I don’t know who wrote the caption for this, but it’s perfect.

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Turkish Coffee …. from a Machine!

by Tom Palmer on June 3, 2012

I’ve just ordered one for the coffee bar my nephew and my niece-in-law are setting up. It looks cool. (And I like Turkish coffee.) Here’s how to order it and here’s how it works. (The narration of the video is in French…but…why not?)

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Some recent books

by Tom Palmer on June 2, 2012


In addition to writing essays and editing others for After the Welfare State (coming out later this summer), I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading lately, and will be writing reviews of a few of them soon. They include:

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

Capitalism and the Jews, by Jerry Muller

The Origin of the Welfare State in England and Germany, 1850-1914: Social Policies Compared, by E. P. Hennock

Anticipating The Wealth of Nations: The Selected Works of Anders Chydenius, 1729-1803, ed. by Maren Jonasson and Pertti Hyttinen

What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, by Michael Sandel

I’ll have some time in my office over the next couple of weeks, so I hope to write reviews of them for various forums.

And I also spent time substantially re-reading a few others, including

Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939, by Wolfgang Schivelbusch

Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, by Götz Aly

(The chapters I’ve written for After the Welfare State are an introduction, a short bibliography of further readings, “The Tragedy of the Welfare State” (understanding the crisis of the welfare state through the economics of common pool resources, hence as a “tragedy of the commons”), “The History of the Welfare State and What It Displaced” (looking at the roots of the welfare state in Bismarck’s policies of state-building and social control, tracing it through Progressivism, Fascism, Social Democracy, and up to the present), and “Classical Liberalism, Poverty, and Morality” (drawn from my chapter in Poverty and Morality, ed. by William A. Galston and Peter H. Hoffenberg [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010]).

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H. L. Mencken

by Tom Palmer on June 1, 2012

I was just looking around and found a review I published in Libertarian Review in April of 1978 of H. L. Mencken’s Notes on Democracy. And here it is. (Remember that I was a bit younger then.)

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A frightening insanity emerging in Hungary

by Tom Palmer on June 1, 2012

The country of Hungary is shifting in a very dangerous direction, as Der Spiegel reports: English German. If you would like to learn about Hungarian libertarianism, which offers a breath of hope for a country that is tilting dangerously toward fascism, visit the Hungarian Free Market Foundation.

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On the road….

by Tom Palmer on January 24, 2012

I flew Thursday morning to Guatemala for a major conference of reformers sponsored by the Francisco Marroquin University (it was brilliantly run and very eye-opening) and then on Sunday from Guatemala to Lahore, Pakistan. Got in some hours ago; meetings and lectures today!

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My articles on “Are Patents and Copyrights Morally Justified? The Philosophy of Property Rights and Ideal Objects” (Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Summer 1990) and “Intellectual Property: A Non-Posnerian Law and Economics Approach” (Hamline Law Review, Spring 1989). (My views on technology were only mildly prescient with regard to specifics, but right, I think, on the general matter.)

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On the road again….

by Tom Palmer on January 19, 2012

I got back today from Manhattan, where I met up with my good friend and colleague Professor Mohammad Abul Ahrar Ramizpoor, director of the Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization, for his first visit to the US. We had some very good meetings. He’s off to visit the Acton Institute and the Mackinac Center (with a weekend in Colorado), and then to Washington for more meetings with libertarian think tankers and researchers. I’m leaving in a few hours for Guatemala, to observe the Antigua Forum, which brings together practitioners of classical liberal reforms, then from there to Pakistan (not, unfortunately, a direct flight) for lectures and meetings sponsored by the Economic Freedom Network in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, then by car to India to take part in the Freedom Caravan.

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A short history of liberty

by Tom Palmer on January 19, 2012

Brought to you by the good folks at Libertarianism.org

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Paul defends Romney ‘fire’ comment, history at Bain

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?”The Case for Ordered Liberty Without States”

by Tom Palmer on January 8, 2012

My opening remarks from the debate at Freedom Fest, Las Vegas, July 8, 2010: http://tomgpalmer.com/wp-content/uploads/FreedomFest-debate-on-the-state1.pdf

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Another Place, Another War

by Tom Palmer on January 8, 2012

I revisited this short article that I encouraged my brother to write, and which was published in The Freeman in 1999: “Another Place, Another War

February 2, 1969: I step off the back of a CH-34, a helicopter that looks like a flying apartment building complete with side-mounted machine guns. It is so muggy you can’t catch your breath.

I’m at Camp Eagle, just north of Hue, South Vietnam. It’s the year after the Tet offensive of 1968. Eagle had been a holding of the 1st Cav. until the Vietcong and North Vietnamese regular army overran it. Over 3,800 Americans were killed during the 12-week offensive.

Camp Eagle looks as though it’s been through a war. Nothing of value is left. The ground is strewn with trash; barbed wire is everywhere littered with blown paper, rags, and plastic sheeting. The place smells dirty, dusty, and rotten. Half-crouching, not knowing what to expect but knowing this is a place where no one likes you and everyone wants to hurt you, you make for some kind of cover. The remains of a set of hooches (wooden, screen-sided, tin-roofed sheds) will suffice. Little do we know they will be our home for the next year.

Once we get inside, the choppers take off, leaving us in a frightening silence. This is a real “what have I gotten myself into?” predicament. The realization is that whatever happens from here on out, all you will have you have now.

As we pull together to organize a cleanup and planning session, the bleakness of the situation hits. This is really it. We have nothing: no toilet paper, no pop, no sheets, no light, no power. What we do have is mud, wet, mildew, nightly sapper raids (Vietcong running through our hooches throwing bags of explosives). We eventually have “122 mm” rocket attacks, where the ‘Cong makes a bamboo fork large enough to hold a six-foot-long bottle rocket and tries to hit you with it. From a couple of miles away they are surprisingly accurate—though accuracy doesn’t matter. The fear they generate is the real intent.

Being in an assault helicopter unit with the 101st Airborne has its rewards. There is a certain military prestige to such an assignment. Reality is less glamorous. Our assignment is the Ashau Valley. We are to support the various firebases and LZs (landing zones) strung out up and down the valley. The Vietcong uses the valley as a highway to supply the south from the north and China. The firebases are small artillery outposts positioned with fire zones to control any traffic.

The living conditions at these firebases are the most primitive any of us have ever seen. Imagine a mountaintop blasted bare of any vegetation, a rough circle of mud ringed with concertina wire and sandbagged bunkers. In the center of this circle is a large sandbagged depression. Artillery of any variety will be found there: eight-inch track-mounted guns, old twin-barreled anti-aircraft guns. Whatever. Everything that goes on here is to protect those guns.

You live in a hole in the ground—mud walls, insects, snakes, and rats. When it is wet it is mud, when dry, red dust. You seldom get to eat hot food, and never get to take a shower. You sleep in a wet sleeping bag night after night, week after week. Everything you own is wet, muddy, and moldy: clothes, food, and equipment.

When you can, you toast your bread. That way you don’t notice the weevils. You try to think of it as whole wheat. Your water is always Kool-Aid so you don’t see how brown it is. If something doesn’t come out of a sealed can you don’t trust it.

And you live like this until somebody decides you need to move. Doesn’t matter—the terrain will be different but the situation the same.

Thirty years later, are we doing this again? For what? We lost 58,000 of my generation. For what? I lost friends; you lost sons, brothers, husbands.

We went where our government sent us. And we learned; learned not to trust, learned that politicians, out of ignorance and vainglory, can get us into situations they will not allow us to leave for fear of losing face. Who has to clean it up? Our kids, our military, who cannot question their orders.

I have three sons. The oldest is 26 and in the army. The next is 20, and the youngest is 16. My grandfather was in WWI, my dad in WWII; I was in Vietnam. Will my sons end up in the Balkans—even if “only” in a peacekeeping force? Americans will undoubtedly be in Kosovo for a long time.

The politicians wax eloquent about the humanitarian war against Serbia. Where’s the humanitarianism in sending Americans to the backwater of Europe while taking sides in a bloody conflict over land? Have they nothing better to do with their lives than become fodder for a president’s legacy or an obsolete alliance’s credibility?

George Washington, in his Farewell Address in 1796, said that “Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none or a very remote relation.” He wondered: “Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?”

As a father, as a citizen, I ask, why indeed?

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An explanation of regulatory capture

January 8, 2012

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Back to some blogging

January 8, 2012

I’ve not been on this site for quite a while, but should get back to updating it. (Most of my online interaction, besides email, has been on Facebook, which has its advantages, but is limited.)

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Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street?

October 22, 2011

This question was posed by PolicyMic.com: “I’m an American underwater in debt and with a stagnant income. Which group should I support: the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street?” I took one side, Peter Rothberg of The Nation the other. You can see the discussion here.

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The Morality of Capitalism

October 20, 2011

My talk at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina

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Cronyism vs. Free Market Capitalism

October 18, 2011

An excerpt from my talk to the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Full presentation is available through the preceding link.)

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Free Market Capitalism vs. Socialism and Cronyism in Russia

September 20, 2011

Leonid Nikonov is a contributor to The Morality of Capitalism.

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