Author

Chris Calton

Chris Calton has 13 articles published.

Chris Calton
Chris Calton is a senior contributor to The Liberty Conservative and through his work tries to educate people about Anarcho-Capitalist ideas and general anarchist history.
Economics/Politics

The Tragedy Of The Commons In The Prison System

In a previous article, I wrote about how the war on drugs and the government monopoly on the legal system has created the Tragedy of the Commons in our justice system. Because legislators and police officers have every incentive to appear “tough on crime” but the cost of the sending a criminal to a courtroom is socialized, the courts have become increasingly backlogged. What that article did not cover is the related “commons problem” in the prison system and the consequences that follow. Where legislators and police officers have in-built incentives to send as many people through the courts as possible, a similar incentive is faced by judges and prosecutors to send defendants through the prison system. Because all judges and prosecutors share common access to prison space with no individual cost for doing so, there is zero incentive for the limitation on the sentence sought by the individual prosecutor or handed down by the individual judge. Keep Reading

Philosophy

Natural-Law Libertarianism And The Pursuit Of Justice

Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute recently wrote an article arguing that libertarians should abandon any arguments regarding natural rights. As Lindsey sees it, the concept of natural rights is an “intellectual dead end” and that adherence to natural rights arguments should be abandoned. His perspective can largely be boiled down into two categories: strategic pragmatism and the inadequacy of the natural rights doctrine in constructing a libertarian legal order. Libertarians always have and always will debate strategy. This question is not very interesting to me as it can ultimately only be answered empirically. Lindsey argues that “Instead of spinning utopias, libertarians should focus instead on the humbler but more constructive task of making the world we actually inhabit a better place.” I’m very open to this argument, and as soon as the Cato Institute can demonstrate that it has actually effected change in government policy in a libertarian direction, I am willing to consider capitulating to Lindsey’s arguments for a more “pragmatic” strategy. As of yet, however, his… Keep Reading

Economics

The Racist History Of Minimum Wage Laws

In 1966, Milton Friedman wrote an op-ed for Newsweek entitled “Minimum Wage Rates.” In it, he argued “that the minimum-wage law is the most anti-Negro law on our statute books.” He was, of course, referring to the then-present era, after the far more explicitly racist laws from the eras of slavery and segregation had already been removed. Friedman’s observation about the racist effects of minimum wage laws can be traced back to the nineteenth century, and they continue to have a disproportionately deleterious effect on African-Americans into the present day. The earliest of such laws were regulations passed in regards to the railroad industry. At the end of the nineteenth century, as Dr. Walter Williams points out, “On some railroads — most notably in the South — blacks were 85–90 percent of the firemen, 27 percent of the brakemen, and 12 percent of the switchmen.” The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, unable to block railroad companies from hiring the non-unionized black workers, called for regulations preventing the employment of blacks.… Keep Reading

Law

The Tragedy Of The Commons In The Courtroom

As many who follow websites like mises.org already know, Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison for running a dark web drug marketplace known as Silk Road under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts. After receiving his sentence — a deliberately harsh ruling for a man barely in his thirties — Ulbricht’s defense team began to work on his appeal. On May 31, Ulbricht lost the appeal, meaning that his life sentence will stand. To libertarians, this is a tragedy. Even for many supporters of the Drug War or at least some regulation of narcotics, Ulbricht’s punishment was far from proportionate to the crime. But the consequences of Ulbricht’s ruling and the underlying problems with our justice system that allowed it do not end there. The Drug War has created an environment for our justice system that frequently places people in a position where they are pressured to go to jail, even if they’re innocent, for fear of suffering an even greater sentence if they choose to fight for… Keep Reading

Economics

Why Conservatives Need Mises University

“Without Austrian economics, I would not have had my political career.” These are the words of Ron Paul summarizing his belief that the Austrian school of economic thought provides the best framework for understanding the principles and blessings of a society organized around personal liberty. This should not be confused as saying that to study Austrian economics, you must hold any specific political ideology. As Ron Paul also wrote, “I t is possible to learn the Austrian tradition without holding a particular political position.” But to paraphrase Dr. Tom Woods in his opening remarks at this year’s Mises University, if we take Austrian economics and combine it with the proposition that human welfare is a good thing, then the only logical conclusion is to get government out of the way. Not only is the goal of the Mises Institute compatible with conservatism, but in today’s political climate, it is more important than ever that young Conservatives are familiarized with this institute and the school of economic thought that it… Keep Reading

Culture

The Politically Correct Perversion Of Superhero Movies

In 2002, Marvel published the first issue of The Ultimates, their alternative “Ultimate” universe run of the Avengers comics. Although this comic didn’t offer the first appearance of the new version of Nick Fury, it did offer the fully developed revision of the character. In it, he was changed from the traditional white, military-officer-esque character to a New York-tough black man. The new Nick Fury was intentionally modeled after Samuel L. Jackson, both in appearance and personality. Six years before the debut of the first Iron Man movie in which Jackson appeared in the post-credits scene, it was a foregone conclusion that he would be cast in the role of Nick Fury in future movies. As a result, a traditionally white character was changed to a black character. Both comic book and movie fans, by and large, loved this. It wasn’t because we felt this deep desire to see more diversity among our beloved characters. Frankly, the vast majority of us are entirely indifferent on the matter. But the general… Keep Reading

Politics

Donald Trump, Libertarians, And The Potential “Victorious Defeat.”

In the 1856 election, the country was bitterly divided between the Democratic Party – which had dominated the office of the Presidency since Thomas Jefferson – and the new parties that came about from the destruction of the Whigs. In 1848, members of the Whig party had been branching off and forming third parties, mostly due to the contentious issue of slavery in the western territories. In 1848, former Whigs formed the Free Soil Party, the platform of which revolved around the issue of territorial slavery. In the 1850s, the anti-Irish immigrant American Party (known colloquially as the “Know Nothings”) began to flourish. The division of the Whigs seemed like good news for the Democrats. But in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which was an attempt at a compromise between the “Slave Power” and the Free-Soilers, created a division among the Democrats. In the same year, the Republican Party was formed. Two years later, the Republicans nominated their first presidential candidate in a three-way election. The Democrats nominated James Buchanan,… Keep Reading

Philosophy/Politics

Bernie Sanders, Karl Marx, And “Democratic Socialism.”

Despite his bleak prospects for securing the Democrat nomination, Bernie Sanders has amassed a popularity that indicates his ideas are far from dead. Sanders is a Socialist, and young people in particular love it. But, they are quick to remind us, he is not like the brutal Marxist regimes we read about in our history books…he’s a DEMOCRATIC Socialist. We are told that this is a considerable difference. But is Democratic Socialism so different from historic Marx’s Socialism? Let’s take a look at the history of these ideas: The term “Socialism” was coined by Pierre Leroux, a Saint-Simonian (referring to those influenced by Saint Simon, who is often considered the father of Socialism, although this is contestable). The Saint-Simonians, in the tradition of all the early Socialists, favored the complete abolition of private property, which they believed was the basis for exploitation. They therefore wanted to abolish private property in its entirety. The early socialist ideas were muddy, though. When the Saint-Simonians were referring to private property, they only… Keep Reading

Economics

Romanticizing Reagan: Part II – Regulations And Free Trade

Continued from Part II: Regulations and Free Trade. Perhaps Reagan’s most egregious hypocrisies were his actions in the name of the “War on Drugs” while espousing the common bromides about liberty. “Government’s first duty,” a common Reagan quote from a 1981 speechbegins, “is to protect the people, not run their lives.” But when it came to what people put into their bodies – even for medicinal purposes – Reagan was energetically devoted to running the lives of United States citizens. In 1982, the National Academy of Sciences published a six-year study that concluded with a recommendation for the decriminalizing of marijuana which, the study said, had “as yet no clear evidence on the possible long-term effects” on potential health consequence. Reagan chose to ignore this study and, in the same year, picked up the Nixon mantle and raised “the battle flag . . . to win the war on drugs.” California marijuana was one of his primary targets. Under this small-government, liberty loving president, government spending on law enforcement, prisons, and the Drug… Keep Reading

Economics/Politics

Romanticizing Reagan: Part II – Regulations And Free Trade

Continued from Part I – Taxation and Spending During Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, the third of his four pillars of Reaganomics was regulatory reform. Namely, he was on a mission to reduce federal regulations (an applaudable goal). This is, in fact, one of the chief reasons why democrats criticize his presidency; he supposedly spent his tenure recklessly deregulating. In a speech given by Art Laffer, Reagan’s economic advisor, Dr. Laffer mentions a story of Reagan dropping the Code of Federal Regulations on a table to demonstrate its massive size. “Do you remember that?” Laffer asked the audience, “Do you remember when he dropped it, the thump that went on the table? I mean, it was a phenomenally impressive thing, not only for him to have lifted it, but also for him to have reduced it” (emphasis mine). The problem here is that Reagan didn’t reduce the code. It is true that Reagan oversaw a few years of very minor deregulation (in the first half of his first term, the Code of… Keep Reading

Economics/Politics

Romantacizing Reagan: Part I – Taxation And Spending

Among conservatives, Ronald Reagan is held in deific esteem. Find any Republican debate Bingo or drinking game, and his name is certain to be one of the triggers to take a drink. Even among libertarians (of the non-anarchist persuasion), Reagan is still viewed as one of our greatest presidents, if not the greatest outright. The reasons for the romanticization of Reagan are difficult to understand. Ronald Reagan did have some of the best rhetoric when it came to conservative and Libertarian issues, and perhaps this is a good explanation for his appeal. But when you look at his policies as President, it seems like he stands for everything Conservatives, and especially Libertarians, are against. So let’s compare rhetoric to policy. Part I – Spending and taxation In one State of the Union address, Reagan gave a rousing condemnation of the problem with the federal deficit. In it, he gave the pithy insight that “we can’t spend ourselves rich,” which is one of the more popularly quoted phrases among conservatives… Keep Reading

Philosophy

My Veteran’s Day Dilemma

I’m never really sure how to react to Veteran’s Day. My anti-government views are no secret, and as an anarchist, this has clear implications on military policy. It isn’t simply that I think the military in general is something that can be abolished outright (although I do think this), but I reject the idea – as a matter of policy – that any of our foreign interventions do anything to keep Americans safe. Rather, I believe our foreign policy has a deleterious effect on American safety. But I’m not like many anarchists. I don’t blame the soldier for the politician’s wars. I understand that there are some anarchists who revel in the controversy accompanied by anti-military statements. I understand that there are those who like pointing out the destruction caused by our military, sometimes by soldiers who openly take pleasure in the freedom to torture and kill people in these countries (because these men do exist, as unpleasant as it may be to acknowledge this). But I do not… Keep Reading

Philosophy

A Republic: Did We Keep It?

A few days ago, Burnie Thompson wrote the article “Is America a Democracy or a Republic?” Conservatives and Libertarians often like to point out, as Burnie did, that the the United States was founded as a Republic, and this is certainly true. The problem is that this is a present-tense question that is answered with a past-tense answer. You can’t respond to the question of what we are by pointing out what we used to be. And despite the many valid points that Burnie makes in his article, this is where I believe he is mistaken. Burnie writes: “One thing the United States is not is a democracy.” This is a point worth contesting. Even in 1788, when the Constitution was ratified, there were intentionally placed elements of democracy.  This, of course, does not negate Burnie’s arguments. We were a Democratic Republic; the people only represented one arm of political power, but not the whole body. However, if we look at the original structure of the Republic and follow the… Keep Reading

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