Dan Sanchez is Managing Editor of FEE.org. He is also a prolific essayist, specializing in clarifying economic principles and explaining geopolitics. He is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com and an independent journalist at TheAntiMedia.org. Dan has also delivered many lectures and speeches on economics and foreign policy. His writings and talks are collected at DanSanchez.me.
Dan Sanchez has worked in education since graduating from UC Berkeley in 2001. He has worked in economics and liberty education since 2010, when he and Jeffrey Tucker developed and launched the Mises Academy, the first ever online course platform for free market economics. Dan has also served as editor of Mises.org.
In 2016 Dan Sanchez joined the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), where he strives every day to help people understand and appreciate the marvels of the market economy and the importance of individual liberty for society.
After Donald Trump delivered his first speech as President of the United States, evangelist Franklin Graham took the stage and said:
“Mr. President, in the Bible, rain is a sign of God’s blessing. And it started to rain, Mr. President, when you came to the platform.”
It is telling that the reverend would contribute to the inauguration, not only a benediction, but an interpretation of an omen. Our custom of inaugurating government officials derives from the ancient religious practice of investing kings and magistrates with power through a ceremony in which a priest interpreted natural events as signs that a god favored the office-holder.
The “augury" offered by Reverend Graham was only the latest in a millennia-old tradition. Opponents of Trump have denounced it as an intrusion of superstitious religiosity into our secular governing institutions. But in truth, Graham’s divination fit right in. Our presidential inaugurations are just as thoroughly religious as were the ancient rituals from which they derive.
Today is Bitcoin’s 8th birthday. The digital currency’s fans can celebrate the day with extra joy (and perhaps expensive libations), since its price has run up to over $1,000.
On January 3, 2009, the first bitcoins were mined from the “Genesis block.” While that Bitcoin’s technological birth, it wasn’t born economically until some time afterward, when someone first accepted it as payment for a commodity or service. That was the origin of its value as a medium of exchange, the role that makes Bitcoin so potentially world-changing.
Some thought such a moment should have been impossible, or was at least problematic. Bitcoin was never a commodity. And according to Austrian economics as they understood it, money can only originate out of the barter of commodities.
On New Year’s Eve, many said “Bye Felicia” (today’s meme version of “good riddance”) to 2016. Some called the year a dumpster fire. People I know expressed such sentiments on social media. Yet I know for a fact that many of them had splendid years: a new job, a new love in their life, a childbirth, etc. They had every reason to celebrate the good fortune of their past year, but instead looked back on it as an awful ordeal. Why?
In 2017, resolve to be free: personally and professionally. This new ebook from FEE can help. It includes essays filled with concrete advice by Jeffrey Tucker, Lawrence Reed, Dan Sanchez, Isaac Morehouse, and more.
The following essays explain how embracing the broader freedom philosophy can enhance your own life. They deal with how you can gain peace of mind and motivation by taking ownership over your own thoughts and feelings, how you can thrive and prosper at work by taking ownership over your own career, and how you can learn and grow by taking ownership over your own life-long education.
This book is about your life and your work: emphasis on “your.”
Habits comprise much of one’s character. And as Heraclitus said, “A man’s character is his fate.” You choose your fate by choosing your character. And you choose your character by shaping your habits.
By shaping your habits, you can radically transform just about anything about yourself. “I’m kind of lazy. I’m not good with money. I’m not an athlete.” These are not verities. They’re manifestations of habits, and all habits can be hacked.
Store workers used to be an even bigger part of the shopping process. The customer used to give a shopping list to a clerk, who would then himself have to rummage through the store and collect the items. In 1916, Piggly Wiggly innovated the first “self-service” grocery store, in which shoppers browsed the aisles themselves. Customers found the new model to be more convenient and time-saving, so it swept the industry. Amazon Go is simply finishing what Piggly Wiggly started, developing the first fully self-service grocery store by eliminating the cashier.
If we are to scupper Amazon Go for the sake of cashiers, why not go even further back in time? Why not create endless work for store clerks by abolishing the supermarket and restoring full-service grocery stores?
Even when real authority figures are not involved, we feel the need to create them in our minds. This is easy to do, because after a whole childhood and youth of constantly being judged by others, we have internalized our judges. That part of you that says, “I’m so stupid,” or “I’m so lazy,” when you don’t live up to certain standards is the spiritual residue (ghosts, if you will) of dozens of past authority figures.
Browbeating yourself into good behavior is not self-discipline either. It is obedience to the internalized expectations of others.
School stunted and stultified the entrepreneurial spirit of the American individual, thereby proletarianizing him. It turned him into a “labor force” soldier to be deployed, a pawn to be moved, a “human resource” to be allocated. And not to be deployed, moved, and allocated by himself, but by paternalistic institutions: by his employer and by his “champions” in his union and/or his government.
In the late 18th century, Adam Smith wrote a book to explain the unprecedented rising prosperity that blessed certain countries but eluded others. In his 1776 An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Smith credited the new widespread opulence to what he called “liberal principles,” including free trade (“the liberal system of free exportation and free importation”) and liberty in general (the practice of “allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice”).
In other words, the Great Enrichment flowed from the Great Emancipation.
But what is most debilitating is the fact that you are constantly squandering precious time, effort, and emotional reserves that could have otherwise gone directly toward actually improving your own life. Toward creating opportunities for yourself and your family. Toward circumventing and thereby nullifying the impositions and threats made by rulers.
Living free means granting yourself the serenity that comes with acceptance of a basic fact: that you cannot ultimately control how others act or what they think of you, so it is pointless to be preoccupied with the preferences of others. It is making room in your soul for the courage to unreservedly tackle the one thing you can fundamentally change for the better: your own life.
The southeast Atlantic coast is plagued not just by Hurricane Matthew, but economic fallacies that compound the disaster as well. People are arguing that storm damage will stimulate the economy by requiring repairs, but they aren't seeing the economic activity that would have created entirely new goods and services that is made impossible because the resources needed are tied up restoring old goods and services.
Put yourself in Mises's shoes on the front line. You, better than anyone else in history, understand the workings of the peaceful market society. You understand the fatal flaws of socialism and interventionism, and the futility of war. You have the answers! You know the societal code that would unlock and unleash humanity's potential.
But nobody will listen to you, and you are surrounded by destruction and madness. Moreover, you yourself may at any moment be devoured by this war that rages around you, and all these unwritten ideas that are bubbling over in your mind will be lost to humanity forever.
It would be enough to break almost any man. But, fortunately for us, Mises was not only a genius but also a paragon of moral courage.
What if you’re dealing with a co-worker who is always looking to sabotage you at a job you don’t want to quit? You can’t just hide from him in the storage closet. You can’t just smack him in the face with a keyboard, like James McAvoy did to Chris Pratt in the movie Wanted. Without the economic way of thinking, all you can do is simmer in resentment.
The European Union has shown itself to be a compulsory tax cartel.
The lottery has been called a “tax on people who are bad at math.” But how many people play a much more dangerous game with much worse odds? By taking part in the voting power ritual, you are not only helping to propel an engine of destruction, but helping to maintain it.
Thanks to this conditioning, we have all become approval-junkies, always on the lookout for our next fix of external validation: for the next little rush of dopamine we get whenever we are patted on the head by others for being a “good boy” or a “good girl,” for exhibiting the right behavior, for giving the right answer, for expressing the right opinion.
Collectivist violence is not justice
Yesterday, two shocking videos of police officers fatally shooting civilians (Alton Sterling and Philando Castile) surfaced. The day before, many were appalled to hear the Director of the FBI announce that Hillary Clinton would not be charged for mishandling classified information. The two events may seem unrelated, but at bottom, they concern the same fundamental problem: impunity.
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