My favorite period of history is the United States in the years 1870-1915.
Because it is the freest period in the history of man.
Was it a libertarian panacea? Nope. There were, in fact, infringements on liberty, such as the violation of women’s rights, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1870, compulsory school-attendance laws in Massachusetts, and others.
[POST-PUBLICATION NOTE: A reader wrote me and suggested that I should also point out that Jim Crow laws, which, needless to say, where a major infringement on liberty, began during this era. I agree with him. Also, another reader suggested I should make the period end in 1912, given that the Sixteenth Amendment and the Federal Reserve Act were enacted in 1913. I think his point is valid also. I probably should also mention that the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was enacted in 1870 and that the first immigration-control act was enacted in 1884. Like I say, this period was certainly not a libertarian panacea.]
But in terms of economic liberty, there is nothing that can match it.
No income taxation or IRS. People were free to keep everything they earned.
No welfare, including Social Security and Medicare. Charity was entirely voluntary.
No drug laws. People were free to consume, possess, or distribute whatever they wanted.
No immigration controls. Everyone was free to come to the United States.
No minimum-wage laws.
Very few economic regulations. Economic enterprise was free of governmental control.
No foreign wars, interventions, wars of aggression, coups, state-sponsored assassinations, torture, or indefinite detention, except, unfortunately, the Spanish-American War in 1898 and the war against the Filipino people, which signaled the turn toward empire.
No enormous standing military establishment or military-industrial complex. Instead, simply a basic military force.
No foreign aid.
No foreign military bases.
No departments of education, labor, commerce, and others.
No regulatory departments or agencies.
No compulsory school-attendance laws or public-school systems (except in Massachusetts).
No Federal Reserve System.
No paper money.
No gun control.
That was, without a doubt, the most unusual society in history. It was also the most prosperous society in history. Americans had discovered the key to ending poverty. It was also the most charitable nation in history. When Americans were free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth, they used it to build the hospitals, museums, libraries, and charitable foundations.
Why is all this important to us? Because it shows what can be accomplished. If our American ancestors could achieve these things, then so can we. In other words, we don’t have to resign ourselves to accepting reform of the welfare-warfare state way of life that statists have foisted upon our land.
I say: Let’s make the following New Year’s resolution: Let’s reject welfare-warfare state reform, which only constitutes a warmed-over form of serfdom. Let’s instead resolve to achieve what our ancestors achieved and then build on it, with the aim of bringing into existence the freest, most prosperous, peaceful, charitable, and harmonious society in history.