Robert Higgs Archive

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at The Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
Full Biography and Recent Publications

Against Libertarian Infighting



Like any ideology that has attracted a substantial following, libertarianism has splintered into a variety of sects. Thus, there are hard-core and soft-core libertarians; plumb-line and big-tent libertarians; Rothbard-loving and Rothbard-hating libertarians; pro-political and anti-political libertarians; academic and movement libertarians; thick and thin libertarians; socially conventional and libertine libertarians; pro-war and anti-war libertarians; bleeding-heart...
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Governor Stevens and I



When Governor Isaac Stevens went around Puget Sound in the mid-1850s making treaties with the Indian tribes to clear the way for an anticipated influx of whites, he found again and again that asking for the tribal chief got him nowhere. The Indians would look around and shrug their shoulders. They had no chiefs....
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Bootleggers and Baptists; Silversmiths and Artemis Cultists



All students of government regulation (and, to some extent, of other intervention, as well) know about Bruce Yandle’s model of bootleggers and Baptists. In this vision, a special interest with a large financial stake in a regulation joins forces politically (sometimes only covertly or simply in effect) with a religious or ideological interest group...
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Crisis of Political Authority? I Wish!



In my capacity as the longtime editor of The Independent Review (reduced earlier this year to the harmless status of Editor at Large), I have often received unsolicited copies of recently published books from the publishers, who hope to obtain reviews that will help them drum up sales. Today’s mail delivery brought me such an unrequested...
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On My Libertarian Catholicity



Since the late 1970s, I have been working in some capacity with think tanks and similar organizations that one might view as interested in education, research, and advocacy in the broad area of classical liberal, libertarian, and free-market thinking. One does not have to follow such organizations very long to discover that they differ in...
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Donald S. Barnhart (July 18, 1925—September 8, 2009)



In the fall of 1963, I transferred from Fresno State College, where I had recently completed my sophomore year, and enrolled in San Francisco State College, where I studied for two years and then was graduated in 1965. By the beginning of my senior year, I had already completed all of the requirements for...
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Government Spending and Regime Uncertainty—a Clarification



In view of my sixteen-year campaign to bring about an understanding of the idea of “regime uncertainty,” one might think that I would be gratified by the growing recognition of the importance of the closely related (but narrower) idea of “policy uncertainty” in relation to the unusually slow recovery from the bust of 2007-2009....
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Thinking Is Research, Too!



Bill Parker, an old friend of mine who died in 2000, was director of graduate studies in economics at Yale for thirteen years. He told me once about his struggles with his colleagues, who, he believed, were spending too much time on technique and not enough time on substance in teaching their courses. The...
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Shutdown Theater



Government shutdown? Nonsense. Only in our dreams will the U.S. government shut down. The current flap about an impending shutdown represents only the latest episode in the soap opera that stars the government as the hysterical teenage drama queen. For fiscal year 2013, which will end in a week, estimated federal revenue is expected...
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All Government Policies Succeed in the Long Run



A crazy claim you are probably thinking after reading my title. After all, “failed policies” are a staple of discussions and debates about government actions in the United States. Everybody, regardless of political preferences, has a list of what he regards as the most glaringly failed policies. This way of looking at the matter,...
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