Matthew Mitchell

Matthew Mitchell is a senior research fellow and director of the Project for the Study of American Capitalism with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he is also an adjunct professor of economics.

Freedom Might Well Flourish Even If Conservatives Don’t

Samuel Goldman has written a wide-ranging and thought-provoking Liberty Forum essay on the current sorry state of American conservatism. This sorry state is especially sorry for those of us who, like Dr. Goldman, believe that classical liberalism is the best part of American conservatism. It is an assessment, he says in conclusion, which he hopes “to be wrong about.” At the risk of disappointing the good professor, I will not endeavor here to prove him wrong. I will, however, try to cheer him up. For I do not think that the sorry state of the American Right necessarily portends extinction, or…

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Don’t Take the Benedict Option

Professor Goldman begins his Liberty Forum essay by urging a striking, but probably unworkable, reconception of the fundamental divide in conservative ranks. Rather than “the familiar distinctions between libertarianism and traditionalism, neoconservatism and paleoconservatism,” he proposes, it’s a conflict between “liberalism and reaction.” Reaction—meaning reactionary politics such as Trumpism—is, according to Goldman, not easily compatible with…

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Creative Tension, Not Crack-Up

Samuel Goldman has written a bracing Liberty Forum essay suggesting that the Right side of the political spectrum is split, perhaps hopelessly and irrevocably, between classical liberalism and reaction. The roots of the divide are deep and enduring but what brings the problem into bold relief is our political moment and, above all, the rise…

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Critiquing the Administrative State Is Natural

Samuel Goldman has made a stimulating contribution to our political discussions. “What is the Future of Conservatism?” is thoughtful and thought-provoking. In light of the feud between Never Trump conservatives and Trump-supporting conservatives, it is well worth pondering if Goldman is right that we are witnessing a conservative “crack up.” This concern is not new. He…

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Of Rent-Seekers and Rent-Givers

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President Grant liked cigars and brandy. And he liked to enjoy them in the lobby of the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. What he did not like was the parade of favor-seekers who beseeched him while he took in his vices. From his perch in the Willard’s lobby, he called them “those damn lobbyists,” and—according to legend—thus coined a new term. The story is apocryphal; the term appears to have been around for a few hundred years before Ulysses S. Grant was born. But like so many legends, its repetition tells us something about ourselves: that lobbying is a widely despised,…

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The Wealth of Cities

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Capital, in the 21st century, has a bad rap. Many say that because it is the source of “passive income,” it does nothing but pad the pockets of the idle rich, driving a wedge between the haves and the have-nots. It’s helpful, then, to be reminded that capital in all its forms is the source of human betterment. Capital is the accumulated stock of stuff (financial assets, physical equipment, human knowhow, even social connections) that helps us make and do more stuff. So policies that drain capital from a community or discourage its formation in the first place are likely to leave a trail of destruction. This is the central lesson of Stephen J.K. Walters’ Boom Towns: Restoring the Urban American Dream.

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