‘Nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action,
but not the execution of any human design.’
Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

21 December 2012

DMI Omnibus Update on Disraeli’s Birthday

Earl of Beaconsfield
While research and writing at DMI continue unabated, I have been remiss at sending out update notices for several published columns over the last several months. And so without further delay — and in honour of Benjamin Disraeli’s 208th birthday! — here are links to recent postings at the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute to get you caught up:
  • The organic roots of oaks and free markets’ takes a tongue-in-cheek Telegraph column and illustrates why the Conservative party’s modern icon of an oak tree is an excellent exemplar of the organic dynamism of free markets, and why a return to the ‘Thatcher torch’ — representing the light of liberty — is a bad omen if taken to mean more robust government intervention in the economy.

  • Tax Freedom for the Poor!’ is an appeal to raise the threshold at which the low-paid begin to pay income tax — allowing them to keep more of what they earn will build their self-respect and act as a work incentive, while at the same time curbing the extent of government redistribution. (A second theme of this posting is that while the poor who earn less than the threshold will necessarily be removed from the income tax register, they nevertheless still do pay any number of ancillary taxes, which may itself be considered a good thing: An esprit de corps is fostered with their fellow citizens while making them conscious of the true costs of government.)

  • Without capitalism, can there be culture?’ argues that we owe much of our cultural attainment because of the free market and the division of labour which it encourages — not despite of them. (I will admit that other factors contribute to culture, too.) This avenue of defence will be familiar to students of Adam Smith and to admirers of Josef Pieper’s small classic Leisure: The Basis of Culture.

  • America’s Chief Magistrate and the Spirit of ’76’ looks at American politics from the perspective of the Founders’ vision of individual liberty and limited government. Intended to be a rather minor position, the Presidency has assumed powers never intended either for the Chief Executive or the Washington establishment. Intrusions into the actions of individuals and the marketplace are hallmarks of ‘government failure’ that only a spirited return to constitutionalism can avert.

  • Can Americans afford compromise on the fiscal cliff?’ demonstrates that, à la Laffer Curve analysis, if higher tax revenues are the object, then raising the marginal tax rate on the wealthy is not the answer; though Aristotle taught that compromise as a mean between deficiency and excess is oftentimes the route to realising the common good, when the options are between right and wrong there is only one option. (Cross-posted at Public Finance International.)

Well, that’s a wrap. A reminder, too, to join the discussion on DMI’s Facebook page (please sign-up if you are not already a member) and tell your friends and neighbours about us.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings, and all best wishes for 2013!