Almost every country in the economically advanced world is worried about nationalized pensions. American statisticians have some grisly fun predicting on what day of the week and in what year the Social Security system will finally go bust. Or whether Medicare will be broke first. And most young Americans think that there is as much chance of picking up Social Security when they retire as there is of a sighting of Elvis.
On April 12 the free-market tradition lost an important scholar with the death, in Málaga, Spain, of Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson. She was 93.
Although English-born she spent much of her life in Spain and made the study of that country's history and intellectual tradition her life's work. Her reconstruction of its liberal past was unparalleled.
There is little left of the conventional protections for individualism in the modern world. Whatever theoretical virtues there may be in democracy (and there aren't many1), in practice it has disintegrated into a struggle among self-regarding interest groups, mediated by government, over wealth that is exclusively created by private individuals.
It was once said that "democracy is the most promiscuous word in the language; she is everybody's mistress." Indeed, political regimes of widely differing institutional features label themselves democracies, as did totalitarian communist orders. Often, the best guide to a country's democratic credentials was that it didn't call itself democratic: compare West Germany's Federal Republic with the East German Democratic Republic.