The first stop on our Libertarian Angle college tour was a great way to start our five-city college tour this week. It was at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Sheldon and I arrived about an hour early and ran into a Jacksonville physician who was there to attend the program, enabling us to have a nice conversation with him. He’s a libertarian who moved down from Rhode Island several years ago. As the time approached for the program, both students and non-students were coming in and so we knew that we were going to have a diverse crowd, which made the discussion really enjoyable.
When the program started, I did a short welcome and then we went right into our Libertarian Angle format rather than lectures. I started the conversation with Sheldon by pointing out what failure the welfare-state way of life has been. While it purports to help the poor, it does nothing of the sort. It is an attack on the poor, especially with respect to economic prosperity, capital accumulation, and productivity. Sheldon agreed but then pointed out the big challenge we have as libertarians: How do we show people this given that they have all been born and raised under a welfare state society. I said, yes, and even worse, everyone is inculcated with the mindset that all this is freedom, bringing to mind Goethe’s pointed observation that none are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
From there, our spontaneous, free-wheeling conversation delved into the nature of freedom, the drug war, healthcare, the market process, monetary policy, and then finally to the warfare state way of life in which we also have been born and raised. We discussed the NSA and its massive surveillance scheme, the CIA and its assassinations and regime-change operations, and the vast military industrial complex, including the foreign military empire. I pointed out that the warfare state constitutes a much graver threat to our freedom than the welfare state. Sheldon agreed but pointed out that Americans have been taught to believe that all this is necessary to keep them safe.
Since the conversation was informal, audience members periodically made a comment or observation during our presentation. After 30 minutes of conversation, we opened it up to another 30 minutes of discussion, which was really fun since it was obvious that we had a lot of people in the audience who had an excellent grasp of libertarianism. Topics ranged from the Federal Reserve, the Great Depression. FDR’s gold confiscation, foreign policy, and how we can prevail in our quest to bring libertarianism to America.
So, it was a fantastic way to get the ball rolling on this tour. As we discussed last night, ideas on liberty have consequences. They move people and they shift societies to freedom. That’s why meetings like this are so important. That’s why totalitarian dictators fear ideas on liberty and discussions of such ideas so much.
So, now it’s on to Atlanta for stop 2: Georgia Tech from 6:30-8:00 pm, Scheller College of Business, Room 101. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join us. Sheldon and I now have a 5-6 hour drive and so we need to hit the road!