Tuesday, September 2, 2008

David Boaz, Libertarian

David Boaz, Executive VP of the Cato Institute, spoke at the Commonwealth Club recently. His speech was reproduced in The Commonwealth Magazine, September 2008 edition. I haven't been able to find a free online link, but it's a wonderful speech, and you should make the effort to find the speech. Here is an audio file of the speech:


Boaz's best line is about Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and how libertarianism has the same simple rules:

Don't hit other people, don't take their stuff, and keep your promises...if you apply those rules, you get civilization and freedom.

Here's another great line:

Always love your country, but never trust your government.

Boaz makes the great point that while we may feel less free today because of excessive government intervention and power, we are certainly more free when compared to a distant past involving slavery, 70 percent income tax rates (1977), fascism, feudalism, and communism. Boaz reminds us, "We had a monopoly phone company, strict regulations on interest and investing, sodomy laws in most states, and, at least briefly, generalized wage and price controls."

Boaz also takes on the question of how to define liberty and arrives at three factors: one, widespread wealth; two, an open society (less racism, no signs stating "No Blacks Need Apply"); and three, actual political and economic liberty (no more military conscription, no Jim Crow laws). He boldly states, "On balance, Americans today are more free than any people in history." He also says we should still be wary of those who seek to curtail our freedoms, suggesting,

Just speak up when somebody says there ought to be a law. There's no magic bullet. There's never been a golden age of liberty and there never will be.

Wise words from a man who strikes the perfect balance between optimism and fear. For more from David Boaz, check out the following link:


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