Wall Street Couldn’t Have Done It Alone by Sheldon Richman

The spreading Occupy Wall Street movement, despite a vague worldview and agenda, properly senses that something is dreadfully wrong in America. The protesters vent their anger at the big financial institutions in New York’s money district (as well as other big cities) for the housing and financial bubble, the resulting Great Recession, the virtual nonrecovery, the threat of a second recession, and the long-term unemployment — which averages over 9 percent but hits certain groups and areas far more severely than others.

The protest is understandable, even laudable, but there’s something the protesters need to know:

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Free Association: Talking Education on Reason TV

Sheldon Richman is editor of The Freeman, published by The Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York, and serves as senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation. He is the author of FFF’s award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families; Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax; and FFF’s newest book Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State.

Calling for the abolition, not the reform, of public schooling. Separating School & State has become a landmark book in both libertarian and educational circles. In his column in the Financial Times, Michael Prowse wrote: “I recommend a subversive tract, Separating School & State by Sheldon Richman of the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank… . I also think that Mr. Richman is right to fear that state education undermines personal responsibility…” Click here to go to Sheldon Richman’s Blog.

Saving the Warfare-Welfare State

A repost from The Freeman | Ideas on Liberty
The Goal is Freedom | Sheldon Richman

Saving the Warfare-Welfare State
The difference is over means not ends.
Posted April 15, 2011

Why does everyone think Washington is plagued by excessive partisanship? The contest over how to address the fiscal debacle says otherwise: Both divisions of the uniparty (Democrat and Republican) agree that the warfare-welfare state must be saved. It’s the means not the end that divides them.

Rep. Paul Ryan, who leads the Republican side, declares that his goal in seeking a balanced budget (someday) is to save the three pillars of the welfare state—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—for “our children’s generation.” “I support these missions,” he says. He would “voucherize” Medicare and give states discretionary Medicaid block grants because, he says, the alternative is insolvency. He would maintain Social Security, while permitting people under 55 to put one-third of their Social Security taxes into government-guaranteed accounts. (They would still have to pay current retirees’ Social Security benefits.) His substitute for Obamacare would give a cash subsidy—he uses the Washington gobbledygook “refundable tax credit”—to “[ensure] universal access to affordable health insurance.”

So, although couched in the rhetoric of liberty and self-reliance, Ryan’s plan aims at saving the welfare state from itself, while giving insurance and investment companies more of a role, not to mention a cut of the taxpayers’ money.

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Libertarian Left: Free-market anti-capitalism, the unknown ideal

[Found this piece by way of Future of Freedom Foundation’s e-letter yesterday. I clicked on a link to Sheldon Richman’s blog, where he had a new post with a link to his essay which I am posting here, and which is published and linked to, from Richman’s blog as well, at The American Conservative, whom I applaud for its publication. Fascinating essay, and very important for my own perspective, and the discussion following the essay is hearty and spirited.]

Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign introduced many people to the word “libertarian.” Since Paul is a Republican and Republicans, like libertarians, use the rhetoric of free markets and private enterprise, people naturally assume that libertarians are some kind of quirky offshoot of the American right wing. To be sure, some libertarian positions fit uneasily with mainstream conservatism—complete drug decriminalization, legal same-sex marriage, and the critique of the national-security state alienate many on the right from libertarianism.

But the dominant strain of libertarianism still seems at home on that side of the political spectrum. Paeans to property rights and free enterprise—the mainstream libertarian conviction that the American capitalist system, despite government intervention, fundamentally embodies those values—appear to justify that conclusion.

But then one runs across passages like this: “Capitalism, arising as a new class society directly from the old class society of the Middle Ages, was founded on an act of robbery as massive as the earlier feudal conquest of the land. It has been sustained to the present by continual state intervention to protect its system of privilege without which its survival is unimaginable.” And this: “build worker solidarity. On the one hand, this means formal organisation, including unionization—but I’m not talking about the prevailing model of ‘business unions’ … but real unions, the old-fashioned kind, committed to the working class and not just union members, and interested in worker autonomy, not government patronage.”

Click here to read the essay in full and to join in the discussion in the comments section.

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