How To Have Law Without Legislation

This article is also available as an Audio Mises Daily
[Adapted from Rothbard’s book review of Freedom and the Law by Bruno Leoni. This review first appeared in New Individualist Review, edited by Ralph Raico.] [In his book Freedom and the Law,] Professor [Bruno] Leoni’s major thesis is that even the staunchest free-market economists have unwisely admitted that laws must be created by governmental legislation; this concession, Leoni shows, provides an inevitable gateway for State tyranny over the individual. The other side of the coin to increasing intervention by government in the free market has been the burgeoning of legislation, with its inherent coercion by a majority – or, more often, by an oligarchy of pseudo-“representatives” of a majority – over the rest of the population. In this connection, Leoni presents a brilliant critique of F. A. Hayek’s recent writings on the “rule of the law.” In contrast to Hayek, who calls for general legislative rules as opposed to the vagaries of arbitrary bureaucracy or of “administrative law,” Leoni points out that the real and underlying menace to individual freedom is not the administrator but the legislative statute that makes the administrative ruling possible. 1 It is not enough, demonstrates Leoni, to have general rules applicable to everyone and written down in advance; for these rules themselves may – and generally do – invade freedom.
Leoni’s great contribution is to point out to even our staunchest laissez-faire theorists an alternative to the tyranny of legislation. Rather than accept either administrative law or legislation, Leoni calls for a return to the ancient traditions and principles of “judge-made law” as a method of limiting the State and insuring liberty. In the Roman private law, in the Continental Civil Codes, in the Anglo-Saxon common law, “law” did not mean what we think today: endless enactments by a legislature or executive. “Law” was not enacted but found or discovered; it was a body of customary rules that had, like languages or fashions, grown up spontaneously and purely voluntarily among the people. These spontaneous rules constituted “the law”; and it was the works of experts in the law – old men of the tribe, judges, or lawyers – to determine what the law was and how the law would apply to the numerous cases in dispute that perpetually arise.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on August 7, 2017.

It’s Still the Media, Stupid!

Weapons of Mass Deception – the Pravda Complex
The US Presidential campaign has demonstrated once again that the mainstream mass media is still the dominant force and arbitrator of political events and if it is successful in pushing the Wicked Witch of Chappaqua past the finish line this November, it may have achieved its greatest triumph.
During the campaign’s stretch run, the mainstream media has used every form and variety of spin, distortion, half truth, calumny, and lies in its diabolical effort to make Killary Rotten Clinton President of the USSA.
The mass media – television, newspapers, movies, the Entertainment industry, book publishing, advertising, and now sports – is part of society’s opinion molding movers and shakers which form part of what Noble Prize winning economist F. A. Hayek called ‘intellectuals.’

This post was published at Acting-Man on October 28, 2016.

HILLARY: DECEIT, DEBT, DELUSIONS (PART ONE)

‘While every group has certain economic interests identical with those of all groups, every group has also, as we shall see, interests antagonistic to those of all other groups. While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting its case. And it will finally either convince the general public that its case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible.’
‘ Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson
One of the benefits of running a blog for the last seven years has been interacting with so many smart people. During these daily interactions I am introduced to new ideas, different points of view, and become acquainted with a plethora of great thinkers. When I was younger, before kids, long commutes, running a blog and being beaten down by life, I was a voracious reader. My regular commenters direct me towards writers and books I wish I had read in my twenties rather than my fifties.
But I guess it is never too late to learn something new. I’ve now read the first two of the four books I bought myself at Christmas: The Law by Frederic Bastiat; Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt; The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek; and Tragedy & Hope by Carroll Quigley. What is so striking after reading The Law (written in 1850) and Economics in One Lesson (written in 1946) is humanity’s foibles, belief in fallacies, and ignorance of economics hasn’t changed over the last two centuries.
Bastiat & Hazlitt are so clear and concise in their obliteration of the fallacies that socialism and government control of the economy are beneficial to society, that only a brain dead liberal, Ivy League economist, mainstream media shill, or a corrupt politician like Hillary Clinton wouldn’t understand. Clinton and her government interventionist minions play the game of promising ‘free’ goodies to their special interest constituents, while promising to punish their enemies (the rich, deplorable middle class, coal industry, gun owners, religious conservatives, entrepreneurs, Russia, Assad). The narrow minded focus of mathematically challenged liberals is to get elected by any means necessary. They tout the benefits of their new programs on the particular group they are buying votes from, without mentioning the costs, detriments or long term damage to the country and unborn generations. Politicians count on the ignorance of the populace when presenting simplistic fallacious policies that are economically damaging to the country. That’s how you end up $19.5 trillion in debt, with $200 trillion of unfunded welfare liabilities.
Corrupt politicians sell their deceits to a government educated dumbed down population by hiring highly educated lackey economist whores who sell their ‘expert’ opinion to the highest bidder. A vast swath of the American public has been conditioned through government education and had their minds molded by establishment manipulators to feel rather than think. People believe untruths and half-truths because they have been conditioned to do so.
They say the truth will set you free. But in today’s society, silence about the truth will keep the masses enslaved in passivity and apathy. Huxley realized 85 years ago the truth could be drowned in a sea of distractions and irrelevance. Those who have controlled the unseen mechanisms of society through the educational system, mass media, think tanks, ‘experts’ and corrupt politicians have successfully used propaganda to instill ideas and beliefs in the minds of the masses having no basis in fact or reality.

This post was published at The Burning Platform on October 10, 2016.

‘The Intellectual Yet Idiot’ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In particular, they all (totalitarian systems) seem to have in common an intense dislike of the more abstract forms of thought -a dislike characteristically also shown by many of the collectivists among our scientists.
– From my 2010 review of F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom
The following is an excellent takedown of the so-called ‘elite,’ the status quo, whatever you want to call them. We all know the type. It’s the self-assured people who constantly get things wrong, constantly screw up on issues of national significance and yet somehow never face any consequences or accountability for their actions.
Here’s the meat of the piece, originally published at Medium:
What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking ‘clerks’ and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Michael Krieger | Posted Friday Sep 16, 2016.

The Naughty ‘P’ Word

Imagine waking up one morning to discover all prices have been abolished.
Prices, you discover, are no longer allowed in the market economy.
Immediately, as you probably suspect, the entire system would spiral into complete chaos.
In short order, there would be mass shortages… and then starvation… and complete social collapse.
Such is the importance, we realize, of the price tag.
Prices help us to not only survive, but thrive by simplifying our economic lives. They tell us what we need to know to make easy what would – absent their assistance – become an insanely onerous, if not impossible, ordeal.
You see, our modern economy, in order to flourish, requires billions of decisions each day. These decisions make up the marketplace. In turn, the marketplace, as observed by Hayek, becomes a discovery system for what’s scarce and what is readily available. (This discovery system, of course, functions best without the price-fixers, monopolizers, regulators and other shades of government meddlers… but we digress.)

This post was published at Laissez Faire on Feb 5, 2016.

What If Obama Believed In Individual Liberty & Free Markets?

President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address on January 12, 2016, and devoted most of the time to defending his ‘legacy’ of bigger and more intrusive government, with an emphasis on the other aspects of personal and social life he wished could come under the blanket of more political paternalism, if only there was enough time before he leaves office on January 20, 2017.
But suppose that, instead, Obama had had an epiphany shortly before he spoke before the Congress on January 12th. Imagine that he had had a realization that the Progressive and political paternalistic ideas that he has believed in, espoused and implemented during his first seven years in the office of the presidency had been wrong and misguided.
What if he had discovered the ideas, say, of Ayn Rand, Henry Hazlitt, Milton Friedman, and F. A. Hayek, for example? Suppose that he realized that the true principles of a free society were to be found in the ideas and ideals of individual rights and liberty, free markets and competitive enterprise?
What if the president offered, instead, an agenda for freedom rather than one of paternalism? What would the State of the Union address be like if he had such an epiphany for defending individual liberty rather than more unrestricted government license over our lives?
Let us imagine what he might have said, instead of the words he actually spoke:
‘My fellow Americans, I come before you tonight to deliver my seventh and last State of the Union address at a time of continuing economic uncertainty and social tensions across our great nation.
‘I have spoken to you more than once about the country’s need for ‘hope and change.’ But I now realize that we must look for that hope and change in a far different direction that the one I’ve talked about and argued for in previous years.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 01/28/2016.