Who is Gary Johnson and why do you think he should be our next president?
Gary Johnson is the former two term governor of New Mexico, who came
from outside of politics to beat a former Republican governor in the
Republican primaries, and to then unseat an incumbent Democratic
governor by a ten point margin, in a state where Democrats outnumber
Republicans 2 to 1. Gary Johnson was a governor who vetoed more bills
than all his other contemporary governors combined, who cut taxes 14
times, and who balanced the New Mexico state budget.
We need to send Gary Johnson to the White House because our very
survival as a nation depends upon whether or not the government gets
out of the way and stops suffocating this society and this economy to
death. We have a mountain of debt, regulations, and malinvestments,
thanks to the federal government, and this lethal cocktail will
devastate America for decades to come. That is, unless we take our
medicine, stop trying to stimulate and bail our way out of this
recession, and let the free market work. Gov. Johnson is the only one
who can be trusted to make the right decisions for our future.
Archive for the ‘Cultural issues’ Category
Salon.com did a piece on Gary Johnson recently called “The most interesting Republican you’ve never heard of,” where they talked about his views on drug law reform, abortion, foreign policy, cultural issues, immigration, his views of Barack Obama and the Tea Party movement, the state of the GOP, the economy, government spending, deficits, taxes, entitlements, his Our America Initiative, his similarities to Ron Paul, and the possibility of a 2012 presidential run.
Gary Johnson went on The Schilling Show on WINA 1070 AM radio to discuss such issues as the economy, government spending, deficits, inflation, taxes, entitlements, health care, immigration, foreign policy, drug law reform, cultural issues, abortion, the 2012 presidential election, and his Our America Initiative.
I had the privilege of conducting an interview with Gary Johnson on behalf of the new conservative news/blog site, Rightosphere.com:
Josiah Schmidt: Thanks for talking with us, Governor. What are your plans for the next year?
Gov. Gary Johnson: I will be getting out on the road, and seeing what interest there is for the OUR America Initiative. I believe citizens are ready to play a part in common-sense approaches to our nation’s challenges.
JS: Your two kids are helping you out with your new political advocacy committee at OurAmericaInitiative.com. Tell us a little about your children and your home life.
GJ: My daughter Seah is 30 years old, and she is constantly on the phone giving me helpful suggestions. My son Erik actually quit his job and is working for OUR America out of Denver. I am also engaged to be married to Kate Prusack. We’re extremely happy, and we’ve been together long enough to know that it’s right.
JS: Well, congratulations! That’s great news. Tell us about the company you built. What kind of tough administrative decisions have you had to make as an entrepreneur?
GJ: I’ve had to make so many tough administrative decisions that I couldn’t even begin to tell you where that starts and ends. Basically, I started my company in 1974 with one employee. By 1994, we had over 1000 people. I have always considered myself an entrepreneur and continue to do so.
JS: When you ran for Governor, you reportedly ran 100% positive campaigns, never mentioning your opponents in print or ads. How did that work?
GJ: That’s what did happen. No money was spent in talking about my opponent in print, radio or TV. I would talk about opponents in speeches, etc., in order to compare the two of us and to compare our positions, but good politics is talking about what it is you plan to do, not running on the basis of how terrible your opponent is. That is just good politics. I don’t know any other example in the country other than mine that …
Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Robert Broadus, candidate for US Congress, Maryland-4
This is interview #13 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day. A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!
Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Robert Broadus. Robert graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD in 1994, and served in the US Navy until 1999. Since then, he has worked in real estate and software development, and has traveled to over 14 countries around the world. Robert lives in Mt. Rainier, MD, and is a Republican candidate for US Congress in Maryland’s fourth district.
Josiah Schmidt: What compelled you to enter elective politics?
Robert Broadus: In 2007, I was greatly disappointed with the state of our government. Both Democrats and Republicans were supporting unconstitutional wars and irresponsible spending, while also enacting policies that violated our civil liberties under the Bill of Rights. I became interested in running for Congress because it is Congress that has the Constitutional role of declaring war, which sets tax policy, and which appropriates funds from the treasury.
Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?
Robert Broadus: Since I was in the military, I swore an oath to “uphold and defend the Constitution…” I always assumed that our politicians did just that. When I realized this was not the case, and that many in our government are spending their time and resources trying to figure out how to defeat the Constitution, I became more interested in fighting for Liberty. It was Ron Paul’s presidential campaign that taught me there are a handful of politicians who truly believe in upholding the Constitution, so I decided to support him, and then Chuck Baldwin for the presidency. It was also Henry David Thoreau’s work, “On Resistance to Civil Government” (Civil Disobedience) that woke me up to the fact that we as Americans have forgotten what matters most. As a black person who was taught the history of my people who suffered through slavery, I also hold close to my heart the consequences of what can happen when people do not guard their liberties and cherish them even more than life. I am resolved to fight against slavery in all its forms, and I believe that it is the sovereignty of the individual that matters most. Only when the government protects individual rights does it protect everyone’s rights.
Josiah Schmidt: What issues are most important to Marylanders?
Robert Broadus: Maryland is facing the problem of being almost completely dominated by Progressive Democrats. Although the people of Maryland are largely a mix of conservatives and libertarians, the people elected to high office tend to come from Progressive areas, and have led us away from our personal values. Maryland is facing an insurmountable debt, having to lay off school employees and furlough government workers. Maryland is also suffering economically from a recent tax increase which targeted millionaires, causing those who could afford it to leave the state, resulting in a 10% drop in revenue. Maryland is facing increasing crime from gang activity, as a “sanctuary-state” policy toward illegal immigration has made the state attractive for some of the most violent international gangs, including the Latin Kings and MS-13. These are all issues which Maryland can turn around by electing politicians to office who will be responsible to the people for results, not just their good intentions.
Josiah Schmidt: What do you offer that your opponents do not?
Robert Broadus: I offer an across-the-board set of values that are conservative and in-line with the the values of the people in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District. Being born and raised in the area, and even having attended college in Maryland (unlike my opponent), I can say that we are a church-going people who believe in God and the Bible. I value religious freedom, not government imposing a secular or irreligious state upon us and requiring us to check our values at the door when we enter the workplace. I am Pro-Life, and I am for parental notification for minors to receive medical treatment. I support traditional marriage and the right for people to express their religious views without being accused of “hate speech.” I support the right to home-school, and for parents to control what their children are taught. I support the right to keep and bear arms, in order to protect ourselves from violence. We seek job opportunities for the legal residents of our State, and I seek to have new residents admitted to the nation by getting in line and going through the proper legal process. I am against amnesty for illegal immigrants. Most importantly, I support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Constitution protects our liberties and limits the Federal Government to those powers enumerated in Article 1, Section 8. Although certain of my opponents uphold one or two of these values, I am the only candidate who upholds all of them.
Josiah Schmidt: What is the first thing you will do as a US Congressman?
Robert Broadus: As soon as I am able, I will introduce a bill to repeal the 16th Amendment. It is through this that the Federal Government can levy a tax on incomes, which act as collateral for the credit which is used to engage in deficit-spending, finance socialist entitlement programs, and spend future generations into perpetual debt. I will also take the first opportunity to cut off funding for any undeclared wars and any other policies which violate the Constitution.
Josiah Schmidt: Which area of government spending would you most like to cut?
Robert Broadus: Socialist entitlement programs need to be cut first. These include Social Security and Medicare. However, there will need to be a period of transition to wean off those who have become dependent on the programs. After that, it will be important to remove funding for programs that are not within the authority of the Federal Government, such as the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. Cutting money for unconstitutional wars will also be important for the purpose of reasserting the warmaking powers of the Congress.
Josiah Schmidt: How should health care be reformed?
Robert Broadus: Healthcare should NOT be reformed by the Federal Government. If State or Local governments wish to reform their existing healthcare systems, they should be allowed to do so. At the Federal level, all restrictions on healthcare (such as the restriction against buying insurance across state lines) should be listed. Tax credits could also be given for anyone who is willing to invest in medical savings programs.
Josiah Schmidt: What changes would you like to see in our government’s foreign policy?
Robert Broadus: The Federal Government should bring its troops home from around the world. We should continue working to ensure our national security, but not through policing the world. We should immediately cease all nation-building operations, and we should encourage free-market capitalism as a solution for resolving the economic woes of other nations. We should strengthen our border security and our defensive posture at home, lending military support to our allies only when requested. We should re-consider our foreign aid to the rest of the world, again returning the taxes taken back to the People of the United States.
Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Robert Broadus: Our nation is at a turning point, where we must decide if we will continue to be a Federal Republic, or if we will become a Social Democracy. The current administration and those who support its agenda are poised to “fundamentally change the United States of America.” We can uphold the values laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, or we can abandon them to those who think this nation’s founding was unjust, and that we should somehow give it back through redistribution of wealth, land reform, and other forms of socialism. Comprehensive Healthcare reform is one of the main instruments being used to engineer this transformation, but this issue was not the concern 3 years ago that it has become since Barack Obama became President. We have been hurried to a point where our most cherished values and even the fabric of our Constitution are thrown into doubt over a policy where most Americans will not see any difference even if we change the system now. The uproar that has been generated over what was previously a background issue is evidence that we have been manipulated into a discussion that should not even be happening. Healthcare Reform is outright unconstitutional, as it violates the 10th Amendment. Everyone should know this, yet this fact has not deterred the Progressives who seek to impose it on us against our will. We must fight if we are to remain “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Please help me by offering your prayers, your time, and your financial support to my campaign. Together, we can save the Republic. Together, we can win!
Josiah Schmidt: Where can people go to find out more about you and contribute to your campaign?
Robert Broadus: At my website: www.justiceandliberty.us
Josiah Schmidt: Thanks, Robert, and the best of luck to you and your campaign!
Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Barry Goldwater Jr., former US Congressman (R-CA)
This is interview #12 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day. A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!
Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Barry Goldwater, Jr. He is the son of the late Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee who ran against Lyndon B. Johnson for President of the United States during the 1964 Presidential election. Barry Goldwater, Jr. graduated from Staunton Military Academy in 1957 and Arizona State University in 1962. He has worked as a stockbroker, public relations executive, and an entrepreneur. Barry was elected to US Congress in California’s 27th district in 1969 and left office in 1983.
Josiah Schmidt: To start out, would you mind telling our readers what you’ve been up to over the past couple of years?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: Well, every day I get out of bed, and I try to figure out how to make a buck. And I do that in a variety of ways: I do a little consulting on finance and business, to other businesses; I do a little lobbying back in Washington for companies that have problems with government regulations; I’m on the board of directors of several companies, and I own a company that I’m growing and trying to make successful. So that’s about what I do every day.
Josiah Schmidt: Great! How did you come to hold such a liberty oriented philosophy?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: There’s nothing like getting out of school with your idealistic attitude, and then getting a job and all of the sudden, the first paycheck you get, half of it’s gone in the form of a variety of taxes, to make you a libertarian. That was a rude awakening to me. All of the sudden, a certain percentage of my freedoms were taken away from me and put in the hands of somebody else who thought they knew better how to spend my money. And that right away gave me an idea that perhaps we have more government than we need, and maybe more government that we can afford. Of course, I’ve grown up in a political family. So that kind of translated itself into following a philosophy of general libertarian leanings.
Josiah Schmidt: What is one of your greatest memories from your father’s presidential campaign?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: Well, there were so many! I sure met a lot of nice people along the way. Probably the most exciting memory was the 1964 Republican Convention in San Francisco at the Cow Palace. I celebrated my–I can’t even remember what birthday it was–perhaps my 21st birthday, on the steps of a hotel with about 500 people, who are just milling around, singing Happy Birthday to me. But, I remember the Convention, I remember the fun, the camaraderie, the excitement, and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that was going on with my father’s campaign workers to secure that nomination. They were running around, strategizing with the different delegations with walkie talkies, reporting in to headquarters. It was a lot of intrigue. It was a lot of excitement.
Josiah Schmidt: What was it, do you think, about your father that made him such a great communicator and leader for the cause of freedom?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: Well, I think several things. One, he’s always had compassion for other people. So he was comfortable–comfortable being around people. Second of all, I think his upbringing, from primarily his mother, in a very Western atmosphere which is fiercely independent and patriotic instilled in him a sense of right and wrong. And having served four years in the military during the Second World War, and coming home to work in his family business, all helped to mold the man who eventually became the Republican candidate and one of the many spokesmen for the conservative cause.
Josiah Schmidt: Right. What was your experience in Congress like?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: That was like being back in school. It certainly underscored the fact that we are a government of the people, because most of the Congress were like me. Each one of them had only a small area of expertise, and the rest of it they had to learn. That was exciting and fun and challenging, of course. The most I enjoyed was learning. We would sit there in those committee rooms, and we’d have some of the best minds on different issues come and talk to us. I remember I was assigned to the science and technology committee, and the subcommittee on energy–research, development, and administration. I didn’t know a light bulb from a nuclear particle! Yet, I was given the responsibility to generate research programs in the area of renewable energies. This was back in the 1970’s. The goal then, was–maybe most will not remember–we had an embargo in 1974 from Saudi Arabia, and everyone was standing in line to get gas in their car. That was under Jimmy Carter. He declared that this country “will become energy independent”. That was 35 or 36 years ago, and every President since then has made the same declaration, and I would suggest that we’re probably no closer to energy independence today than we’ve ever been. But sitting on those committees was really educational, to learn about wind power, solar power, portable tanks, electric automobiles, coal gasification, magnetohydrodynamics, and all about peaceful use of nuclear energy. It was a real education, and a lot of fun.
Josiah Schmidt: What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned in your experience with politics?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: Wow. I mean, I think it’s important that a politician stand for something. His positions on issues are not as important as the philosophy that he follows in formulating his positions on issues. What is his basic belief about our country and about our freedoms? What does he think about liberty and the best way to achieve it. That’s the most important thing for a useful, contributing politician to have. Unfortunately, I think, on the left, you’ll find too few people that have basic fundamental issues on how to live their life, and how their country should live. Their philosophy tends to be one of putting your finger up in the air and testing to see how much of the people’s money you can give away on some foolish program. On the other hand, the libertarian or conservative believes in the tenets and the preaching of the Constitution: that we are endowed by our Creator and put on this earth as free individuals. And the more freedom we have, the more productive we are, the better we can take care of ourselves, our families, and our communities. So therefore, limited government, less taxes, and less regulation really sets us free. We need government, but we need effective government. But again, it’s all based on a philosophy of perpetuating and promoting freedom.
Josiah Schmidt: Exactly. What do you think is the future of the American liberty movement?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: I think it’s bright, I think it’s terrific, and I think it has great potential. We live in a society where there’s constant conflict over ideas. And the politics of today is this debate over ideas. Liberty values and liberty ideas are very significant and as long as man has a taste of freedom, liberty will continue to thrive and be healthy. It will constantly be challenged by those who feel their compassion, which I never doubt, can only be achieved by taking something away from somebody else in order to help another person. Now, that should only be done on a voluntary basis–that shouldn’t be done by coercion. Of course, that isn’t what the liberals’ driving force is. They see somebody that works, and they tax them and take that money and put it to work for somebody else who’s not working.
Josiah Schmidt: What do you think the GOP needs to do to revitalize itself?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: You know, I just wrote Senator McCain a letter about this. I can read it to you: “Back in those days, when I was in Congress with my father, everyone knew what a conservative was. There was no question. We were all on the same page. Today we seem to be without leaders, and have no clue as to our philosophy or our identification. Are we traditional conservatives? Neoconservatives? Compassionate conservatives? Social conservatives? Christian conservatives? And then there was President Bush that came along, and our heads are still shaking. We really don’t know who we are. Up until Brown and the victory in Massachusetts, and the victories in New Jersey and Virginia, there was a listless attitude–a defeated morale and a lack of leadership. We were sadly trounced in 2008. Christopher Buckley left his father’s National Review and endorsed Barack Obama, basically saying he had no clear idea of what the modern conservative movement stands for.” But there is discussion today about the future of the party. And I suggested to Senator McCain, that “Goldwater, Reagan, and Buckley would all urge us to use today to get back to our core values. Limited but effective government, federalism, hard work, strong family units, personal responsibility, a marketplace free from regulation and taxation, and decency. This is what we have always believed in, and what we represent. Who could argue against liberty?” Basically what I suggested to him is that the Republican Party, in the future, needs to get away from issues and get back to talking about philosophy. So many of us are divided by those who feel that abortion is the most important issue, or gay rights, or gun control, the definition of marriage, immigration, and the Bush legacy. All of these are divisive because they are issues. What we need to do if we’re going to win, is to unite under one tent and talk about a Republican philosophy for the future. It’s important that we talk about and emphasize what we stand for, not our positions on issues, if we’re going to succeed.
Josiah Schmidt: Now, you don’t have to give an endorsement here, but what are your impressions of Governor Gary Johnson, and what advice would you like to convey to him if he were to run for President?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: I’m impressed with Gary Johnson because of his success in two terms as Governor of New Mexico. He demonstrated his ability to govern with extreme opposition. I definitely think he’s qualified, if for no other reason than that, to be President of the United States. He’s got more experience than Obama ever hoped to have in managing government and governmental affairs. My advice to him would be to stick to what he’s done well, and to talk about liberty and freedom and leadership. That’s what I would tell him. Just to keep doing what he’s doing. He’s got a successful track record, and he has the tools he needs to lead. Just stick to the libertarian philosophy. Libertarians are going to do well this year.
Josiah Schmidt: You’ve become something of a hero to libertarian Republicans since your involvement in the Ron Paul campaign. Are you aware of the movements to draft you to run for elected office once again? I think I’ve even seen a whole website dedicated to persuading you to run for Governor of Arizona. What are your thoughts on that?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: Every once in a while, people ask me about that, and, boy, that’s very nice–I’m humbled by it. But to be honest with you, I spent 14 years in Congress, I’ve been in and around politics most of my life, I know what it takes–the dedication that it takes–to be elected and to go to work and work hard. I know what it takes to run a campaign. And you know something? I think it’s time for us to look to the next generation–the newer generations–for leadership. I’ll always be involved, but I think from an energy point of view, and a capability point of view, you’ve got to get some younger people in there.
Josiah Schmidt: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: Well, golly, I think that we as concerned libertarians ought not to give up on America’s future, and we ought to live up to America’s greatness. As long as we continue to fight the good fight, we’ll do okay.
Josiah Schmidt: I want to thank you so much for talking with us today, Mr. Goldwater.
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: My pleasure.
Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Lawrence Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education
This is interview #10 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day. A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!
Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Lawrence Reed. Larry has been president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) since 2008. Before joining FEE, Reed served as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Midland, Michigan based free-market think tank. To date, he remains Mackinac’s president emeritus. Reed’s interests in political and economic affairs have taken him as a freelance journalist to 69 countries on six continents since 1985. Over the past twenty-five years, he has reported on hyperinflation in South America, black markets from behind the Iron Curtain, reforms and repression in China and Cambodia, and civil war inside Nicaragua and Mozambique.
Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?
Lawrence Reed: I was born outside a little Western Pennsylvania town called Beaver Falls in 1953. That’s where I grew up and lived for the first 24 years of my life. I went to two Pennsylvania colleges for my B.A. and M.A. degrees: Grove City College and Slippery Rock State University. Western Pennsylvania was home to the Whiskey Rebellion, and I think my Scottish ancestors who were a part of that must have passed on some authority-questioning genes to me. I moved to Michigan to start teaching in 1977 at Northwood University.
No one on either my father’s side or my mother’s side of the family ever had much interest and even less involvement in political, economic, or current affairs. But my father imparted some basic, no-nonsense, anti-authoritarian and pro-freedom instincts which really blossomed in the late 1960s.
One of my first encounters with government was when I was in the third grade and my father wanted to take me to Florida for a week in January to visit relatives. The public school officials protested. They called my dad and said he couldn’t take me out of school just for a vacation. He told them in no uncertain terms that I was his kid, not theirs, and while he was taking me to a warm place, they could pack their bags and go someplace a lot hotter. He hung up on them.
My mother took my sister and younger sister and me to see “The Sound of Music” in 1965, and that proved to be a powerful catalyst. I was only 12 and I didn’t want to go, but the movie really had an effect on me. State oppression vs. people who just wanted to be left alone–that’s the way I saw it. It was the first time in my life that I realized that other people in the world–past and present–didn’t enjoy the basic, day-to-day freedoms I had taken for granted. It prompted me to do a lot of reading on pre-World War II history, especially the Nazi takeovers of Austria and Czechoslovakia.
When “Prague Spring” blossomed in Czechoslovakia in early 1968, I was glued to the TV set and the newspapers. Warsaw Pact troops put a stop to it when they invaded in August. I was angry and wanted to do something, but what could a teenager in Beaver Falls possibly do about a problem half a world away?
Within days, I saw a newspaper story about a group called Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) which was organizing an anti-Soviet demonstration in downtown Pittsburgh. I went to it, burned a Soviet flag in Mellon Square, and joined YAF. In those days, YAF sent all new members copies of books like F. A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom,” Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson,” Frederic Bastiat’s “The Law,” and Henry Grady Weaver’s “The Mainspring of Human Progress.” It also arranged for new members to receive “The Freeman,” the journal of the organization I would assume the presidency of almost 40 years later to the very day. I devoured all this material, gained an appreciation for economics, and liberty has been my primary passion ever since.
So the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia made me an anti-communist activist before the age of 15, and that led me fairly quickly into free market economics. I learned early that the most effective anti-communist was one who understood and could defend the moral and economic foundations of liberty.
Dr. Hans Sennholz, one of four scholars to earn a Ph.D. under the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, was my teacher at Grove City College. His eloquence was a huge inspiration. Leonard Read, who founded the Foundation for Economic Education, was a big influence on me both as an author and a friend before he died in 1983. I wrote my first of more than 200 articles for FEE’s journal, The Freeman, in 1977 and I regard it as a singular honor to have served from 1994-2002 as a member of FEE’s board and as its chair for three of those years. Leonard’s persona–his optimism and his gentle persuasiveness in particular–left a very large and permanent imprint on me.
Among the authors who have greatly influenced me are: Mises, Frederic Bastiat, F. A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, R. C. Sproul and believe it or not, Dale Carnegie (whose classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” remains one of the best self-improvement books ever written). And of course, how could I possibly forget Henry Hazlitt, whom I came to know personally in the last years of his life!
Josiah Schmidt: Libertarians undoubtedly are familiar with names like Mises, Bastiat, Hayek, Rand, and Rothbard, but I think every libertarian needs to be familiar with Dale Carnegie–I’m glad you mentioned him. So, how did the Foundation for Economic Education come to be? And also, explain who Leonard Read was and why he was so important.
Lawrence Reed: FEE was founded by Leonard Read in 1946. Prior to that, Leonard’s views had undergone a profound shift from a mundane, “pro-business” perspective that was sometimes sympathetic to FDR’s “New Deal,” to a thoroughly principled and authentic libertarianism. At a time when the world was embracing central planning and the prospects for liberty seemed dark indeed, Leonard saw the need to light a candle. So he created FEE. The organization was pretty much alone in championing liberty for quite a while, proving in the long run why it was so critically important for there to be a place that kept the right ideas alive. Leonard and FEE churned out books and pamphlets and speeches, spawning generations of new advocates for liberty. Many famous names drew inspiration from FEE and knew Leonard personally: Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan, to name just four.
I couldn’t begin to do this great man justice in a few paragraphs of an interview, so I urge your readers to visit our web site, www.fee.org, and key in the name “Leonard Read.” They’ll find a treasure trove of his works, and praise for him from many other people. I call your readers’ attention to one piece in particular if they want to know more about Leonard the man and his founding of FEE. It’s entitled “Leonard E. Read, Crusader” by long-time FEE staff member Bettina Greaves and it appeared in the September 1998 issue of our magazine, “The Freeman.” Here’s a link to it: http://www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/leonard-e-read-crusader/.
Josiah Schmidt: What are some of FEE’s most important accomplishments?
Lawrence Reed: I don’t think one can over-estimate the contribution that FEE made by keeping the ideas of liberty alive when the world was hell-bent in the other direction. That will always the signature accomplishment of FEE in its first couple of decades.
Over the years, FEE has been the primary promoter and distributor of some important classics in the literature of liberty, such as Bastiat’s “The Law” and Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson.” We’ve introduced untold thousands, including men and women who later became great economists and people of influence, to the “Austrian” school of economics. Our seminars, public presentations and debate programs instruct hundreds of eager minds every year in the moral and economic foundations of a free society. We are encouraging newcomers and old-timers in the liberty movement with our magazine, “The Freeman,” a very robust web site full of articles, commentary, and audio and video lectures (www.fee.org), a Facebook fan page, books and monographs, a vigorous program for high school and home school debaters, and an endless stream of lectures to audiences all around the country.
Josiah Schmidt: What are your top three favorite books?
Lawrence Reed: That’s a tough one. I’ve read so many that I hesitate to single out just three as my favorites. Certainly high on that list would be the books I’ve already referred to in this interview, plus the books of the New Testament, Burton Folsom’s “The Myth of the Robber Barons,” Eric Metaxas’s “Amazing Grace,” Charles Murray’s “What It Means To Be A Libertarian” and Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”
Let me answer your question further this way: I think a lover of liberty should regularly read more than the great works of free market economics. He should read biographies of great men and women such as William Wilberforce, David Livingstone, Harriett Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Grover Cleveland, William Ewart Gladstone and Frederick Douglass. He should read biographies of great entrepreneurs because those are the people who actually create the wealth that politicians only redistribute–at the point of a gun. He should read good history so he knows the lessons of the past, from ancient Israel through the Roman empire to the rise of America. And he should read the works of great teachers of character because without character, neither a person nor a nation is going anywhere.
I’ll take the liberty here to recommend some superb movies too: “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” “Amazing Grace,” “Cinderella Man,” “The Sound of Music,” “Chariots of Fire,” and “A Man For All Seasons,” for starters.
Josiah Schmidt: Who is the most underrated and underappreciated libertarian writer, in your opinion?
Lawrence Reed: Without a doubt, that would be economist Thomas Sowell. Among libertarians, he’s well-known and revered. He has a following beyond that because of the newspaper column he writes and the excellent books he’s authored. But if the literary world placed a premium on wisdom for the ages, it wouldbe showering him with awards. Perhaps no one has better distilled the nature of the enemy liberty faces than Sowell did in his book, “The Vision of the Anointed.”
Josiah Schmidt: Do you have a couple interesting stories to share with us from your extensive traveling abroad?
Lawrence Reed: I’ve visited nearly 70 countries on six continents since 1985, many of them several times. When I was involved in anti-communist work in the 1980s and early ‘90s, I went to the Soviet Union five times, China three times, Nicaragua five times, Poland twice, and even Cambodia. I was arrested only twice–in Poland and in Nicaragua–and only thrown out of one. That was Poland in 1986, after spending two weeks living with the anti-communist underground.
After I befriended the leader of the rebel opposition in Marxist Mozambique in 1991, a colleague and I made an incredible, surreptitious trip to that country and lived with the rebels at their bush headquarters in the midst of a devastating civil war. That was unlike just about any other trip I’ve ever made anywhere.
I’ve studied hyperinflation in Bolivia and Brazil, voodoo in Haiti, and underground movements in the old East bloc. Foreign travel is an enriching experience but after awhile, it’s a killer trying to keep up correspondence with friends you’ve made all over the place. And these days, as I approach the tender age of 60, I’m slowing down a bit.
I learned a great deal from all that travel. I’ve seen firsthand that the planned economy–socialism in all its preposterous and destructive manifestations–is a cruel joke that never works. Socialists have said that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, but as I’ve written in a number of places, socialists never make omelets. They only break eggs.
I’ve learned that the prism of individualism is the only way to see the world. Stereotyping a people or a nation is always a false, ignorant, and dangerous way to view them. I’ve learned that individuals are often phenomenally enterprising in the face of enormous, artificial roadblocks. I saw so much in the way of black markets and private enterprise in places where such things were repressed that I’ve come to regard much of what government does in the way of pushing people around to be utterly futile. If it’s a peaceful activity with no real victims, leave it alone.
The activists in the Polish freedom underground in the late 1980s will always be among the most interesting to me because of their perseverance in the face of the Soviet empire. I remember visiting with a couple in Poland in 1986 during martial law, Zbigniew and Sofia Romaszewski, who had just been released from prison for running an underground radio. They were active once again on behalf of freedom because it meant everything to them. I asked them many questions including, “When you were broadcasting, how did you know if people were listening?” I’ve recounted Sofia’s reply hundreds of times to audiences all over the country, and my eyes still well up every time I think of it. She said, “We could only broadcast a few minutes at a time and then had to go off the air to avoid detection, but one night we asked people to blink their lights if they were listening and were supportive of freedom for Poland. We then went to the window and for hours, all of Warsaw was blinking!”
Of all my worldly possessions I picked up on those travels, none is more valuable to me than a copy of Milton Friedman’s book, “Free to Choose,” illegally translated into Polish and printed and distributed by the Polish underground. It contains a handwritten inscription from a leading Polish freedom-fighter, thanking me for raising the money in America that made it possible.
Josiah Schmidt: What advice would you give to libertarians reading this interview?
Lawrence Reed: Anybody who has read this far might think I’ve offered too much advice already. But here’s a little more anyway: Be an optimist if you want to attract others to the cause. Follow the Golden Rule and don’t pick fights with allies, remembering than a person doesn’t have to agree with you on everything to be an ally. Consider your time on earth as a lifelong character-building exercise–own up to your faults, fix them, and be the best example you can be for all those who come into contact with you.
This little essay explains why I think character is so critical to liberty: http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/ideas-and-consequences-character-liberty-and-economics/
Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Lawrence Reed: Smile. Stick to your principles. Don’t ever give up. When you’re about to go to your reward some day, be able to look back on your life and say truthfully as the apostle Paul did, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
And in the meantime, if you’re on Facebook, send me a friend invite.
Josiah Schmidt: Definitely. Thanks for taking the time to share some of your wisdom with us.
Reason’s Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie talked with Johnson about the issues of the day—and what it was like to climb Mt. Everest with a busted leg.
Issues discussed include civil liberties, cultural issues, the deficit, drug reform, economics, education, energy, the environment, foreign policy, government spending, inflation, taxes, the Tea Party movement, the future of the GOP, Ron Paul, the Our America Initiative, and the 2012 election.
Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Mark Thornton, author of The Economics Of Prohibition
This is interview #2 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and media personalities, about the issues of the day. A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!
Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Dr. Mark Thornton. Dr. Thornton is an American economist of the Austrian School of Economics. He received his B.S. from St. Bonaventure University in 1982, and his Ph.D. from Auburn University in 1989. Dr. Thornton has taught economics at both Auburn University and Columbus State University, and is now a senior fellow and resident faculty member at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is currently the book review editor for the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. Dr. Thornton wrote the book, The Economics Of Prohibition, and has been described by Advocates for Self Government as “one of America’s experts on the economics of illegal drugs.”
Josiah Schmidt: Thanks for joining us, Dr. Thornton! Please, explain to our readers what the Austrian school of economics is, and why Austrian economics is so relevant in this day and age.
Mark Thornton: The Austrian school of economics is the oldest, smallest, and fastest growing school of economics. Austrian economics began in 1871 with Carl Menger who began his Principles of Economics with the observation that all things are subject to the law of cause and effect. Austrian economics follows Menger in order to produce a realistic approach to economic theory and analysis. Austrian economics is based on the timeless and universal laws of economics and this provides us with understanding of economic events and policies. In contrast, “mainstream” economists focus on building mathematical models and statistical testing where assumptions, constraints, and condition need not be realistic.
Josiah Schmidt: What is the fundamental flaw in the Keynesian understanding of economics?
Mark Thornton: The fundamental flaw of Keynesian economics is its focus on aggregate economic categories, like consumption, investment, and government spending. They model the economy like a machine. As a result, they do not know how the economy works or what causes problems in the economy. If a problem is detected, the nearly universal solution is more government spending.
Josiah Schmidt: One of your most well-known books, The Economics of Prohibition, talks about how prohibition has the exact opposite effects of what is intended. One of these unintended effects, in the context of drug prohibition, is that it makes the drug trade more lucrative. Can you explain to our readers why this is?
Mark Thornton: By making a product illegal and to impose penalties on the violators of the prohibition increases the risk and cost of doing business. Some producers drop out and the ones that remain charge higher prices. Its similar to adding a heavy tax or creating a government monopoly, but not as straightforward.
Josiah Schmidt: How does prohibition make drugs more dangerous?
Mark Thornton: Prohibitions eliminate elements of competition like advertising which provides information to consumers and competition between producers. It eliminates the normal process of resolving disputes so that people often settle disputes with violence. Prohibition also raises the potency of drugs because the fixed costs of prohibition pushes producers to distribute the highest potency products because these are the easiest to conceal in transit. Marijuana is often said to be a gateway drug to more dangerous drugs, but the reality is that prohibition creates dangerous drugs and more strict enforcement and penalties push people to more potent and dangerous drugs.
Josiah Schmidt: In what ways does prohibition breed corruption and organized crime?
Mark Thornton: Prohibitions (drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.) are the source of organized crime and a leading cause of corruption. One way to lower the costs of prohibition on the supply side is to organize distribution into a territorial monopoly and that is what organized crime is. Once organized, bribery and corruption can be used to defend your monopoly against threats from law enforcement as well as potential competitors.
Josiah Schmidt: Does the drug prohibition threaten our national security?
Mark Thornton: Yes, prohibition does threaten our national security. All the political hotspots around the globe (Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico, Columbia, Bolivia) are involved in the illegal drug trade. It creates and even helps fund terrorists.
Josiah Schmidt: Does having a federal drug prohibition help “strengthen family values” in any way?
Mark Thornton: I can’t think of any. Certainly there is a strong sense that it weakens family values by attempting to take the problems of drug abuse out of the family and normal legal processes and place it into the hands of a prohibition bureaucracy.
Josiah Schmidt: How could we realistically go about repealing the drug prohibition?
Mark Thornton: People suffer from fear and ignorance. Drug prohibition is the leading cause of crime and violence and makes all of us less safe. Change can only be brought about by changing people’s minds and by having better informed generations rise up against prohibition.
Josiah Schmidt: By the way, could you explain to us your famous “Skyscraper Index”?
Mark Thornton: When someone builds a record high skyscraper it is an indicator of economic crisis. This happens because of easy money policies followed by the central bank such as the Federal Reserve. Low interest rates make firms more profitable and raise stock prices. Everyone is a genius and investors become giddy and take on more risk. At the height of all this folly, particularly in real estate, is when such record-setting skyscrapers are built. The Dubai Tower set the record in the summer of 2007 and I was able to send out the crisis signal on Mises.org in August of 2007 right before the crisis began. The full explanation is in “Skyscrapers and Business Cycles” which was published in the Spring of 2005 in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.
Josiah Schmidt: So, how did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?
Josiah Schmidt: Will you be coming out with any new books, any time soon?
Mark Thornton: We will have a special issue of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics on America’s Second Great Depression that is very exciting and many other very interesting projects and research on Mises.org.
Josiah Schmidt: Sounds great! Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Mark Thornton: Thank you and good luck.
Josiah Schmidt: Thanks, and all the best to you as well.