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by Finbar Feehan-Fitzgerald

Gold has played a substantial role as a medium of exchange in world history; a role whose importance is hard to overstate. Amongst other things, it was gold’s scarcity that made it so desirable to act as a medium of exchange. Due to this gold performed well as a store of value and method for deferred payments. As well as this, it is divisible, malleable, durable and differentiable; making it a prime candidate to act as a medium of exchange.

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by John Charalambakis

This Thursday (September 18th), the people of Scotland are called to choose between going alone as an independent state or staying under the umbrella of Britain and the United Kingdom. The pro-independence camp (that advocates a yes vote in the referendum) claims that going alone would mean that the people of Scotland would be better off because they will enjoy more democracy coupled with autonomy and national identity that comes with higher standards of living due to the oil revenues and less burdens arising from Britain’s debt level. The camp that advocates a no vote claims that Scotland would be much worse off, because the uncertainties that arise from the breakup of the union cannot be easily calculated. Moreover, they claim that Scotland will lose a 307-year old umbrella that is responsible for its well-being. An independent Scotland would be a major blow to Britain, possibly as big as the 1922 birth of the Irish Free State. Even worse, if the independence movement wins, it could signal the devolution of the EU itself, as explained below.

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by Sydney Williams

A challenge facing America is deciding the right balance between safety from those who would harm us and security provided by government agencies like the NSA, which under the Patriot Act have the right to scrutinize personal e-mails and phone messages. Everyone wants to be safe from another 9/11, yet no one wants some government bureaucrat reading his or her personal e-mails or listening in on calls. The freedoms we cherish will be lost if it means always living under the omnipresent eye of “big brother.” But if one is killed in a terrorist attack because of an absence of vigilance, then all that freedom would have come to naught. A life lived freely but subject to an attack, may be good for the mind, but not the body; while a fully secured life may save the body, but entrap the mind.

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by Alfredo Pascual

The world is attentively observing and in most cases praising Uruguayan legalization of cannabis before the recently approved law is carried out. As a Uruguayan and lover of individual freedom I would like to be the first one to stand up and celebrate this big step to end the war on drugs, but I cannot avoid being skeptic.

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independent_logoby Christopher Coyne & Abigail Hall

Coercive government actions that target another country often act like a boomerang, turning around and knocking down freedoms and liberties in the “throwing” nation. Two developments in the United States illustrate the boomerang effect: the rise of government surveillance and the growing militarization of the police.

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by Steve Fritzinger

In an old joke, President Bush (it doesn’t matter which one) claims that the problem with the French is that they have no word for “entrepreneur.” I don’t know if that joke is supposed to be on the Bushes, the French, or both. I do know that readers of French economist Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century might be convinced that the joke is actually true.

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by Jeffrey Tucker

It’s easily forgotten that it all started with a multiple hijacking. To have prevented it was to have prevented a crime that’s been around since the early years of commercial airlines. It’s the problem of how to prevent a wonderful service from being used by evil people toward evil ends. As with any problem of crime, absent the mass conversation of the hearts of all of humanity, the solution is technical. What went wrong that such a solution was not in place on that fateful day?

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Randall G. Holcombe recently spoke with the Mises Institute about his new textbook Advanced Introduction to the Austrian School of Economics, now available from Edward Elgar Publishing.

Mises Institute: Why did you decide to write this book?

Randall Holcombe: I received an inquiry from Edward Elgar, the publisher, asking me if I’d be interested in writing it, and I agreed. They wanted a short book of about 50,000 words that would introduce people to the ideas of the Austrian School, and that’s what I wrote. The text runs just 116 pages, which doesn’t count the preface, index, and an extensive list of references at the end.

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by John Charalambakis

We are approaching the time when the ECB will pull the trigger and will start buying paper “assets” (i.e. someone else’s liabilities) in the ultimate hope of stimulating a paralytic EU economy that is devastated by regulations, high taxes, unsustainable debt and unfunded liabilities. The zero-bound interest rate trap is about one thing: depressing the expected rates of returns to real investments and thus setting up the economy for an era of diminished expectations. This is the epoch where the self-inflicted wounds are coming not from what we hate (putting our economic and financial houses in order), but rather from what we love (easy money).

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by Sydney Williams

Arne Duncan blinked. After being hammered for much of the summer by the two main teacher’s unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), the Education Secretary said states could delay the use of test results in teacher performance evaluations by another year. It was disappointing, but understandable, as he and his Party have been financially reliant on Teachers’ unions. Let us hope he only blinked and not shut his eyes, as did so many of his predecessors. Teachers’ unions (and, in fact, all public sector unions) have Democrats in a chokehold. (Collectively, unions are the largest contributors to political campaigns.) Over the past twenty-five years the NEA and the AFT have given about $100 million to political campaigns, with 97% of that going to Democrats. The relationship has been symbiotic, as elected Democrats have ensured that the demands of union leaders are met.

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