Jeffrey A. Tucker is Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research. He is the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and eight books in 5 languages. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture. He is available for speaking and interviews via his email. Tw | FB | LinkedIn
Jeffrey A. Tucker
Articles from Jeffrey A. Tucker
It used to be a cliche to observe that libertarianism is neither left nor right. I don’t hear that much anymore, so it needs to be restated. Mostly it needs to be understood. Left and right emerged in the 19th century as a revolt against liberalism. They each favored different forms of statism to push back against the progress liberty was making possible. It remains the same today.
Economics is lovely because it unlocks the great mysteries of the material world: why we thrive, why we experience progress, how we can build prosperity and peace, the path toward making the best out of our limited time in this world, and leave something better for the next generation. Knowing and contemplating these things is indeed a source of immense joy.
I seriously doubt there will ever be another Facebook. The solutions of the future will be decentralized. Already, most of us run a half dozen – or maybe several dozen – apps in our suites of software that allow chat, sharing, conversations, groups, and so on. The competition will never end, and we will all learn to find joy in the ongoing process of innovation and choice. This is how it should be. Maybe at the end of this, we’ll find the right balance between the privacy we desire and the notoriety we crave. For impossible jobs such as this, I wouldn’t trust the FTC to fix the problem. You have to leave it to the market.
In a political sense, Trump might be onto something, temporarily, in the most cynical way. It is very easy for the hoi polloi to think in terms of national collectives. It’s us vs them, our guys vs. their guys. The trouble is that the world is no longer organized primarily along these nationalistic lines. We all depend on the productivity of each other and therefore on trade with each other, regardless of the nation states that trap us in their borders. The other main problem with trade war: it is a ruse to distract citizens from their real oppressor which is their own government.
Liberalism believes that society manages itself better than any top-down authority can. That includes the commercial life of a nation. But it also pertains to civil liberties, international relations, migrations, family and cultural life, and religion. And what does classical liberalism oppose? Managed economies, imperialism, ethnic cleansing, war, arbitrary rule, dictatorship, authoritarianism, and every action of government that goes beyond what is absolutely necessary, if any government is necessary at all. That the meaning of the term changed in the US in the first half of the 20th century is one of the most tragic language distortions on record.
The kids are being forced into institutions that have proven themselves unable to protect students against violence, and also face no real accountability when they fail to do so. Force is the watchword even without the direct threat of violence from guns and bombs. Why does nearly everyone think this is normal? Because compulsory schooling laws have been part of the living reality of every single living American.
Wyoming has a thin population base, astonishing natural beauty, and a wonderful crew of politicians and regulators who believe in independence, innovation, and technological progress. Thanks to some wise activism from knowledgeable people in the space, the legislature just passed a series of bills that will make Wyoming something of a safe space for crypto.
The classic story of Peter Rabbit is ultimately a tale about property rights: where they come from, how they are enforced, and the consequences of their violation. Here is the core of what makes the film remake of this story so wonderful. It challenges us to think carefully about the topic, and, as a bonus, offers up a Humean-Misesian view of property (an improvement over John Locke) and its meaning in our lives.
It’s been a beautiful thing to observe the wonderful effects of the tax cuts and deregulation of the last year. The tariffs take us off this clear path to the goal. The only question remains: is this a cul-de-sac or a u-turn? My own hope is that the political posturing is over in this one sector and we can move forward again with progress toward a world of peace, prosperity, and free trade, and that arbitrary rule will not permanently derail the rule of law in international economic relations.
The fall of the Oscars is only one sign of a larger trend. Technology fueled by economic considerations has given people more options than ever. We are curating culture according not to some mythical “national” sense of things but rather in accord with our individual preferences. This is happening now simply because we can. The economic trajectory of technology has made it possible. Any institution that strives to embody some mythical ideal of a unitary culture will fail.
And this isn’t only about the price of beer (you won’t say “dilly dilly” to $2 Bud Lights). It is about cars, computers, homes, offices, fixtures, and countless other items you use every day. The costs could very easily take away all the benefits accrued from income and corporate tax cuts. It also makes a joke of the Trump administration’s position against red tape and regulation. If my company can’t shop around for the best deal for my customers but instead must face a terrible trade bureaucracy to decline or permission in my every choice, we don’t have free enterprise.
There are many wonderful things in the world, but right now I want to talk about a product of the human mind that is a material celebration of the potential for creativity to overcome and rise above the state of nature. To put it briefly and simply, I’ve found a toilet plunger that embodies the essence of the human drama and reveals why humanity, despite every strong-armed attempt to stamp out progress and subvert the good life, somehow manages not only to survive but thrive through the ages, including even our own.
Yes, I’m suggesting a series of dramatic changes to the way employment works. No more payroll tax. No more withholding. No more health-care mandates. No more mandates of any kind. And no more policing of either hiring or firing by the state. In other words, free the market. Economic exchange is about equal power between negotiators, which only means that the same rules should apply to everyone. The more we mess with the freedom of contract, the more we privilege one party over another, with sometimes unpredictable results.
It is absolutely essential to understand the distributed model even to have a first-level conception of what cryptocurrency really is. It is not a proprietary product. It is not a company. It is not even a brand. It is a technology. It is a technology that, by design and structure, doesn’t have an owner – or, more accurately, it is owned by anyone and everyone. It is a distributed ledger. The purpose of it is to carefully delineate ownership claims and provide a chronological and immunity audit trail of changes in ownership rights. Bitcoin is a token that provides evidence of authority and access to make changes in the ledger, and thereby absorbs and reflects the value of the services provided by the ledger itself.
If not armed teachers, if not gun-free zones, if not gun bans, if not granting to the government an exclusive domain for security and the threat of violence, what is the answer? The least satisfying answer is actually the right one: we do not know precisely how to secure schools. We – “we” as in intellectuals, pundits, or society in general – do not know how to secure banks, jewelry stores, shopping malls, or casinos. How can we find out? By devolving that responsibility to institutions themselves, you allow the emergence of security solutions that are adaptive to the particular conditions of time and place.