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"Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice" - Adam Smith

Quote of the day

Written by Wordsmith | Tuesday 05 February 2013

"It is only by recognizing the conflict between a given rule and the rest of our moral beliefs that we can justify our rejection of an established rule.  Even the success of an innovation by a rule-breaker, and the trust of those who follow him, has to be bought by the esteem he has earned by the scrupulous observation of most of the existing rules.  To become legitimized, the new rules have to obtain the approval of society at large - not by a formal vote, but by gradually speading acceptance.

"The successive changes in morals were therefore not a moral decline, even though they offended inherited sentiments, but a necessary condition to the rise of the open society of free men."

FA Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty

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Quote of the day

Written by Wordsmith | Tuesday 29 January 2013

"Wherever producers have secured any power, they have used it to limit production, to enhance prices, and, in a word, to rob the rest of us. Power in the hands of producers has never been employed except to limit the wealth of the whole community. No force known to economic science or to experience, except the force of competition, has ever done anything to keep producers in order, and without competition they have always contrived to limit their production and to diminish their contribution to the commonwealth."

Publisher Sir Ernest Benn (1875-1954), Why Freedom Works

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JS Mill on Europe

Written by Wordsmith | Wednesday 23 January 2013

What has made the European family of nations an improving, instead of a stationary portion of mankind? …Europe is, in my judgment, wholly indebted to this plurality of paths [of character and culture] for its progressive and many-sided development. But it already begins to possess this benefit in a considerably less degree. It is decidedly advancing towards the Chinese ideal of making all people alike.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Chapter 3

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Quote of the day

Written by Wordsmith | Friday 11 January 2013

How did we, as members of the academies and intelligentsia, come to be trapped in the romantic myth that politically organised authority could direct our lives so as to satisfy our needs more adequately than we might satisfy them ourselves through voluntary agreement, association and exchange, one with another?

– James M. Buchanan, John Bonython Lecture 1990

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On the morality of tax avoidance

Written by Wordsmith | Thursday 21 June 2012

Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.

— Judge Learned Hand, U. S. Court of Appeals, 1935.

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Quote of the day

Written by Wordsmith | Tuesday 20 March 2012

If Christmas Day had an opposite, it would be Budget Day. On Christmas Day, a man in a red suit gives you presents. On Budget Day, a man with a red box tries to steal what he can from you.

-- John Stepek, MoneyWeek

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The messiness of freedom

Written by Wordsmith | Friday 28 October 2011

The future we face at the dawn of the twenty-first century is, like all futures left to themselves, “emergent, complex messiness.” Its “messiness” lies not in disorder, but in an order that is unpredictable, spontaneous, and ever shifting, a pattern created by millions of uncoordinated, independent decisions.

Virginia Postrel, The Future and Its Enemies.

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Quote of the day

Written by Wordsmith | Thursday 13 October 2011

It may be that these mistakes were excusable on the basis of the knowledge available to men at the time – though I happen to think not. But that is really beside the point. Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men that mistakes – excusable or not – can have such far-reaching effects is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic – this is the key political argument against an "independent" central bank. But it is a bad system even to those who set security higher than freedom. Mistakes, excusable or not, cannot be avoided in a system which disperses responsibility yet gives a few men great power, and which thereby makes important policy actions highly dependent on accidents of personality. This is the key technical argument against an "independent" bank. To paraphrase Clemenceau, money is much too serious a matter to be left to the Central Bankers.

Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, via Peter Boettke.

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Quote of the day

Written by Wordsmith | Thursday 06 October 2011

Unlike the political and military heroes of war we too often celebrate, Jobs is a hero of peace. He made his money through persuasion not at the point of a gun, and through mutual benefit not oppression and exploitation. Those of us who really desire a peaceful society should not celebrate those who were victorious in war, but those who created value through peaceful, voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange - exchanges that happen billions of times every single day. And we should do it no matter whether what was exchanged was electronic bits of magic, food for us to eat, or financial instruments that improve the movement of capital. They all create value and improve our lives, and all of their benefits are deserved.

Thanks for everything Steve and thanks for making the world a better place one peaceful, cooperative exchange at a time.

Steve Horwitz

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Andrew Lilico on bank bailouts

Written by Wordsmith | Friday 23 September 2011

It's not simply that these were banks that made some past losses and should have been able to raise capital to replace them but the Middle Eastern, East Asian and Norwegian sovereign wealth funds irrationally decided not to pony up the dough. Some of these institutions simply could not continue as they were. They have become value-destroying enterprises that need to be significantly restructured. They need staff fired, assets written down, business lines shut. There will be redundancies. Some banks will cease lending to the kinds of enterprises they lent to previously, so some business and individuals will have to seek their credit elsewhere. When governments refuse to allow these things to happen, but instead chuck money at the problem, they don't make the problem go away; they make it worse. All they achieve is to retard the necessary and healthy process of restructuring, and extend the period of value-destruction. In the meantime, they tax the poor to provide money to bail out the rich. This is immoral, as well as economically destructive.

Read the full article at

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