Robert Higgs

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The Biggest Danger: Terrorists or Government?

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, Middle East, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Robert Higgs

Libertarian and economist Robert Higgs writes at his Facebook page about the relative danger to you from Islamic terrorists and U.S. governments:

“Unless you go to the Middle East, the probability of your being harmed by Islamic fanatics is so close to zero that for all practical purposes it may be taken to be zero.

“If you remain in the USA, however, the probability of your being harmed by governments at every level is 1.0, an absolute certainty. These governments will certainly appropriate your wealth in a variety of direct and indirect ways for their own purposes, many of which you will regard as abhorrent. They will certainly crush your freedoms in a multitude of ways; they will treat you as if you were a child or a mental incompetent; and they will disregard your own preferences for how you wish to live your life in peace.

“By their actions they will create effects and repercussions that guarantee the future will be less prosperous, less safe, and less socially content than it otherwise would have been. In short, these governments are your enemies: they intend to harm you, they have the capacity to harm you, and they do in fact harm you.

“Yet probably hundreds of millions of Americans fear faraway Islamic fanatics and fret about the fantasy of a looming global Caliphate. Therefore they support a variety of U.S. military measures in the Middle East and elsewhere purportedly aimed at the suppression of this looming menace, and they support a variety of overbearing and tyrannical government actions within the USA justified on the grounds that they protect Americans from terrorists.

“In short, they credit the bogeyman of their fevered imaginations (stoked by government officials, fear-mongering politicians, politico-clowns on talk radio) and more or less disregard the ceaseless pillage of their wealth and the rape of their freedoms by their real enemies, who are all too real and all too near at hand.”

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But Can You Fire Him? Robert Higgs on “Public Servants”

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Robert HiggsPublic “servants.” We pay their salaries, right? So they work for us, right?

Well… no. The great libertarian writer Robert Higgs recently posted this imaginary dialogue at his always-enlightening Facebook page:

Did you hire him?
No.
Can you fire him?
No.
Did you write his job description?
No.
Do you pay him?
Yes, but only because I’ll be put in prison if I refuse.
So, do you still believe he works for you.
Oh, yes, absolutely.
Why do you think so?
Because he says he does, and the people who hired him say so, too.

“Intervene globally, lose freedom locally”

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Intervene globally, lose freedom locally.” — Robert Higgs.

I’ve long written about the importance of soundbites and pithy sayings in getting people to consider libertarian ideas.

I saw this phrase at the Facebook page of the great libertarian writer and scholar Robert Higgs this week, and I think it is brilliant.

In just five words Higgs sums up arguments that many people have written whole books about.

An interventionist foreign policy leads to many domestic evils, as the Founders realized. Among them:

  • “Blowback” when angry residents of other countries retaliate
  • Restrictions on freedom of the press
  • Repression of public dissent
  • Government surveillance and loss of privacy
  • Loss of other civil liberties
  • The militarization of local police
  • Restrictions on travel, both internally and abroad
  • Domestic political strife
  • Massive taxes and subsequent loss of economic opportunities
  • Higher prices for domestic goods and services
  • Interruption of trade
  • A poorer country, as economic resources are diverted to war
  • Destruction of families, as more soldiers are sent overseas to police the empire
  • Expansion of domestic political power to deal with the consequences of interventionism

…and so on. You can no doubt add more to this list.

Higgs’ wonderful and insightful little phrase contains all that. It reworks a familiar phrase — “Think globally, act locally” — into a powerful mind-opener and conversation starter. It gets your listeners thinking.

“Intervene globally, lose freedom locally.” I love it.

It’s a great addition to your collection of soundbites on liberty. Use it in conversations. Be prepared, of course, to expand on the topics it raises, including those I’ve listed.