Property Rights or Human Rights

Should society (through its institutions such as the government) defend property rights or human rights? That question is of course meaningless if one of the sets includes the other as a proper subset. But let’s assume for the moment that they are indeed distinct, and therefore the question makes sense.

I believe I have an answer to that but I will not go into it. For now, I’d like to pose a related question. Should society (through its institutions such as the military) commit resources to defending its weapons prior to defending the lives of its citizens? To put it more concretely, should society choose to build bomb-proof missile silos or build excellent bomb-proof shelters for its citizens, assuming that the society does not have the resources to build both?

Feel free to leave your answer in the comments.

Opening lines

Here are the opening lines of four books that are important. For each, I have provided a link for a free download of the book.


How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, the emotion which we feel for the misery of others, when we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively manner. That we often derive sorrow from the sorrow of others, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any instances to prove it; for this sentiment, like all the other original passions of human nature, is by no means confined to the virtuous and humane, though they perhaps may feel it with the most exquisite sensibility. The greatest ruffian, the most hardened violator of the laws of society, is not altogether without it.

The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith 1759 Continue reading “Opening lines”

Autarchy and Individual Liberty

“Auto means self. Archy means rule. Autarchy is self-rule. It means that each person rules himself, and no other…. As I will use the word, autarchy will signify total self-rule. It will presume a system or social arrangement in which each person assumes full responsibility for himself, proceeds to control himself, exercises control over himself, exercises authority over himself, supports himself, takes initiative, joins with others or not as he pleases, and does not in any way seek to impose his will by force upon any other person whatever.”

The above from the essay Autarchy by Robert LeFevre. See the Rampart Journal of Individualist Thought  (Summer 1966) (free pdf download). Continue reading “Autarchy and Individual Liberty”

Happy Birthday Darwin & Lincoln

What are the chances that two of the greatest figures of history would be born on the same day? I would leave that to the statisticians and only remark on the fact that in 1809 on this day, February 12th, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenvill, Kentuky in the United States, and Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire in England.

Who would have predicted that those two babies — remember we all were babies at some point — would have an enormous impact on the world as they eventually did? Continue reading “Happy Birthday Darwin & Lincoln”

Information about the novel coronavirus

There is a lot of news about the 2019 novel corona virus (coronavirus). I suppose there’s some chance that this flu will blow up across the world. Therefore it is important to know what this 2019-nCv does. Here’s a video that I found very instructive.

This is a PSA post. Keep well and do good work.

Understanding Infertility

It’s time to start a new category: “Stuff I find interesting” on the web. Part of the reason for this is to expand the variety of topics I explore on this blog. To kick it off, here’s a podcast from WHYY on “Understanding Infertility.” The intro says:

“… Over the past century, reproductive medicine has grown rapidly as a field, from experimenting with artificial insemination to in vitro fertilization. On this episode, we look at fertility (and infertility), and what we have learned about assisting nature. … Richard Sharpe from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland explains the challenges surrounding male infertility, and why we know so little about this issue. …”

Click on the image above to listen to the podcast. Or else use the embedded player below the fold. Continue reading “Understanding Infertility”

Defining Classical Liberals

Labels are useful. They indicate the content of objects which could be anything — from cans and bottles to people and institutions.

But labels can also be confusing if they are not properly defined before they are used. I think it is always prudent to define labels before using them. I agree with Confucius that definitions matter above all else. Confucius say[2]:

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”

I identify as a classical liberal, aka an Old World liberal. I believe in individual freedom, and equality of all persons.  So what exactly is a old world (or classical) liberal? Part of my ideology is described by Murray Rothbard thusly:

Continue reading “Defining Classical Liberals”