This is not a political site. This is an anti-political site. We agree with the goals of individual liberty, free markets, and peace.

10/16/09

Can Anything You Get For Free, be Worth Having?


Since nothing in our worldly existence is actually free, the question is moot.
Today, the common understanding of "free" is getting something someone else actually paid for.
The government constantly promises free things, and advertisers for companies are always offering free stuff. "Buy one, get one free" sales and free appetizers at restaurants are popular ways to rephrase the obvious truth, that the price is temporarily being lowered to stimulate demand.

But today, I'm here to offer you something for free. (actually a few things) And they certainly are worth having.  

If you have followed the essays on this blog or read the names of people I have linked to on the side bar, you know the name of Professor Walter E Williams. And if you have ever heard me, during discussions about government policy over Ben Franklin's favorite beverage, parrot his question: "What is the legitimate role of government in a free society?" you will recognize his trademark opening.

The answer will vary depending upon your particular philosophical leanings. A popular one in recent decades was summarized by former President George W Bush when, during a campaign speech in 2004, he uttered  "I think that's a proper role for the federal government, to help people". A statement, which in my view, sums up his misguided and sometimes preposterous presidency. The current President and most, if not all of those in my time on earth have been similarly incorrect or purposefully deceptive.
By contrast, the header of this blog-site reveals the thinking of Thomas Jefferson. It is elegant in its brevity and concise in its transmittal of  his message, which is why it remains my favorite quotation concerning governance and graces the top of this page.

A quaint old document, the contents of which have been largely forgotten (even as many pretend to venerate that declaration) has it this way:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men"

The highlighting is mine of course, to make it read as a sentence. The attending words are more often quoted, and usually with good reason, but the object of the sentence has been been given short shrift, to our lasting detriment.

There still remain some of us silly old fools who took those words the way they were intended, that is to say, literally.

Now, back to my favorite economist. Walter Williams has a doctorate degree in economics and  teaches at George Mason University, but that isn't the only place he teaches. In an article adapted from a lecture he delivered in August for Hillsdale College (while aboard a cruise ship in the Mediterranean)  he taught the people in attendance, and now, through the beneficence of those who contribute to the publication of Imprimus, he will teach right here on this humble blog.

 He is also the author of many important books, a syndicated column and is a frequent speaker at gatherings of smart people and those who are attempting to become smart. Over the years, I have read most of his books and columns and have personally heard him speak on different occasions and the only thing I have to show for it thus far is that I am less ignorant. But I guess it's semi smart to trim back my ignorance whenever possible.

The reason I chose this particular article, Future Prospects for Economic Liberty, to feature on this page is that he seems to have rather concisely put together the most important points of dozens of those lectures and books and folded them into this one. If this is the only article of his you ever read, you will get the "Cliffs Notes" version of his work and save yourself a lot of time and money. Which is not something I recommend, but I don't think it would trouble him a whit to have someone "get it for free". After all, he has already been paid, but in my opinion, the most important thing to him is to educate the largest number of people about the blessings of freedom. It is his passion and his life's work.

And I'm delighted to introduce you to it, for free. I can also offer you a free subscription to Imprimus, a publication which has a circulation of 1,800,000 readers monthly. I am one of those readers, and through my association with Hillsdale and Dr. Williams I am authorized to..........Okay, I fibbed. You don't need me for that and I have no special relationship to either of them except my long time admiration for both and a few donations to the college.

Anyone can get it for free, and it proves that, sometimes many things worth having, are indeed, Free.

1 comment:

Brian Jennings said...

Thoughts expressed by Williams in "Future Prospects for Economic Liberty" are so truthful and so precisely dead on, that it pains me to read them. I would like to get a big rubber stamp and stamp the essay on the forhead of every liberal &%%#@!* I meet.