Sam Staley Archive

Sam 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.
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Individualizing Justice in The Equalizer



As a libertarian, I often enter a theater to watch an action movie like The Equalizer with a bit of trepidation. Inevitably, the story depends on the destruction of human life as a plot driver. In many cases, particularly those with martial arts or superhero roots (think Ninja Assassin or Wolverine), the story depends...
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The Hayekian Liberty of Ender’s Game



Finally, after much encouragement from my college freshman daughter, I just finished reading Ender’s Game, the best-selling science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card that won the Nebula and Hugo awards when it was published in the mid-1980s. The story follows the cultivation of a 6-year-old, boy-wonder, military tactician, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, as he...
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Catching the Hint of Liberty in “Catching Fire” and “The Hunger Games”



Catching Fire, the second installment in the trilogy of films based on The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins, is burning through the box office, raking in revenues of more than $360 million since its November release. This makes the movie the third highest grossing movie of the year. And this bodes well for...
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Life, Liberty, and the Threat of Abortion Ambivalence



I happened to catch the headline on AOL News the other day promoting an on-line Huffington Post Live interview with 27-year-old porn star Stoya. The seven-year veteran of adult entertainment was remarkably poised, even if unsurprisingly candid, but her comments raised more than a few interesting questions about life and liberty from a broader...
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Star Trek Films Fail Because Freedom Has Progressed



I was underwhelmed leaving the theater after watching Star Trek: Into Darkness, and I found the reaction puzzling. I remain a fan of the original TV series, despite welcome advancements in special effects, and this movie was largely faithful to the series and characters. Plus, the movie was well crafted with plenty of action...
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The Wolverine and the Implicit Libertarianism of the Wayward Samurai



I’m not sure what I expected from the 2013 film The Wolverine, the most recent addition to the summer box office from the Marvel comics archives, but a libertarian theme seemed too much to hope for. And I was right—to an extent. In fact, after watching movie, I think the plot has an unusually...
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How John Locke Should Have Saved The Lone Ranger



I had a glimmer of hope for the 2013 film The Lone Ranger when I read that young U.S. attorney John Reid, aka The Lone Ranger, arrives in untamed west Texas with a copy of John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. After watching the otherwise entertaining summer action film, I left the theater wondering...
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The Pro-Liberty Message in Man of Steel



I have pretty low expectations for Superman movies, so I was both impressed and pleasantly surprised to find myself entertained as well as see an important pro-liberty theme embedded in the movie Man of Steel. Leaving aside problems of excessively long special effects and a few plot holes, the 2013 version of the Superman...
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Did Capitalism Put the “Great” in The Great Gatsby?



A funny thing happened to Jay Gatsby on the way to the Silver Screen in 2013: He became a sympathetic and all too human capitalist. This may not have been Hollywood’s intent, but the most recent adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic may have elevated a minor sub-theme in the book to a new...
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I Pocket Knife: A Tale of Petty Tyranny and the TSA



By the time you read this, I’m probably little more than a glob of metal, like so many millions of my brothers and sisters. And I did nothing wrong. For a while, I blamed my owner—didn’t he know that the TSA wouldn’t let him take me on an airplane? But, of course he did....
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