No one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us. Ludwig von Mises
December 12, 2002
Dear Friends and Supporters of The Future of Freedom Foundation:
Ever since the socialist triumph in the 1930s, the federal governments role in our lives and the IRS’s hand in our pocketbooks have grown progressively bigger, more intrusive, and more oppressive: the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on illiteracy, the war on wealth, the war on capital. The wars have been metaphorical but their adverse consequences, in terms of both liberty and economic well-being, have been very real, not only for the wealthy and middle class but especially for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Today, as every advocate of liberty knows, our rights and freedoms are under almost constant assault. With the combination of the socialistic welfare state, the governments war on terrorism, and its war on Iraq, government spending, regulations, and infringements on our civil liberties are on the rise. Taxes, by necessity, must increase as well, either directly through the IRS or indirectly through debasement of the currency by the Federal Reserve System.
There’s no question about it: These are difficult times for the advocates of liberty. But as the old saying goes, When the going gets tough, the tough get going!
Ever since The Future of Freedom Foundations inception in 1989, our methodology has been based on the power of ideas, principles, and truth. Ideas and principles matter. They have consequences. They move people. And truth has the power to dramatically break through layers of falsehood and fallacy that often cloud a persons mind. Ideas, principles, and truth will ultimately bring us the free, peaceful, and prosperous society. No matter how difficult the challenge might appear, we can turn the tide we can achieve the society for which we yearn and for which we have fought for so long. It just takes effort, perseverance, and determination and an unswerving commitment to truth, principles, and ideas on liberty.
We are battling hard here at FFF in fact, were redoubling our efforts not only to preserve our rights and freedoms but also to change the entire course of our nation. I personally believe that the situation calls for battling on all fronts. That’s one major reason that I recently took an unpaid leave of absence from FFF to run for the U.S. Senate here in Virginia. Although I took an electoral drubbing (7 percent 106,000 votes), I am certain that there are now more people who are receptive to our free-market ideas, principles, and philosophy, and we intend to build on that here at FFF. In fact, the campaign has already produced one positive spillover: Since last July, FFF’s website ranking on alexa.com has risen steadily from No. 186,994 (ranked against the millions of websites on the Internet) to No. 40,584, which means that Internet traffic to our website, where all of our articles since 1989 are posted, has skyrocketed. (If you’d like to keep track of everybody’s Alexa ranking, you can download the Alexa bar at www.alexa.com.)
In the meantime, our op-ed program is going gangbusters. Knight-Ridder and Scripps-Howard continue to distribute our op-eds, and UPI is now doing the same. The number of newspapers and websites that have published our perspectives now totals more than 800. (You can see the entire list in the Spreading the Word section of our website: www.fff.org. Since last June alone, FFF op-eds have been published more than 400 times in newspapers having a total circulation of almost 2,500,000, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (circulation 313,990), Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (287,447), Hartford Courant (202,914), Washington Times (101,003), and Philadelphia Tribune (126,000), one of the oldest African-American newspapers in the country. We’ve also added 73 new newspapers with a total circulation exceeding 1 million since June.
Our newest book, Liberty, Security, and the War on Terrorism, is now in the final stage of proofreading and indexing and is almost ready to go to press. With the financial help our donors gave us last spring, we are moving forward on this front as well.
And in case you still have any doubts at all about our determination and resolve here at FFF to restore the principles of liberty and limited government on which our nation was founded, please check out our new FFF Email Update, which I am personally editing. Since its inception, we’ve been sending it out on a weekly basis. Not any more. Starting tomorrow (Friday, December 13), we’ve got a brand new format, and were going to now send it out three times a week, with the aim of spreading ideas on liberty far and wide. (People can subscribe to our Email Update for free on our home page: www.fff.org.)
Its always tempting to become resigned and despondent when life does not move in ones direction. We must continue to resist that temptation. We are indeed living in stormy times, but keep in mind that it often gets darker and stormier as one approaches the top of the mountain. Here at The Future of Freedom Foundation, were continuing to climb, but we need your financial help to do so. I hope you feel that our dedication and our work merits your generous end-of-year support.
Jacob G. Hornberger
The Future of Freedom Foundation
P.S. You can subscribe to our publication Freedom Daily ($18 per year print version; $10 email version) and donate to FFF on-line with your VISA or MasterCard in the Subscribe and Support section of our website. (As I said above, all the articles and op-eds weve ever published are posted on our website for the entire world to read. If you want to read more hard-hitting, no-compromise perspectives on such important issues as gun control, the drug war, and the war on Iraq, you can find them on my campaign website. Do not send post-election campaign contributions the campaign is closed. Instead, please send your donation to FFF!)
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A Time that Tries Men’s Souls: Liberty under the Threat of National Security
by Richard M. Ebeling
Vice-President of Academic Affairs, The Future of Freedom Foundation
Never in such a short span of time has optimism turned to pessimism. Ten years ago, the Soviet Union had collapsed and disappeared off the map of the earth. Formerly socialist countries were transforming their societies into market economies. In the Third World, as well, backward nations were moving away from dictatorial governments and economic planning. Nationalized industries were being privatized in many countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Even in the United States, a Democratic president declared that the age of big government was over, and years of ever-increasing federal budget deficits turned to budget surpluses. And at first, at least, there had been talk of a peace dividend, enabling major cuts in defense and other foreign-policy-related government spending.
The world economy was on a roll, with expanding international trade, rising standards of living, reduced inflation in various countries, and the hope for an era of world peace. People spoke of a new century just ahead that would be far better than the brutal and cruel 20th century, with its world wars, totalitarianism, and disregard for the dignity and freedom of man.
In the United States, in spite of the fact that the Clinton administration had entangled the country in several foreign interventions in the 1990s and even though the economic bubble had finally burst in 2000, the illusion of a better world just ahead was destroyed on September 11, 2001. Since that time America has been heading down a road leading it away from liberty. The terrorist attacks of September 11 have created a governmental response that is weakening and undermining the constitutional restraints on political abuse and concentration of power.
A handful of American citizens have already found themselves in an Alice-in-Wonderland world in which they are being held indefinitely without charges under suspicion of terrorist involvement, but they cannot secure their freedom because of the claim that for the government to publicly present the evidence in a court of law to show why they have been arrested would compromise the war on terrorism.
Under the USA Patriot Act and the Office of Homeland Security, Americans are now open to government wiretapping and intrusion into their private papers, computer files, and Internet communications with almost none of the traditional protections from the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. In addition, the government has created a list of the names of, already, 1,000 persons who have been charged with no crimes but whom the government as banned from traveling by commercial airplane in the United States. From every direction, the civil and personal freedoms of the American citizenry are under attack or threat from their own government in the name of national security and safety.
In foreign affairs the Bush administration has set itself on a course of global interventionism and social engineering. In September 2002, the White House released a paper outlining its National Security Strategy for the United States. In it President Bush declared his intention to follow a foreign policy of being the policeman of the world and of remaking the domestic affairs of any nation declared to be a danger to the well-being of the United States. (See, The Dangers and Costs of Pax Americana, Freedom Daily, December 2002.)
On what basis and with what justification to the people of the United States will the president of the United States undertake political, military, and economic foreign intervention anywhere in the world? Apparently none at all! In his new book, Bush at War Bob Woodward of the Washington Post quotes from an interview with the president concerning Bush’s thinking and plans concerning a possible attack on Iraq: Did he ever explain what he was doing? Of course not, [Bush] said. I’m the commander see, I don’t need to explain I don’t need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.
The president of the United States, it seems, believes that he owes an explanation to no one, not to the Congress and not to the American people. If you’re feeling something, that’s the foundations of constitutional government slipping from under your feet.
On the basis of hundreds of hours of interviews and access to notes of meetings at the White House and federal departments, Woodward describes how hungry many are for war with Iraq. What will such a war cost the United States? The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that a short successful war would cost the American taxpayers around $45 billion. The CBO has also calculated that the occupation costs in postwar Iraq will be somewhere between $17 billion and $45 billion a year. Most analysts have assumed that the U.S. military and nation-building presence would have to continue for a minimum of five years, which would cost, therefore, between $85 billion and $225 billion. In addition, there would be the reconstruction costs for Iraq that the United States would have to shoulder, which have been estimated at somewhere between $25 billion and $100 billion.
The grand design planned for Iraq, according to the leaks out of the White House and the State and Defense Departments that have appeared in the newspapers, suggest an intention to remake Iraqi society. The people are to be reeducated in liberal and pluralistic values. The political institutions are to be reshaped into democratic forms, with the training and installing of a new elite to hold political office. The legal and judiciary structures will be molded along Western, or better yet, American lines. The Iraqi people will be given an open market economy. Over time, the American policy designers have in mind the creation of a new Iraqi Man fitted with attitudes, values, and beliefs just like, well, Americas.
One of the most naive and dangerous fallacies of the 20th century was the Marxian self-confidence that man and his nature were so much social putty to be reshaped and remade simply by imposing new political-economic institutions on the society and reeducating the masses into a higher consciousness of their true and real proletarian interests. And how perverse and worrisome that a conservative administration in Washington, D.C., should be guided by a Marxian style of thinking, what Austrian economist and Nobel laureate Friedrich A. Hayek called social constructivism. Social constructivism, Hayek explained, is the innocent-sounding formula that since the institutions of human society are the result of human action, it is in mans power to simply alter and remake them according to human design by imposing some type of centralized plan.
That is the meaning behind the notion of nation-building, whether or not the Bush administration chooses to use that term. That is the business the administration seems hell-bent on following in Iraq, if it comes to war and conquest. The people in Washington, who proudly hail individual freedom and free markets in their public rhetoric, are determined to centrally plan the recreation of the Iraqi people, their values and beliefs, their political institutions, and their social order. What a strange twist of fate that American foreign policy should make itself the inheritor of the Leninist legacy!
Never has it been more important for those who believe in freedom and cherish it defend the principles of individual liberty, the sanctity of private property, the rule of law, and constitutional restraint on the leviathan tendencies of government. Never, in half a century, have there been so many threats to the free society in America concentrated in such a short period, and with so much acquiescence by the American people. Our fellow citizens, under the understandable fear of the terrible and tragic events of September 11, seem willing to trade away a goodly portion of their birthright of freedom for a government-promised pottage of security.
If history shows anything, it is that once freedoms have been lost or traded away they are very difficult to regain from the political authorities that have usurped them. Alas, few have been the consistent voices over the last 15 months to challenge the rationales for the usurpation of these freedoms. And few have been the voices to question the reasons given by the government that America has found itself in this foreign-policy dilemma.
The Future of Freedom Foundation has been a clear, consistent, and uncompromising voice against these new dangers to our liberty, both at home and in our foreign affairs. In the pages of FFF’s monthly publication, Freedom Daily, on the opinion pages of leading newspapers around the country, in articles and commentaries on its internationally acclaimed website, in public lectures in various parts of the nation, and in its forthcoming book, Liberty, Security, and the War on Terrorism, The Foundation has been at the forefront of the cause of freedom.
Thomas Paine once pointed out that there are times that try mens souls.
Now is one of those times. It is necessary to maintain a clear, logical, and historically factual defense of the limited-government, free-market order. The coming year will require, more than ever, the voices of liberty to speak out and persuade our countrymen that the path now being followed is a new road to serfdom. The road signs on this path are filled with Orwellian newspeak: government control is freedom; police surveillance is civil liberty; indefinite and arbitrary imprisonment is public security; presidential prerogative is rule of law.
Freedom has faced many challenges in the past. And while the classical-liberal vision of the free society is far from being realized, the spirit and ideal of liberty is still alive in many of our fellow Americans. We need to help our fellow men understand the meaning of freedom and to see the dangers to our remaining freedoms in our society today. We can do it together. For 13 years FFF has worked to amplify your voice in the cause and defense of individual liberty. I would ask you to continue to work with us. Each of us, like Atlas, carries a bit of the world on his shoulders. We dare not shrug. Together we can shoulder the task to a successful conclusion the triumph of freedom from under the storm clouds of governmental power.
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Thank you and Happy Holidays from The Future of Freedom Foundation!