Sheldon Richman


Sheldon Richman, senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, discusses the unsustainable expense of US empire, the “political transaction costs” that shield government from scrutiny and protest, lack of emphasis on foreign policy at the Freedom Fest 2010 conference and why defense spending is the trillion pound gorilla in the (budget deficit) room.

MP3 here. (18:47)

Sheldon Richman is editor of The Freeman, published by The Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York, and serves as senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation. He is the author of FFF’s award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families; Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax; and FFF’s newest book Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State.

Calling for the abolition, not the reform, of public schooling. Separating School & State has become a landmark book in both libertarian and educational circles. In his column in the Financial Times, Michael Prowse wrote: “I recommend a subversive tract, Separating School & State by Sheldon Richman of the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank… . I also think that Mr. Richman is right to fear that state education undermines personal responsibility…”

Mr. Richman’s articles on population, federal disaster assistance, international trade, education, the environment, American history, foreign policy, privacy, computers, and the Middle East have appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, American Scholar, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Washington Times, Insight, Cato Policy Report, Journal of Economic Development, The Freeman, The World & I, Reason, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Middle East Policy, Liberty magazine, and other publications. He is a contributor to the Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics.

A former newspaper reporter and former senior editor at the Cato Institute, Mr. Richman is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia.

10 thoughts on “Sheldon Richman”

  1. I'm totally with you when you talk about civil liberties and about how empire is a bad thing, and when you say that defense should really actually mean defense, and that it shouldn't be a euphemism for offense. But I think it's absolutely shocking when you tell us that all social programs should be ended. So what that tells me is that you want to live in a society which is designed only for the interests of the rich. See, you DO want police to protect property and courts to enforce contracts and so on, right? So you DO want a government that sets and enforces economic rules. But what you don't want is for that government to address any imbalances created by those rules, imbalances that would obviously be self-correcting in a State of Nature. Nor do you want government to provide ways for people to pool their resources to do things to help the community as a whole. In fact, you hate the word "community", right?

    See, what I think is that Lefties are open to Libertarian ideas, but Libertarians are not open to Lefty ideas, and that's the problem, and it's sad, because Lefty and Libertarian ideas are actually complementary.

    1. Sheldon and I are both anarchists. Unfortunately we were mixing up apples and oranges in the interview, talking about what must be done immediately – peace, bill of rights, end to welfare for billionaires – one discussion, with the how-things-really-oughta-be, which is no state at all, of course, another discussion altogether really.

      BTW: Ron Paul I believe shares these priorities. He stated over and over in the campaign for president that he wanted to shore up Social Security etc. – Al Gore Lockbox style – while taking care of the empire, bill of rights, corporate welfare problems that are most important and that we all can agree on.

    2. Eppie: many of us at this site used to share your views, but the lack of a consistent philosophical-ethical foundation for the warfare conducted against one's neighbor, which liberal-progressive spending programs constitute, soured us on your views and caused us to seek a better way. Please educate yourself by reading the following, which you, too, may find compelling if you understand what is important about both consistency and philosophy (as opposed to mere "positions" derived from wishes:
      1. pp. 41-47 in Murray Rothbard's "Ethics of Liberty" (available online at
      2. chapter 2 of Murray Rothbard's "For a New Liberty" (also online)

      Both of these lay out some of the groundwork about scientific thought on ethics and why it is important. Then, if you are curious, you can try (it is a difficult read) to dip into "Anarchy, State, Utopia" by Robert Nozick — in which he demolishes the mini-max theory of social welfare once taught at Harvard, which was the only philosophically grounded attempt to justify the social-welfare state.

      As someone who long ago came from the left, these changed my mind, but you must sit, read, and absorb them before reacting.
      Best to you.

      1. same here guys. I used to be a leftie too but since all govts are corrupt, why not try none at all?!? Taxes and social programs use MY money on things I may not desire. And there is no motive for efficiency in govt, quite the opposite often. I am probably preaching to the converted here. However, all things considered, ending offensive wars and empires would be a GREAT start! So let's start there y'all.

        ps. Sheldon is right Scott, this radio show truth speaks truth to power. You and your guests enlighten me and give me hope.

    3. Only the interest of the rich? Not at all, Mr. Richman never even implies that. Yes police, are needed to assist individuals in the protection of their person and property, and courts to settle disputes and convict criminals. He does not however avdocate the government setting economic rules, except when considering fraund, monopolies, or other dishonest activities. And there is certainly no objection to individuals pooling their resources to do things that help community. He just opposes those pools by government fiat or force.

  2. I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this repressive tolerance anymore! It's horrible! If not for Scott's show, what could possibly get me intolerantly repressed? …Or at least intolerably
    …Hmmm…maybe I'll just take this repressive tolerance after all…thanks for listening…

  3. A comment for Legendary Bill and Claus Eric Hamle – why do you think that evil, totalitarianism obsessed worm Joe Lieberman and his fellow tribe members in Congress are going through crates of gastrointestinal distress medicine and screaming like stuck pigs over wanting to install a 'kill switch' on the Internet ? Why do you think Australia, Great Britain, Canada and most of the other white, Western nations are all hearing their crooked, corrupt politicians hollering that they need to censor the Internet and force users to be licensed to surf the web, and to be blocked from visiting a mysterious list of websites that their criminal ruling elites are afraid might tell them the truth about 9-11 and the rest of these criminal and global schemes that these despicable worms are involved in? Oh, these liars will try to claim its to crack down on kiddie porn – but, that is just a ruse. The real reason is that they want to censor political opinion and dissenting views that don't march in lockstep with the criminal psychopaths who are running all of the Western nations these days. Speaking of Dr. Sabrosky – what do you think the chances were of ANY of the controlled mainstream media outlets picking up what is the hottest story in the last entire century? Zero. That's because the media owners are in bed with the same perps who engineered 9-11 and their role was to help cover it up.

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