You can also get the audiobook for free from the Laissez-Faire Club.
This summer I had the honor of speaking on the Laissez-Faire Books panel at FreedomFest, the annual libertarian mega-event put on by Mark Skousen in Las Vegas. Now the audio of the panel — the theme of which was “Live Better, Live Liberty: The Quest to Get Government Out of Our Lives” — is online:
The lineup for the panel includes:
If you only have time for part of this two-hour event, then at least be sure to listen to Jeffrey Tucker’s talk. I have already heard from people who have said they found this presentation life-changing, and I understand why. Tucker talks about how we can defeat the state by creating better products through the market, rather than by just following the old think-tank model. He’s putting these ideas to work through LFB, but, as he explains, there is so much more to be done by people who aren’t just selling books or ideas.
The other talks were very well-received, too. First, Robert Murphy talks about one of my favorite topics, the importance of education in the advancement of liberty.
Next, Wendy McElroy offers a taste of her latest book, The Art of Being Free, which is available in paperback and as a free e-book for members of the Laissez-Faire Club. (The talk is great, but you may just want to skip directly to the book and start reading, since that’s what you’ll end up doing anyway.)
For my part, I talk about ways that the market already provides security and dispute-resolution through products such as credit cards, smartphones, and Yelp. When people think about how the market would provide these goods in the absence of government, they tend to look back to ancient examples (e.g. Iceland, Ireland) or speculate about insurance companies funding police and armies — but perhaps the most relevant examples already exist today, right in front of our faces (or in our wallets).
Finally, the inimitable Stefan Molyneux offers his usual clarity and enthusiasm in arguing that we must make the moral case for liberty. I don’t agree with his suggestion that we must only make moral arguments — I think consequentialist arguments may often be a good place to start, as I argue in my foreword to LFB’s new edition of Gary Chartier’s Conscience of an Anarchist. Still, Molyneux is compelling and enjoyable, and if you like his approach, there is of course much more at his site, Freedomain Radio, and in his books, two of which are also available from LFB.
My colleagues and I at the Liberty Justice Center recently filed a lawsuit against the City of Evanston, Illinois to challenge the city’s food-truck law, which says that you can only operate a food truck in Evanston if you also own a brick-and-mortar restaurant there. Obviously, that rule serves just one purpose: to protect restaurants from competition.
Watch the video about our client, Beavers Coffee + Donuts, and the case:
Here’s the lineup, in order of appearance:
We’ll also be at the Laissez-Faire Books store throughout the convention selling and signing books. So if you’re going to FreedomFest, come see us!
By the way, if you haven’t already, take a look at LFB’s Laissez-Faire Club. For $10 a month, you get a new free eBook every week plus access to the archive of all past eBooks, exclusive communities, seminars, and more. You can check out LFB and the Club on Facebook, too.
Today I talked about ObamaCare with liberty-friendly radio host Greg Bishop on WMAY radio in Springfield, Illinois. We talked about the individual mandate and the so-called “tax” it imposes, but we also focused on the relatively overlooked provision of ObamaCare — which the Supreme Court partially struck down — that would have forced states to greatly expand their Medicaid programs to cover many more people.
The Medicaid expansion would not only harm taxpayers at the state and federal levels, it also would hurt the poorest people who currently depend on Medicaid by making it harder for them to get care as they compete for limited resources with all the new people in the system. In other words, the Medicaid mandate would cost taxpayers a lot, and it would hurt the people it’s supposedly intended to help. Fortunately, the Supreme Court said the federal government can’t make the states participate in this expansion, and in the interview we discuss why they can and should opt out.
I gave this interview on behalf of my employer, the Liberty Justice Center, a public-interest law firm that fights for liberty in the courts. As usual, the views I express otherwise on this website are my own, not necessarily those of any organization.
Last year saw the release of two books on the U.S. courts’ history of (not) protecting the liberty of contract: David Bernstein’s Rehabilitating Lochner and David N. Mayer’s Liberty of Contract: Rediscovering a Lost Constitutional Right.
Which book is better? I couldn’t say. Both cover a lot of the same ground, and both are well-done. (Oddly, both were published at about the same time, and both appear to have been sponsored by the Cato Institute, though Bernstein’s book was published by the University of Chicago Press.) I recommend either or — if you really want to be an expert on all facets of New York v. Lochner and the courts’ inconsistent protection of economic liberty — both.
Here’s an excerpt from my Liberty of Contract review:
The U.S. Supreme Court has no coherent ideas about—or real respect for—individual rights. It generally allows governments to do whatever they want, with limited exceptions for a handful of rights it has deemed “fundamental,” such as the right to free speech (in some areas) and the right to sexual privacy (in some respects). Other rights, such as the right to economic liberty, receive almost no protection at all.
Why so much protection for some rights and so little for others? Because the Court has arbitrarily said so.
Libertarians, of course, think differently about rights. Libertarians think that our rights exist independently of government, and that if government has any legitimate purpose at all, it is to protect those preexisting rights.
Libertarians also think that all our rights are really property rights. We each own ourselves, and from that follows a right to own private property that we acquire through voluntary exchanges with others. Other rights, such as the right to free speech, derive from our right to use our own property as we see fit. And the right to economic liberty—that is, to trade your property and your labor freely with others—is just as “fundamental” as any other right.
In Liberty of Contract: Rediscovering a Lost Constitutional Right, law professor and historian David N. Mayer shows how Americans went from embracing the libertarian conception of rights reflected (imperfectly) in the Declaration of Independence to the statist conception of rights reflected in modern Supreme Court decisions.
Next Wednesday night, I’ll be speaking at Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communication on whether we should end the Federal Reserve and, if so, what should replace it. (My short answers: yes; the free market.)
Get the details from America’s Future Foundation, which is sponsoring the event.
On the following two Mondays, I’ll be speaking to Federalist Society chapters in Seattle and North Dakota, respectively.
On Monday, April 9, at 12:30 p.m., I’ll speak at the University of Washington School of Law on “Why Progressives (and Everyone) Should Support Economic Liberty.”
On Monday, April 16, at 12 p.m., at the University of North Dakota School of Law, I’ll debate Professor Eric E. Johnson on whether law schools should have to be accredited and lawyers should have to be licensed.
Both events are free and open to the public.