In the Wealth of Nations Adam Smith outlines a commercial society: When the division of labour has been once thoroughly established, it is but a very small part of a man's wants which the produce of his own labour can supply. He supplies the far greater part of them by exchanging… the produce of his own labour… for such parts of the produce of other men's labour as he has occasion for. Every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society. The last sentence of the…
The attempt by the media and the political elites of the three major political parties in the United Kingdom to heap contempt on Euroskepticism no longer possesses the same power. With the victory of the United Kingdom Independence Party in local and European Parliamentary elections, the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union is a live one. Indeed, Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed to a public referendum on this question in 2017 should the Conservatives be returned to power in 2015. I recently discussed the case for a UK exit with David Conway, a frequent contributor to this…
Seeking to give the slip to her young charge, Cecily, in order to take a flirtatious spin around the garden with the elderly unmarried local vicar, Dr Chasuble, on whom the aging governess has set her sights, the redoubtable Miss Prism in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, instructs her that
‘you will read your Political Economy in my absence. The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit. It is somewhat too sensational… Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side.’
As some have observed, the joke here is ultimately on the playwright, since currency collapses are indeed sensational. One need only think of how traumatic was the collapse of Germany’s mark after World War I and of the ensuing tragic events to appreciate just how dramatic a currency collapse can be.
At a recent emergency session to discuss Israel’s military operation against Hamas, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution—proposed by Palestine, which enjoys observer status there—to convene a special enquiry into whether Israel has been guilty of any war crimes in its current action in Gaza.
Speaking during the proceedings, at which, among the Council’s 47 members, only the United States voted against the resolution, Navanethem Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, remarked of the Israeli Defense Forces operation in Gaza:
There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated in a manner that could amount to war crimes.
Ms. Pillay, a former South African judge, has a remarkable record of scenting out when there have been human rights violations.
Recent years have seen a veritable renaissance in Adam Smith scholarship. Most is devoted to revising a previously widespread image of him, especially within libertarian circles, as an advocate of unbridled capitalism and of correspondingly minimal government. Instead, much recent Smith scholarship has sought to portray the eighteenth century Scottish philosopher as having been far more communitarian-minded and favourably disposed towards more than the minimum government provided by the legendary night-watchman state. The latest Smith scholar to join in this revisionary project is Jack Russell Weinstein, a professor of philosophy at the University of North Dakota and director of its Institute…
Last week, in what promises to be the start of a protracted and important judicial battle, a judge in California struck down five statutes in the state’s Education Code on the grounds that they prevented children attending public schools from receiving an education that is commensurate with their state constitutional right to equal protection under the law. The statutes judged unlawful were those preventing Californian district school boards from withholding tenure from incompetent teachers or firing them once they had gained it, plus another obliging them to give priority to their more long-serving, but less effective, teaching staff over more recent, but more effective, teaching appointments when, for economic reasons, lay-offs had to be made.
Recently, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the appeal of a man convicted and sentenced to a one-year prison term for having aided the suicides of two depressed people through advice and encouragement he had offered them over the Internet.
The grounds on which the appellant successfully challenged his conviction were that the statute under which he had been prosecuted and convicted — and which proscribed ‘encouraging, advising or assisting another in committing suicide’ — violated his First Amendment right to free speech.
Not content with trashing welfare by abolishing work requirements laid down by the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, plus centralizing healthcare through his Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative threatens to inflict equal damage upon America’s schools and criminal justice system.
During the run-up to Easter this year, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron had the temerity to assert publicly (and on more than one occasion) that Britain is a Christian country, suggesting also that it is no bad thing that it is. For having publicly espoused such politically incorrect sentiments, fifty-five prominent British humanists came down on him like a ton of bricks, excoriating him for false and divisive statements they claimed that he had made.