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Robert Higgs Archive

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. His Independent books include Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government; Depression, War, and Cold War: Challenging the Myths of Conflict and Prosperity; Neither Liberty nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government; Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy; Delusions of Power: New Explorations of the State, War, and Economy; Opposing the Crusader State: Alternatives to Global Interventionism (edited with Carl Close); The Challenge of Liberty: Classical Liberalism Today (edited with Carl Close); Resurgence of the Warfare State: The Crisis Since 9/11; Re-Thinking Green: Alternatives to Environmental Bureaucracy (edited with Carl Close); Against Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society; Hazardous to Our Health? FDA Regulation of Health Care Products; and Arms, Politics, and the Economy: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives.
Full Biography and Recent Publications

State’s Two-Way Mirror



Constant surveillance State’s prying eyes seek your wrongs Yours alone, not state’s ****** Got nothing to hide? Not to worry, citizen State makes no mistakes ****** But if it should err You will pay the error’s price State will not confess

I, Peach: A Lesson in Comparative Advantage



As part of my lunch today, I enjoyed a big, ripe, sweet, firm peach. “So what?” you may be asking. Well, my doing so is more remarkable than one might think. You see, I live at the extreme end of the road, near a remote, isolated village in the farthest southeast corner of the...
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Four Questions for the Rulers



1. In what way(s) have I violated your natural rights? 2. If I have not violated your natural rights (as I believe to be the case), thereby prompting you to retaliate against me in defense of them, why are you violating my natural rights in such a great variety of ways? 3. If you...
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Peter Boettke’s Splendid Essays on Learning and Teaching Economics



I have just finished reading Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, a wonderful collection of essays by Peter Boettke. (It was published in 2012, but I move slowly these days.) The essays were written over a span of some twenty years or so, most of them in the first decade of the present century...
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The Rape of Nanking and the U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki



Question: In what way do the atrocities committed by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army in China in 1937-38, especially those included under the rubric of “the Rape of Nanking,” justify the U.S. government’s atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945? Answer: In no way whatsoever. Question: Why then do so many of...
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Historical Understanding versus Moral Appraisal



To understand history, we must, as it were, enter into the minds of people in the past—a task that we can never accomplish except in a very incomplete way. We must try to understand how they viewed the choices they made, what various actions and categories of action meant to them. By looking at...
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All Monocausal Theories of Economic Growth Are Wrong



For as long as economic growth has been a noticeable phenomenon—at least since Adam Smith’s day—economists, historians, and others have advanced theories to explain its occurrence. Many of these theories have identified a single factor that is regarded as “the answer” to the question at issue. Thus, the exploitation of wage labor, the enslavement...
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Against the Feel-Good Study of History and Literature



The educational establishment seems to be expending a great deal of effort these days to excise “offensive” material from the curricula of history and literature. For example, Mark Twain’s great anti-racist novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been removed from the study materials in many schools because of its use of the word “nigger”...
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Against “We,” “Us,” and “Our” in Policy Discourse



Rhetoric is often insidious, especially in political and policy-related discourse. The words a writer or speaker uses to express his ideas may easily tilt the reader or listener’s evaluation toward unwarranted acceptance or rejection. Politicians and others who make public pronouncements understand this effect, and they choose their words with an eye toward using...
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My Political Endorsement, as It Were



I notice that many people are making public announcements these days to identify which candidates they will endorse for the presidency and other public offices in the coming elections. Encountering these statements, I often shake my head because I have no idea who the endorser is or, when I do recognize the name, because...
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