In 1989 I founded The Future of Freedom Foundation from my apartment in Denver, Colorado.
The early days of FFF were extremely difficult, with little money and few donations. When subscriptions to Freedom Daily were in the hundreds, I would stuff the envelopes myself, label and stamp them, and mail them out.
However, when we went past 1000 subscribers, it became too burdensome to do all this myself.
In the meantime, I had the good fortune of becoming friends with a Catholic priest named Father Joe, who just happened to be one of the most hard-core, purist libertarians I had ever met. Why, Father Joe not only called for the legalization of all drugs, he even opposed drug laws for minors. “What children ingest and don’t ingest is purely a family matter,” he steadfastly maintained. “It’s none of the state’s business.”
Father Joe established a totally private and very successful drug rehab program, one that absolutely refused to accept any government grants.
He also was the founder of a small private school in Denver, one that accepted no government assistance.
One day I mentioned to Father Joe, who passed away a couple of years ago, my envelope-stuffing problem, and he suggested that I make an offer to his students to come into the school once a month to help me do the stuffing. So, I made an offer involving both money and free pizza. I had all the stuffers I needed!
Needless to say, we had plenty of time to discuss libertarianism during those stuffing sessions.
A couple of days ago, I received an interesting email that I think you will enjoy reading, one that reflects the unforeseen power of ideas on liberty. Here it is:
Dear Mr. Hornberger,
Up reading The Underground History of American Education, I thought I’d do a search about some of the ideas proposed. Your article enlightening about the socialistic nature of public education popped up, and I was pleased to see your name.
I was a young, young woman attending Father Joe’s school in Denver, Colorado when I met you, stuffing envelopes, with dollar signs in my eyes! An opportunity to earn a few dollars was rare for a seventh grader, and pizza included! Now I appreciate more than ever what Father Joe taught us about government back then. At the time we all thought, “This guy is so radical, even crazy. We read one paragraph from a textbook and then he goes off on a tangent for an hour about Rockefeller.” How completely wrong we were, so saturated with cultural upbringing! His words were gems; I wish they had been recorded. He knew what a real education was. Now a mother, homeschooling my children, I am so grateful for the seeds that were planted back then. My convictions are strong and growing stronger the more I understand the roots of the tides that are turning our country.
Do you have any words of wisdom for a public-school-trained teacher trying to undue the Socialist foundation my college education and teaching background has laid? I find myself fighting this, not only from outside pressure, but also as I try to conceptualize what educating a free person ought to entail.
I’m glad to see that you are still at the forefront of the hope for a return to freedom in our great nation. God bless, MD