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Sam Staley Archive

Samuel R. Staley is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Managing Director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center in the College of Social Sciences at Florida State University. He is a contributing author to the Independent books, Property Rights: Eminent Domain and Regulatory Takings Re-Examined and Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis.
Full Biography

Ban Guns, Come Hell or High Water



I didn’t fully recognize the remarkably pervasive anti-gun statement embedded in the well-received film Hell or High Water until my morning jog the following day. The message is so subtle, so nuanced, and so expertly executed, this movie could be used as a textbook case for how narrative filmmaking can promote policy positions. And...
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Snowden Spotlights Dangers of Privacy-Security Trade-Off



Few figures have been as polarizing as Edward Snowden, the intelligence-agency computer contractor turned whistleblower who leaked national security files to the press and raised global awareness about the breadth of U.S. government spying. Snowden has been in effective exile since 2013, when the government revoked his passport and started pressuring Russia to extradite...
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How Occupy Wall Street Nearly Scuttles Hell or High Water



Hell or High Water, one of the most talked about films of 2016, is billed as a modern-day western, “heist crime,” or Bonnie and Clyde. A contemporary western is more apt, and its excellent acting, steady pace, tight story and screenplay will likely make it an Oscar contender. The film also makes me yearn...
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What Star Trek Beyond Tells Us about the Luster of Naive “Progressivism”



Fifty years ago today, on September 8, 1966, the first regular episode of the path-breaking series Star Trek premiered on NBC television. Sold as “Wagon Train to the stars,” producer Gene Roddenberry delivered much more. His agenda included using the series as a vehicle for social commentary and to project a liberal, progressive, and...
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How Rage Fuels the Incarceration State



Brock Turner, the Stanford University student convicted of sexual assault last summer, left jail after serving three months of his six month sentence, setting off a firestorm of outrage and protest in the popular media over his light sentence. Amidst the rage, no one seems to be asking the more important and fundamental question:...
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Should Conservatives Give Up on Narrative Filmmaking?



In a pivotal scene in the film Free State of Jones, three white men are chasing the recently freed slave Moses down a dirt road in immediate post-Civil War Mississippi. What is notably missing from Moses’s hands is a gun, a symbolic feature embedded so thoroughly in the narrative of the film that it could...
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Alcohol Bans Won’t Put Dent in Campus Sexual Assault



Students at Stanford University will be greeted with a ban on hard liquor this fall, all in an effort to control irresponsible behavior among its students and, in part, to address campus sexual assault. Alcohol bans are unlikely to have much of an effect on campus sexual assault and, in fact, might make matters...
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What the Prague Spring Teaches Us Today about Liberty



Prague, Czech Republic is well recognized for its historical architecture and role as the cradle of civilization in Western Europe, but it’s role in reinventing itself as a peaceful, market-oriented democracy in the wake of Communism’s fall deserves to be a centerpiece of contemporary discussions about freedom and how easily it can be lost. For...
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A Civil Society Agenda for Campus Sexual Assault



As studies refine our understanding of college sexual assault, more and more observers recognize that sexual assault and rape are serious problems on many campuses even if the scope isn’t large enough to be called an epidemic. In an academic year, a recent analysis completed for the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics covering nine...
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Privacy Rights, Cronyism, and Jason Bourne



Hollywood’s rediscovery of freedom is cropping up in interesting places more and more. I’ve discussed themes emphasizing individual responsibility and skepticism about government in films such as Captain America: Civil War, the Divergent trilogy, and other media, but these ideas might have real staying power if what I just saw in Jason Bourne, the Matt Damon vehicle...
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