Three letters-to-the-editor I wrote in the 1980s/90s that were never published are here, and repixeled below: on on inflation; one on gambling prohibition; one on free will (nature vs. nurture).
To The Economist (Nov. 11, 1992)
Editor, Letters Page
The Economist Newspaper
25 St James’s Street
London SWlA 1HG
In “Zero Inflation: How Low is Low Enough?” (November 7th) you assume that governments ought to pursue a low, stable price inflation rate in order to best benefit their economies. In a growing economy, however, a zero price inflation rate would require inflation of the money supply, which itself adversely affects market behaviour. Money inflation artificially lowers interest rates, sending false signals which cause malinvestments and temporary booms. These malinvestments must, ultimately, be liquidated by recession. Thus, the business cycle is born.
The “ideal” rate of price inflation is thus whatever rate—probably a mild deflation—accompanies a zero money inflation rate. In short, in order to avoid price inflation and harmful market disturbances, government should quit printing more money altogether.
From Tom’s show notes (with a few additions from me):
Corporations aren’t people, say protestors. Corporations are creatures of the state, say some libertarians. Is there any merit to these complaints? Should libertarians support the corporate form or not? That’s the topic of discussion on today’s episode, with guest Stephan Kinsella.
In the mid-90s I wrote a couple of law review articles, each which contained a short summary list of possible structural and related changes that could be made (say, to the Constitution) to try to limit state power and to limit the danger of legislation (really, the danger of having a legislature). Ultimately, most such changes are probably futile. Constitutions are paper limits used to prop up state power, and are interpreted and enforced by the very state that is supposed to be limited by it. But they are certainly better than useless measures such as term limits. Probably the single most important of these proposals would be the sunset proposal: every statute expires after some maximum number of years, unless positively reenacted. (For some additional suggestions regarding federalism, see my post Randy Barnett’s “Federalism Amendment”–A Counterproposal.)
For all these reasons, I do not believe that legislation is a legitimate or practical means of creating law, or even of patching it. If a legislature can be convinced to recognize and respect the right law, so can a decentralized court system, especially one competing with other courts for customers. Courts do not face the same pernicious and systematic incentives that legislators do to make bad laws, and many of them. And courts, if they go bad, at least have a more limited effect on society; whereas when legislatures go bad, there is no end to the evil that they can perpetrate.
If legislation can be considered valid at all (given a governmental system), it can only be occasional or spurious legislation that modifies the body of law which is primarily developed by a court-based, decentralized law-finding system. If we must have legislation, several constitutional safeguards should accompany its exercise, to attempt to restrict legislation to a purely secondary role in the formation of law. Certainly, a supermajority, and maybe a referendum, should be required in order to enact any statutes whatever, except perhaps for statutes that repeal prior statutes or that limit governmental power. [click to continue…]
I was interviewed today by Daniel Rothschild for his “Live Free, Die Old” Youtube channel. We discussed primarily the fallacious argument that Lockean-libertarian-based property titles are flawed if they are based on conquest or cannot be traced back to the first homesteader.
My article “Argumentation Ethics and Liberty: A Concise Guide” was published in Mises Daily (May 27, 2011) (it includes “Discourse Ethics and Liberty: A Skeletal Ebook”). Below I note some relevant supplemental material that has been published since or that I have been made aware of that was not noted in the original article:
I was a guest in July 2012 on the Liberty Minded show Speaking on Liberty, discussing intellectual property. The hosts, Kyle Platt, Jason Lee Byas, and Grayson English, were very good and asked excellent questions. The show is here, and the video is embedded below.
I was a guest back on June 6, 2012 on the Peter Schiff Show (guest host Jeff Tucker), discussing problems with patent law. The original audio file for the full show is here; my segment was from 1:00:55 to the end (about 20 minutes total). For the podcast feed I have included only my segment.
I was interviewed yesterday by James Sirois of the Critical Thinking is Required podcast, episode 27. The shownotes are below:
Released: December 2, 2014 By: James
In CTIR Interview 27: Stephan Kinsella (Intellectual Property), I interview Stephan Kinsella about intellectual property. Specifically, we discuss copyright, trademark, patent, and trade secret law. Additionally, we analyze how these various types of law stifle innovation and competition.
Critical Thinking is Required is a political and educational podcast for individuals with endless curiosity.
Thank you for listening to CTIR. If you enjoyed the show, please share it with your friends.
Thank you Mevio’s Music Alley for providing license free music.
The intro and outro song is titled “Power Within Me” by Junga World.
I was interviewed Feb. 23, 2012, by Fabrizio Sitzia of the Italian libertarian group LibertariaNation.org. It was posted on YouTube. We discussed intellectual property and related issues such as SOPA, plagiarism, IP-by-contract, and other libertarian issues such as prospects for liberty in the future; the importance of technology, the Internet, and globalism; Ron Paul and electoral politics; and libertarian sentiments and receptiveness among today’s young people. (See also Italian Libertarian IP Debate.)
In a previous post I observed that modern libertarianism originated with the thought of Rand, Rothbard, Friedman, Hazlitt, and Read in the 1960s and 1970s (and that the term “libertarian” can perhaps be traced back to 1802). I’ve also argued that the key figure of modern libertarianism, ultimately, was Murray Rothbard, “Mr. Libertarian.”1 I still think this is right, but it’s interesting to note that in Rothbard’s journal Libertarian Forum, this distinction was bestowed upon Leonard Read in his obituary, in Vol. 17.5-6, May-June 1983, Rothbard (presumably it was Rothbard, as the editor), wrote:2
More than any other single person, Leonard was the founder of the modern libertarian movement. …
In addition, more than anyone else Read coined the name “libertarian” for the current movement. Before that, we had no single name, awkwardly going back and forth between “individualist” and “true liberals”. The problem with the latter phrase is that the quasi-socialists had already succeeded in appropriating the term “liberal”, and calling ourselves “true” anything was confusing and hardly persuasive. And the term “individualist” tended to confuse political philosophy with possessing a spirit of individual autonomy. Read and a few others launched the term “libertarian” for the freedom philosophy, and it stuck—the only case I know of when we were able to appropriate a word from others. For before that, communist-anarhcists had often referred to themselves as “libertarian.” The first time when we were referred to publicly as “libertarians” was in an odious book, published in the 1950’s, by a certain Ralph Lord Roy, entitled Apostles of Discord. There was a repellent literature in those days of works written by aggressive centrists and “moderates” who pilloried all “extremists” as per se evil. Roy, a Social Gospel Protestant, wrote his book to attack both Communist and ultra-rightist “extremists” in the Protestant church. That was par for the course in those days, but lo and behold! he included a chapter called “God and the ‘Libertarians'”, spotting quasi-anarchistic extremists then centered around a libertarian publication for Protestant ministers called Faith and Freedom. Libertarianism had arrived on the American ideological scene.
Ironically, as Rothbard goes on to note, “In later years, Leonard Read drew away from the libertarian movement which he had named and founded.”