The World’s Greatest Inventions

by H.L. Mencken, first published in the New York American, November 26, 1934. Reprinted in A Second Mencken Chrestomathy, ed. Terry Teachout (New York: Knopf, 1995), pp. 161-63, under the title “Two Benefactors of Mankind.”

When I was a youngster, in the closing decades of the last century, two horrible plagues afflicted the American people. The first was the plague of flies and the second was that of corns. No one, in those days, knew how to get rid of either. We used to sleep under canopies of netting on Summer nights, but they were worse than useless, for on the one hand they kept out the air, and on the other they were no impediment to flies, which wriggled through their meshes and feasted on our carcasses within. By day these same flies gave their show on our dinner-tables, leaving us with cholera morbus or typhoid fever. On Sunday mornings they performed massively on clergy and laity; on weekends they specialized in pedagogues and pupils. Save in the extreme North their season ran from Easter to Thanksgiving. While they raged, every American spent half his time dodging them, banging away at them, and damning them. Read the rest of this entry

Beyond Democracy, Toward Freedom

by Chris Bassil
In addition to his career in medical research, he is a freelance writer in the anarchocapitalist tradition. He has been published on the Mises Institute’s website and runs the Austro-libertarian blog, Hamsterdam Economics.

As Americans, many of us have learned since the time we were small to associate the democratic form of collective decision-making that governs us with the very essence of freedom itself. In fact, many of us have even come to understand these two not as the separate and distinct phenomena that they are, but rather as similar and partnered sides of the same coin. In school, for instance, we have recited the Pledge of Allegiance each and every morning, separating the republic from liberty by little more than a breath before we begin our day. In the media and in politics, we have been fed an obsession with the free world, and have been convinced that much of what lies outside of it must be made safe for democracy. Even in our entertainment programs, we witness the two as inextricably bound up with one another: in the recent premiere of Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO television series The Newsroom, for example, the main character reprimands a neoconservative for his assertion that America’s freedom makes it the best country in the world. “There are 207 sovereign states in the world,” he scoffs, “and, like, 180 of them have freedom.” Read the rest of this entry


This was written on April 27, 1997, by the great Australian commentator Viv Forbes.
Looking at Hong Kong today and the direction of progress, what do you think of this essay?

I was saddened to read, last week, that the first Red Army soldiers had slipped into Hong Kong, like Jackals in the Night.

This marks the end of a huge social experiment lasting for decades and involving millions of people — a contest between the command society and the contract society, between socialism and free enterprise, between the closed economy and free trade. Read the rest of this entry

Head in the Clouds

Bill Stacey, Next Magazine, November 15, 2012, A004.

High above Central in an eyrie so elevated that most people would get dizzy looking down, lies the offices of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). Its primary responsibilities are to maintain currency and banking stability, which require very specific and skilled, but limited, resources. However, the HKMA has always blanched at these constraints and envisioned a wider role as the “central bank of Hong Kong”.

Its expanding role can be seen in many areas. Take the budget. Compound average growth in its administrative budget is 10.4% over the 8 years to 2012 compared to government’s 4.4% in the same period. Its 2012 spending is set to go up by a further 24%. It is worth noting that it is not staff numbers (+4% per annum over 8 years) but staff costs (+5.6% per head, per annum over 8 years) that are amongst the main drivers. Consumer protection and the management of complaints have expanded to as much as 12% of total spending. Read the rest of this entry

CALL TO ACTION: How to stand aside when it’s time to be counted

Bert Kelly, The Australian Financial Review, November 11, 1977, p. 3.

I have never made any secret of the fact that the quality that I envy most in my political colleagues is their fast footwork.

I laboriously clamber on to high points of principle and stand there like Horatio on the bridge or the boy on the burning deck, but my colleagues, being cleverer and fleet of foot, quickly retreat to some other point of political wisdom, leaving your poor Modest Member standing alone, polishing his halo and not quite certain who persuaded him to stand for something about which he is not certain. Read the rest of this entry


by Jonathan Swift in 1729

It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants: who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes. Read the rest of this entry

George Jean Nathan on Working Hours

George Jean Nathan, The Autobiography of an Attitude (New York: Knopf, 1925), pp. 107-09.

How much does the poor union working man, abused and oppressed by capital, actually work? Read the rest of this entry

VOL 1 NO 3 – Contents

  1. EDITORIAL: Secession is Patriotic
  2. POLITICAL ADVICE HOTLINE: Letters to the Editor
  3. GINA RINEHART COLUMN: A Call for Action on Serious Challenges
  4. POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY: Why we couldn’t abolish slavery then and can’t abolish government now, by Dr. Robert Higgs
  5. POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY: Correcting 50 years of Buchanan and Tullock’s The Calculus of Consent, by Dr. Murray Rothbard
  6. MINIMUM WAGE: Andrew Shuen Debates Socialists on the Harm of the Minimum Wage
  7. POETRY: “Thought Criminal”, by Timothy W. Humphries
  8. ARTS POLICY: George Jean Nathan Mocks the Moral Arguments for Government Funding of the Arts
  9. CLIMATE POLICY: A look back with Bert Kelly on how weather prediction changes with the fashions and the seasons

EDITORIAL: Secession is Patriotic

by Benjamin Marks, Capitalism.HK and editor

Why is it that Beijing allows Special Economic Zones like Hong Kong, but Canberra doesn’t allow Western Australia to secede? Why does Canberra insist on being so centralising, controlling and all-powerful?

Instead of saying, “Good day” and “How are you going?,” Australians say, “G’day” and “Owya?” Long-windedness, as is displayed in the buzzword-filled attempts to oppose secession and support extra layers of bureaucracy, is not an Australian virtue. Australians support secession.

Our long-winded politicians in Canberra might be well-meaning, but when they start showing concern about voluntarily-contracted foreign workers and voluntarily-acquired foreign ownership of property in Australia, they are succumbing to ideas whose origin is unAustralian, and they have not been voluntarily accepted by Australian property owners.

The Australian mining legend Ronald Kitching called Australia’s capital the Canberra Kremlin. It is a foreign power, using long-windedness against the short quick independent language of Australia proper.

Karl Marx was not an Australian.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was not an Australian.

Maynard Keynes was not an Australian. Read the rest of this entry

Letters to the editor

by Benjamin Marks, Capitalism.HK and editor

Dear Ed,

My name is Mavis, and I’ve been going out with my boyfriend for three weeks now. He’s alright, but when we talk about politics, he says he’s a Marxist and votes for the Labor Party. What should I do?

Mavis Coombes, from Balmain, Sydney, Australia

Thanks Mavis. This must be a difficult time for you. This serious situation may require more than one of the following remedies:

Firstly, if he’s really sympathetic to Marxism, it is not clear why he would vote for the Labor Party rather than the Liberal Party. They both decrease the scope for free-markets and believe in exactly the same (lack of) principles, differing only in degree. And they both support nearly all of the short-term communist aims as outlined in, say, The Communist Manifesto.

Secondly, he cannot possibly be a Marxist. Read the rest of this entry