The original Free to Choose series has been added to Amazon Prime streaming. In this landmark production, Nobel-Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman guides the viewer through eleven documentaries on the workings of the market and its relation to human liberty. This is one of the most effective Libertarianism 101 outreach materials ever produced. I strongly recommend it.
Remy recalls a time when experts were claiming the comic-book industry was immoral and needed to be regulated — and how comic book artist Stan Lee stood his ground against censorship.
Journalist John Stossel explains how Thanksgiving would have been (and nearly was) “Starvation Day,” but for a change in policy from communal planting to…private property. [4 min/ Anti-socialism, Econ 101]
Reason tells the the true story of how the introduction of property rights by Governor Bradford saved the Pilgrims. [3 min/ Anti-socialism, Econ 101]
The original account of Governor Bradford, 1647
“All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they cold, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have thought great tyranny and oppression.”
“The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away or property and bringing into community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes, etc. with the meaner and younger sort, thought it was some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for mens’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it.”
Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, William Bradford
Links about Thanksgiving and property rights
This Thanksgiving, Be Grateful for Property Rights. The Pilgrims Nearly Starved Without Them, John Stossel, Reason
Giving Thanks for Property Rights, Caroline Baum, Economics21
How A Failed Commune Gave Us What Is Now Thanksgiving, Jerry Bowyer, Forbes
Thanksgiving: Pilgrims, property rights and prosperity, Hugh Whelchel, The Washington Post
How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims, Ilya Somin, The Volokh Conspiracy
The First Thanksgiving: How property rights transformed Plymouth Colony, Frank Miniter, National Review
JOHN STOSSEL: The Lost Lesson of Thanksgiving, John Stossel, Fox News
The Great Thanksgiving Hoax, Richard J. Maybury, Mises Institute
Our First Thanksgiving, Sartell Prentice Jr., The Foundation for Economic Education
World War One was arguably the least justifiable war the US was ever involved in. It was also a major turning point toward bigger government. The US was not directly attacked, but rather then President Wilson, our first globalist president, decided it was time for the US to fix Europe and “make the world safe for democracy.” Here are three films on the subject of the war from a libertarian perspective.
All Quiet on the Western Front, based on the novel, was a response to the idea of romanticized war, and depicts the tragedy of those young people sent into battle. The film follows a group of young soldiers through the war years as they increasingly question the morality and usefulness of their actions and one by one fall victim to enemy fire. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The film Gallipoli depicts how cheaply and foolishly governments spent the lives of the young recruits in the battles of World War One. In the case of the “Gallipoli Campaign” tens of thousands were sent into enemy machine gun fire on the hope that enough would get through it to win. This film stars a young Mel Gibson as one of the soldiers who joins from faraway Australia with romantic ideas of war, only to be sent into one of the fateful battles. Artistically, this is generally regarded as a great film, and so it is. Mark Lee and Mel Gibson are ideal as the likable pair of Aussie pals, and director Peter Weir tells their story in such an endearing way that you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by what ultimately happens to them.
Power’s War is a documentary that tells the true story of the Powers family of Arizona. “Separated from the rest of the world, the Powers family was only dimly aware of ‘The Great War,’ which they, like many Americans, viewed as none of their business…But on June 5th, 1917, all American men between 21 and 31 were ordered to register for the draft.” The Powers family resisted the draft and fought when an attempt was made to force their sons into the war; the resulting shootout was the largest in AZ history. This documentary won the Anthem Film Festival Grand Prize.
The infamous Berlin Wall was socialism itself: concrete and razor wire in the name of humanity, guard towers and machine guns in the name of human progress. It’s ostensible purpose was to protect vulnerable East Germans from invasion, but as a practical matter it was simply a way of preventing the slave populations of the USSR from escaping to the West.
By the time it finally fell on November 9th, 1989, 5,000 had attempted to cross it, most ending up in brutal labor camps and about 200 killed on the spot. And yet, so unhappy was life behind the Iron Curtain, that young people in particular never stopped trying to breach it. The following films remember the Wall and its victims.
The moment he was shot down by East German border guards as he tried to cross the barrier to the West, the Berlin Wall quite suddenly became real because everyone near the wall saw him die. In a poignant record of the tragedy, British Pathe provided this unnarrated, silent 3-minute clip.
“Peter Fechter (14 January 1944 – 17 August 1962) was a German bricklayer from Berlin in what became East Germany in 1945.” –Wikipedia
Despite the risk, many made heroic escapes, particularly in the beginning when the Wall was not fully completed, as captured in this early news reel.
Inspired by these heroic escapes, a young George Lucas, later of Star Wars fame, would make one of his earliest short films, Freiheit.
One of the most daring escapes, in which a family used a hot air balloon to get out, was made into an excellent film by Disney, Night Crossing.
The human cost of the Berlin Wall was not only human life as such, but human misery on a scale unimaginable. It separated loved ones quite suddenly, and for decades. That cost is well captured in The Promise, a film about a young couple in love. It begins with their attempted escape to the West. The man slips, hesitates, and before he knows it the moment is lost. His girlfriend goes on and makes it to the West, but he is left behind. It isn’t clear why he hesitated. Was it fear of being caught? We and he don’t know. But his failure fills him with guilt, compounded by his subsequent draft into the border guard service. Each further opportunity for him to escape is lost by bad luck and his own lack of daring. And as time goes by, he makes one compromise after another to survive until finally he is doing whatever the state wants him to do just to have the slight crumbs of happiness they allow him.
Then one day a speech that almost didn’t happen changed everything. Speechwriter Peter Robinson was told by US diplomats to write a speech for President Reagan’s visit to the Berlin Wall, but was warned against any “commie bashing.” He didn’t take their advice, and Reagan loved what he wrote. “Tear Down This Wall” became an iconic moment of the Cold War.
Enough time has apparently passed that Germans can now laugh about the Wall, in a sort of bittersweet way. The German-made comedy Good Bye Lenin! captures, in its own ironic way, the fall of communism far better than any straightforward telling. At one level, it’s a delightful farce that relentlessly mocks East Germany’s socialist past, but at another it also touches on the emotional perspective of many former East Germans, that in the transition to freedom…their side, the side they had been taught to love, lost.
Daylight saving creates chaos among the populace. [2 min]
Comedian Michael McIntyre jokes about daylight saving time. [1 min]
A short segment from the John Oliver show mocks daylight saving time. [3 min]
The standard opening to Perry Mason is finally explained as a daylight saving error. [1 min]
Harvard School of Public Health experts discuss the health risks of daylight saving. [2 min]
Links About Daylight Saving
“If you ask someone why we have daylight saving time, the most likely answer you’ll hear is that we change the clocks to help farmers. But daylight saving time has nothing to do with agriculture, except that farmers have historically opposed it, preferring morning sunlight to darkness when, say, milking the cows. The annual time changes are about energy conservation…But does this actually save energy? Recent studies suggest it has the opposite effect.”
–The New York Times: DST Wastes Energy
“Despite mounting evidence that Daylight Saving Time (DST) fails in its primary goal of saving energy, some form of DST is still practiced by over 1.5 billion people in over 60 countries. I demonstrate that DST imposes high social costs on Americans, specifically, an increase in fatal automobile crashes.”
–University of Colorado: Working Paper No. 14-05. Spring Forward at Your Own Risk: DST and Fatal Vehicle Crashes
“It was New York City (not the nation’s farmers, as many incorrectly believe) that rallied for [daylight-savings] reinstatement. Pressured by bankers and brokers who wanted to capitalize on the hour of arbitrage daylight-savings allowed with the London markets, the New York City Board of Aldermen lobbied it into law in 1920. The practice spread mostly haphazardly through the country, despite occasional efforts to enforce uniformity. While the history is awash in tedious legislative minutiae, Downing brings it to life by dramatizing politicians and various industries pitted against one another in absurd, often hilarious debates.”
–Publishers Weekly: [Review] SPRING FORWARD: The Annual Madness of DST
–-Book: Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of DST
“Arizona participated for one summer. Then we realized what an awful idea it was to have more sunlight in the evening. Longer sunlight means more air conditioning and more energy used. And more misery. In a nearly unanimous vote, Arizona legislators agreed to opt out of daylight-saving time in 1967.”
–AZCentral: Why doesn’t Arizona observe DST?
“If you feel groggy, grumpy and tired, and (rightly) blame daylight saving time for your woes, take solace in this: You’re not alone, and politicians are taking note. Elected officials in a dozen states are currently considering legislation to opt out of changing the clocks, either by remaining permanently on daylight saving time or standard time.”
–Washington Post: A bunch of states want to get rid of DST
“Most recently, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, seemed to corroborate what a number of other studies have already found: Daylight Saving Time, or DST, might do precious little to save energy, and may even increase energy consumption on the whole. Meanwhile, other studies have suggested links between DST and a variety of disturbing social outcomes, including increases in heart attacks and upticks in criminal behavior.”
–Forbes: Negligible Energy Savings, Possibly Deadly?
“Here are the five strangest ways that daylight saving time, and the ending of it, affect human health: 1) More car accidents 2) Increased workplace injuries 3) More heart attacks 4) Longer cyberloafing 5) Increased cluster headaches.”
–Live Science: 5 Weird Effects of DST
John McAfee, who ran against Gary Johnson for the 2016 LP Presidential nomination, will be the subject of the upcoming film King of the Jungle. Inasmuch as it focuses on a murder allegation against McAfee, and stars among others arch-progressive Seth Rogen, I don’t expect it to take a favorable slant.
An orphan boy is saved from a criminal gang and reformed by a private charity. Lord Jeff credits: [Dir: Sam Wood/ Freddie Bartholomew, Mickey Rooney, Charles Coburn/ 85 min/ Family, Drama/ Voluntarism/ 1938] No trailer available.
Lord Jeff is a delightful, uplifting classic film that also highlights one of the greatest private charities of all time: the “National Incorporated Association for the Reclamation of Destitute Waif Children,” referred to commonly, after its founder, as simply “Dr. Barnardo’s Homes.”
The central character of this film, “Lord Jeff,” is an orphan boy of the 1800s, corrupted by his adult criminal companions and trained to appear as the heir apparent to royalty and fortune, all for the purpose of getting access to wealthy connections and upscale shops that their little gang can rob. One of their criminal capers goes awry, however, and the boy is caught. A sympathetic court decides that rather than send him to prison, society would be better served if he were reformed, so instead he is sent to Dr. Barnardo’s Homes.
In this unique orphanage focused on skills training, the boy is placed under the care and supervision of strict Navy veterans who prepare him for naval service, but much more importantly steer him from his criminal ways and transform him into a person of self-consciously good character. Unfortunately, the criminal gang to which he was earlier attached attempt to return into his life; all seems lost…unless, just maybe, the loyal kids of the orphanage can somehow protect him.
Dr. Barnardo’s Homes saved roughly 100,000 children between 1870 and 1905 – one in every 400 Britons of the time. Abandoned children dying of starvation or exposure were offered food, shelter, and job training. Money was raised through the ingenious method of taking before and after pictures of the children — ragged and desperate before, fit and smartly dressed for work after — and printing them up on cards, which donors were given so they could see the results of their contribution, and which publicized the charity’s activities.
This classic film stars some of the top child talent of its time, including Freddie Bartholomew and Mickey Rooney, and would make a great pick for younger children. More than that, it’s also a wonderful and touching tribute to one of the greatest children’s charities ever created, and a fine example of how people help each other in a voluntary society.
How to See Lord Jeff
The 2019 Anthem Film Festival — the annual screening of the latest libertarian films and documentaries — will be held at the Paris Resort, Las Vegas, July 17-20. It is part of the larger FreedomFest event. You may purchase registration here.
The Anthem Film Festival is currently seeking libertarian films for its 2019 event. “We seek movies and documentaries about self-reliance, innovation, entrepreneurship, individual rights, and the triumph of persuasion over force. Libertarian films often point out the unintended consequences of government intervention, but they’re just as likely to be about a protagonist’s personal struggle for self-expression or self-reliance.” You can learn more about the submission process here.
Not sure if your film would be right for the festival? Check out this list of Anthem Film Festival winners for the years 2011-2017.