Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, January 2009


Friday, January 30, 2009

Jail for Businessmen, a Pass for Torturers
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Francesco Insolia must soon report to a federal penitentiary to begin serving a one-year sentence. His crime? Hiring illegal aliens from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras in his leather-goods company in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He has also been ordered to pay $1 million to the federal government.

Meanwhile, if it turns out that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld. Alberto Gonzalez, John Yoo, and other high U.S. officials violated laws against torture and illegal wiretaps, there are people arguing that the Justice Department should not prosecute them because they were high government officials who meant well.

Something definitely seems wrong with this picture. After all, let’s compare the Insolia’s “crime” and the crimes that Bush and his cohorts allegedly committed.

Insolia’s “crime” involved no initiation of force against another human being. The relationship that he had with those workers was entirely consensual. Insolia and the workers voluntarily entered into the employment relationship because they both benefited from it. Moreover, Insolia and the workers were producing a product that presumably benefitted people. Otherwise, he would have gone out of business. So, here you have three different groups of people who were benefiting from a consensual economic transaction — the employer, the workers, and consumers.

On the other hand, no one can argue that the crimes that Bush, Cheney, and other U.S. officials allegedly committed involve consensual acts. Torture involves the initiation of force against another human being and oftentimes results in death, injury, or severe psychological damage. Wiretapping involves the intrusion into a person’s most private affairs. Since these acts involve direct infringements on the rights of others, there is good reason that the law makes them criminal offenses.

Something is dreadfully wrong with a nation in which good people like Francesco Insolia are being punished for engaging in peaceful, consensual, and beneficial economic relationships with others while high government officials who allegedly violate criminal laws against acts of violence are given a free pass.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama’s Defense of Rumsfeld and Yoo
by Jacob G. Hornberger

While Barack Obama’s Justice Department is deliberating over what to do in the al-Marri case, the same Justice Department is defending Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Justice Department attorney John Yoo, and other Bush administration officials in civil lawsuits brought by Jose Padilla.

Both Padilla and al-Marri were arrested on American soil, treated as enemy combatants in the war on terrorism, and detained for years in a military dungeon in South Carolina. Padilla is an American citizen and al-Marri is a citizen of Qatar.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the enemy-combatant doctrine in both cases, denying the habeas corpus relief sought by both men. When Padilla appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justice Department quickly shifted positions and converted Padilla to a criminal-court defendant. That made Padilla’s appeal moot, which deprived the Supreme Court from ruling on the matter. Thus, the Justice Department’s clever piece of legal maneuvering left the Fourth Circuit’s decision upholding the government’s enemy-combatant power intact, thereby empowering the government to apply it to all other Americans.

Padilla was then prosecuted in federal district court on terrorism charges, convicted, and sentenced to serve time in a federal penitentiary. Of course, one of the ironies is that supporters of the war on terrorism continue to tell us, with straight faces, that the federal courts cannot handle terrorism cases.

Meanwhile al-Marri has appealed his continued detention as an enemy combatant to the Supreme Court, where the government’s brief is pending. President Obama has ordered a review of the case.

Padilla wasn’t finished, however. He filed a 43-page civil lawsuit in federal court in Charleston against several U.S. officials, including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, and former Attorney General John Ashcroft, seeking a declaration that was done to him, including torture, isolation, and denial of the procedural protections in the Bill of Rights, was illegal and unconstitutional. Padilla has filed a similar case in San Francisco against Yoo, who authored or co-authored some of the infamous torture memos.

At a hearing today in Charleston, Barack Obama’s Justice Department will ask a federal magistrate to dismiss Padilla’s case against Rumsfeld and others. Next week, it is expected to do the same in the case against Yoo. In its legal brief in support of its motion to dismiss, the Justice Department states that “adjudication of the claims pressed by [Padilla] in this case would necessarily require an examination of the manner in which the government identifies, captures, designates, detains, and interrogates enemy combatants” and that a Padilla victory “would strike at the core functions of the political branches, impacting military discipline, aiding our enemies, and making the United States more vulnerable to terrorist attack. ”

So, where does all this leave us?

Unless the Supreme Court reverses the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and expressly strikes down the enemy combatant doctrine, under the current state of the law the president, along with the military, have the authority to round up any Americans they choose, including critics, dissidents, newspaper editors, and the like as enemy combatants. As I have repeatedly emphasized over the years, this power constitutes a revolutionary change in the relationship between government and citizen. The power to round up people and incarcerate them indefinitely as enemy combatants, denying them right to counsel, trial by jury, and other due process rights, constitutes the ultimate power that any government can have over its own citizens. It is impossible to reconcile such power with the principles of a free society.

But it get worse. If the Justice Department succeeds with its motions to dismiss Padilla’s civil lawsuits, it will mean that the government will not only have the power to take people into custody and hold them as enemy combatants. It will also mean that the government will be empowered to treat them any way it wants, with impunity. Waterboarding, isolation, sensory deprivation, and sexual abuse and humiliation. It will all be available for use against American citizens taken into custody as enemy combatants because there will be nothing the citizen will be able to do about it. Any lawsuits he later files for what was done to him will be thrown out of court as a threat to national security and to the waging of the perpetual war on terrorism.

While it’s true that Americans will still have the right to file a petition for writ of habeas corpus, such right will be fairly meaningless. After all, don’t forget that Padilla’s and al-Marri’s detention as enemy combatants was upheld by the Fourth Circuit as part of their petition for habeas relief. Once the right crisis occurs and the round-ups begin, the courts are unlikely to second-guess the government’s determination as to who is an enemy combatant and who isn’t, as both al-Marri and Padilla discovered. (As Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel put it so aptly, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”)

So, while we continue focusing on the ever-increasing infringements on economic liberty at the hands of the Obama regime, let us not forget that such infringements pale in significance compared to the power to round up people, torture and sexually abuse them, incarcerate them for the rest of their lives, deny them access to friends and family, and deny them the due process protections of the Bill of Rights.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Public Schooling and Economic Crises
by Jacob G. Hornberger

We should not underestimate the powerful role that public — that is, government — schooling plays in the current economic crisis roiling American society. From the first grade through the 12th grade, most American children attend public schools. Several hours a day under government tutelage for twelve years is a very long time.

One of the ironies of public schooling is that the students have no idea that their minds and mindsets are being molded into a certain direction, one that is likely to remain fixed for the rest of their lives. Yet, that is the primary reason that government officials wish to have control over the education of the children in a nation: to mold their minds in such a way as to make them good, little citizens when they grow up, ones who believe in and support the doctrines and dogmas that state officials promulgate.

Adolf Hitler, a fierce believer in public schooling, put it well when he declared,

“When an opponent declares,
‘I will not come over to your side.’
I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already….
What are you? You will pass on.
Your descendants, however,
now stand in the new camp.
In a short time they will know nothing
else but this new community.’”

One of the biggest public-school success stories is with respect to economics. How many students in public schools are exposed to the libertarian economic philosophy of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, and Frederic Bastiat? I’d venture to say only a very small percentage. I know this: throughout my own time in the 12 years I attended public schools and the four years I majored in economics at a state-supported college, I never heard those names or even a mention of Austrian economics.

Instead, I was subjected to such standard claptrap as Keynesianism and how Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal saved free enterprise. It wasn’t until after I graduated from law school that I discovered Mises, Hayek, and the free-market Austrian paradigm. I then spent years educating myself on real economics, not the pseudo economics that is taught in public schools and state-supported colleges and universities.

Those who look to Barack Obama or the U.S. Congress or the federal government for salvation from America’s economic woes are looking in the wrong direction. Those people are the problem, not the solution. It is their policies that are bringing ruin to our nation. They are the ones who have the quest for power, and it’s that quest that is the root of the problem.

Throughout history, the counterweight to those who thirst for power has been a citizenry who loves liberty. The lovers of liberty have ensured that those who love power have had their love of power restrained and constrained so that it could not do too much harm to the nation. That’s what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were all about — to protect us from the likes of those who suffer from a severe love of power.

As Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress argue over how much more money they’re going to spend to “revive” the U.S. economy, how many more banks and financial institutions they’re going to bail out, how many more regulations they’re going to impose on American businesses, and how much they’re going to raise taxes, the American public remains dumb-founded. While people seem to have a sense that something is amiss, they just don’t know what it is. For much of their lives, it was ingrained in them that the Industrial Revolution was a horrible thing, that the gold standard was an antiquated mechanism, that regulations were needed to keep people safe, that free enterprise failed in 1929, that the Federal Reserve keeps the monetary system stable, that the New Deal saved free enterprise, that Social Security monies are kept in a fund, that government spending stimulates the economy, that savings are bad and consumption is good, and that welfare programs help the poor and bring prosperity to society.

It never occurs to most people that all this is intellectual junk and that the reason they so easily fall for it is because of their mindsets that the state formed during their most formative years. In fact, the government school system is so successful that most people honestly believe that it’s essential to a free society, notwithstanding its coercive, military-like, indoctrination environment.

Yet, freeing one’s mind from the years of state indoctrination, while difficult, is not impossible. I’m proof of that and so are most other libertarians. Many of us attended public schools and state-supported colleges and we have been able to free ourselves of what the state did to us. If we could do it, so can everyone else. And that’s what’s needed for us lovers of liberty to take our country back from the lovers of power.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama and the al-Marri Case
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Among the executive orders President Obama issued upon assuming the presidency was one ordering the Justice Department to review the case of Ali Saleh al-Marri, a case that involves the enemy-combatant doctrine in terrorism cases that the U.S. government assumed after the 9/11 attacks. (For an extensive discussion of the importance of the al-Marri case, see “The al-Marri Case Affects Us All.”)

Here’s the issue in the al-Marri case. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, it was a well-established legal doctrine that terrorism is a crime. It’s listed in the federal criminal code as a criminal offense. Suspected terrorists have always been indicted and prosecuted in federal district court as criminals.

After the 9/11 attacks, however, and without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment, the Bush administration announced that the federal government would have the option of treating terrorism as either a crime or an act of war.

Many Americans cheered this assumption of power, some of them not realizing that it also applied to Americans. From 9/11 forward, the president wielded the power to take any American into custody as an enemy combatant terrorist and treat him accordingly — waterboarding, isolation, indefinite incarceration, etc. No jury trial. No Bill of Rights. No Constitution.

The president and the military applied the newly assumed enemy-combatant power to Jose Padilla, an American citizen, and to al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar, both of whom were arrested on American soil, which is considered part of the battlefield in the worldwide fight against terrorism.

The enemy-combatant power was upheld in the Padilla case by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguably the most conservative circuit in the nation. When Padilla was appealing that decision to the Supreme Court, the government suddenly and unexpectedly exercised its option to treat Padilla as a criminal defendant instead of as an enemy combatant. That clever legal maneuvering deprived the Supreme Court of ruling on the matter, leaving the Fourth Circuit’s decision intact. That decision could, of course, be relied upon if the government were to begin rounding up Americans during some major crisis in the future.

Al-Marri was being prosecuted in federal district court for criminal offenses when the federal government exercised its post-9/11 option to convert him to enemy-combatant status. On the government’s motion, the federal judge dismissed the criminal indictment — “with prejudice” — and al-Marri was whisked away to the same military dungeon in South Carolina where Padilla had been incarcerated as an enemy combatant. That’s where al-Marri has been for the past six years.

When the al-Marri case reached the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, not surprisingly the court once again upheld the enemy-combatant power. Al-Marri appealed and the Supreme Court recently accepted the case. Al-Marri has filed his appellate brief and the government’s brief is now pending. That’s where the case now sits.

The course that Obama and the Justice Department select will undoubtedly have major ramifications for the American people. While those ramifications might be positive in the short run, they might well be negative and ominous in the long run.

One option would be to simply transfer al-Marri to the federal courts for prosecution, thereby treating his offenses as crimes rather than as acts of war. If they do that, then the Supreme Court will be once again be deprived of the opportunity to firmly and unequivocally strike down the enemy-combatant doctrine. The Fourth Circuit decision upholding the doctrine will remain intact, ready to be relied upon whenever some future president decides to begin rounding up Americans in the midst of a big crisis. In other words, transferring al-Marri to the federal courts will result in the same situation as when U.S. officials transferred Padilla to the federal courts.

Transferring al-Marri to the federal courts for prosecution, however, could be problematic for prosecutors. Why? Because prosecutors would be barred from charging al-Marri with the same charges that formed the subject of the initial indictment against him. That’s because a dismissal “with prejudice” is a final adjudication of those charges under the double-jeopardy provisions of the Constitution.

Another option would be to simply release al-Marri. That again would mean that the Supreme Court would not review the case, thereby leaving the Fourth Circuit decision intact.

Another option would be to ask the Fourth Circuit to vacate its decision and enter a new judgment in favor of al-Marri. That option is problematic, however, because while a court will vacate a particular decision based on an agreement of the parties, that doesn’t mean it will enter a new and different opinion in the case. That is, while the Fourth Circuit might well vacate its decision in response to a request from the government, the possibility that the court will enter a new opinion that effectively says, “We were wrong about the enemy combatant doctrine” is nil.

Thus, unless the government proceeds forward with the al-Marri case, the Supreme Court will be denied the opportunity to reverse the Fourth Circuit’s decision upholding the enemy-combatant doctrine. Yet, it is difficult to believe that given its purported intention to move America in a different direction with respect to civil liberties, the Obama administration will in good conscience be able to proceed forward and ask the Court to uphold al-Marri’s detention.

The final option would be to ask the Supreme Court to enter a decision and opinion overruling the Fourth Circuit decision and striking down the enemy-combatant power. That, however, that option is problematic because the courts do not enter advisory opinions. The court is more likely to say to the government: If you believe that, then you have your remedy — release him or transfer him to the federal courts.

Thus, while al-Marri might well come out the winner in all this, the likelihood is that the American people and their freedom will come out the loser because that ominous Fourth Circuit opinion upholding the enemy-combatant power will remain intact for use by some future president in the midst of some major crisis.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Want More Terrorism and Big Government? Continue the Occupations.
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Last Friday’s FFF Email Update linked to my September 2008 Freedom Daily article entitled “Seven Years of Darkness, Tyranny, and Oppression.” On that same day, my daily blog post was entitled “Afghanistan and Big Government.”

The point of both articles was to show how U.S. foreign policy is at the root of foreign anger and hatred against the United States, manifesting itself in the form of terrorist blowback. That blowback threat has been used as the excuse to infringe on civil liberties, to expand the size and scope of federal power, and to spend ever-increasing sums of taxpayer money.

Yesterday’s Washington Post provided an example of how this process works:

“U.S. troops stormed the house of a former army officer Saturday in northern Iraq, killing the man and his wife, wounding their 8-year-old daughter and unleashing anger among residents at tactics they deemed excessive, police said.”

What was the U.S. military’s rationale for this deadly raid? It was the standard one. The army officer killed was, they said, a terrorist. During the raid, they said, the man’s wife reached under a mattress and refused orders in Arabic to show her hands, at which point she was killed along with her husband. The little girl was injured by a bullet that passed through her mother.

The U.S. government sees all of this as perfectly normal. The government becomes convinced that the Iraqi man is a terrorist. They raid his home in the middle of the night and end up killing him and his wife and injure his daughter. The wife’s death and child’s injury might be unfortunate collateral damage but the damage is worth it. After all, the world now has one or two less terrorists in it.


We don’t really know whether the dead man and woman were guilty of anything because they were never put on trial. All we have is the word of the U.S. military that he was, in fact, a terrorist, and, therefore, it’s really no big deal that he was killed.

Equally important has been the reaction among Iraqis to the raid. According to the Post, “In the angry aftermath, 40 cars carrying hundreds of people converged on the family’s funeral later in the day, said Fadhil Najim, a neighbor. He said the mourners shouted, ‘Death to America! Death to killers of women!’ as they buried the bodies.”

So, according to U.S. officials, the raid has removed one or perhaps two terrorists from the world. At the same, however, it has added hundreds of people to the ranks of potential terrorists.

Do the math. One terrorist gone and hundreds of potential terrorists produced.

Do you see the problem?

Don’t forget that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. The U.S. government invaded a country that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. Yet, thanks to the U.S. invasion, we’re told that Iraq has now become a central front in the war on terrorism.

Do the math. No terrorists at all and then, after the invasion, countless terrorists produced.

As I pointed out in my articles, the federal government, owing to its invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, has succeeded in establishing and running one of the biggest terrorist-producing operations in history, one that is perpetual as long as the occupations continue, along with big government, big spending, and ever-growing infringements on liberty.

Meanwhile, the situation isn’t any different in Afghanistan. There, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is criticizing the killing of 16 people in a recent U.S. military operation. According to yesterday’s BBC, “Mr. Karzai said that most of those killed were civilians, adding that such deadly incidents strengthened Taleban rebels and weakened Afghanistan’s government.”

At first U.S. officials maintained that all of the dead were terrorists who had opened fire on U.S. troops. The U.S. government is now promising to investigate the incident.

At this juncture of history, the United States is badly in need of political leaders who exercise wisdom rather than foolishness. Americans who cherish freedom, peace, and prosperity should hope that President Obama wisely withdraws all U.S. troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan and brings them home immediately.

Don’t hold your breath, however. Three days after Obama was inaugurated, two drone missile attacks conducted by the CIA in Pakistan, a country that is not at war with the United States, killed 17 people.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Afghanistan and Big Government
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Conservatives are criticizing President Obama’s decision to close the Pentagon’s prison camp at Guantanamo, saying that this will result in more terrorism in the United States. They are being false and disingenuous. If there is another terrorist act in the United States, it will be because of what the U.S. government is doing to people overseas, not because its torture camp at Guantanamo was shut down.

The first thing to keep in mind about conservatives is that they love Big Government. Oh, I know they don’t say that. I fully realize that their favorite mantra — which they put on their stationery, emphasize in their speeches, and post on their websites — is “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.”

But it’s all fake and false. Conservatives have long favored socialism, imperialism, and unlimited government, both at home and abroad. This is reflected by their unwavering support for such things as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the drug war, public schooling, welfare, subsidies, bailouts, foreign aid, the Federal Reserve, paper money, foreign wars, invasions, wars of aggression, overseas military bases, coups, regime changes, and so forth.

There is no better instance of conservative support for unlimited government than in foreign affairs. Think about it: In Iraq, are there any limits on the U.S. government? Do the restraints of the Constitution apply to the U.S. government there? Of course not. And the same holds true for Afghanistan. Unlimited government is what conservatives were also seeking for their camp in Cuba — free of any interference by the Constitution and the courts.

For that matter, despite all their rhetoric, unlimited government is what conservatives would love to have here in the United States. That’s in fact what their “enemy combatant doctrine” is all about — the unrestrained power of the federal government to seize any American as an “enemy combatant” and to treat him accordingly.

The beauty of an imperial and interventionist foreign policy, from the standpoint of conservatives, is that it provides the conditions for Big Government not only overseas but also here at home.

Consider, for example, Afghanistan. Seven years ago, the U.S. military invaded that country with the aim of killing Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. Today, we are told that there the terrorist threat in Afghanistan is bigger than ever before, a phenomenon that unfortunately is motivating President Obama to redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan rather than simply bringing all of them home after 7 years of occupation.

How can this be? Seven years is a long time How come there are more terrorists than when they started killing terrorists seven years ago?

The reason lies in the fact that after 9/11 the U.S. government assumed the power to treat terrorism as either a crime or an act of war, at its option. In Afghanistan, the U.S. government opted to treat the situation as an act of war.

That meant bombs, lots of bombs. Here’s how they work. Let’s say the Pentagon learns that there is a terrorist in a certain village. One option would be to send in a platoon of soldiers to arrest the terrorist and bring him back for trial. That option, however, would put the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk, especially give the possibility of a firefight developing or even an ambush by other terrorists.

Much easier and safer to simply drop bombs on the terrorist. In the process of doing so, however, one of the bombs is dropped on a wedding party. The bride, some of the bridesmaids, a couple of the groomsmen, and a few relatives are killed. The Pentagon issues an apology for the collateral damage and gives some money to the survivors, pointing out that the deaths were worth it because the terrorist was killed too.

There’s one big problem, however. The groom, or the parents, or friends and relatives aren’t satisfied. They want vengeance. They join the terrorists. And thus, the ranks of the terrorists swell.

Now, what does that mean? Obviously, it means Bigger Government. More troops. More bombs. Higher budgets for the military and military-industrial complex. It’s all justified because the terrorist threat just keeps getting larger and larger.

The beauty of the process, from the standpoint of a Big Government supporter, is that the process is never-ending. More bombs produce more terrorists, which produce more bombs, which produce more terrorists. In fact, the Pentagon’s operations in Afghanistan (and Iraq and Guantanamo) must rank among the most successful terrorist-producing operations in history.

Inevitably, one of those foreign terrorists who are seeking vengeance will make his way over to the United States, perhaps by blowing up some private wedding party over here — or some building housing lots of people. And that will be the day when conservatives will scream, “It’s all because President Obama closed our torture camp at Guantanamo, not because our bombs killed wedding parties in Afghanistan.”

Moreover, another domestic terrorist attack will produce Bigger Government here at home, including more massive infringements on civil liberties, more loss of freedom in general, higher government spending, debasement of the dollar, and so forth.

Several years ago, Virginia, D.C., and Maryland were threatened by snipers who were indiscriminately shooting people. Fortunately and wisely, officials treated the matter as a crime rather than an act of war. After 15 shootings, the police received a lead that the suspected snipers were in a highway rest area. They closed in on them, surprised them, and took them into custody. They were prosecuted, convicted, and incarcerated.

Imagine, however, if the matter had been treated as an act of war and the job turned over to the Pentagon. On learning that the suspected terrorists were in the rest area, the Pentagon would have handled the situation differently from the way the police did. They would simply have dropped a couple of bombs on the rest area, killing the suspected terrorists … and everyone around them. And later, when survivors of the innocent victims retaliated with a terrorist attack on a U.S. facility, U.S. officials would claim that the attack had nothing to do with their actions at the rest area.

In 1993, Ramzi Yousef committed a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in retaliation for U.S. foreign policy. He escaped to Pakistan. Fortunately and wisely, U.S. officials opted to treat that terrorist attack as a crime rather than an act of war. It took a few years, but ultimately the police found Yousef and he was brought back to the United States, prosecuted in federal court, convicted, and incarcerated.

Because that WTC terrorist attack was treated as a crime, the Pentagon was precluded from doing to Pakistan what it has done to Afghanistan. There were no bombs dropped on the Pakistani people in the attempt to kill Yousef. Consequently, there were no Pakistanis seeking vengeance for the collateral damage done to their friends and relatives.

For Americans who genuinely want to restore a society based on “free enterprise, private property, and limited government,” there is but one solution in foreign affairs: immediately withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and the rest of the world, bring them home, and discharge them. For people who want more Big Government and less freedom, there is one surefire way to assure success: continue and even expand the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Let’s give credit where credit is due. President Obama deserves credit for the new direction he appears to be taking with respect to civil liberties. That is reflected by his plans to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and his order to suspend the military commissions pending a review of the entire system.

Ever since the Pentagon set up its prison camp in Cuba, The Future of Freedom Foundation has taken a leading role in opposition to the camp. When rumors began to leak out that prisoners were being tortured at Gitmo, we were among the first organizations to speak out. We also fervently opposed the alternative “judicial” system that the Pentagon set up at Guantanamo for trying suspected terrorists. We repeatedly pointed out that the Pentagon was making a mockery out of everything the Framers had accomplished in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

We held two major conferences for the purpose of emphasizing the critical importance of civil liberties to a free society. Those two conferences featured American lawyers who were playing a leading role in opposition to Guantanamo Bay and the Bush administration’s enormous assault on civil liberties. These attorneys were Joe Margulies, the lead counsel in the first Guantanamo case in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of habeas corpus, Joanne Mariner, Human Rights Watch attorney, Bruce Fein, former Justice Department lawyer, Jesslyn Radack, former Justice Department lawyer, Andrew Napolitano, Fox News legal commentator, Glenn Greenwald, blogger at Salon.com, Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University, and Doug Bandow, noted libertarian.

If you haven’t yet seen their speeches, I highly recommend that you do so. They are all posted on our website. Their expositions will stand through the ages as among the greatest and most principled defenses of civil liberties ever.

Undoubtedly, every one of them feels as good as we do here at FFF over the new direction that the Obama administration seems to be taking on civil liberties. Joanne Mariner was at Guantanamo monitoring proceedings when Obama’s order to suspend the proceedings was issued. I can only imagine her reaction, after years of ardently opposing such proceedings.

The new president of the United States, a lawyer himself, seems to be saying this: Those who have spent the last several years condemning Guantanamo Bay and defending civil liberties have been right and it is time to place America back on the right track.

And it gets even better. Glenn Greenwald has pointed out (here and here) that the lawyers that Obama has appointed to serve in the Office of Legal Counsel have publicly condemned in law review articles and other forums the Bush administration’s massive assault on civil liberties. That’s the department from which the infamous torture memos were issued.

As Americans, we need to be better than everyone else. Even when our enemies are engaged in wrongful conduct — torture, pillaging, raping, operating kangaroo judicial systems whose outcome is preordained, or whatever — it is incumbent on us to refrain from doing so. We have to be better. We have to be the model for right, just, and proper conduct, even when those we are opposing are the model for the opposite.

There are those who will say, “But this new direction will make us less safe.” To which I reply: First, life is not so dear that it must be purchased at any price, especially when that price is our freedom. Second, there is no guarantee that torture works, especially when it is employed against people who subsequently turn out to be innocent of any wrongdoing. Third, the Guantanamo camp and the military tribunals have only succeeded in pouring fuel on the fire of anger and outrage that foreigners have over U.S. foreign policy. Fourth, the only way to achieve security in the long run is to dismantle America’s foreign empire and its interventionist foreign policy, which are at the root of the anger and hatred against our country.

Of course, it’s still too early to know for certain whether Obama will continue to move our country in a better and freer direction with respect to civil liberties. But initial signs look good and he deserves credit for that.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hitler Favored Self-Sacrifice Too
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The mainstream press is aglow over President Obama’s call for Americans to sacrifice for the common good. Obama’s plea mimics that of President Franklin Roosevelt, who asked Americans to do the same thing as part of his New Deal for America in the 1930s.

Back then, it was someone else who was aglow over the president’s call for people to sacrifice for the common good:

“The Reich chancellor requests Mr. Dodd to present his greetings to President Roosevelt. He congratulates the president upon his heroic effort in the interest of the American people. The president’s successful struggle against economic distress is being followed by the entire German people with interest and admiration. The Reich chancellor is in accord with the president that the virtues of sense of duty, readiness for sacrifice, and discipline must be the supreme rule of the whole nation. This moral demand, which the president is addressing to every single citizen, is only the quintessence of German philosophy of the state, expressed in the motto “The public weal before the private gain.” —from a letter Adolf Hitler sent to U.S. Ambassador Thomas Dodd on March 14, 1934, as quoted in John Toland’s book Adolf Hitler: The Definite Biography.

“The chief Nazi newspaper, Volkischer Beobachter, repeatedly praised ‘Roosevelt’s adoption of National Socialist strains of thought in his economic and social policies’ and ‘the development toward an authoritarian state’ based on the ‘demand that collective good be put before individual self-interest.’ —from a review entitled “Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt: What FDR Had in Common with the Other Charismatic Collectivists of the 30s” by David Boaz of Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany by Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

In libertarian contradistinction:

“I have come here to say that I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life…. It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing….It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.” —from The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sacrificing Iraqis for the Greater Good
by Jacob G. Hornberger

It seems that Barack Obama is going to take his time withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Actually this shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that Obama is as much a welfare-state man as George W. Bush.

Welfare state, you ask? What does devotion to the welfare state have to do with Iraq?

Most Americans exuberantly supported the invasion of Iraq based on a theory of self-defense. Through a clever use of propaganda, innuendo, and implication, the president, vice president, and other high U.S. officials led Americans into believing that Saddam Hussein was about to unleash weapons of mass destruction, including mushroom clouds, on the United States. Thus, while Americans knew that the invasion would kill and maim countless Iraqis, they justified such killings as a necessary thing to do to defend the United States from an imminent WMD attack by Iraq.

However, when it became clear that the WMD threat was bogus, many Americans remained exuberant supporters of the invasion and occupation. What they did is simply shift the principal rationale for killing Iraqis from one of self-defense to one of welfare — that is, helping the Iraqi people to establish democracy, something that they were having trouble doing on their own.

Thus, once it became clear that the WMD threat had been baseless, there was no remorse over the killing, maiming, and torture of Iraqis up to that point. Instead, Americans quickly accepted the president’s alternative justification for invading Iraq: We’re doing it to bring democracy to Iraq and, therefore, it’s okay to continue killing Iraqis in the pursuit of that goal.

Through it all, there was never an upper limit to the number of Iraqis who could be killed in the attempt to bring democracy to their country. All that mattered was the greater good of Iraqi society. The sacrifices that had to be made by the Iraqi people to achieve that goal were only of secondary concern.

Hardly a week goes by without some newspaper article or speech referring to the 4,000 American soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq. Every Sunday in churches across America, ministers exhort their congregations to pray for the troops in Iraq. The troops are considered to be heroes for risking their lives in the attempt to bring democracy to Iraq.

Yet, when do you ever hear any laments for the millions of Iraqi victims of the invasion and occupation — that is, those who have been killed, maimed, tortured, and exiled? Hardly ever. They are simply considered the necessary costs of bringing democracy to their country. And no price is too high to pay in terms of Iraqi deaths and injuries to achieve that goal.

As we witness President Obama dragging his feet on ordering an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, we shouldn’t forget that the principal justification that President Clinton relied upon for the brutal sanctions imposed on the Iraqi people during his term in office was the same welfare-state function that Bush ultimately relied upon to justify his invasion. When asked by “Sixty Minutes” whether the deaths of half-a-million children from the sanctions had been worth it, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright provided the Clinton’s administration’s welfare-state position:: “We think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.” She was referring to the price that Iraqi children had to pay in the U.S. attempt to bring regime change to Iraq.

That’s what passes for morality in the mind of the welfare-statist — the propriety of sacrificing some for the greater good of all. It’s that perverse “morality” that has been used to justify more than 15 years of death, maiming, torture, and destruction in Iraq.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Libertarianism Is the Solution to America’s Woes
by Jacob G. Hornberger

With the Bush administration behind us and with the advent of the Obama regime, conservatives are despondent and depressed while liberals are aglow with hope and optimism. Actually both sides might have their feelings misplaced, as Obama might well turn out to be as much like Bush as Bush was like Clinton.

What’s important for libertarians to keep in mind in the coming four years is that our philosophy is not about how to reform or improve the statism that conservatives and liberals foist upon our nation. Our philosophy entails an alternative paradigm, one that is based on restoring individual freedom, free markets, private property, and limited government to our land.

As most everyone would agree, things are bad in America, both in terms of individual freedom and economic prosperity. Freedom and prosperity are getting squeezed by federal policies in both the foreign-policy and domestic-policy arenas. The common denominator to both arenas is big spending, big government, and less freedom.

In foreign policy, the advocates of big government have produced the ideal situation for themselves. The government goes abroad and kills, maims, tortures, and abuses people. The victims finally tire of this and strike back. The government then uses that blowback to justify doing more of what caused the problem in the first place. It also uses the blowback as the excuse to spend more money on the military and the military-industrial complex and as an excuse to suspend the civil liberties of the people. The cycle perpetuates itself indefinitely.

As long as people continue to buy into the conservative-liberal paradigm of empire, intervention, and the war on terrorism, our nation will remain mired in the big-government muck into which our nation has been plunged.

On the domestic side, Barack Obama threatens to be the biggest spender in U.S. history, bigger even than George W. Bush. Both liberals and conservatives have converted the federal government into an engine of welfare-state plunder and redistribution, one in which everyone is trying to get into everyone’s else’s pocketbook while at the same time doing his best to protect his own assets from being plundered.

How can this not have horrible ramifications for the American people? If welfare-state socialism and big spending were really a key to economic prosperity, then wouldn’t the Soviet Union still be around?

Maybe the Obama-Keynesian mindset is this: “While socialism and big spending plunge foreign countries into bankruptcy, they bring prosperity to America because we’re exceptional.”

Well, with all due respect, that’s idiocy. History has repeatedly shown that profligate governments bring down nations and they bring down freedom. They are a sure-fire recipe for tyranny, oppression, and impoverishment. The principle applies to the United States as much as it does to any other country.

Meanwhile, the drug war, the favorite federal program of both conservatives and liberals, remains in full force and effect. The U.S. military is champing at the bits to use the drug-war violence in Mexico, which is a direct consequence of the drug war, as the excuse to exercise its battle-tested prowess gained in Iraq and Afghanistan to the U.S. borderlands It’s just another example of how statist programs foisted on our nation by conservatives and liberals bring about chaos and crises, which then engender militarism, interventionism, big spending, big government, tyranny, and oppression.

In the coming four years, libertarians must resist the urge to come up with ways to fix or reform the conservative-liberal paradigm of empire, socialism, and interventionism. We must instead continue raising people’s vision to a completely different paradigm — the paradigm of libertarianism, which includes the following:

1.The dismantling of the U.S. government’s overseas empire.
2.The withdrawal of all overseas troops and discharging them into the private sector.
3.The end of all foreign aid.
4.The end of all federal involvement in foreign wars and disputes.
5.The repeal of all welfare-state programs.
6.The repeal of the federal income tax.
7.The separation of the economy and the state.
8.The end of the drug war.
9.The abolition of the Federal Reserve.
10.The restoration of sound money.

Libertarianism, not reformed statism, is the key to restoring freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony to our land. What greater legacy could we leave to future generations than to restore libertarianism to our land? What greater gift could we give ourselves?

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fascism and the New Deal
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Although the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and its agency the National Recovery Administration (NRA) were among Franklin Roosevelt’s proudest accomplishments, they were also among the New Deal’s biggest fiascos. To call the NIRA and the NRA bizarre would be a severe understatement. The truth is that like much of the New Deal, their features were straight out of a fascist playbook. In fact, even the most die-hard proponents of the New Deal would not deny that the NIRA and NRA would have fit in perfectly in both Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany.

The NIRA declared that U.S. industries should combine into cartels, where they would set codes for prices, wages, and working conditions with which all the companies in that industry were required to comply.

Not surprisingly, black markets began developing in reaction to the NRA codes. In his great book The Roosevelt Myth (1944), John T. Flynn stated:

The NRA was discovering it could not enforce its rules. Black markets grew up. Only the most violent police methods could procure enforcement. In Sidney Hillman’s garment industry the code authority employed enforcement police. They roamed through the garment district like storm troopers. They could enter a man’s factory, send him out, line up his employees, subject them to minute interrogation, take over his books on the instant. Night work was forbidden. Flying squadrons of these private coat-and-suit police went through the district at night, battering down doors with axes looking for men who were committing the crime of sewing together a pair of pants at night. But without these harsh methods many code authorities said there could be no compliance because the public was not back of it.

(For an excellent description of the NRA, see this Wikipedia entry.)

The head of the NRA was a man named Hugh S. Johnson. He was a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General, a man who believed in rules, regulations, order, and stability. Like Roosevelt, he considered the New Deal to be a national crusade to restore prosperity to America. To build support for the NRA, Johnson came up with the idea of a patriotic emblem known as the Blue Eagle.

American businessmen were expected to prominently display Blue Eagle posters in their windows, on packages, and in advertisements. The posters displayed a big blue eagle with the words “NRA Member. U.S. We Do Our Part.”

The idea was to combine Roosevelt’s fascist programs with the power of patriotism. That way, Americans businessmen could be more easily manipulated into accepting an economic system that was alien to everything Americans had stood for since the founding of the Republic — i.e., economic liberty, private property, free markets, and free enterprise

Any businessman who refused to display the Blue Eagle was, not surprisingly, considered to be a suspect American, one who had to be dealt with. To deal with such dissidents, pro-New Deal proponents organized well-publicized economic boycotts designed to pressure these unpatriotic dissidents into getting with the program.

In 1935 in the case of Schechter Poultry Corp. vs. U.S., the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared Roosevelt’s NIRA and NRA unconstitutional. Given that Roosevelt’s socialist program of Social Security survived constitutional scrutiny and has been with us ever since, it boggles the mind as to what America would look like today if the Supreme Court had ruled otherwise in Schechter.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

FDR’s Infamous Court-Packing Scheme
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Among the things that pro-New Deal advocates hardly ever bring up is one of the most shameful acts by a president in U.S. history. That’s the infamous “court-packing” scheme that President Franklin Roosevelt proposed when the Supreme Court was declaring much of his New Deal unconstitutional.

Not only was the philosophy of the New Deal, with its elements of socialism and fascism, alien to the principles of liberty and free markets on which our nation was founded, it was also in violation of the principles of limited government established by the Framers in the Constitution. That was why the Supreme Court was declaring much of the New Deal unconstitutional

There were four justices leading the way toward declaring New Deal programs unconstitutional: Sutherland, Van Devanter, Butler, and McReynolds. They became known as the Four Horsemen. Sometimes, the decisions declaring a New Deal program were 5-4, with a justice named Owen Roberts joining the Four Horsemen.

Roosevelt had an option that he could have pursued to circumvent the Supreme Court, one that the Constitution itself provided. To achieve the economic revolution that he sought, he could have pursued an amendment to the Constitution, one in which he formally asked the American people to reject the free-market way of life on which the U.S. had been founded and to accept a socialist and interventionist economic system.

Instead, he deceitfully led the American people into believing that this new economic system would actually “save” freedom and free markets, despite the fact that its welfare-state and regulatory principles were directly contrary to those of a free-enterprise system, that is a system free of government control and interference.

Even worse, once he realized that the Supreme Court was interfering with his plans by simply doing its job, he proposed his infamous plan in which he sought to pack the Supreme Court with his judicial cronies, so as to have the necessary votes to sustain the constitutionality of his programs.

Here’s how FDR’s plan was going to work. For every justice over the age of 70, Roosevelt would be able to appoint an additional justice. He had calculated that given the ages of the sitting justices, his plan would give him the necessary votes he needed to get his program sustained.

Roosevelt claimed that the reason he was proposing his plan was simply to relieve the workload of the Supreme Court. It was just more deceit, which was exposed when the Chief Justice of the United States showed that the Court was up-to-date with all its cases.

To the everlasting credit of the American people, they raised a tremendous uproar and protest against the plan. By and large, Americans realized that Roosevelt was altering America’s economic system in fundamental ways. After all, they lived in a country in which people had lived for more than 125 years with the right to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth and to do whatever they wanted with it—and in a country in which economic activity was, by and large, free of government control.

But given the Great Depression, many Americans were willing to let Roosevelt get away with his new-fangled economic system. Not so, however, with the judicial system that the Framers had established with the Constitution. Americans refused to let FDR go that far, and their outcry against his court-packing scheme caused Congress to overwhelming defeat it.

Roosevelt, however, ended up winning the war. Soon after his court-packing scheme went down to defeat, Justice Roberts voted with the other side in the watershed case of West Coast Hotel vs. Parrish in 1937. From day that forward, the Supreme Court would never again declare any of Roosevelt’s economic programs unconstitutional, especially once the Four Horsemen began retiring from the bench and being replaced with pro-New Deal justices.

While Roberts always claimed that he had not switched his vote in response to Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme, his vote became known in judicial annals as the “switch in time that saved nine.”

Unlike the legislative branch, which oftentimes responds to popular will, the role of the judicial branch is different. Its job is simply to place legislation against the Constitution and determine whether the two are consistent, regardless of whether the legislation is popular among the masses or not. If it isn’t constitutional, then it is the job of the Court to so declare it. With his court-packing scheme, Roosevelt tried to tamper with that system. While the scheme failed in the short run, Roosevelt got his way in the long run.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Socialism and Fascism of the New Deal
by Jacob G. Hornberger

In the ongoing debate over Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, there are important things that pro-New Dealers would prefer not be mentioned, such as the similarities between Roosevelt’s philosophy and programs and those of Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler.

For more than 125 years, the American people had lived under an economic system in which people kept everything they earned and decided for themselves what to do with it. Economic activity was, by and large, free of government regulation. Charity was voluntary, even with respect to taking care of parents.

That’s what was known as freedom, free markets, and free enterprise. Notwithstanding what statists say about the supposed horrors of the Industrial Revolution, this unique and unusual economic system brought about the most prosperous — and most charitable — nation in history.

By the early 20th century, however, there were exceptions creeping into the system. These included the enactment of the 16th Amendment and the Federal Reserve System in 1913 and the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890.The New Deal, however, succeeded in permanently establishing an entirely new economic system in America, one we commonly refer to today as the welfare state and the regulated economy.

Roosevelt’s system was based on using the force of government to take money from people in order to give it to other people. That’s what Social Security was all about. It was also based on the power of government to control and regulate the economic activities of the people. That’s what the SEC was all about.

To make Americans feel good about what was happening, Roosevelt did his best to convince them that they weren’t really abandoning the economic system of their ancestors but instead actually saving it. In actuality the New Deal was rooted in the same philosophy and ideas on which Mussolini’s fascist system in Italy and Stalin’s and Hitler’s socialist systems in the Soviet Union and Germany were based. One of the best books to read along this line is Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany’s 1933-1939 by Wolfgang Shivelbush.

Consider Social Security, the crown jewel of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Guess whose bust is proudly displayed on the website of the U.S. Social Security Administration. Otto von Bismarck’s! He was the Iron Chancellor of Germany and introduced Social Security to Germany. He got the idea of Social Security from German socialists. Not surprisingly, Social Security was also an important program in Hitler’s program of National Socialism.

Consider Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act. It required American businesses and industries to form cartels, which would set prices that had to be followed by everyone in the cartel. The NIRA was similar to the fascistic programs that Mussolini was establishing in Italy. Mussolini believed in leaving property under private ownership but placing it under government control. That’s what Roosevelt believed in also.

Barack Obama plans to establish a huge public-works program, in which the federal government spends hundreds of millions of dollars on highways and other infrastructure. His plan is based on a similar plan that Roosevelt employed as part of his New Deal. Roosevelt’s plan was similar to that of Hitler, who was doing the same thing in Germany. That’s what the construction of the Autobahn was all about.

The economic crisis facing Americans today leaves them with a choice: whether to continue embracing the socialistic and fascistic philosophy and programs that have guided our nation since the time of the New Deal or to restore the principles of individual freedom, free markets, and free enterprise on which our nation was based. Let’s hope Americans make the right decision because the stakes, obviously, are very high.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Prosecuting Bush
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Barack Obama is implying that he isn’t likely to pursue criminal investigations and prosecutions of President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, and other high U.S. officials for purported violations of criminal laws as part of their “war on terrorism.” Presumably, that includes federal crimes against torture, wiretaps, kidnapping, and even murder.

Apparently Obama’s rationale is that since Bush and his associates were supposedly trying to keep America safe when the crimes were purportedly committed, they should be let off the hook.

However, since when are good intentions a defense to a criminal prosecution? How about the tens of thousands of people whose lives have been damaged or destroyed with drug-law prosecutions and convictions? Were they let off the hook if they had good reasons for violating the law?

Consider, for example, a drug user who says “I smoke dope because it helps me with my illness.” Do the DEA and the Justice Department say, “Okay, that’s all we needed to hear. Since you’ve got a good reason for having violated the law, we will leave you alone”?

Or take the case of a robber. After being caught, he says, “I committed the robbery to get money to pay for my mother’s cancer operation. She would have died without it. What I did is no different than what the IRS and Medicare do.”

Would the state say to the robber: “We understand. Since you had a good reason for robbing the victim, we will leave you alone”?

If a person has a good reason for committing a crime, that doesn’t constitute a defense to the crime but rather something to consider in mitigation of punishment.

Thus, no matter how sincere Bush and Cheney and their associates might have been in violating the criminal law, assuming they did, that should not preclude them from being charged and prosecuted. Why should they be treated differently than private citizens? Isn’t the criminal law supposed to apply to everyone, regardless of status in society? Or are the rich and the political elite to be accorded one system of justice and the poor and powerless another?

Recall the henchmen who operated under Augustine Pinochet, the strongman who took power in a coup in Chile. They were ultimately prosecuted for doing many of the same things that people in the Bush administration have purportedly done — torture, sex abuse, murder, and disappearances of detainees.

Yet, Pinochet and his people claimed that it was all necessary to keep Chile safe. There was the state murder of Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean diplomat in the democratically elected Allende regime that Pinochet had ousted from power. In the eyes of Pinochet and his henchmen, Letelier was a communist who could rightfully be killed anywhere in the world, even on the streets of Washington, D.C.

Should the Chilean officials have been let off the hook? They sure thought so. Before relinquishing power, they gave themselves grants of immunity from criminal prosecution.

Much the same thing occurred in Argentina, where the ruling military junta, before relinquishing power, immunized military officials for crimes relating to kidnapping, torture, murder, and disappearing people, which had been committed in the purported attempt to keep Argentina safe.

To their everlasting credit, the Chilean and Argentine citizenry disagreed with the self-granted grants of immunity. Although it took many years and lots of courage and perseverance, they demanded and secured criminal prosecutions and convictions against many of the malefactors.

The American people are now facing the same issue that the Chilean and Argentine people faced: Should public officials who purportedly broke laws against torture, sex abuse, kidnapping, and murder be charged with those offenses or should they be permitted to escape justice because of supposedly good intentions?

The correct answer is reflected in the words of British judge Lord Mansfield, who stated in Somersett’s Case in 1772: “Let Justice be done, though the Heavens may fall.”

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Runaway Train
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The political and economic situation in the United States has the feel of a runaway train.

Federal spending continues to go through the roof, both in foreign and domestic affairs. That means more federal borrowing, which means more money added to the national debt. It also inevitably means more inflation or printing of money to pay off the debt.

The fundamental problem is the fierce commitment that both conservatives and liberals have to the welfare-warfare state. While there is some handwringing going on over the ever-increasing federal spending, the fact is that neither conservatives nor liberals will dare let go of their favorite government programs.

Consider, for example, the 7-year U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. You’ll recall that the invasion of that country was justified under the notion that the U.S. military was going to kill or capture Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They’ve had 7 years to accomplish that goal. That’s almost twice the length of World War II! Yet, all we hear is how much worse the situation is getting in Afghanistan and how necessary it is to spend even more money there.

There is also the 6-year occupation of Iraq. The U.S. invasion ousted Saddam Hussein from power and installed a radical Islamic regime. Yet, after 6 years the regime is unable to stand without the support of the U.S. military. So, they tell us that as long as there is a risk that the regime could be toppled by Iraqi insurgents and dissidents, the U.S. military must stay. So, the federal spending spigot for Iraq remains open.

There is also the far-flung U.S. Empire, consisting of U.S. troops stationed in more than 100 countries. Their job is to ensure order and stability in the world. There is also the enormous amount of foreign aid that must constantly be paid to foreign regimes, both in terms of money and military armaments. As history has repeatedly shown, the price of empire is not cheap. Troops must be paid, equipment must be constantly upgraded, and foreign rulers must be paid.

Domestic entitlement programs continue to suck billions of dollars out of the pockets of the American people. Social Security recipients view their payments as a “right,” no matter how much harm or damage this socialistic program produces, especially among young people. The same holds true for Medicare and Medicaid. While other welfare programs are not considered as “rights,” the welfare state mindset is so fixed in the minds of conservatives and liberals, they might as well be. Education grants, farm subsidies, corporate bailouts, community grants. The list of potential welfare programs is virtually endless.

There is also the regulated society to consider, including the departments, agencies, and armies of bureaucrats and law-enforcement agents to operate and enforce the regulations. The DEA and drug war. The SEC. Homeland Security. The Border Patrol. The ATF. It’s all very expensive.

Neither conservatives nor liberals will let go of Afghanistan, Iraq, the U.S. Empire, Social Security and other welfare-state programs, and the drug war and other regulatory programs, along with the armies of bureaucrats that administer and enforce them.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to kill people in Iraq and Afghanistan and continues furnishing money and armaments to foreign regimes that are killing people, thereby producing the perpetual threat of terrorist blowback against Americans, such as that which occurred on 9/11. If such blowback occurs, U.S. officials will then use that a justification to impose harsher measures both on foreigners and on Americans. That means more expensive (and more oppressive) government.

So, the obvious question is: What is the solution to this mess? The answer is one that neither conservatives nor liberals like to hear: As long as one operates within the conservative-liberal paradigm of the welfare-warfare state, there is no solution. Things are only going to get worse. After several decades of the welfare-warfare state, things seem to be finally headed toward a climax, and it’s not a good one.

When a paradigm is inherently defective, there is only one rational course of action: reject the failed paradigm and adopt a paradigm that works. That would be libertarianism, the philosophy of freedom, free markets, and limited government on which our nation was founded. Libertarianism entails the dismantling, not the reform, of the welfare programs, the warfare programs, the empire programs, and the regulatory programs. Unfortunately, it might well take a train wreck before Americans finally reject the welfare-warfare paradigm and embrace the paradigm of libertarianism.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Reject Interventionism and Embrace Liberty
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Ludwig von Mises pointed out that one government intervention will inevitably lead to more interventions. The reason is that the initial intervention produces a crisis, which then leads public officials to call for a new intervention to address the crisis. That new intervention then produces a new crisis, which then leads to new interventions.

A good example of this phenomenon, of course, is the U.S. economy. The government enacts a series of interventions to encourage home ownership, including the creation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the implicit federal guarantee of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds, and the Community Reinvestment Act.

When those interventions collapsed like a house of cards, what was the response of federal officials to the crisis? Their response was to blame it all on “free enterprise” and enact more interventions in the form of massive socialistic bailouts of firms who got caught in the collapse along with a proposed massive new public-works “stimulus” package.

Another good example of Mises’s dictum is what is occurring on along the southern border, where the Mexican government has imposing a severe crackdown in the war on drugs.

The drug war began with making the possession and distribution of drugs illegal. When people failed to voluntarily obey the law, an ever-increasing array of interventions were enacted, including such things as the creation of the DEA, drug raids, warrantless searches and seizures, asset forfeitures, mandatory-minimum sentences, foreign aid to corrupt regimes, etc.

Each intervention produced new crises, which public officials used as the justification for new interventions. Throughout the decades and despite the ever-increasing number of interventions that filled the prisons, conservatives would say, “The real problem is that they’re just not cracking down hard enough. If I were in charge, I’d really crack down and win the war on drugs.”

What better evidence of a “real crackdown” than Mexico, where both the cops and military are battling the drug lords? The result? Big crises in the form of gang wars, killings of law-enforcement officers, torture, and kidnappings.

So, guess what U.S. officials are now planning. If you answered, “More interventions,” you win the prize. According to the New York Times, they’re planning a “surge” — yes, just like in Iraq! — of civilian and perhaps even military law enforcement along the border to deal with the possibility of drug-war violence spilling over into the United States.

For decades, Americans along the border have had to deal with the increasing Soviet-like presence of the Border Patrol to deal with the illegal-alien crisis produced by immigration controls and interventions. These include warrantless searches of vehicles along the border, trespass onto ranches and farms, the Berlin-type fence being constructed, and passport checks at airports and highways as far as 100 miles north of the border. They’ve also had to deal with the enormous presence of drug-war agents in their towns and communities, who have succeeded in sending many people along the border into federal and state penitentiaries. As some people have put it, the borderlands are a Constitution-free zone.

But all that might prove to be minor compared to what will happen if they follow through with their plans to militarize the border with a surge of battle-tested troops. What better way to bring “order” than that? Isn’t that what they’ve done in Iraq and Afghanistan?

As things continue to get worse and worse in such areas as the economy, the drug war, immigration, and in foreign policy, Americans would be wise to begin thinking about the fact that there is a solution to their woes: the rejection of the paradigm of interventionism that is at the root of their problems and the embrace of the paradigm of individual liberty, free markets, and a constitutional republic on which our nation was founded.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Redistributing the Wealth in a Free Market
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Ever since the advent of the welfare state, liberals have argued that it is essential that the federal government tax the rich in order to give to the poor. Otherwise, they claim, in a free-market economy, the rich only get richer and the poor only get poorer.

What nonsense!

If the rich only get richer, would someone mind explaining to me why all those rich people who invested their money with Bernie Madoff are now poor? That’s right — thousands of rich people have lost fortunes, in some cases all they have.

Another example involves Adolf Merckle, a German billionaire who recently committed suicide. Yes, I said billionaire, with a “b.” Why did Merckle kill himself? Because his entire billion-dollar financial empire was about to collapse. Why? Because of risky investments that Merckle had made in Volkswagen that jeopardized his entire billion-dollar fortune.

There is no 100 percent security in life for anyone, not even for the rich. People can make the wrong investments. They can trust the wrong people with their money. They can put their money in a bank that goes under. They can store money under their mattress at home, only to see the house go up in flames. They can invest in government bonds that go into default. They can buy annuities from companies that go bankrupt.

The undeniable fact is that the market is a tremendous redistributer of wealth.

In the business world, a company can become rich by selling products that consumers want to buy. A good example is Microsoft. But success and wealth are no guarantee of future existence. If Microsoft stops satisfying consumers or if another business comes along and offers a better product, Microsoft can begin losing market share and even ultimately go out of business.

A good example of this phenomenon is the U.S. automobile industry. Do you recall when college economics textbooks used to refer to U.S. auto companies as an “oligopoly”? That was a fancy word for a few rich, big, and powerful companies that are able to set whatever prices they want for their products.

Well, if those auto companies were so big and powerful, why are they desperately seeking a government bailout today? The fact is that as big and rich as they used to be, they failed to continue satisfying consumers, especially compared to Japanese automakers, and so they lost market share and now are even threatened with extinction.

Finally, we would be remiss if we failed to notice that the power that liberals have vested in the federal government to tax the rich and give to the poor has now been used to tax the poor and middle class to give to the rich. That’s what the federal bailout of Wall Street is all about. How ironic is that?

Since redistribution of wealth is the principle justification for the welfare state, what do we need the welfare state for? Doesn’t the free market do that job fine? In fact, isn’t the free-market’s redistribution of wealth more just than that of the welfare state given that the former is based on consumer preferences and voluntary actions in the marketplace while the latter is based on political preferences and coercive dictates in the political arena?

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Power of Ideas in the War on Drugs
by Jacob G. Hornberger

A good example of the power of ideas occurred recently in El Paso, where the City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the federal government to consider legalizing drugs as a solution to the drug-war violence in Mexico. Although the mayor vetoed the resolution and El Paso’s congressman opposed it, the City Council’s unanimous enactment of the resolution shows the power of libertarian ideas to bring an end to immoral, vicious, destructive, and failed government policies.

When FFF was founded some twenty years ago, the idea of legalizing drugs was considered an extreme one. When we devoted the April 1990 issue of our journal Freedom Daily to the legalization of drugs, we knew that it was an unpopular position and that it would likely cost us donations, especially from conservatives.

But we also knew that it was imperative that we take a strong position on this issue, given the horrible damage and destruction that the drug war had already wreaked and was certain to continue doing. Of course, the next 20 years have proved us right, especially when one considers all the death and destruction that the drug war has caused not only here in the United States but also all over the world, especially in Mexico.

Many years ago, a student libertarian club at a public high school in Houston invited me to deliver a talk on libertarianism. The night before the event, some of FFF’s supporters sponsored an evening function, where I gave a speech in which I mentioned the idea of ending the drug war.

Two parents of students at the high school had come to the event. Early the next morning, they telephoned a member of the school board to report that a speaker was going to be on campus later that day to give a speech to students advocating drug legalization.

Shocked into action, the school board member contacted the principal of the school, who in turn contacted the sponsor of the student group that had invited me to give the talk. The sponsor explained to the principal that the talk was being delivered after school hours and that no one was being forced to attend. The principal, to his credit, decided to let the talk proceed.

Not surprisingly, all the controversy generated a large audience of both students and parents, including the parents who had complained. I gave my talk, which included all the reasons as to why drugs should be legalized — e.g., that people have a moral right to ingest harmful substances without being punished for it by the state, that the drug war had failed to accomplish its purported purpose, and that the war generated horrible collateral damage in the form of murder, gang wars, robberies, burglaries, and police and judicial corruption.

The Q&A session, as you can imagine, was lively, with virtually all the students in the audience supporting the idea of drug legalization. The parents, including those who had done the reporting, remained silent. One amusing exchange took place when one student asked, “Why are adults so scared of considering new ideas?” Before I could answer, another student responded, “I hear that that’s what happens to you when you get old.”

Today, the idea of drug legalization is a respectable and credible one. What better manifestation of that than the fact that mainstream politicians in the city council of a major American city have unanimously called for an end to the drug war?

Add to those city council members all the law-enforcement officers, judges, governors, and other public officials who have called for an end to the drug war. My hunch is that when the American people finally come to the realization that the federal warfare-welfare state is at the root of their woes, the first major program to go will be the drug war.

Unfortunately there are still people who won’t let go of this damaging and destructive war, including the mayor and congressman from El Paso. Such people simply have a difficult time letting go of their favorite government programs no matter how long they have been in existence, no matter how much death and destruction they wreak, and no matter how big a failure they are.

For such people, hope springs eternal that someone someplace will finally come up with a way to win the drug war. Bu it just won’t happen. We live in a consistent universe, one in which immoral means produce bad results. No matter what they do, the drug war will continue to be very damaging failure, and there is only one solution to it — end it.

As the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman put it in his article “An Open Letter to Bill Bennett” which originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal and was reprinted in the April 1990 issue of Freedom Daily,

“Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore…. Decriminalizing drugs is even more urgent now than in 1972, but we must recognize that the harm done in the interim cannot be wiped out, certainly not immediately. Postponing decriminalization will only make matters worse, and make the problem appear even more intractable.”

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Real Value of the Standing Army
by Jacob G. Hornberger

As commentators such as Salon’s Glenn Greenwald and Cato’s Gene Healey have reported, the U.S. military has deployed combat-tested troops to a homeland-defense mission here in the United States. The unit is the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, which has just returned from duty in Iraq.

The Pentagon is denying that the troops will be used for law-enforcement purposes. That, of course would violate the Posse Comitatus Act, which restricts the use of the military as a domestic police force.

However, let’s not forget that ever since 9/11, the Pentagon has considered the domestic United States to be part of the worldwide battleground in the war on terrorism, which has empowered the military to round up Americans as enemy eombatants and treat them accordingly, as they did with American citizen Jose Padilla — that is, with torture and the possibility of indefinite military detention.

Thus, given the right circumstances, such as another 9/11 attack, there is nothing to prevent the Pentagon from ordering the 3rd Infantry Division to sweep into cities and towns across America and round up enemy combatants. When confronted by critics with the Posse Comitatus Act, all the Pentagon would have to do in response is declare, “Ever since 9/11, we have possessed the power to treat terrorism as either an act of war or a crime. On authorization of the president, we have declared the people we are rounding up as enemy combatants, not criminals. Therefore, our actions are justified and constitutional. We are protecting our nation and our national security.”

And make no mistake about it: The troops would faithfully and loyally obey the orders of the president to effect such round-ups. While the troops take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, in their minds that is equivalent to obeying the orders of their commander in chief. That phenomenon was reflected by the willingness, even eagerness, to obey the president’s orders to invade and occupy Iraq despite the fact that there was no congressional declaration of war, as required by the Constitution. It has also been reflected by the willingness of the troops to establish the Pentagon’s prison camp at Guantanamo Bay for the precise purpose of avoiding the application of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as well as interference by the federal courts that the Constitution established.

We also mustn’t ignore the convenient possibility that those combat troops could also be used to quell domestic unrest arising out of a catastrophic economic crisis, one that has nothing to do with terrorism. For example, suppose a perfect storm of economic chaos were to strike our nation — with an industry-wide banking collapse, a worldwide dumping of U.S. government bonds, a massive run on the dollar, and the financial inability of the federal government to meet all its trillions of dollars in obligations without hyperinflation.

Imagine millions of old people angrily demanding their Social Security checks. And millions of sick people angrily demanding their Medicare payments. And millions of people angrily demanding their FDIC checks after their bank has gone under. And millions of angry stockholders who have lost their retirement funds in a stock-market crash.

Who better to maintain order than the troops? After all, don’t forget that that’s what President Hoover did when World War I veterans marched on Washington during the Great Depression demanding an early payment of their war bonuses. Hoover sent U.S. troops, who faithfully obeyed orders, to attack the demonstrators and restore order.

Don’t forget also the ruthlessness displayed by Franklin Roosevelt, who is an icon for President-elect Obama and other liberals as well as conservatives. His Justice Department criminally prosecuted Americans for owning gold, doing its best to convict them of a felony for committing that dastardly economic crime against the state. That same Justice Department also went after people like the Schechter brothers, who ran a chicken operation in New York, for violating inane New Deal regulations, and did its best to have them incarcerated.

At the advent of the Great Depression, it was important for U.S. officials to immediately blame the Depression on the failure of free enterprise. They knew that if Americans were to discover that the 1929 stock-market crash, in which millions of Americans lost fortunes, was actually caused by the federal government, specifically the Federal Reserve, there would be tremendous anger and rage directed against the government. (Of course, we also witnessed this phenomenon immediately after the 9/11 attacks, when U.S. officials blamed the attacks on hatred for America’s freedom and values to avoid having Americans focus on what the U.S. government had been doing to people in the Middle East as part of U.S. foreign policy.)

Today, however, many Americans have discovered the truth about the cause of the Great Depression. Even the current chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, openly admits that the federal government, not free enterprise, was the culprit behind the Great Depression.

Thus, if a catastrophic economic crisis there were to occur, federal officials would undoubtedly blame it on the usual suspects — speculators, greed, OPEC, Big Oil, free enterprise, capitalism, businessmen, price gougers, profiteers, and Wall Street. And they know that the average American is just as likely to buy it as Americans did back in the 1930s.

But U.S. officials also know that many Americans might well figure out that all that is nonsense and that it’s the government itself once again — and specifically its fiscal and monetary policies — that are the root cause of the catastrophe. In such a case, those combat-ready troops, purportedly stationed to protect Americans from the terrorists, would be conveniently positioned to suppress protests by angry and outraged citizens. Of course, as the Founding Fathers emphasized, that is the real value of a standing army.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Obama’s Public-Works Folly
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Americans might well rue the day when they trusted the federal government to spend the nation into prosperity. It just isn’t going to happen. All that Barack Obama’s massive public-works spending spree is going to accomplish is either more debt added to the national debt or more depreciation in the value of the dollar, or both. Either way, Americans are going to be hurt, possibly very badly.

After all, let’s not forget that ever since 9/11, George Bush has engaged in one of the biggest spending sprees in U.S. history. Have you noticed all the economic prosperity that Bush’s military spending spree has brought our nation?

Let’s also not forget what conservatives used to say about how Ronald Reagan supposedly brought down the Soviet Union — by causing the Soviet government to spend so much money that it bankrupted the nation. So, if a Soviet spending spree was bad for the Soviet Union, how likely is it that a U.S. government spending spree is going to prove good for America?

Keep in mind that the U.S. government does not have an independently produced pool of wealth. Thus, there are only 3 ways that Obama can get the money to pay for his big public-works project: taxation, borrowing, and printing the money.

We already know that he’s not likely going to resort to taxation, unless he taxes only the rich. But if he does tax the rich to fund his project, all that he accomplishes is having the government, rather than the rich, spend the money. That is, to the extent that government taxes and spends money, to that extent the taxpayers are deprived of spending or investing the same money. Thus, to the extent the government’s public works sectors (e.g., highway contractors) benefit, to that extent the rich people’s sectors in which they would have spent or invested the money are damaged. Government hasn’t created wealth, it has simply redirected it.

More likely, Obama will borrow the money, which is precisely how George W. Bush has been funding his spending spree for the past 8 years. One of the primary lenders has been communist China, which is one reason that U.S. officials must be very careful about offending China. It’s never a good idea to insult or abuse your loan officer.

According to an article in Saturday’s Washington Post, the national debt is expected to jump $2 trillion this year, bringing the total to more than $14 trillion. Of course, hardly anyone thinks about the fact that U.S. taxpayers are ultimately responsible for repayment of that ever-growing debt.

Moreover, forty percent of the debt held by private investors comes due this year. Naturally, federal officials feel that they can continue to pile on the debt and that they can keep rolling it over when it comes due. Perhaps that’s true, but I wouldn’t count on it. If people start thinking that there’s a risk of default, they might well decline to invest in the roll-over debt. Moreover, in a panic there’s always the possibility that China or other major debt holders might begin dumping their supply of U.S. debt instruments onto the market, thereby causing a major and immediate plunge in the value of the dollar.

Could there be a default on U.S. debt? That raises the third way that Obama could finance his big public-works project — by simply printing the money. Federal officials could also resort to the printing presses to pay off the ever-growing debt. If they do that, that will constitute a default because debt holders will be receiving less than they contracted for by virtue of being paid off in depreciated dollars. That prospect could easily trigger a run on the dollar.

In other words, all 3 options that Obama has at his disposal will produce bad, maybe even catastrophic, consequences for our nation. Alas, however, the same trust that Americans place in George W. Bush to protect them from the terrorists, they’re now placing in Obama to protect them from the economic crisis. The result will be the same as it has been in Bush’s war on terrorism — more centralized power in Washington and less freedom and security for the American people.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Why Trust Big Brother on Economics?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Liberals befuddle me. When it comes to matters of privacy and civil liberties, they correctly exclaim against trusting Big Brother. Yet, when it comes to matters relating to economic liberty and well-being, they take an opposite tact and exclaim that people should have no reservations about trusting Big Brother.

One of the fascinating characteristics of liberals is their ability to maintain opposing views of reality within their minds. For example, they will tell you, correctly, that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal revolutionized America’s economic system. It constituted a formal abandonment of America’s free-market way of life and a formal embrace of both a socialistic welfare state and an interventionist, regulated economy. Ever since, the federal government has been growing bigger and bigger and bigger.

Yet, when the economy suffers multiple crises involving banking, the dollar, the stock market, the housing industry, Social Security, and Medicare, liberals immediately exclaim that all this reflects the failure of free enterprise, not the failure of the welfare state and interventionist economy.

One liberal, Jacob Weisberg, even went so far as to make the startling claim that the current financial crisis actually shows that it is libertarianism that has failed. Needless to say, Weisberg’s claim shocked many libertarians, especially those who have been devoting much of their lives and fortunes for the past several decades to the restoration of libertarianism to America.

Liberals have spent a great deal of time addressing the Madoff scandal, which involves a massive fraud committed against thousands of investors. What’s fascinating is that liberals are blaming the scandal on “the free market” or a “lack of regulation” or “bureaucrats asleep at the wheel.”

Yet, hasn’t the Madoff scandal occurred within the context of the regulated economy that has been in existence since the New Deal? Wasn’t the entire point of the regulated economy to ensure that people don’t get defrauded in the financial marketplace? Wasn’t that supposed to be the purpose of the SEC, which came into existence during the Roosevelt years? Isn’t 75 years sufficient time to get one’s act together and to hire bureaucrats who are not sleepy?

Apparently not, according to liberals. It’s all the failure of “free enterprise,” they say, which ironically is the same thing they said during the 1930s when they revolutionized America’s economic system. Of course, never mind that the crisis in the 1930s was caused by the Federal Reserve, a federal agency charged with socialistic central planning of money, and then aggravated by the New Deal’s socialistic and regulatory schemes.

Liberals exclaim against Madoff for creating a Ponzi scheme. That’s the type of fraud in which someone pays off old investors with high returns with the money he is receiving from new investors. Ultimately, people figure out what’s going on and the whole scheme comes crashing down.

Yet, isn’t that precisely what FDR did with Social Security, a socialistic program that liberals continue to adore and support? Liberals continue to steadfastly claim that Social Security recipients are simply receiving the money they have “put into the system.” But isn’t that just a lie and a denial of reality?

Isn’t Social Security just about the finest example of a Ponzi scheme one could ever find? Contrary to popular myth, current Social Security recipients aren’t paid out of the money they “put into the system.” That money is long gone, taken and spent by people who are now dead. Current Social Security recipients are paid out of money that is taken from young people, many of whom could use that money to make payments on their home mortgages or to pay for their children’s college bills. But who cares about them? That’s unimportant to those “love-the-poor” liberals. They just continue steadfastly supporting this massive federal Ponzi scheme and then blame the ever-growing Social Security crisis on “freedom, free enterprise, and deregulation.”

The key to getting our nation back on the right track is to face reality: Government cannot be trusted with our privacy, our civil liberties, or our economic liberty and well-being. The socialistic welfare state and regulated economy that liberals brought into existence in the 1930s is not only founded on immoral principles, the fact is that it has failed, miserably. Crisis after crisis after crisis is the hallmark of socialism and interventionism.

Our ancestors who had brought into existence a system based on economic liberty, free markets, and private property have turned out to be right. How bad do things have to get and how many economic and financial crises do Americans have to undergo before they reject socialism and interventionism and restore the principles of economic liberty on which our nation was founded?

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.