National Sovereignty or EU Membership:
Which is the Least Bad Option?
A Lecture given in Bratislava on the 12th August 2014
to the Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS)
by Sean Gabb
The Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS) held its annual Sean Gabb Lecture on August 12, 2014 in Bratislava. Dr. Gabb is Director of the Libertarian Alliance and one of the leading advocates of individual liberty in Europe and also a renowned writer and author of several bestsellers, focusing on historical fiction (under a pen name Richard Blake).
The lecture was titled: National Sovereignty or EU Membership: Which is the Least Bad Option? Dr. Gabb introduced an inspiring alternative to the usual euroscepticism of British free-market advocates. They consider EU as a socialist, or at least a corporatist, project. They have focused on its liking for increased levels of tax and regulation, and its commitment to environmentalist untruths about global warming. There is, however, an argument against this hostility. The European Union is not, in itself, a liberal project. But libertarians have tended to assume that, free from rule by the European Union, the Member States would become more liberal. This may, in many cases, be an unrealistic assumption. According to Dr. Gabb, the threat to individual freedom coming from the local interest groups is often higher than the threat coming from Brussels.
It is a point of orthodoxy among British advocates of the free market that Britain should leave the European Union. This is an orthodoxy that, between 1999 and 2001, I did much to impose on the Conservative Party. It is, however, an orthodoxy that I no longer fully accept. I do accept that the freedom and prosperity I want for my country are incompatible with membership of the European Union. What I do not necessarily accept is that we should walk away at the earliest opportunity. There may, in the next few years, be a referendum on British membership of the European Union. If it happens, I am not sure how I shall vote in this. But, if it were to happen tomorrow, I know that I would vote against leaving. Continue reading
by Joel Schlossberg
“Economic Patriotism”: The Last Refuge of a Tax Scoundrel
In mid-July, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew proposed that Congress prohibit US-based companies from moving offshore in search of more favorable tax climates, citing an ostensible need for a “new sense of economic patriotism.”
The resort to “patriotism” theater stands out as the most egregious aspect of legislation whose retroactive status would blatantly violate the Constitution’s prohibition on ex post facto laws. Continue reading
by James Tuttle
The following article was written by Kenneth Gregg and published at CLASSical Liberalism, September 4, 2005.
What is necessary for the use of land is not its private ownership, but the security of improvements. It is not necessary to say to a man, ‘this land is yours,’ in order to induce him to cultivate or improve it. It is only necessary to say to him, ‘whatever your labor, or capital produces on this land shall be yours.’ Give a man security that he may reap, and he will sow; assure him of the possession of the house he wants to build, and he will build it. These are the natural rewards of labor. It is for the sake of the reaping that men sow; it is for the sake of possessing houses that men build. The ownership of land has nothing to do with it. –Henry George Continue reading
Is Market Anarchism eclipsing Anarcho-Marxism?
by Keith Preston
It seems to me that in the last couple of years “free market anarchism” in its various forms has grown to the point where it’s now starting to eclipse or even surpass the “anarcho-Marxists” in terms of size and influence. I base this observation on the number of public events sponsored by both, and the online presence of both. Am I right or wrong in this perception? Continue reading
by Richard North
Trade agreements: is “unbundling” the future?
A little while ago, the Financial Times ran a piece by Alan Beattie on UKIP’s trade policy (above), who argued that it “would leave Britain isolated and vulnerable”. I didn’t write a review then, as there was more to the issue which Beattie raised that, what he termed “Farage’s dream of prosperity” which is to be “born of a US treaty”. This, Beattie thinks, is “a dangerous fantasy”.
The points made, however, are bigger than UKIP’s trade policy, and could have been raised without reference to “Farage’s dream”, one that comes with a promise of a new trade deal “as soon as Britain’s exit liberates the UK from the dead hand of European protectionism”. Continue reading
by David D’Amato
The Avarice of Corporate Power
Recent studies estimate that the federal regulatory burden has impaired the United States economy to the tune of almost $40 trillion, “act[ing] as a hidden tax on individuals.” Precluding new competitors and entrepreneurship, new regulations often favor established firms at the expense of both consumers and economic growth generally.
What’s more, left-wing revisionists such as Gabriel Kolko have convincingly argued that suffocating and overwhelming smaller competitors has too often been just the point of new regulations — or at the very least among their prime motivations. Far from high-minded concerns about consumer protection, big business has lobbied for higher regulatory barriers as a way to rid the markets of inconvenient pests in the form of smaller businesses. Continue reading
by M. LaFave
Orwell, Orthodoxy and Organization
This summer, I joined the reading group for Kevin A. Carson’s daunting, 600 page tome Organization Theory. In the first section, Carson presents a compelling mass of research and careful criticism of cross-ideological views of economies of scale. He argues that top economists, from Ronald Coase to John Kenneth Galbraith and Joseph Schumpeter, “accept ‘economies of scale’ as a sufficient explanation for the rise of the large corporation from a supposedly ‘laissez-faire’ economy”, failing to consider the systemic effects state intervention has on the architecture of large firms that would otherwise bow to real market forces. Continue reading