Part of my spring and summer was spent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, spreading ideas on liberty.
It started out with an invitation to speak before a group called the Wisconsin Forum, whose origins go back decades. It is a private group composed of libertarians and conservatives who invite speakers to address the club on issues relating to liberty.
I was invited to speak on “The Case for Open Borders.”
But before I addressed the Wisconsin Forum, I received invitations to speak on the same subject to students at two different schools in Milwaukee: Brookfield Academy and the Academy of Excellence.
Brookfield is one of the finest private schools in Wisconsin. Among the founders was a man named Bill Law, who was president of a Milwaukee company named Cudahy Tanning Company. I first encountered Bill when I attended a summer seminar at The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in 1979. He was one of the speakers.
I have never met anyone who could explain the virtues of free trade better than Bill. He was also one of the most principled libertarians I have ever met. When competition from Japanese leather producers was costing Cudahy Tanning Company large market share, Bill stood steadfast against the push by other leather companies for protectionist legislation.
When I later organized a FEE seminar in my hometown of Laredo, Texas, where I was practicing law, I asked FEE if they would include Bill as one of the speakers. They agreed and he agreed. We later became great friends. When I founded FFF in 1989, Bill was among our first donors and remained so until his passing several years ag0.
Opposed to public schooling, Bill helped found Brookfield Academy, which has grown into a highly prestigious institution for learning.
I spoke to two classes on the morality, virtues, and practicality of open borders. It was a lot of fun, especially given the very inquisitive nature of the students. Later, many Brookfield students came to my talk at the Wisconsin Forum.
I then went over to the Academy of Excellence, which is a charter school in Wisconsin, one with a deeply Christian orientation. The audience was a big assembly composed of most of the student body. Many of the students were of foreign origin and so, as you can imagine, the idea of open borders immediately caught their attention.
Then it was time for my talk to the Wisconsin Forum. There were some predictable questions about open borders from the conservatives in the audience, which I welcomed because they enabled me to emphasize some important points. All in all, the talk, the Q&A, and the entire evening went really well.
In fact, my talk before the Wisconsin Forum ended up generating another speaking invitation for me. The director at Brookfield Academy, who attended the talk, invited me to return to Milwaukee when school resumed in August to address the entire faculty of Brookfield Academy about the principles of liberty. So, a few months later, I returned to Milwaukee to address a back-to-school assembly of schoolteachers and administrators.
That went great as well! Knowing that they were already freedom-oriented, I told them I was going to challenge them to think at a higher level, just like they do with their students. I then proceeded to take about how such programs as Social Security, Medicare, drug laws, immigration controls, the Federal Reserve, and the national-security state are irreconcilable with the principles of a free society. One teacher came up to me after the talk and said, “You’ve made my head explode with such thought-provoking perspectives.” My response: “That’s what my goal was!”
Thank you to the Wisconsin Forum, Brookfield Academy, and the Academy of Excellence for helping make my visits to Milwaukee really enjoyable ones!