On 4/11/2014, Jacob G. Hornberger and Sheldon Richman of The Future of Freedom Foundation held a talk at UVM hosted by the UVM chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.
It was a very good talk focused getting government out of our daily lives and out of foreign affairs. It seemed that the biggest area of discussion and perhaps disagreement with the audience was over US involvement overseas. It seems that it’s seen that it may be our duty to police the world in order to keep our allies and ultimately ourselves safe, as opposed to focusing on defense.
Here is a video taken of the discussion:
Below are some notes I took during their talk/discussion:
(“J” is for Jacob and “S” is Sheldon)
J : Instead of trying to reform health care, social security we should just repeal them… government should also get out of education.
S : We need a theory of social change. We need a huge change in the way people think. Friedman taught many about the free market.
J : Freidman wasted time. I advocated against school vouchers. Vouchers entrenches the government in education. We need a total separation of education and state. We need to shoot for the goal.
S : Incremental steps are good such as 50% tax reduction. Opposed school vouchers as it’s not a step in the right direction.
J : Conservatives are for reform, Libertarians are for complete freedom.
S: Saying you want to abolish doesn’t do anything. People need to be open to ideas.
J : Problem is people believe they are free. Libertarians say they want freedom and people don’t understand what you mean.
S : In good measure people are free compared to Cuba. We can buy books and move around freely. Not wacked out, as we can live fairly free. It’s just not enough.
J : If you can vote and do what you want Saturday morning you feel free. Why can you not work the job you want such as a doctor, lawyer or keep all your income or do the drugs you want without permission from government.
S : To many ancients freedom meant being able to participate in government through voting. Modern freedom is the right to do as you want with yourself and property. As a society we are heading back to the ancient meaning of freedom.
J : We’re born into system that says your free when you’re really not. It’s a surprise to people when they discover libertarianism and learn just how unfree we are. Also many laws such as minimum wage actually hurt the poor.
S : Many people don’t understand economics. Don’t realize that economics should by self-running. It should run itself. We need to educate people. Many of us libertarians read something that clicks but many don’t.
J : Safety nets sound comforting but free markets are the ultimate safety net for people. National security issues keep people fearful and believing they need them and they provoke problems.
S : If you are ignorant of the history of US intervention overseas you don’t understand why we’re being attacked. We need to educate people that the best way to defend ourselves is to stop provoking people.
J : We need to stop causing problems in the middle east going back to Iran with US overthrowing the government and placing the Shah of Iran in power who was unpopular.
S : Lack of information. People believe big military is better than the alternative of chaos.
J : The real way to maintain freedom is to dismantle big military and the welfare state.
Members of audience very concerned about nuclear weapons, unstable countries, humanitarian aid, problems like Somalia. Believe the US government needs to be involved to remove weapons and help allies of the US government.
Responses from Jacob and Sheldon:
S : Sceptical that government makes it better such as Libya with huge flow of arms. People here don’t know enough about societies and end up making matters worse such as in Iraq. The people making policies don’t know what they are doing based on history. Often the people we support are just as bad as the people we fight. Any modern problem is caused by past actions of outside entities such as creating borders that don’t make sense, splitting tribes and grouping people that don’t get along that fight for control of the government.
J : Rational for other countries to develop nuclear weapons because the US is a threat to their freedom. John Quincy Adams in “In Search of Monsters to Destroy?” stated we will not help you outside the US but you are free to come here no questions asked with open immigration. Private people can go over and do what they want to help.
S : History in US is clear that we’ve always had empire on the mind under the guise of national security.
J : Look at what it has done to us. We lead the world in torture and assassination. We would never have approved of this previously but now we look the other way.
S : Libertarians don’t promise a utopia, but won’t make matters worse.
J : As young people you live nice lives now and many register for draft to get educational funds and the us government would have no problem sending you to your death for nothing.
Another person said that libertarians telling people that they don’t promise safety scares people and they like being told by government that they will do whatever they need to do to make it them safe. People like the large military and support the troops.
J : Fear is important to the government. How do we overcome the fear citizens have and willing to trade freedom for safety. Don’t know how we change that.
Recommended Reading: Hazlet, Mises, Hayek, Bastiat wrote great stuff on economics.
Visit http://www.FFF.org for more information on The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Below is another video Jacob G. Hornberger and Sheldon Richman did after the talk discussing their trip throughout the northeast and some highlights of the discussions.