, calls for the abolition of the central bank and the adoption of a multi-currency system that allows people to use the currency that they deem to be the best. Girchi also believes in free banking and the gold standard. Girchi's politicians openly declare that taxation is robbery and inflation is theft, so they intend to implement a single tax system and reduce plundering to the biblical 10 percent.

Georgia, as a post-Soviet country, has yet to transform into a Western capitalist-style country in terms of property. As much as 80 percent of all land and resources remain in public property and thus are kept outside of all economic activities. Girchi is in favor of privatizing and restituting all state assets, including public companies, public lands, forests, and natural resources.

Girchi's Internet platform is unique in that it promotes self-nominated political candidates interested in becoming politicians and spreading libertarian values. Candidates compete on the site, and users vote and rank them to create the final party list for the elections, which will be arranged with Girchi's digital currency, the Georgian Dollar (GED). Members can also use the platform to finance the party, its candidates, and its projects for which they receive GED.

Girchi's current funding comes from its projects and voluntary contributions from members via the platform, making it unique among Georgian political parties. Girchi prefers a meritocracy system over democracy, so the party's structure and ruling are based on the merit each user has brought to the party, which is indicated by the number of GED they own.

Girchi is a fiscally conservative party that consistently supports spending cuts and tax cuts. It advocates for the abolition of all income and corporate taxes, as well as import duties. Girchi is a vocal critic of budget deficits and national debt. The party also advocates for complete deregulation of private education and parental freedom to homeschool their children. Girchi also supports the legalization of gun ownership, describing it as "the acknowledgment that all people are free and have the complete right to protect themselves and their property."

The party is also a vocal opponent of the present woke agenda and gender identity politics. Girchi even sought a Constitutional Court ruling against gender-based election quotas and introduced a bill to replace all references to "gender" in all legislation with "male and female".

Girchi also argues that government bureaucracy is not only financially costly, but it also imposes economically harmful policies. As a result, Girchi has promised to make the transition of 250,000 individuals employed in the public sector to the market economy as fast as possible by firing government officials on the condition that they preserve their pay for three years.

Georgia will hold pivotal parliamentary elections next year, and Girchi's approval rating is rising month by month. Following Milei's success, we hope to achieve similar results and expand libertarian representation in parliament and the government.

Grade Inflation at Harvard and Yale: 80% of Students Get As

12/04/2023Jonathan Newman

Reports from Harvard and Yale reveal that about 80% of students at both institutions receive As, with mean GPAs reaching 3.7 at Yale and 3.8 at Harvard.

This is a trend that has stretched across decades and across higher education in general. While there was a large jump in the proportion of A grades in 2020, grade inflation has been occurring for a long time. In the 1960s, average GPAs were around 2.5 and most students earned Cs. The incentives of the military draft for the Vietnam War led to dramatic increases in GPA in the 1970s, but the trend has continued since then.

Figure 1: Average GPA in U.S. four-year schools

Source: Rojstaczer and Healy (2010), “Grading in American Colleges and Universities,” Teachers College Record, figure 1.

While the above data ends in 2010, The Yale Daily News article contains a chart of the proportion of letter grades at Yale since then.

Figure 2: Letter grade distribution at Yale, 2010-2023

Source: Ray Fair, “Grade Report Update: 2022-2023,” table 1. Retrieved from Gorelick, “Faculty report reveals average Yale College GPA, grade distributions by subject,” Yale Daily News, November 30, 2023.

Grade inflation makes it difficult for employers to hire based on academic performance. Students are learning this and so are using other methods to stand out among job market competitors. Straight As at institutions like Harvard and Yale aren’t enough to signal productivity to prospective employers.

However, there are big disparities across fields. The Yale report shows that subjects like “Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies” (92.06 percent As) and “Ethnicity, Race, & Migration” (85.43 percent As) are giving top grades to a much greater extent than subjects like economics (52.39 percent) and math (55.18 percent As).

Read the Yale Daily News article here and the Harvard Crimson article here.

Chinese Nationals Own a Mere 0.03% of American Agricultural Land

12/01/2023Ryan McMaken

American protectionists have yet again come up with some new reasons to push more government regulations and more government control of private property.  This time, the new regulations come in the form of restriction as to whom Americans can sell their own property. Specifically, a number of US states have passed—or are seriously considering passing—new laws prohibiting foreign nationals and foreign entities from owning land within the states in question. 

At least 16 states have done so this year: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Virginia. Not all of these new regulations are equally robust. Some restrict the sale only of farmland, some restrict sales on all real property. Some of these restrict sales to nationals of certain disfavored countries, while at least one state—i.e., Oklahoma—bans sales of all non-citizens except under certain circumstances. 

The rationale behind nearly all of this is a moral panic over Chinese ownership of land. The meme has gone about among many conservative nationalists that the Chinese regime is buying up American land and so both states and the federal government must create new regulations and prohibition to protect "freedom." An example of this can be found in a recent post on Twitter by South Dakota governor Kristi Noem which states that "China's holdings"—by which she presumably means holdings of Chinese nationals—increased 5,300%. That's a lot of growth, but one wonders why she didn't mention any actual numbers of acreage. (It is reminiscent of how the Soviets used to report crime statistics only as percentage changes. The USSR data workers kept "forgetting" to publish any totals of actual crime incidents.) 


 So, just how much land do Chinese nationals (and other foreigners) own? It turns out the Federal government already keeps track of this thanks to the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (AFIDA). The act requires "foreign investors who acquire, transfer, or hold an interest in U.S. agricultural land to report such holdings and transactions to the Secretary of Agriculture on an AFIDA Report Form FSA-153." Prior to that, the Federal government did not systematically track foreign ownership of land. The act itself, of course, is not constitutional. One will look in vain for anything among the enumerated federal powers in the US constitution authorizing such activities. Nevertheless, since the report exists, we'll have a look. 

According to the most recent AFIDA report, China holds a little under 1 percent of all foreign-owned ag land. But that just foreign-owned ag land. If we look at all privately held ag land overall, China owns 0.03 percent. 


In contrast, the country with the most citizens who hold US ag land is Canada. Canadian investors hold 12.8 million acres, which is 31 percent of all foreign-held land. Canadian nationals hold 0.97 percent of ag land overall. 

It is Europeans, however, who dominate among foreign holders of US ag land. After Canada, the next-largest group of foreign nationals holding ag land is the Dutch, followed by Italians, and then the British. China isn't even in the top ten, however, and comes in behind Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, and others. 


All taken together, foreigners own approximately 40.8 million acres. 383,935 of that is held by Chinese nationals. 

Some advocates for more laws against foreign ownership contend that the AFIDA report is missing data, yet critics of the report only offer conjecture about what the "real" numbers are. If AFIDA is wrong, well, people like Kristi Noem don't actually have any better numbers.  In any case it's a safe bet that Chinese nationals don't control even 5 percent of ag land in America.  Moreover, it's rather odd that some Americans wring their hands over the role of Chinese nationals in land ownership when there is no demonstrated threat, whatsoever. 

Rather, if Americans are looking for a large, distant corporate entity that it immensely wealthy and unresponsive to the wishes and needs of Americans, we might be better off looking at the United States government and its immense land holdings. Compared to Chinese nationals' paltry 384,000 acres, the US government owns 640 million acres of non-seabed land—or 16 times more land than the land of all foreign nationals combined. For perspective, the total number of acres in all farmland in America totals 895 million acres. Federal lands comprise 28 percent of all land in America—agricultural or otherwise. 


These federal lands are off-limits to any private ownership—essentially forever. Federal lands have been used for nuclear experiments that have poisoned nearby populations. Federal workers on federal lands have caused a variety of environmental disasters such as the Gold King Mine spill in 2015. The Feds are looking to lock down these lands even more from the general public with initiatives like "wilderness" areas and roadless areas. These lands are controlled primarily by interest groups with influential lobbies in Washington. Yet, it is Chinese ownership we are supposed to be deeply concerned about. 

To get perspective on how much of a threat is Beijing's power versus American federal power we might ask: how much do Americans pay to Beijing in taxes? How much does Beijing regulate American businesses or pollute American waterways and lands? How many Americans has Beijing imprisoned or fined for violating Beijing's rules?  The answers to these questions highlight how fears are generally misplaced about which government does the most damage on a daily basis to Americans private property, American freedom, and American well-being in general. 

Of course, many Americans—thanks to relentless propaganda and gaslighting from the media and public schools—will insist that the US government only has the peoples' best interests at heart. Many have convinced themselves that a few hundred millionaires in Congress somehow represent the interests of 330 million Americans. So, it's not the feds we must fear, with their IRS agents, ATF goons, and FBI secret police—all armed to the teeth. Rather, it's a distant foreign government with virtually no power over us that we should really be worrying about. So, that 640 million acres of federal land is all for the "public good," you see, while a few million acres of foreign-held land is a grave threat.

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