Freeman

PERSPECTIVE

Perspective: Prison Costs

OCTOBER 01, 1993 by EXECUTIVE ALERT

Prison operating costs in New York State have risen by 148 percent since 1983, while the number of inmates has increased only 93 percent. It is estimated that the state’s prison population will grow from the current 54,900 to 74,400 by the year 2000.

Annual operating costs in New York are $24,173 per inmate.

—Executive Alert

 

The Importance of Self-Government

I asked my family one evening when we were all gathered in the living room, “What is the first thing that comes into your mind when I say the word government?”

The responses? “The United States of America and its people.” “Bill Clinton.” “The White House.” “A group of men.”

Most of us, I think, would have answered in a similar way. The first thing that comes into our minds is civil government. But our minds are different from the minds of earlier Americans. In the first chapter of his book God and Government, Gary Demar does an excellent job of pointing out how. In 1828, Noah Webster defined government in terms of personal self-control: “Direction, regulation. ‘These precepts will serve for the government of our conduct.’ Control, restraint. ‘Men are apt to neglect the government of their temper and passions.’”

Prior to World War I, textbooks dealing with national government were qualified with the title “civics,” indicating their awareness that there were personal, family, church, school, and civil governments, each with its own legitimate sphere of authority. Webster’s 1828 definition went on to include family government before he dealt with government on the state or national level. The fact that modern dictionaries list civil government first indicates how much our thinking has changed.

—Marty Mattocks

 

A Political Harvest

Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uninformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few, not for the many.

The Federalist

 

The Sins of the Intellectuals

The intellectual leaders of the peoples have produced and propagated the fallacies which are on the point of destroying liberty and Western civilization. The intellectuals alone are responsible for the mass slaughters which are the characteristic mark of our century. They alone can reverse the trend and pave the way for a resurrection of freedom.

—Ludwig von Mises

 

Capitalism

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam cultivation,canalization of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground—what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labor?

—Karl Marx

 

Economic Control

Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends.

—F. A. Hayek

 

The Wisdom of Henry Hazlitt

The socialists and communists propose to cure poverty by seizing private property, particularly property in the means of production, and turning it over to be operated by the government.

What the advocates of all expropriation schemes fail to realize is that property in private hands used for the production of goods and services for the market is already for all practical purposes public wealth. It is serving the public just as much as in fact, far more effectively than if it were owned and operated by the government.

—Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993)

“Private Property, Public Purpose”


A memorial service for Mr. Hazlitt was held at The Foundation for Economic Education on August 4, 1993. Edmund A. Opitz, Bettina Bien Greaves, Hans F. Sennholz, George F. McKendry, and Andrea Rich shared reflections on Mr. Hazlitt’s character, intelligence, and dedication to the cause of liberty.

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

October 1993

comments powered by Disqus

EMAIL UPDATES

* indicates required

CURRENT ISSUE

December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
Download Free PDF

PAST ISSUES

SUBSCRIBE

RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION

Essential Works from FEE

Economics in One Lesson (full text)

By HENRY HAZLITT

The full text of Hazlitt's famed primer on economic principles: read this first!


By FREDERIC BASTIAT

Frederic Bastiat's timeless defense of liberty for all. Once read and understood, nothing ever looks the same.


By F. A. HAYEK

There can be little doubt that man owes some of his greatest suc­cesses in the past to the fact that he has not been able to control so­cial life.


By JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Leonard Read took the lessons of entrepreneurship with him when he started his ideological venture.


By LEONARD E. READ

No one knows how to make a pencil: Leonard Read's classic (Audio, HTML, and PDF)