Volume 8, Issue 11: March 13, 2006
- The Challenge of Liberty
- To Reduce Cable-TV Rates, Allow Competition
- A Former Critic of "Nation-Building," Bush Now Slams "Isolationists"
- 2006 "Liberty, Economy & Society" Summer Seminars
New Book Revives the Ideals of Classical Liberalism
Classical liberalism has enjoyed an intellectual renaissance in recent years, as scholars from a wide range of disciplines have breathed new life into a rich tradition pioneered by John Locke and Adam Smith. In THE CHALLENGE OF LIBERTY: Classical Liberalism Today, edited by Robert Higgs and Carl P. Close -- just published by the Independent Institute -- eighteen economists, historians, and philosophers re-establish the ideals of classical liberalism and show how it supports such pillars of free societies as individual rights, human dignity, market processes, and the rule of law.
"The founding of the American Republic and to varying degrees the 19th century constitutions of many European states, along with the relative peace, growing international trade, and buoyant spirit of progress and optimism that spread across Europe and beyond before World War I, constituted victories for classical liberalism," write Higgs and Close in the book's introduction.
What enabled the early classical liberals to spearhead the abolition of slavery, the liberalization of the economy from mercantilist policies that harmed consumers, and the spread of peace and freedom during the 19th century? What questions are contemporary classical liberals asking each other about how best to translate their "intellectual" gains into "practical" gains in the hope of fostering a new era of growing liberty, peace, and prosperity?
THE CHALLENGE OF LIBERTY: Classical Liberalism Today addresses these questions and more. In Part I Nobel laureate James M. Buchanan, Dwight Lee, Steven Horwitz, and Anthony de Jasay examine the rise, fall, rebirth, and vitality of classical liberalism. Part II examines the relationship between freedom and the moral society, with chapters by Charles Rowley, Daniel Klein, Suri Ratnapala, and Linda Raeder. Part III focuses on the challenge of securing liberty, particularly on the requirements for a robust, pro-liberty constitution, with chapters by Suri Ratnapala, James A. Dorn, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, and Hans Sherrer. Part IV explores classical liberalism's affinity for freedom of conscience, as against "group think," and examines contemporary threats to individualism via government schooling, nationalism, group loyalty, and the politicization of mental health, with chapters by James Otteson, Anthony de Jasay, Laurie Calhoun, and Thomas Szasz. Part V concludes with responses to criticisms against classical liberalism leveled by Robert Nozick, John Gray, John Rawls, and John Roemer in chapters written by Charles Rowley, Daniel Klein, Quentin Taylor, and Michael Wohlgemuth.
"THE CHALLENGE OF LIBERTY is an ambitious and persuasive effort to demonstrate the relevance of classical liberal doctrine to modern times. This liberal doctrine has little in common with what passes for 'liberalism' in the contemporary discourse." --Richard Pipes, Harvard University
"The marvelous book, THE CHALLENGE OF LIBERTY, now provides probing and illuminating examinations of the nature of the case for liberty and of its standing in the present intellectual world and the prospects for its future influence." --Eric Mack, Tulane University
"This splendid book will be most helpful in restoring the ideas and ideals of liberty." --Alex Kozinski, U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit.
To purchase THE CHALLENGE OF LIBERTY: Classical Liberalism Today, ed. by Robert Higgs and Carl P. Close, see
For a detailed summary, see
Since 1999, long-distance telephone rates have fallen by 30 percent, and wireless prices have fallen by 20 percent. Cable-television rates, however, have increased by nearly 60 percent. The reason for this difference is that competition and innovation were introduced to telephone markets but not to cable-TV markets, as Benjamin Powell, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation, explains in his latest op-ed.
"Local governments have protected cable companies from competition, and consumers are paying the price, " writes Powell. "Even when local governments allow new entrants into the market, the process of securing permission in multiple communities is so cumbersome that it is a significant barrier to competition." For example, for AT&T to enter the approximately 2,000 localities in which they would like to operate would take 7.5 years if they signed one agreement every business day of the year.
One bright spot for cable TV consumers is Texas, where the market has been opened to competition and rates have fallen about 16.9 percent, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office. Consumers in other states would benefit if their cable-TV markets were similarly liberalized, Powell argues: "To instill long-term competition in the cable industry, franchising should be abolished and the industry should be thrown open to competition from any wire or satellite provider capable of attracting customers. Open competition would bring consumers lower prices and allow the market's competitive process to foster new technological innovations."
"Cable Regulation Harms Consumers," by Benjamin Powell (3/10/06)
"La regulación de la TV por cable perjudica a los consumidores"
Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation (Benjamin Powell, director)
As a first-time presidential candidate, George W. Bush derided the nation-building interventionism of Bill Clinton, who had dispatched U.S. troops to Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Since becoming president, however, Bush's orientation has morphed "from 'isolationist' to muscular interventionist to advocate of international engagement," writes Ivan Eland, director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty, in his latest op-ed.
In recent speeches, Bush has criticized "isolationists" who want the U.S. to cut its loses in Iraq. "Of course, using the label 'isolationist' to describe critics of the war is inaccurate and says more about the accuser than the accused," Eland continues. "Most critics of the war do not want to cut off the United States from the world; they simply want the U.S. military out of Iraq."
"If the president had stuck with his campaign promise to conduct 'a more humble foreign policy' -- or 'isolationism' as he now pejoratively labels it -- the nation would not be hemorrhaging blood and treasure in a foreign bog that is undermining U.S. security," Eland concludes.
"President Bush's Metamorphosis in Foreign Policy," by Ivan Eland (3/13/06) http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1688
"La metamorfosis en la política exterior del Presidente Bush"
To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see
To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see
Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, director)
For High School and College Students (Oakland, Calif., June 26-30 & August 7-11)
Want to learn how the world really works -- and how to improve it? "Liberty, Economy & Society" is a fascinating, five-day seminar on the workings of market forces and how they affect your life.
Each session includes a stimulating and fun lecture on economic principles, their applications in history and current affairs, and plenty of classroom discussion to help you become more confident in communicating your social ideas and values.
In this informal but information-packed seminar, you will learn about:
* How the price system creates order out of "chaos"
* The ongoing battle between competition and monopoly
* The root causes of unemployment, inflation, homelessness, environmental decline, crime, failed schools, and much more
* Solutions for making the world a better place to live in!
Led by Brian Gothberg (Academy of Art University), the faculty also includes James Ahiakpor (California State University, East Bay), Edward Stringham (San Jose State University), Benjamin Powell (San Jose State University and The Independent Institute), and Carl Close (The Independent Institute).
WHEN: 9AM-4PM; Session A: June 26-30; Session B: August 7-11. COST: $195. WHERE: The Independent Institute, Oakland, Calif.
Space is limited, so early registration is encouraged. For more information, visit