Archive for the ‘Important Voices’ Category

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Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Floy Lilley, libertarian audio book narrator

In Economy,Environment,Federal Reserve,Foreign policy,GOP,Important Voices,Interviews,Ron Paul,Tea Party on April 5, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #25 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!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Floy Lilley.  Floy is a libertarian writer, audio book narrator, entrepreneur, and a veteran of UN Climate Change conferences (more than twenty, in fact).  Floy lives in Auburn, Alabama (where she works with the Ludwig von Mises Institute) and often contributes to Mises.org and LewRockwell.com.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Floy Lilley: I had a strong work ethic at home with parents and family that read and gave me an environment of self-worth and responsibility, even though my Dad was a career Navy officer. He did, after retirement, feel that his state life had been one of deceit.  I held my first good private sector job at thirteen and have worked ever since. When I first read Atlas Shrugged at seventeen I owned it in every way. Thereafter I called my philosophical bent Objectivism, but was not a Randian. A small group of us studied every newsletter that Rand published and I read everything she wrote.

I met F.A. Hayek in 1973 and read his work. I devoured Reed’s FEE publications. I contributed heavily to the successful creation and growth of both new and established private businesses. I was part of the entrepreneurial force. I met Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard, Walter Block, and Burt Blumert in the eighties and began reading their work. In law, my interest was on property rights. Bastiat’s book was a favorite. For a privately-funded university Chair of Free Enterprise, I delivered speeches nationally on the piecemeal plunder of private property rights that I witnessed. I worked to pass Private Property Acts in the separate states. I have been a watchdog to the actions of the United Nations that seek the establishment of global government and the destruction of private property, individual sovereignty, natural law, individual rights, sound money and all wealth-creating elements of free societies. Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s work in the nineties shifted me solidly into anarcho-capitalist ranks.

Today, the work I do is the work I have loved my whole life – spreading the remarkable ideas of liberty in all possible formats. Ideas do have consequences. Marx and Keynes have ruled way too many generations.
 
Josiah Schmidt: What are your top three favorite books?

Floy Lilley: Atlas Shrugged (1957) by Ayn Rand, The Law (1850) by Frederic Bastiat, and Democracy: The God That Failed (2001) by Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

Josiah Schmidt: Who do you think is the most underrated and underestimated libertarian writer of all time?

Floy Lilley: Algernon Sidney. He is so underrated and underestimated that he is virtually unknown. He wrote Discourses Concerning Government. The Crown killed him in 1683. Along with John Locke and Trenchard and Gordon of Cato’s Letters, Sidney was, according to Murray N. Rothbard, one of the three most cited and quoted theorists developing libertarian thought in America. Sidney stresses the right of revolution.

“To Sidney, revolution and freedom were closely linked. Whenever people’s liberties were threatened or invaded, they had the right, nay the duty, to rebel. Everyone might legitimately slay a tyrant, and there is much justification for defending the rights of individuals against tyranny.” p.188 Conceived in Liberty, Vol II.

Sidney’s analysis of individual reason influenced Anne Hutchinson’s lone pioneering in philosophical anarchism.

Josiah Schmidt: What do you think is the significance of the burgeoning “Tea Party” movement?

Floy Lilley: I share Laurence Vance’s assessment that Tea Party people are sincere and teachable, while still not being reliable and consistent advocates of liberty.

Were the movement to galvanize, it would probably supplant the Republican Party, as Gerald Celente has predicted it will in 2012. That would be good for liberty if it were to be a substantive change rather than simply a switch in the faces of the ruling class.

Josiah Schmidt: In your opinion, what is the biggest, looming, unseen threat to our freedom today?

Floy Lilley: The state itself is the grand seen threat to our freedom. Within that public monster grows the threat that works diligently to remain off radar – the monopoly cartel which is our monetary system.

Since there is no political freedom possible until there is first economic freedom, the monopoly cartel that seized our money, banking and credit system in 1913 remains the chief obstacle to individual liberty and to a free society in our country.

To expose this core threat is pure radicalism. Few groups outside the Austrian economists and Ron Paulians have gained the knowledge and have had the courage to consistently work at informing others about the enslaving role of the Federal Reserve as our central bank. It is past time to separate money and the state.

Josiah Schmidt: How did Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign change America?

Floy Lilley: For the first time in eighty-five years the existence and authority of the central bank is questioned. Paul’s campaign has contained substance that has always been considered the third rail of politics. His courageous convictions alone earn respect and allegiance. But, as vibrant as Paul’s message is, it is the technological medium’s response to that message that has changed American politics. Grassroots have become grass digits. Decentralized internet communication has dented the highly controlled mass media messages. Hierarchies quake.

Josiah Schmidt: In a few sentences, how might the free market handle anthropogenic global warming (assuming it’s true, just for the sake of argument) better than the State?

Floy Lilley: Nature’s Law is mutate, migrate, adapt, or die. Adaption, innovation and resilience are natural characteristics of free societies, not states. Whatever the crisis might be, the flexible and innovative responses of entrepreneurs will always beat the bureauclerosis of a state. The only free society on the planet today is the internet. Earthweb by Marc Stiegler (1999 – Baen) is the way the free market handles catastrophic events. I think it is our future networked intelligence. But then, I never do see people as bellies, but as minds.

Josiah Schmidt: Who do you think was the most competent (or should I say, the least incompetent) United States President in our nation’s history?

Floy Lilley: Harding. Jim Powell’s article on him makes a full case. Less government in business and a non-interventionist foreign policy endear his actions to me. Harding recognized the crucial importance of encouraging investment essential for growth and jobs. ‘We need vastly more freedom than we do regulation,’ he said.

Josiah Schmidt: What advice would you give to libertarians reading this interview?

Floy Lilley: Those of us who love and live liberty do not have plans for others lives. We want others to keep their hands out of our pockets and to mind their own business.

Political movements require leaders and youth. It is always a delicate act to lead without controlling. There was a stretch of time when President Paul seemed a possibility. Burt Blumert was the first to remind us that were Paul elected, we would have to get busy with impeachment proceedings, it being impossible for any human to resist such seduction of the power in being the Chief Executive.

Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Floy Lilley: Did you know that in England libertarians were first known as Levellers?  Or, that a general Hudson River uprising was the Levellers’ Uprising of 1766? Because I voice recorded all four volumes of it, I am here to tell you that Conceived In Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard is the most amazing libertarian historical effort in which a libertarian lens is held up to colonial America. Rothbard clearly saw the play between social forces and state forces during our Nation’s formation. You can download the PDFs freely, or the MP3 audios freely from our open site Mises.org. No permissions needed to reprint or copy. Now that’s the libertarian way.

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Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Eric Wargotz, candidate for US Senate, Maryland

In 2010 elections,Economy,Education,Federal Reserve,Foreign policy,Government spending,Health care,Important Voices,Interviews on April 1, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #24 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!

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Eric Wargotz (left) with Gary Johnson (right)

Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Eric Wargotz.  Eric is a former Governor’s Appointee to the Board of Physician Quality Assurance, and is a physician-businessman managing several medical businesses. He served as a Laboratory Medical Director for 17 years responsible for administering and managing a busy hospital department including operating and capital budgets, management team and employees totaling over 100 at times, and scrutinizing department and hospital activities to ensure proper utilization of resources. He currently serves as an independent consultant and contractor in that field. He is former President of the Queen Anne’s County Medical Society (QACMS 2000 – 2004) and is Clinical Professor of Pathology at the George Washington University Medical Center.  Eric Wargotz received his M.D. from the Ohio State University College of Medicine and is a graduate of Rutgers University. He completed his post graduate medical training, including Chief Residency, at the Veterans Administration Medical Center of Washington D.C. and the George Washington University Medical Center where he received the Frank N. Miller, M.D. Award for Excellence in Medical Student Teaching. Following completion of a Fellowship in the Department of Gynecological and Breast Pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) he joined their staff. They awarded him the Director’s Letter of Commendation upon his departure from the AFIP. He has published over two dozen scholarly articles in the medical scientific literature and is a recognized authority on diseases of the breast and gynecological disorders. He was rated as one of “Americas Top Physicians, 2004-2005 and 2005-2006″ by the Consumer’s Research Council, Washington D.C.  Eric is now running for US Senate in Maryland.

Josiah Schmidt: What compelled you to enter elective politics?

Eric Wargotz: I was raised to believe that if you do not like what you see then work to change it.  As a physician and county commissioner, a citizen-legislator, I seek first to do no harm (taken from the Hippocratic Oath.)

Josiah Schmidt: What issues are most important to Marylanders?

Eric Wargotz: Concerns regarding the new health-care law, the economy (jobs, taxes, fiscal responsibility), national security, and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Josiah Schmidt: What do you offer that your opponents do not?

Eric Wargotz: I am the only elected official in the race other than the incumbent Senator in the majority party. As a physician and elected official on the local level I will bring different perspectives to Washington. We have a state-wide campaign in place and are ahead in fund-raising. We are best positioned to get the job done.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Eric Wargotz: As a firm believer in less government and more individual responsibility I believe as Ronald Reagan did that “Government is not the answer.” In my life and as an elected official on the local level, I practice what I preach.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the first thing you will do as a US Senator?

Eric Wargotz: Repeal, Revise, and Rejoice (the new 3 R’s) with a brand new health care solution which will be in contrast to the one which has passed into law recently.

Josiah Schmidt: How should health care be reformed?

Eric Wargotz: Interstate portability and sale of insurance across state lines, removal of antitrust protection for insurance companies, and tax-free Health (Medical) Savings Accounts (HSA/MSA) are measures which would reduce health care costs.  We need meaningful tort reform and related judicial reform, and adequate solutions to solving the health care provider manpower crisis. (also see: http://wargotzforussenate.org/press/dr.-wargotz-outlines-keys-to-health-care-reform.aspx )

Josiah Schmidt: Which area of government spending would you most like to cut?

Eric Wargotz: The U.S. Department of Education has a budget of $68.6 billion (according to the Dept. of Education website).  Each state has their own mandate to provide for public education. There is little need if any for a “National” Department of Ed.

Josiah Schmidt: What can be done to increase transparency and accountability in government?

Eric Wargotz: The Amendment proposed by Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) was reasonable and would have required that the legislative language and a final, complete cost analysis of the a bill be made publicly available on the Senate Finance Committee’s website at least 72 hours prior to any Committee vote. This proposal was defeated through maneuvering of my opponent (also see: http://wargotzforussenate.org/press/wargotz-decries-mikulski-move-to-block-transparency-in-government.aspx )  Auditing the Federal Reserve is an additional measure which makes sense as a transparency measure — “Sound Banks, Sound Money” as Gov. Johnson says.

Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Eric Wargotz: We are at a historic crossroad in the future of our nation.  Fiscal responsibility must be restored, free-market forces must prevail. Big government is not the solution. I believe in a better America.  Together, let’s make America healthy and strong.

Josiah Schmidt: Where can people go to find out more about you and contribute to your campaign?

Eric Wargotz: Your support is greatly appreciated.  Remember, my US Senate race is not just about Maryland, but also about securing the future of our nation . Please visit, support, and contribute at http://www.wargotzforussenate.org

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Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews fmr. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK)

In Drug reform,Education,Foreign policy,Important Voices,Interviews on March 29, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #23 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!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Mike Gravel.  Mike is a former Democratic Senator from Alaska, from 1969 to 1981.  Born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts to French-Canadian immigrant parents, Gravel served in the United States Army in West Germany and graduated from Columbia University. He moved to Alaska in the late 1950s, becoming a real estate developer and entering politics. He served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1963 to 1966 and became its Speaker of the House. Gravel was elected to the United States Senate in 1968.  As Senator, Gravel became nationally known for his forceful attempts to end the draft during the Vietnam War and for having put the Pentagon Papers into the public record in 1971 despite risk to himself. In 2006, Mike began a run for the Democratic nomination for President. In March 2008, he switched to the Libertarian Party to compete for its presidential nomination.  Mike now lives in Arlington County, Virginia with his wife, Whitney.

Josiah Schmidt: In 2008, you switched party affiliations from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party.  What prompted you to do so?

Mike Gravel: Well, essentially the Democratic Party had thrown me out.  I was running as a presidential candidate, and there was sort of a conspiracy between General Electric, a large Pacific contractor, and Head of the Democratic Party Howard Dean.  They conspired to take me out of the debates.  I had been in the first ten debates.  They took me out of the debates in September of ’07.  So, I was essentially out of it.  So I moved over to the Libertarian Party, tried to get that nomination, yet I failed in that regard.  I was pretty upset over that.  I was just trying to get a venue to expose The National Initiative, which is really why I ran for President.

Josiah Schmidt: It seems like America keeps going farther and farther in the wrong direction as far as foreign policy goes.  In the 1950′s, even Republican President Dwight Eisenhower ridiculed anyone who promoted the concept of “pre-emptive war.”  Yet, in the 2008 election, you were ridiculed by the supposedly anti-war Democratic Party for merely saying that you would take a pre-emptive nuclear strike off the table!  As someone who has seen a lot in the political world, how alarmed are you at how far America has lost its way on war issues?

Mike Gravel: Very alarmed.  Here’s what I think has happened.  You mentioned Eisenhower–that’s extremely significant.  He really sounded the alarm that we would lose our democracy as a result of a union between corporate America and the military leadership coming together.  And that’s what’s happening.  And what’s significant, I think, is that no president since Eisenhower has even acknowledged the problem, and it’s now much, much worse than it was during my time.  Because at least during the Vietnam Era, people were revolting against the excesses of the warfare state.  Now, there’s no revolt at all against it, and you now have Obama as the President, who has a larger defense budget–or a war budget, more accurately–than did George Bush.  There’s no reaction to that at all.  So, it just goes forward, and further forward, and we see a foreign policy that is just totally run amok.  We are the problem in the world.

Josiah Schmidt: How do you think our government’s current foreign policy in the Middle East is affecting our national security here at home?

Mike Gravel: It jeopardizes it.  It totally jeopardizes our security, because the more we go to war, the more we energize jihadists–the people who hate the United States, who have suffered as a result of our policies, who want to strike back, and who strike back the only way they can strike back, which is through terrorism.  There’s no country on Earth that would even think of attacking us.  The problem we have is the problem of terrorism, but we engender that with our foreign policy.

Josiah Schmidt: Do you think there’s any end in sight for the current wars the government has involved us in?

Mike Gravel: No, not at all, and it will expand from there.  We saw that with the implosion of communism.  They said we’d have a peace dividend, that we’d be able to really get out and about, and change our whole priorities–well, that didn’t happen at all.  Saddam Hussein unfortunately saved the military-industrial complex, and we had two Saddam wars, now we have an Afghan War, and now we’re going to be going into Yemen.  There’s just no end to it at all.  And all of this in order to permit corporate America–the military aspects of corporate America–to go out there and make profits.  They can’t make profits if there’s no war and if there’s no threat of imminent danger.  And there is no imminent danger with respect to either a country threatening us, or even terrorism threatening us.  It’s more of a threat to us to die of cancer or on our highways than an American dying of terrorist activities.

Josiah Schmidt: During the Vietnam era, you were the leader of the anti-conscription movement.  What, in your opinion, is wrong with the concept of the draft?

Mike Gravel: First off, it appropriates unlimited numbers of young men to a political decision–that’s what’s wrong.  We had 500,000 troops in Vietnam at the high point, and now the best they can do in Iraq is 150,000.  The unintended consequence of forcing an end to the draft, is, of course, going to contractors.  We have as many contractors in Iraq as we have military troops.  And I think we could say the same for Afghanistan.  And we could say the same for the Pentagon.  We have more contractors operating out of the Pentagon than we have uniformed, military people.

Josiah Schmidt: Do you fear a return of the draft any time soon?

Mike Gravel: No, not at all.  I don’t think it’s going to be possible, because if you’re going to draft young men, you’re going to have to draft young ladies, and I don’t think the conservative religious right will put up with that.  Secondly, if you draft anybody today, two years won’t cut it.  You’d have to draft them for four to six years so that they could be meaningful soldiers, because of the technology that’s required on the battlefield.  And here too, I don’t think people would permit their lives to be appropriated for four to six years in the draft.  So, no, I don’t think the draft is necessary, one, for a peaceful nation, two, it’s not going to be palatable to the far right, nor is it going to be palatable to a lot of generals, who respect and know the benefits of a volunteer force.  The problem today is not the military from the point of view of a military force, the problem today is the military-industrial complex, which is not necessarily tied to the number of people in the military.  The military-industrial complex is tied to the political forces which sustain that.  And that of course is the Congress and the President, who are bought out by this economic interest, to continue our imperialistic policies worldwide.

Josiah Schmidt: You’re also well-known for being the Senator to get the contents of the Pentagon Papers into the public record.  As someone who put his career on the line for the sake of openness and accountability in government, how disappointed are you by the secrecy and dishonesty of the current administration?

Mike Gravel: Very disappointed.  And, of course, there’s a new movie out, and it’s up for an Oscar.  It’s called “The Most Dangerous Man in America.”  It’s about what Daniel Ellsberg did in releasing the papers–the courage it took on his part, and the risk on his part.  It’s a very, very good movie, very well done.  I hope it gets an Oscar, and I’d recommend to anybody to go see it, so that you can begin to get a handle on what happened during that era, and how reflective it is to what the situation is today.  Dan, not too long ago, asked me, “Is the cowardice unusual in the Congress today, from what it was during your time?”  And my response to that was, “No, it’s just all cowardice.  That’s all there is to it.”

Josiah Schmidt: Could you quickly summarize your position on the Drug War?

Mike Gravel: We should decriminalize marijuana.  I mean, it is an abomination that we take a substance like marijuana, which is not addictive, not a gateway drug, and we put thousands–hundreds of thousands of people–into jail for that.  It’s not a criminal element at all.  In fact, it’s less addictive than alcohol.  And with respect to hard drugs, we should decriminalize them and treat them as they really are.  It’s a public health issue.  So, if people want drugs, they do what they presently do to get drugs: they go to a doctor and get a prescription, get yourself registered, so that when you want to be helped, we’re there to help you.  This stuff with treating it as a criminal element, all it does is rather than put the doctor in charge of drug distribution, we put the criminal in charge of drug distribution.  We know that Prohibition never worked with alcohol, it doesn’t work with drugs, and we spent over the last 40 years a trillion dollars on this, have destabilized foreign governments, have destabilized a major, major portion of our own population in this regard.  We have spent a treasure on prisons, when we should be spending this treasure on education.

Josiah Schmidt: What are a couple of the most important issues to Alaskans right now?

Mike Gravel: Well, I would say that they should have spent more money on education–they didn’t.  I think on education they are about 16th in the states.  With the wealth that they have, they should have really poured the money into educating their young people, making it the number one priority.  With respect to Alaska, they need to concentrate on getting an economic base that’s not reliant entirely on resources alone.  They’ve not done a good job in that regard.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the most important lesson that you have learned during your involvement in politics?

Mike Gravel: That is that the people are smarter than their leaders.  And their leaders just don’t accept that, don’t realize that.  And that’s the reason why I’ve devoted the rest of my life to try to develop legislation and try to get legislation enacted by the people, because the Congress will never do this, that empowers the people to make laws.  Bringing the people into the operation of government as partners–legislative partners–where they can make laws in partnership with their elected officials.  It becomes a win-win, where the people set the policy, and their elected officials execute that policy on a day to day basis.  It works better, and the people become more responsible than they are today, and they need a lot more responsibility in order to mature civically, if we’re going to have the nation that we think we should have, but don’t have, because we get carried away with our sense of entitlement, with our triumphalism, which is not merited at all in the world.

Josiah Schmidt: Are there any other words of wisdom you’d like to leave our readers with?

Mike Gravel: Well, they can go to my website, which is MikeGravel.us, or NationalInitiative.us, and become informed as to how they can become legislators.  And to be aware that I am working on a television series called “I Like Mike,” which will be a cross between The West Wing and The Office, where I become virally elected as President, and will be out there dealing with the issues and taking on all of the special interests in the area of this.  So, watch for that program.

Josiah Schmidt: When and where will we be able to see that?

Mike Gravel: Well, we’ll be shooting hopefully in a couple months, and we’re still negotiating as to where.

Josiah Schmidt: Awesome.  Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to talk with us today, Mr. Gravel.

Mike Gravel: You’re welcome.

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Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews David Nolan, inventor of the Nolan Chart

In Civil liberties,Economy,Federal Reserve,Foreign policy,GOP,Important Voices,Interviews,Tea Party on March 25, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #22 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!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is David Nolan.  David was one of the people who played an integral role in founding the United States Libertarian Party.  He subsequently served the party in a number of roles including National Chair, editor of the party newsletter, chairman of the By-laws Committee, chairman of the Judicial Committee, and Chairman of the Platform Committee.  David originated the famous “Nolan chart,” which attempts to improve on the simple left versus right political taxonomy by separating the issues of economic freedom and social freedom and presenting them in the format of a plane.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?
 
David Nolan: Originally, from reading the works of liberty-oriented writers like Robert Heinlein, H.L. Mencken, and Ayn Rand. Then, by observing that the amount of freedom in a society correlates closely with its level of prosperity and happiness. See http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking.aspx 

Josiah Schmidt: Could you tell us the story of how you helped start the US Libertarian Party?
 
David Nolan: I first became politically active in Barry Goldwater’s Presidential campaign (1963-64). After that, I stayed active in the Young Republicans until 1971, when Richard Nixon made it abundantly clear that the GOP was not the party of liberty. When Nixon went on TV in August, 1971 to announce wage and price controls, and to completely sever all connection between the dollar and a gold standard, a group of libertarian-minded people decided it was time to form a new party. 
 
Josiah Schmidt: Explain to our readers what the Nolan Chart is, and how you came up with the idea.
 
David Nolan: The Nolan Chart is a two-dimensional “map”  that shows the positions of various political/economic systems in terms of two variables: personal freedom and economic freedom. I came up with the idea in 1970 after realizing that a one-dimensional political spectrum (e.g. left vs. right) is woefully inadequate in its ability to show how different systems and ideologies compare to one another.  The “World’s Smallest Political Quiz” is based on the Nolan Chart, and has been taken by about 15 million people to date. See http://www.theadvocates.org/quizp/index.html
 
Josiah Schmidt: Who do you think is the most underrated and underappreciated libertarian writer?
 
David Nolan: Interesting question. Probably someone we’ve never heard of, but among those we have heard of, I’d say Karl Hess, who wrote Barry Goldwater’s “extremism in the defense of liberty” speech and a ton of insightful essays on a multitude of topics.  I knew Karl slightly, and he was a wonderful human being as well as a great writer. Since his death in 1994, his writings have faded from view to a large extent and that’s a shame.
 
Josiah Schmidt: What are your top three favorite books?
 
David Nolan: Tough question for a bibliophile like me! If we are talking about personal favorites, as opposed to “books everyone should read to better understand how the world works, or ought to” my top three would be:  Alice in Wonderland / Through The Looking Glass (which I’ll count as one book), A Confederacy of Dunces, and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.  “Alice” is not only very witty, it has layer upon layer of meaning; it’s truly a literary masterpiece . “Confederacy” is one of the funniest books ever written; truly hilarious. And “I Am Legend” is a haunting, almost poetic evocation of alienation, of being “the last man on Earth.” It has been adapted into a movie three times, and none of the three movies is nearly as good as the book.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the significance of the burgeoning “Tea Party” movement, in your view?
 
David Nolan: It started out as a genuine, non-partisan grassroots movement of Americans fed up with overbearing, intrusive government. Now, however, it has been largely co-opted by Republican party hacks. Sarah Palin’s speech to the recent gathering in Nashville was stomach-turning.

Josiah Schmidt: What do you see as the future of libertarianism in America?
 
David Nolan: That’s very hard to prognosticate. Clearly, this country is in big trouble and “our” government is doing exactly the wrong things to create an economic recovery. And we are losing our civil liberties as fast, or faster, than we’re losing our economic freedoms. I’m afraid that pro-liberty ideas will be in a minority for a long time to come. Right now, I’d say the chances of the U.S. breaking up, with at least some areas becoming more libertarian (and some less so) is greater than the likelihood of the whole country “going libertarian.”

Josiah Schmidt: What countries do you think show the most promise for the liberty movement in the world today?
 
David Nolan: I’d say that the countries that are currently the most-free are the most likely to stay that way, or become even more free.  Generally, the English-speaking countries (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland) have the strongest tradition of personal liberty and economic freedom. Switzerland has long been a bastion of freedom. Countries like Denmark and The Netherlands have some promise also.

Josiah Schmidt: What advice would you give to libertarians reading this interview?
 
David Nolan: Think for yourself. Don’t accept any pronouncement from any political leader or authority figure without thoroughly investigating their claims.  Do they have the facts straight? Do their claims make sense? Whose interests are they serving? 

Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

David Nolan: As I said earlier, I think the United States is in for a long stretch of fairly bad times. The consequences of bad policies (Federal Reserve funny-money, global interventionism, creeping police-state surveillance at home) are coming back to haunt us. Things are ugly, and likely to get uglier. So it’s important to develop an understanding of WHY we are in trouble, and how freedom is the solution to these problems. Stay principled, be outspoken, and support the people and organizations that are standing up for our liberties.

Josiah Schmidt: Thanks, David.

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Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Jesus Huerta de Soto, author of “Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles”

In Economy,Federal Reserve,Important Voices,Inflation,Interviews on March 22, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #21 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!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Jesus Huerta de Soto.  Prof. de Soto is an Austrian School economist and Professor of Political Economy at Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid, Spain. In 2005 Huerta de Soto received the CNE’s Adam Smith Award for lifetime achievement, and in 2009 he was awarded a honorary degree from Universidad Francisco Marroquin.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Jesus Huerta de Soto: By mere coincidence I found, bought and read Ludwig von Mises’s treatise Human Action when I was 16 years old. Since then I have been a libertarian.

Josiah Schmidt: In short, how did the US Federal Reserve cause the current economic crisis?

Jesus Huerta de Soto: It orchestrated a huge artificial credit expansion at very low interest rates causing entrepreneurs to systematically malinvest a large amount of scarce resources in nonviable lines of production (mainly related with real-estate business).

Josiah Schmidt: Does the Federal Reserve deserve thanks for anything it has done over the past few years?

Jesus Huerta de Soto: No. Central banks are the only institutions responsible for the financial crisis and the economic recession.

Josiah Schmidt: What would have happened if the Fed had let all the bankrupt financial institutions fail?

Jesus Huerta de Soto: A sound monetary system is essential for a market economy. Unfortunately, letting all financial institutions fail would provoke a void in the monetary system that would destroy our current economic system.

Josiah Schmidt: What should the Fed do, at this point, to help bring this recession to an end?

Jesus Huerta de Soto: Central banks should mimic as close as possible the working of a purely private monetary system based on a 100 per cent reserve pure gold standard: A stable monetary supply (growing no more than 2 per cent per year); non-involvement with interest rates and strong separation of short term commercial banking from investment banking (i.e. reintroduction of a kind of Glass-Steagall act).

Josiah Schmidt: Is abolishing the central bank a politically feasible option in this day and age?

Jesus Huerta de Soto: The only way to avoid any future financial crisis and economic recession is through a redesign of the current financial system following these three lines:

1st. Abolition of fractional reserve banking, i.e., the reintroduction of 100 per cent reserve banking for demand deposits and equivalents.

2nd. The abolition of the central bank (that would not be needed any more as lender of last resort if the 1st reform is enacted).

3rd. The privatization of the current pure fiduciary state monetary system and its substitution by a pure gold standard.

Josiah Schmidt: What would, realistically, happen if we woke up tomorrow morning and the Federal Reserve’s charter had been revoked and the doors of the central bank were closed up?

Jesus Huerta de Soto: The transition to a sound monetary system is explained in detail in Chapter 9 of my book on Money, Bank Credit and Economic Cycles.

Josiah Schmidt: If you had to recommend one beginner’s-level book to understand monetary policy and central banking, what would it be?

Jesus Huerta de Soto: My book “Money, Bank Credit and Economic Cycles” explains everything the readers need to know.

Josiah Schmidt: Great.  Thank you, Prof. de Soto.

Articles

Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Sheldon Richman, editor of The Freeman

In Education,Important Voices,Interviews on March 18, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #20 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!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Sheldon Richman.  Sheldon is an American political writer and academic, best known for his advocacy of libertarianism.  He is the editor of The Freeman, a magazine published by The Foundation for Economic Education, and is a Senior Fellow at the Future of Freedom Foundation, and a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute.  A graduate of Temple University, Sheldon was formerly a journalist, and a senior editor at the Cato Institute and the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University.  His articles have appeared in, among others, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, American Scholar, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Washington Times, Christian Science Monitor, Independent Review, Insight, Cato Policy Report, Journal of Economic Development, The World & I, Reason, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Middle East Policy, and Liberty. He is also a contributor to the Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Sheldon Richman: As a child I was interested in stories about the the American Revolution and the struggle for individual liberty. They had a strong intuitive appeal to me. In 1964 I began to hear about Barry Goldwater and his references about freedom and small government that left people alone. This set me to reading. Friends in high school told me I should read Henry Hazlitt and Ayn Rand. From there I went on to Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and F. A. Hayek. Then Frank Chodorov, Albert Jay Nock, Herbert Spencer, and the rest.

Josiah Schmidt: Could you give us a little history of FEE’s well-known publication, The Freeman?

Sheldon Richman: Leonard Read, who founded FEE in 1946, bought The Freeman around 1955 and published it separately from FEE for a year, with Frank Chodorov as editor. It was a standard-size magazine that discussed current events from a libertarian perspective, though it also featured debates with conservatives about foreign policy. In 1956 Read made The Freeman an official FEE publication and changed the focus toward an introduction to the freedom philosophy. He also reduced the dimensions of the magazine. Only in recent years did it go back to standard size.

Josiah Schmidt:  Explain to our readers who Henry Hazlitt was, and why he is so important.

Sheldon Richman: Henry Hazlitt was a prominent economics writer for many years, having been a reporter, editorial writer, and columnist at different times for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek (for which he wrote a regular column from 1946-1966). His most famous book is “Economics in One Lesson,” which (though the examples are dated) is still the best introduction to how to think like an economist. Hazlitt wrote many other important books, including his demolition of Keynes’s General Theory: “The Failure of the ‘New Economics.’”

Josiah Schmidt: What are your top three favorite books?

Sheldon Richman: Tough to say. Nock’s “Our Enemy, the State” ranks very high, along with Rothbard’s “For a New Liberty” and Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom”. I must also mention Lysander Spooner’s “No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority”.

Josiah Schmidt: Who is the most underrated and underappreciated libertarian writer, in your opinion?

Sheldon Richman: Thomas Szasz, who has shown that the mental-health establishment is a massive violation of individual rights.

Josiah Schmidt: If you had to recommend one short essay that explains and argues for liberty in a nutshell, what would it be?

Sheldon Richman: Murray Rothbard’s “The Anatomy of the State”.

Josiah Schmidt: As a leading American scholar and intellectual, how would you assess the American public education system?

Sheldon Richman: It’s doing exactly what it was designed to do: raise up generations of “good citizens” who won’t watch too closely what the government is up to.

Josiah Schmidt: What advice would you give to libertarians reading this interview?

Sheldon Richman: Keep learning, reading. Know your opponent’s case better than he does. Be calm, benevolent, and patient in presenting your views. Don’t underestimate people’s intelligence.

Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Sheldon Richman: Remain optimistic despite the odds.

Josiah Schmidt: Thanks so much, Mr. Richman.

Articles

Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Anthony de Jasay, author of The State

In Economy,Gary Johnson,Gary Johnson 2012,GOP,Government spending,Important Voices,Interviews on March 15, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #19 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!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Anthony de Jasay.  Mr. de Jasay is a Hungarian-born libertarian philosopher and economist known for his anti-statist writings. He was born at Aba, Hungary in 1925 and educated at Szekesfehervar and Budapest, taking a degree in Agriculture. In 1947-48 he worked as a free-lance journalist, his anti-communist activity forcing him to flee from the country in 1948. After two years in Austria, he emigrated to Australia in 1950 and took a part-time course in Economics at the University of Western Australia. Winning a Hackett Studentship, he went to Oxford in 1955 and was elected a research fellow of Nuffield College where he stayed till 1962, publishing papers in the Economic Journal, the Journal of Political Economy and other learned journals.  In 1962 he moved to Paris and worked there as a banker, first in an executive capacity and then on his own account, till 1979, doing investment business in several European countries and the United States. In 1979, he retired to the Normandy coast where he still lives. He has published five books, several of which have been translated into a total of six languages, as well as numerous articles, mainly in English but also in French and German.  He has a wife and three children.

Mr. de Jasay has, as a matter of common courtesy, agreed to answer our questions to the best of his ability. He wishes to state, though, that he has no views on the candidacy of  Governor Gary Johnson for the Republican nomination.

Josiah Schmidt: It’s a privilege to speak with you, Mr. de Jasay.  Could you please tell us about how you came to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Anthony de Jasay: From the war’s end to 1948 when I escaped to Austria, I lived under Soviet Russian occupation in my native Hungary. I witnessed the gradual installation of a “real-existing” socialist system (note well: “real-existing” is the term they use to express that their actual system is not yet the ideal one), the flooding of higher education and the media with Marxist gobbledygook, general moral degradation and the material misery caused in large part by the inherent stupidity of socialism. This experience must have added an emotional charge to my disposition to regard matters of justice, freedom, property and responsibility in a fairly disciplined logical manner. I may add that my father was a truly liberal, tolerant person and my mother a great teacher of logical thinking. Having lived in five different countries may have strengthened my liberal disposition, though I am not really sure of the effect. Let me add that I persist to use the word “liberal” in the European and not the American sense.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the fundamental reason why a system of private property is essential for any economy to function above subsistence levels?

Anthony de Jasay: One possible answer is that the alternative to private property, namely common or public property, is crippled by what economists call the principal-agent problem. The principal or owner is a hypothetical entity, the public, the state, or in the best of cases some smaller community that has diffuse ends which it cannot even unambiguously express and transmit to its agent(s) except maybe via politics (and the latter probably makes the principal-agent problem even worse). The agent, e.g. a government, is on a loose rein and pursues its own ends.

Unless property is private, it seems difficult to give the profit motive the role it must have to make the allocation of capital efficient. “Market socialism” is full of the most egregious absurdities in theory, and is a disaster in practice (e.g. the 1948-1989 Yugoslav worker ownership experiment).

Josiah Schmidt: Are high prices a form of exploitation?

Anthony de Jasay: “Exploitation” is emotionally charged and it is very difficult to give it an objective meaning. I may say that a price represents exploitation, you may say that it does not, and nobody is entitled to judge that my say-so is more valid than yours. The question is a little less elusive if we talk of “monopoly prices” instead of just high ones. A monopoly charges profit-maximising monopoly prices at its peril, because doing so invites entry by potential competitors as well as development of substitutes for its product. Monopolies nonetheless manage to survive and to the extent that they do, income distribution tilts against the consumer and in favour of the monopolists. As a consequence, resource allocation also tilts against consumption and in favour of capital accumulation. (Note that little of the monopolist’s astronomical income, or of any other very high income, is spent on Ferrari cars, trophy women and champagne. Most of it ends up as investment in real capital with its ownership vested in charitable endowments). The grudge against “high prices” may really be against “high profits”. One should always remember that “high profits” in turn mean faster capital accumulation, which ultimately leads to a faster increase in real wages than would be the case if prices and profits had been low to begin with.

Josiah Schmidt: Is there anything inherently wrong with income inequality?

Anthony de Jasay: Neither income nor any other inequality is inherently wrong. The notion that equality is intrinsically better than inequality is a subconsciously perpetrated bluff, dating from the second half of the 19th century–a bluff that nobody has had the courage to call since. The two statements “A distribution is to be equal unless there is a sufficient reason for it to be unequal” and “a distribution is to be unequal unless there is a sufficient reason for it to be equal” are ethically fully equivalent. Accepting one and discarding the other is a matter of the force of reasons speaking for each. Inequality is spoken for by talent, effort, past abstinence from consumption (hence inequalities in saving to accumulate capital) and others too numerous to list here.  Equality is usually argued for by the affirmation that “all men are born equal,” but this is manifestly untrue as an empirical finding.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the number one reason why truly limited government is so difficult to achieve?

Anthony de Jasay: The main reason is not easy to sum up in one sentence, but let me try: in any government by the people for the people, there is majority rule that permits one part of the people to impose a “collective will” on the other part for various purposes involving the extraction of the resources required for it, but in order for a winning majority to be formed, resources have to be offered for key groups to persuade them to help form the majority rather than join a rival one that is making rival offers; there is a perpetual auction process by which an increasing share of GDP or other resources are extracted by the government and redistributed in the form of services, subventions, public works, etc. Democracy is biased to produce big government, and a truly minimal government must in some sense be non-democratic, secure in its tenure.

Josiah Schmidt: Are there any parting words of wisdom you’d like to leave our readers with?

Anthony de Jasay: In electing your representatives, pay more attention to their guts than to their brains, trust the ones who have more conviction than ambition, and promise less than their rival.

Josiah Schmidt: Thank you very much for taking the time out of your schedule to speak with us, Mr. de Jasay.  It’s been an honor.

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