Book Review: "Why Nations Fail"

In the book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, American economists Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson contend stable institutions and political centralization are necessary conditions for economic prosperity and long term social stability. Differentiating between “inclusive” and “extractive” philosophies, Acemoglu and Robinson maintain encompassing institutions stem educational and technological advancements, while extractive institutions stifle and impede wealth and growth. In addition, stable and centralized political institutions not only safeguard vital elements such as intellectual property rights, but provide a reliable legal foundation from which to peacefully arbitrate and mediate disputes between citizens and firms.

Bastiat, Hayek, and the Working Class

The late Chicago economist Milton Friedman argued there is a vital interrelationship between political and economic freedom. He deviated from his Austrian colleagues on monetary policy, but he was undeniably correct in this assertion. No matter how hard, for example, the People’s Republic of China strives to put its economy on a market footing, the people of China will never know the stabilizing bosom of nonconformity like their brothers to the east know it because China still remains a one-party state.

How Immigration Sustains Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill”

The Founding Fathers set forth a vision for freedom and prosperity, but the materialization of that vision would not have been possible without immigrants. Indeed, if one were to travel back through American history, one would discover immigrants not only helped lay America's railroads and erect America's skylines, but continue to play an indispensable role in America's housing and agricultural sectors. Undoubtedly, immigrants haven't just complimented what John Winthrop and Ronald Reagan once famously called a "shining city upon a hill"—they've sustained it.

Charles Darwin’s Free Market Wisdom

Charles Darwin has never drifted far from political or scientific discussion. Over the decades, his book “The Origin of Species” has been both widely embraced and condemned, and worse, largely oversimplified. Findings from two recent studies centered on some of Darwin’s most fundamental theories, however, tell us the world is vastly more complicated than the black and white lens many view it through.

Read Brandon's full column at Washington Times Communities

Sacha Gervasi's 'Hitchcock'

Alfred Hitchcock is back in all his enigmatic and suspenseful glory. Well, kind of. In the star-studded biopic “Hitchcock,” director Sacha Gervasi (see the wonderful film “Anvil: The Story of Anvil”) brings the arduous making of “Psycho” to cinematic life in a straightforward yet spookily pleasant new comedy-drama surely to amuse the curious and depraved, as well as resurrect the age old inquiry: is Hollywood too bureaucratic?

Read Brandon's full review at Washington Times Communities.

Werner Herzog’s ‘Happy People’

For more than 40 years, Werner Herzog has been directing some of cinema’s most compelling films and documentaries. From “Fitzcarraldo” (1982) which literally entails cast members dragging a ship across a mountain to the award winning “Grizzly Man” (2005) which documents Timothy Treadwell as he spends 13 summers living with bears before ultimately being eaten alive, Herzog has consistently careened the limits in unconventional but beautiful ways.

Read Brandon's full review at Washington Times Communities.

The Free Market Origins Of Hip Hop

Hip hop is not just music. It’s a culture. It includes dance, apparel, perfumes, jewelry, cinema, radio, television, books, magazines, and even beverages. That is, there are very few trades that hip hop hasn’t touched. And while hip hop’s lifeblood may be the complex grouping of rhythms, beats, vocals, tones, and lyrics, it was abetted at every stage by the free market.

Read Brandon’s full essay at The Foundation For Economic Education.

Inquiry Into The Nature of a Hero

Heroes aren’t molded they are etched -- fashioned by endeavor -- born of resolution’s unholy dalliance with circumstance. They are mortals who, in the foreboding face of destitution, unearth the valor to rise to the unforgiving moment. They are angels whose optimism illuminates the forgotten aspirations of desperate men and waning servants.

Book Review: "Day of Empire" by Amy Chua

For centuries, civilizations have risen and fallen, some by the despotic winds of external forces, others by the internal cancer of their own apparatus. But of the civilizations that have resonated longest and strongest, Professor Amy Chua asserts in her book, Day of Empire, one single trait spans them all: tolerance.

Of Angels and Monsters: America's Costly Prison System

Within seven days of reading this more than 10,000 prisoners will have been discharged from the venomous abyss of state imprisonment back into society. And within 36 months of reading this more than 50 percent of them will have returned. Quite simply, for many, despite a genuine wish to reintegrate, the stigma of having one’s entire life paraphrased into one five letter word—felon—proves too powerful to overcome. Apartments decline to rent. Jobs refuse to hire. And politicians—quite possibly the only other species as detested and abhorred as felons—regularly designate felons as “pull lever in case of political emergency” scapegoat.

The Libertarian Propensity for Self-Mastication

It seems counterintuitive that a voter, given opportunity to choose between a truth and a falsehood, would calculatingly select a falsehood. Nonetheless, every presidential election, that’s exactly what 99 percent of voters do. Thus, it would seem suitable to, after 41 years since the Libertarian Party’s inception, soberly query why the party still brilliantly fails to harvest broader public support than the habitual 1 percent.

Occupy: The Great Unenlightened Rebellion

Contrary to left-wing embellishment, Occupy is neither avant-garde, nor debonair -- but rather, an intellectually dejected and insolvent cultural miscarriage; a systematized parade of profound ignorance and unenlightened rebellion. It is, to say the least, a civic mortification.

Book Review: "Mao's Great Famine" by Frank Dikötter

In an effort to better understand the mindset of those who espouse compulsory collectivism, I recently picked up “Mao’s Great Famine” by Frank Dikötter, Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and Professor of the Modern History of China on leave from the University of London. The book is roughly 448 pages, and fairly new (printed September of last year).

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