A fundamental fallacy of our time is that democracy is the open-sesame to peace, freedom, and prosperity. The political events surrounding what was called the ill-fated “Arab Spring” a couple of years ago was a based on the idea that “democracy” would solve all the problems of any society. But democracy in itself does not define or guarantee a free society. History has told many stories of democratic societies that have degenerated into corruption, plunder, and tyranny.by
by Blerim Reka
Young men from Balkan countries are fighting as mercenaries in the world’s trouble spots in the Middle East and Ukraine. This raises questions of what countries can do to end the threat to security when these fighters return to their own countries with battle-hardened experience and could they become a rallying point to foment further trouble.by
One of the paradoxes free-market advocates usually have to face is the apparent unpopularity of their policies although there is overwhelming empirical evidence that their proposals would bring positive outcomes. This could be a reason why some politicians avoid putting forward unpopular reforms, forestalling the political costs in order to stay in office. Stefan Fölster and Nima Sanandaji bring a breath of fresh air to this topic, arguing in Renaissance for Reforms that in reality those governments that carry out the needed but resisted market reforms to promote economic growth are the ones that tend to be rewarded with reelection.by
by Ryan McMaken
Government authorities in the UK have declared that the “Yes” campaign for secession has failed by a margin of approximately 55 percent to 45 percent. Yet, even without a majority vote for secession, the campaign for separation from the United Kingdom has already provided numerous insights into the future of secession movements and those who defend the status quo.by
by Sydney Williams
In the spring of 1918, the influenza that would become pandemic was first detected. It was initially known as “three-day-fever.” Its effects were such that it caused few deaths. Nobody paid it much heed. That fall, however, it reappeared in a more deadly form, and began to rapidly spread. Because of the War and the subsequent troop demobilization in late 1918 and 1919, a concentration of soldiers in camps, and in troop ships and trains returning to their homes abetted the disease’s migration around the world. By the end of 1919, somewhere between 20 million and 50 million people were dead of influenza, more than had been killed in four years of fighting. It has been estimated that over 20% of the U.S. population (106 million in 1920) had contracted the flu, with 675,000 dying. While those numbers suggest the death rate was only 3.5%, the 675,000 dead were almost six times the number of Americans killed in the War.by
If you have a superficial understanding of modern economics, the following argument sounds plausible: In the free market, employers have an incentive to lower costs by driving wages down, which is bad for workers. Since driving down wages is what efficiency requires, it follows that efficiency is bad for workers.
The argument dates back at least to Karl Marx. It’s wrong but it continues to have appeal because, like many of Marx’s arguments, it contains a half truth: Given the choice between paying a worker $12 or $11 an hour, other things equal, an employer would usually rather pay $11. I think it’s a useful exercise to think through why it’s wrong.by
by Samuel Gregg
I always thought it would be difficult to imagine a period in which the West would be more adrift than the 1970s. Being a child at the time, I was spared consciousness of most of that miserable decade. Thus far, however, the second decade of the 2000s seems likely to give the 10 years that spawned Watergate, stagflation, the Carter presidency, the Oil Crisis, Idi Amin, the Baader-Meinhof Gang, Jim Jones, Pol Pot, the Red Brigades, and the Iranian Revolution (to name just a few of the star attractions) a serious run for its money as a byword for Western decline.
One everyday sign of this malaise is the fact that much of the West remains, as in the seventies, mired in what’s now called the Long Slump. And persistently unhealthy economies are usually symptomatic of an unwillingness to acknowledge deeper problems. Examples are most Western governments’ reluctance to accept that it’s game-over for the regulatory and welfare state as-we-knew-it, or to do something about the growing cancer of crony-capitalism.by
Seventy-five years ago today, Red Army troops smashed into Poland. Masters of deception and propaganda, they encouraged locals to believe that they were coming to join the battle against Hitler, who had invaded two weeks’ earlier. But, within a day, the true nature of the Nazi-Soviet collaboration was exposed.by
The world’s financial crisis and Europe’s stubborn resistance to pull out of recession and experience economic growth have created difficulties for those wanting to invest. But after years of uncertainty people are taking a long-term view of how to get a return on their investments and are trusting the stock market.by
by Sydney Williams
Tomorrow, the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannock Burn that gave Scotland freedom from the English, resident Scots aged 16 and older will go to the polls to determine whether Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom, or if it will become independent.
(The British and Scottish crowns were reunited in 1603 with the ascension of James I as England’s king. James I was already, as James VI, King of Scotland. However, it would not be for another 100 years, until May 1, 1707, that the Act of Union brought open borders to Scotland.)by