Thirty-three years ago, I founded The Future of Freedom Foundation. I wanted an educational foundation that presented the principled, uncompromising case for the libertarian philosophy. I marvel over the fact that there have been people who have supported our work and kept us going for more than three decades.
It hasn’t been easy. From the very beginning, we have never ceased taking the principled, uncompromising position on the burning issues of the day, which has caused us to lose financial support. In fact, during our very first year of publication, Richard Ebeling, who was serving as FFF’s vice-president of academic affairs, quipped to me, “By the end of our first year, we will have alienated everyone with our principled positions, and then I’ll do my best to get rid of you.”
Instead, we began attracting people who liked our principled approach toward advancing liberty. At the end of our first year, we suddenly received a check for $50,000 from a donor who loved our principled approach. That helped us to keep going for another year. It’s been pretty much the same ever since. Our donors have kept us going, which is both humbling and gratifying.
With respect to the methodology of advancing liberty, over the years I have concluded that it is impossible to convert people to libertarianism. I have good friends who hold me in the highest esteem and yet steadfastly reject libertarianism. I figure that if I can’t convert them, I have little chance of converting people I don’t even know.
Instead, I’ve decided that our job is to find libertarians, not to make them. There are people throughout all walks of life who are naturally disposed toward libertarianism. Many of them don’t realize it. Or they don’t realize that their beliefs are part of an enormously fantastic political and economic philosophy. Our job here at FFF is to find those libertarians and support them with intellectual ammunition to use against the statists who continue to destroy our country.
How do we find libertarians? By continuing to introduce our principled, uncompromising perspectives into the marketplace of ideas. I have unwavering faith in the power of ideas on liberty to find their way into the hearts and minds of people who are receptive to them. After all, that’s the way I discovered libertarianism. When I was in my late 20s, I walked into the public library in my hometown of Laredo, Texas, looking for something to read. I came across four little books that contained principled, uncompromising libertarian essays. Those four little books changed the course of my life. If it happened to me, I figure that it can happen to others.
Over the years there have been those who have tried to persuade us to adopt a more “practical” reform-oriented approach, one that compromises libertarian principles. For example, after our first few years one of our major donors called me and asked me to send him an op-ed supporting school vouchers that he could send to his local newspaper. I told him that I could not do that but that I would be willing to send him an op-ed that advocated the complete separation of school and state. He replied that if I refused to send him a pro-voucher article, he would cease making his annual $1,000 donation to FFF, which was (and is) a big amount of money for us. He never made another donation again.
After the 9/11 attacks, we pointed out that the attacks were motivated by the U.S. government’s interventionist killings abroad. While others were jumping on the invade-Afghanistan and invade-Iraq bandwagons, we steadfastly opposed both invasions, arguing that they would just constitute more deadly and destructive interventionism that would only serve to accelerate the destruction of our rights, liberties, and well-being here at home. We suffered an enormous loss of financial support and had to really hunker down. But we weathered the storm, and we continue to hold that foreign interventionism threatens to bring our nation down from within, especially with it being a major factor in the federal government’s out-of-control spending, debt, and monetary debauchery.
The most gratifying part of FFF’s work for the past 33 years has been to attract excellent authors, staff, subscribers, and generous donors to FFF. You all have not only enabled us to advance liberty, you have also served to inspire me personally.
You have our pledge that we will continue doing what we have been doing for 33 years —presenting the principled, uncompromising case for liberty. I hope our work has merited your continued, generous support. To make a (tax-deductible) donation to FFF, please click here.