Jonathan Bean Archive

Jonathan Bean is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Professor of History at Southern Illinois University.
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50 Years of Mischief: The Triumph and Trashing of the Civil Rights Act



The Civil Rights Act was not a perfect law—no law is perfect–but it did embody two principles of the long civil rights movement: First, the individual (not the group) is the measure of justice. Secondly, nondiscrimination is mandatory for the government and worth pursuing in our private lives. If policymakers had enforced the Civil Rights Act in good faith, time might have eroded the tendency to view others as members of a group, rather than as individuals.

Supreme Court Rules: Social Security is NOT a Binding Contract



This post was prompted by all-too-common opinions expressed in Randall Holcombe’s recent “Federal Government Debt Undermines the Programs It Finances” blog. The respondents passionately insist that Social Security is a contract, whatever you do to the budget, do not touch Social Security. “I paid in and it is a contract. They owe me.” The...
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Don’t Know Much About History: Colleges Teach U.S. History with Politics Left Out (Is that Good or Bad?)



The good news from the NAS study of American history survey courses: if Hayek was right, then American college graduates–the next generation–will learn a lot about racial oppression, class, and gender (all from a left-wing perspective) but precious little about State Power. Forget what you think of State Power (force for good or source of evil). Americans will know NOTHING. I’ll venture they know nothing already. . .

What do readers think? Is it better that Americans know little about history? Is it better than having them learn Zinn-style history on issues unrelated to race, class, gender?

Reproduce or Pay a Tax: The Next ObamaCare



ObamaCare is about correcting for the “problem” that some people are not buying insurance. Rather than identify needy individuals and pay for their insurance, the bill mandates that everyone buy insurance that meets the prescription of government health czars (not too much, not too little, but “just right”). The government argues the following: by...
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XX-: Safe-Porn Dreaming USA



To think as a young man I longed to live in southern California. Today, the state is one big caricature of Political Correctness. News item: The Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance requiring porn actors to wear condoms. Presumably, they can perform their on-air sex acts outside Los Angeles. What is the point?...
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The Temptation of Bernanke: How Historical Memory Feeds Fed Power



[*UPDATE: Fed Joked About Housing Crash in 2006! Here is a good interview from PBS] “Tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right.” “Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.” —John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government “The historian is . . . one step nearer to direct power over public opinion than is the theorist.” —Friedrich A. von...
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“Pull Over Sir, I Must Fine You for Smoking in Your Car”



Sean Gabb (Libertarian Alliance of UK) recently sent me a press release protesting the British Medical Association’s call for a ban on smoking in cars. With the usual caveat that smoking is dangerous, kills, causes impotence, flatulence, and everything in between. . . There are people opposed to cigarette smoking (myself included) and then...
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Why I Voted “No” to a Strike



Classical liberals are used to being the “odd one out” but how many of us have lived through a strike with its demands for “solidarity”? I believe in voluntary association and even joined the Faculty Association (union) some years ago. I also believe that workers may strike but they are not entitled to a...
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Libertarian Activism: “We Demand Freedom: Popular Movements for Liberty in U.S. History”



This lecture by Stephen Davies is the most concise and articulate 45 minute presentation I’ve ever seen or heard about the libertarian tradition and its place in the context of American history and politics. For further reading on the libertarian tradition, see nearly anything published by the Independent Institute, especially Robert Higgs, Crisis and...
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Books That Make Us Human: My Top Ten List



Professor Brad Birzer, a man of unbounded energy, asked several of us to contribute a “top ten” list of books that make us human. Quite a challenge: limited to ten books, what would you (dear reader) choose and why? See my list at The Imaginative Conservative web site. It starts with a book by...
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