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America’s Fiscal History: From Liberty to Paternalism

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If passed in its proposed forms, the $3.5 trillion of new “entitlement” programs and spending over the next ten years, and the accompanying call for increases in a wide variety of taxes, will represent the largest expansion of the American welfare state since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society agenda in the second half of the 1960s. It will further envelop the United States in the stranglehold of political paternalism. Slightly over a century ago, the Austrian-born economist, Joseph A. Schumpeter (1883-1950) wrote about “The Crisis of the Tax State” (1918) as the First World War was drawing to a close. He explained that: The fiscal history of a people is above all an essential part of its general history. An enormous influence on the fate of nations emanates from the economic bleeding which the needs of the state necessitates, and from the use to which its results are put . . . The spirit of a people, its cultural ...

Wars and “Following the Science” are Sure Paths to Tyranny

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In the first press conference of his presidency on March 25, 2021, Joe Biden announced that he had set a target of administering 200 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine before the end of his first 100 days in office. In an earlier statement before the press, Biden said that it might be safe enough for the government to permit gatherings at people’s homes to celebrate the 4th of July. Listening to the man who occupies the White House, it seems that our lives and how we live all depend on Joe Biden. Some in the media have focused on the president’s recent stumbling up the stairway ramp while getting on to Air Force One, and wondered if at the age of 78 Biden can successfully put one foot in front of the other. Others have suggested that without the written scripts prepared by his White House staff and projected onto a teleprompter or the notes in front of him ...

Socialism-in-Practice Was a Nightmare, Not Utopia

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It is amazing sometimes how really short humanity’s historical memory can be. Listening to some in American academia and on social media, you would think that socialism was a bright, new, and shiny idea never tried before that promises a beautiful future of peace, love, and bountifulness for all. It is as if a hundred years of socialism-in-practice in a large number of countries around the world had never happened. If the reality of actual socialism in the 20th century is brought up, many “progressives” and “democratic” socialists respond by insisting that none of these historical episodes were instances of “real” socialism. It was just that the wrong people had been in charge, or it had not been implemented in the right way, or political circumstances had prevented it from getting a “fair chance” of successfully working, or it is all lies or exaggerations about the supposed “bad” or harsh” experiences under these socialist regimes. You cannot blame socialism for ...

Liberal Democracy versus Democratic Socialism versus Social Democracy

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The presidential primary campaign of Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party nomination and the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Congress from New York have once again raised the issue of the desirability for and the possibility of a system of “democratic socialism.” For many of their critics and opponents the operative word is “socialism” in their vision of a new ...

Paul Leroy-Beaulieu: A Warning Voice About the Socialist Tragedy to Come

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The Russian Revolution of November 1917, now being marked by its centenary, ushered in a hundred years of political tyranny and terror, economic suffering, exploitation and corruption, along with unimaginable mass murder, among the tens of millions of people who came under the control and command of Marxist inspired socialist regimes around the world.  But before this tragic episode ...