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Thursday, January 31, 2013


Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.


  Committee reports—whether in the halls of Congress, state Assemblies, village Boards, chambers of commerce, or whatever—are decided by majority vote. If there be more agreement than disagreement, the chairman announces, “The ayes have it!” That counting noses is an inappropriate means of deciding right from wrong should be obvious to every person who does his own thinking.

  Leo Tolstoy, a thinker of monumental integrity, sets the stage for my thesis:

    From the day when the first members of councils placed exterior authority higher than interior, that is to say, recognized the decisions of men united in councils [committees] as more sacred than reason and conscience; on that day began the lies that caused the loss of millions of human beings and which continue their unhappy work to the present day.1

  So, when trying to decide what’s right and wrong, away with Ayes—lies. What then are the I’s, for which we should strive? They are two remarkable blessings that bloom from the “more sacred”: reason and conscience; or Integrity and Initiative! It is the attainment of these two rare qualities by a very small minority that explains why we continue to prosper in spite of a rapidly growing socialism. Do not these qualities make for an indomitable vigor that all the dictocrats in the world cannot down? Of course, if a weakling, I can forsake these I’s but, if not, they’re mine, as much as my mind. That Integrity and Initiative account for our remaining in a right-side-up position in the face of enormous counterforces is, to me, an important discovery—a secret revealed!

  Why was Tolstoy so critical of those who put “exterior authority higher than interior; that is to say, recognized the decisions of men united in councils as more sacred than reason and conscience”? He was calling our attention to the plague of Ayes and the sacredness of Integrity, the quality that blooms from “reason and conscience.”

  Integrity—an accurate reflection in word and deed of whatever one’s highest conscience reveals as righteous—a rare achievement? Indeed, it is so rare that the term does not appear in the more than 1,000 headings in the largest of all quotation books. Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the strongest minds and best phrasers of ideas acknowledges: “I cannot find language of sufficient energy to convey my sense of the sacredness of private Integrity.”2

  Sacred qualities cannot be taught. At best, they are caught, and then only from the few exemplars who must be sought! It has been my good fortune to have found quite a few exemplars from the past and present, and what a joy to behold! Their highest conscience, and that alone, dictates their behavior, be it the freedom way of life or whatever. They never budge an iota from their righteous guidelines regardless of contrary views, opinions, clamors; standing alone frets them not at all. Ramrod straight, as we say.

  Shakespeare wrote, “I speak with a single heart.” Single, in this sense, is directly linked with integer, meaning, “Whole, entire, not divided.” Contrasted to single is double which has the same original root as the word “duplicity.” Such phrases as “double dealing” and “double talk” convey this connotation. Individuals blest with integrity “speak with a single heart.” Void of duplicity, they can be trusted by one and all. Those who can be trusted are moral giants, oversouls, and constitute the very backbone of human evolution and of any good society. Hail to the few of this rare quality!

  Now to initiative: This quality—when achieved by those already graced with Integrity—accounts for such well-being as we enjoy in spite of duplicity on the rampage. These I’s persist in working their wonders, all the “hell and high water” notwithstanding. To me, this borders on the miraculous.

  But hear this: There’s initiative and Initiative, as different as night and day. Countless people exercise initiative ranging all the way from highjacking to embezzlement to obtaining governmental handouts, to coercive control of wages and hours, to tariffs, to getting paid for not farming, to—you name it!

  Initiative, on the other hand, is, as Elbert Hubbard suggests, “doing the right thing without being told.” My dictionary gives it this definition:

    . . . the characteristic of originating new ideas or methods, ability to think and act without being urged; enterprise.

  Over the years I have known numerous persons possessing Integrity of the highest order but lacking Initiative—none at all. Before they could do anything they had to be told. But if another outlined or suggested a task or tasks, their performances left nothing to be desired. Imagine our sorry plight were there no Initiators. All would perish!

  Enterprise must be emphasized to grasp the miracle I am trying to understand—the entrepreneurial spirit, if you please. This kind of innovator endows all of us with countless blessings. Why? He perceives opportunities to employ scarce resources to serve consumers more efficiently and effectively than otherwise would be the case. Initiative is exercised through the market process of willing exchange and involves no coercion or violence against others, none whatsoever. This is the night-and-day difference between market-type Initiative and the kind carried out at gunpoint: from outright robbery to governmental edicts by know-it-alls attempting to run our lives by the rule of Ayes.

  It is the few, rarely aware of their Integrity and Initiative, whose righteousness—moral and economic—keeps us right-side-up as the Command Society returns to bedevil mankind. These “I’s” have an unbelievable vim and vigor, a strength that even the total state cannot completely destroy.

  Have a look at today’s Russia. In all history there’s no better example of totalitarianism. Although millions are slaughtered or starved, many millions live on. Explanation? Up until now I have attributed this to “a leakage of creative human energy.” No Commissars or dictocrats have ever been able to wipe out those attributes, qualities, virtues which compose man’s Manifest Destiny. Creation is a force stronger than the babble and guns of know-it-alls—that is, of know-nothings.

  The “leakage of creative human energy” that keeps a society going may be better explained by integrity and initiative. These precious qualities, flowering now and then, first in this and then in that rare individual—these qualities in unison tap the wellsprings of creativity. It’s not “The Ayes have it” but, rather, “The I’s have it.” Let integrity and initiative bless you and me, and all creative individuals and their beneficiaries!

Awake For Freedom's Sake - Digital Book

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Reform only yourself, for in doing that you have done everything.


  For the past 28 years we have conducted several hundred Seminars here at FEE and around this and other nations. In each of these, I always do the concluding lecture on methodology. Assuming the participants favor the private ownership, free market, limited government way of life, what are the appropriate steps for such an achievement?

  Recently, a participant came to me afterward, making a confession, admittedly unusual: “That’s the best lecture I have ever heard. It hurts, but it’s true!” What was it that hurt? It was my unorthodox contention that ours is a learning rather than a selling or a reforming-of-others problem. My proposed remedy was contrary to what he had been doing. He had, until then, been devoting his energies to the reforming of others rather than to the reform of self—as have countless thousands who despise socialism, that is, the planned economy and the welfare state. He believed, for the first time, that he had been wasting his energies, doubtless doing more harm than good. Is it too harsh a judgment to claim that he had been a victim of vanity?

  Vanity? As related to the freedom philosophy, it is an over-assessment of one’s own understanding. It is the fiction that all would be quite satisfactory were others as well versed as the would-be reformer. Wrote Adam Smith, “Vanity is the foundation of the most ridiculous and contemptible vices—the vices of affectation and common lying.” True, most are innocent affectations, but innocent or intentional does not alter their damage. The sad fact is that none of us has more than scratched the surface in understanding and explaining how freedom works its wonders.

  In order that a blessed humility may replace a devilish vanity, let’s have a brief look at the source of our actions: the brain.

  “The human brain, like the rest of the nervous system, contains its full quota of nerve cells at birth—trillions of them! Many of these are present in the embryonic, neuro-blastic form. The primitive neuroblast (undeveloped cell) is not functionally alive. It must develop into a neuron and this development proceeds well into middle life and still further in the more gifted and mentally active individuals.

  “The normal human brain always contains a greater source of neuroblasts than can possibly develop into neurons during the span of life, and the potentialities of the human cortex are never fully realized. There is a surplus and, depending upon physical factors, education, environment and conscious effort, more or less of the initial store of neuroblasts will develop into mature, functioning neurons.

  “The development of the more plastic and newer tissue of the brain depends to a large extent upon the conscious efforts made by the individual. There is every reason to assume that development of cortical functions is promoted by mental activity and that continued mental activity is an important factor in the retention of cortical plasticity into late life.

  “Goethe, Voltaire, Kant [and others] are among the numerous examples of men whose creative mental activities extended into the years associated with physical decline.

  “There also seem sufficient grounds for the assumption that habitual disuse of these highest centers results in atrophy or at least brings about a certain mental decline, and examples bearing out this contention are only too numerous.”1

  If the above be a realistic analysis, and I believe it is, then the genesis of all human action relates to the stagnation or development of the human cortex. To have but the dimmest idea of how the neuroblasts are or are not converted into functioning neurons will give us brilliant instructions as to what we should and should not do. At the very least, we will be able to grasp the vice of vanity and the virtue of humility and what’s required to abandon the former and move toward the latter. Also, we will be moved to relegate reform exclusively to the reform of self. Leave others to their own reform!

  Victims of vanity! For an instructive example, reflect on the “teachers” in the U.S.A. The vast majority of them are devoted to reforming pupils, rarely doubting their own wisdom. How would they perform were they to become aware of their own shortcomings? A few ideas that support the learning thesis:

    The highest function of the teacher consists not so much in imparting knowledge as in stimulating the pupil in its love and pursuit. To know how to suggest is the art of teaching.


    The teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.

    —Horace Mann

    The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself.


    To waken interest and kindle enthusiasm is the sure way to teach easily and successfully.

    —Tryon Edwards

    A tutor should not be continually thundering instruction into the ears of his pupil, as if he were pouring it through a funnel, but induce him to think, to distinguish, and to find out things for himself; sometimes opening the way, at other times leaving it for him to open; and so accommodate the precepts to the capacity of his pupil.


    It would be a great advantage to some school-masters if they would steal two hours a day from their pupils, and give their own minds the benefit of the robbery.


  These reflections on “teachers” apply equally to those persons in other occupations—business, religion, or whatever—who dogmatize or, better yet, try to “bring others up to their level” of understanding. This tactic has at least two flaws: (1) trying to insinuate one’s notions into the consciousness of others revolts them, and (2) the level projected is far below what’s desirable. We cannot reform others!

  Who then can you or I reform? Only the first person singular, the one seen in the mirror, the sole individual on earth over whom one has any creative control! Converting one’s own neuroblasts into functioning neurons is a challenging and an interesting possibility. But that I can do this to another’s brain is obviously impossible!

  I should never have as an aim or ambition the bringing of another to my level of understanding. That would put the initiative for the other’s improvement—the development of his neurons—in my hands rather than in his.

  The neurons of a person’s brain are developed, if at all, by conscious effort on the part of that person. When someone, in his vanity, proposes to develop your neurons, we may properly refer to the process as “brainwashing.”

  Brainwashing presupposes brainwashers and the brainwashed—the pied pipers and their following. The former exist by the millions and only because many more millions wish it that way. The latter want their thinking done for them, and this the pied pipers eloquently promise to do.

  Neither those who promise to lead nor those who promise to follow exert conscious effort to realize their cortical potentialities; they’re not even aware of the mental activity that could be theirs. As a consequence, the “habitual disuse of these highest centers results in atrophy or at least brings about a certain mental decline.” These, then, are the victims of vanity—the “leaders” and the led!

  “Continual mental activity,” we are told, “is an important factor in the retention of cortical plasticity into late life.” Of the very few—an infinitesimal minority—who experience this development, does it follow that they understand and believe in the freedom philosophy? Rarely! Mrs. Eulenburg-Wiener, as quoted above, mentioned Goethe, Voltaire, and Kant, believers in liberty. However, she included several Fabian socialists. Had she grasped the freedom thesis herself? Anyway, hers was a brilliant explanation of what accounts for the more gifted individuals among us.

  Should we be distressed by the fact that only a very few among gifted individuals grasp the blessings of freedom? Of course not! Merely acknowledge the countless specializations for which you and I have not the slightest competency or even desire. To understand freedom, even partially, is as rare a talent as graces the minds of human beings. This, as with any other specialization, is to be expected—in tune with reality.

  What then is the appropriate role of the few among us who are believers? It is to give intensive, conscious effort to our own improvement, to converting our neuroblasts into functioning neurons. Concentrate on cortical growth, and this alone, which energizes the magnetism that draws others to seek one’s tutorship. Keep in mind that only seekers are learners. Our role is to have a freedom enlightenment sufficient to induce seeking.

  Finally, share with others. Forget about “reforming” them! The more we share, the more we learn. This is in the interest of self and freedom!

Awake For Freedom's Sake - Digital Book

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


The highest reach of human science is the scientific recognition of human ignorance.


  In all of my 79 years, this is the first time I have ever written a letter to me! There are two reasons for the delay:

  1. Not until now have I fully appreciated the harm done by most of the letter-writing indulged in by freedom devotees. Reference is to the plethora of condemnatory letters they write to the millions of persons who take socialistic positions, ranging from editors to politicians; from small fry way on up to Presidents of the U.S.A. It is the straighten-them-out approach which begins by classifying the recipient as Dummkopf!

  2. Previously, I have never fully realized that the sole contribution anyone can make to the evolution and welfare—perfection—of others is such perfection as he or she may personally achieve. In light of all contrary notions, this appears as a new thought. New? On hearing of my “discovery,” an associate called attention to Saint Matthew’s wisdom, taken from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, spoken quite some time ago.

  For the sake of personal enlightenment, the following is an analysis and commentary on that Saint’s wisdom. He learned from one; hopefully, I can learn from him.

    Pass no judgments and you will not be judged. For as you judge so will you yourselves be judged, and whatever measure you deal out to others will be dealt back to you.

  Judge only actions, thoughts, ideas but not the authors thereof. If they take positions contrary to your own, call them not fools, nor indeed think of them as such. To do so is to invite similar appraisals of you. ’Tis the law of action and reaction at work. The practice of name-calling is foolish, for it leads only to a population of fools.

    Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye, with never a thought for the great plank in your own?

  What an instructive hyperbole: sawdust in your brother’s eye, the great plank in your own! What is that speck we see in our brother’s eye? It is that infinitesimal bit of knowhow we may possess that our brother does not. And the great plank in our own? Trillions of know-hows we do not possess but don’t know we don’t!

  Wrote a sage: “To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of ignorance.”

  Do not throw your pearls to the pigs; they will trample on them, and turn and tear you to pieces.

  Again, a hyperbole or striking metaphor, seemingly harsh, but is it really?

  The Perfect Exemplar was crucified for openly presenting his Pearls of Wisdom. However, it is not necessary to go back 20 centuries for a demonstration of this truth. Try presenting the Pearls of Freedom in today’s Russia or Red China. They’ll trample on your ideas and tear you to pieces!

  Can this seemingly harsh metaphor be rephrased to serve as good counsel in today’s U.S.A.? In my judgment, it would read: Do not try to reform the opponents of freedom. They will trample on your ideas and do all in their power to belittle you. For confirmation, hear these few who have reflected on reforming others:

    Every reform, however necessary, will by weak minds be carried to an excess which will itself need reforming.


    An indefinable something is to be done, in a way nobody knows how, at a time nobody knows when; they will accomplish nobody knows what.

    —Thomas B. Reed

    It is a general error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.


    Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.

    —Thomas à Kempis

    Reform only yourself; for in doing that you do everything.


    Always treat others as you would like them to treat you.

  I do not wish others to reform me, so I shall not try to reform them.

  I do not want others to belittle me, so I shall not belittle them.

  I wish to act creatively as I please, so I shall concede that privilege to everyone.

  I welcome the open competition of the market, through which the goods and services of others are available in exchange for mine.

  I hope that others will achieve an understanding that will cause me to seek their tutorship, therefore, I shall try to upgrade myself to the point where some will seek mine.

  Righteousness—integrity—is the quality I most admire to others, so righteousness must come first among my goals.

  I appreciate others sharing their thoughts with me, so I shall share with them.

  Briefly, I must never do unto others that which I would not have them do unto me—life’s Golden Rule!

    Enter by the narrow gate. The road that leads to perdition is wide with plenty of room, but the road that leads to life is small and narrow.

  Wrote Aristotle: “One may go wrong in many different ways, but right only in one.” The ways to go wrong are a millionfold—as numerous as are all the errors of mankind. Plenty of room, indeed! But the way to go right is, we might say, singlefold, a “small and narrow” road, a truth now and then come upon by one devotedly seeking what’s right—like finding a needle in a haystack.

  Terence, born a slave two hundred years before the Sermon on the Mount, brought up and educated by a Roman Senator, became a writer of comedy. A priceless line, “Nowadays the reward is for those who make right appear wrong.” His “nowadays” strikingly resemble our own. For instance, camouflaged thievery—the coercive taking of the fruits of your and my labor to feather the nests of others—is made to appear right and, thus, honesty must be wrong. Countless examples nowadays might be cited.

  Terence lived in a devolutionary period as we do. But courage! Evolutionary periods follow, especially when enough of us get on that small and narrow road that leads to life.

    The man who heeds these words and acts upon them . . . has the sense to build his house on rock. The rain came down, the floods rose, the wind blew, and beat upon that house; but it did not fall, because its foundations were on rock. But what of the man who hears but does not heed these words? He built his house on sand. The rain came down, the floods rose, the wind blew, and beat upon the house; down it fell with a great crash.

  Millions of us hear these words, can repeat them verbatim, but we heed them not. Why this delinquency? We haven’t done our homework, that is, taken the time to analyze and grasp this wisdom. Short of understanding in depth, we are all words and no deeds. “Religious babblers” may not be too severe a term—our houses built more on sand than rock! This Letter to Me is an attempt to be graced by Divine Wisdom so that I might distinguish rock from sand!

  True, if only you and I build our houses on rock, while the others build on sand, the wind, flood and rain that destroys the others might also bring down ours in the general crash. History is filled with these disasters—freedom squelched—all because these truths have not been heeded and acted upon. As another disciple—Saint John—stated later: “The truth will make you free!”

  In a world where too many houses are built on sand, what then are we to do? Where lies our salvation? First, it is to recognize, “come hell or high water,” that there’s more to our lives than this earthly moment, namely, the immortality of the one great reality: consciousness. It lives on forever. Build our houses on that rock now with the eye on eternity!

Second, be not too distraught by what goes on around us. We can help our brothers here and now. Wrote Gerald Heard, “Growth when denied is more dangerous than apathy.” Forget those who are “not interested, indifferent, listless.” While their unconcern is to be lamented, they are at the zero level and matter little if at all.

  There are those, on the other hand, who possess the possibilities for growth in awareness, perception, consciousness. To deny this, not to strive for growth, is to desert our brothers; it is to rob humanity of a potential benefactor—a worker in freedom’s vineyard.

  I must keep these thoughts in mind:

      No one will learn from me unless he or she is seeking my tutorship.

      No one who really counts will seek my tutorship unless I am growing.

      Growth in consciousness is what energizes the magnetism that attracts seekers.

  May I, then, grow in truth for my sake, for the sake of others, for freedom’s sake!

Awake For Freedom's Sake - Digital Book

Monday, January 28, 2013


Doth not the common experience make this common unto us that the fattest ground bringeth forth nothing but weeds, if it not be well tilled?


  The soils of the earth produce ever so many weeds, ranging from beggarweeds to smartweeds. And the souls of men—the minds that think and will—are no less plagued with errors galore, mental weeds that range us from the beggar to the smart aleck. Common? We all err—no living exception!

  Unquestionably, “the fattest ground bringeth forth nothing but weeds, if it not be well tilled.” And the fattest prosperity brings nothing but fallacies, if the minds of men are not well-disciplined. As Horace, the Roman of 2,000 years ago, observed, “adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.”

  The growing adversity in the world today, here and elsewhere, is eliciting talents by which we learn to better cultivate the fertile soil of freedom. My thesis is that such cultivation of truth begins with the discovery and elimination of our countless errors—weeding one’s garden—a strictly personal adventure. Everett Dean Martin offers excellent counsel:

    The man who strives to educate himself—and no one else can educate him—must win a certain victory over his own nature. He must learn to smile at his dear idols, analyze his every prejudice, scrap if necessary his fondest and most consoling belief, question his presuppositions, and take his chances with the truth.

  I well recall a day when my garden was choked with weeds. Shortly after FEE was founded in 1946, I was asked to lecture at a luncheon club in Los Angeles. Having been General Manager of the L. A. Chamber of Commerce, I had many friends in the area and was pleased to have several of them invited as guests for the occasion. At the end of my lecture, I was shocked by a battery of questions from members of the club obviously more sympathetic toward socialism than toward my views. These questions were new to me at the time, and I was stumped for answers—much embarrassed before my friends.

  Then and there, I resolved to learn to recognize these tricky questions—these weeds in my garden—and how to eradicate them. Thus began a series of suggested answers, by myself and by others, to the most common Cliches of Socialism, culminating in a little book of 76 short chapters that has been helpful to many a workman in his garden of freedom.1

  Here are a few examples of those tricky, mischievous notions—cliches—that ought to be weeded from one’s garden of freedom:

      “The more complex the society, the more government control we need.”

      “If we had no social security, many people would go hungry.”

      “The right to strike is conceded but. . . .”

      “The size of the national debt doesn’t matter because we owe it to ourselves.”

      “The free market ignores the poor.”

      “Human rights are more important than property rights.”

      “We’re paying for it, so we might as well get our share.”

      “Customers ought to be protected by price controls.”

      “The welfare state is the best protection against communism.”

      “Big business and big labor require big government.”

      “I prefer security to freedom.”

      “Private business should welcome government competition.”

      “If government doesn’t relieve distress, who will?”

      “Labor is not a commodity.”

      “Rent control protects tenants.”

      “Under public ownership, we, the people, own it.”

  Why does our book list only 76 weeds? Because we do not see all the weeds there are. The ways to be wrong are infinite. There’ll never be such a thing as a perfectly clean garden.

  As Cervantes wrote, “The road is always better than the inn.” The inn is a stopping place, life’s purpose abandoned. Why is the road better? We thereby move toward our goals, weeding along the way, tilling our souls as best we can, now and forever. There have never been any clean gardens nor will there ever be. It is a matter of progression or ascendancy. Everett Dean Martin’s formula is good enough for me.

  The man who strives to educate himself-and no one else can educate him—I am the only person who can educate me, education being a taking-from, never an injection-into process. My formal education ended with high school. Not knowing much and knowing it, I have for the past 60 years selected my own tutors, Dr. Everett Dean Martin being one of many, past and present. Saint Matthew set forth the only valid educational process many centuries ago:

    Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

  . . . must win a certain victory over his own nature—What is man’s natural state, his nature? Is it not his vanity, his unawareness of how little he knows? How seek a victory over this vaingloriousness? Acknowledge, as did Socrates, “I know nothing but I know I know nothing.” That’s the first step. The second comes naturally: seeking to know more! Therein lies indeed “a certain victory.”

  He must learn to smile at his dear idols—An idol is “the object of ardent or excessive devotion or admiration.” Perhaps we all succumb to some extent, idolizing certain persons ranging from little political gods to those endowed with fame, wealth, power, charisma. Such idolatry, as distinguished from an esteem of virtues, is degrading both to the idolater and the idol. We should, indeed, smile at our “dear idols,” particularly if one of them happens to be the person seen in the mirror.

  . . . analyze his every prejudice—Prejudice is a judgment or opinion formed before the facts are known—usually unfavorable. Such narrow-mindedness or short-sightedness accounts for the millions admiring the weeds of socialism and blind to the flowers in the garden of freedom. Analysis—an unprejudiced study of the records—lights the way to truth.

  . . . scrap if necessary his fondest and most consoling belief— What we believe depends pretty much on what we are, that is, on what we can understand. Comprehension in the wisest amongst us, relative to Infinite Consciousness—Creation—is infinitesimal. This accounts for ever so many fond and consoling beliefs that are obstacles to human evolution: life’s purpose. The challenge, then, is to scrap every belief which stands in the way of our creative growth, emergence, ascendance. In other words, we grow in wisdom as we find sound ideas to displace fallacies.

  . . . question his presuppositions—To presuppose is to take something for granted; to view a subject or problem in a narrow, biased, dogmatic, intolerant fashion; to jump to a conclusion. The very words should alert us against this common human frailty, this noxious weed that chokes many a garden before its fruits can be harvested.

  . . . and take his chances with the truth—Chance is an opportunity: as you’ll have a chance to go. Where? Toward whatever truth one can grasp and bring into his possession. But many a weed stands between a gardener and a bountiful harvest of truth. The flowering of truth depends upon freedom if it is to grow and mature. And the game is to overcome the obstacles, the weeds of intervention and control.

  Weed your garden and you encourage me to weed mine!
Awake For Freedom's Sake - Digital Book

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Were the eye not attuned to the Sun, the Sun could not be seen by it.


  An eye to the Sun, had Goethe. What an instructive and stimulating simile by this wise man! How it encourages reflection and stimulates thinking! Goethe uses the Sun to symbolize both the seen and the unseen; only our expanded awareness makes the difference. To the individual who has no eye to see the Sun, that star does not exist. Similarly, nothing is real for you or me or anyone if the eye be not attuned to it—even freedom is nonexistent!

  The Sun is an excellent symbol, for without it there would be no life of any kind. It is the single star in the solar system around which our earth and other heavenly bodies rotate. It is the source of all physical energy, the enormity of which is incomprehensible. For instance, enough solar energy reaches our planet in 40 minutes to supply all the energy mankind consumes in a whole year. While Goethe was unaware of this recently discovered fact, he had an eye for the future. Small wonder that he used the Sun to symbolize the heavenly!

  But what of the eye not attuned to the heavenly virtues such as integrity, humility, charity, justice, love, reverence for life, individual liberty, and the like? All eyes not so attuned see neither the Sun nor the heavenly virtues. Overcoming this blindness—really seeing—is our earthly and, may I add, our heavenly purpose.

  Now to an observation by another wise man, the renowned biochemist and biologist, Roger J. Williams:

    If people were different from each other only in trifling ways—fingerprints, length of noses, the texture of their hair, the exact shape of their eye lenses—they might insist on wearing their own spectacles and on a few other minor rights. But the rights that Patrick Henry and others were ready to die for were of a very different kind and would never have been thought of if the individuals concerned had not possessed the enormously significant biological individuality which we now know about. This inborn individuality was and is the mainspring of our love of liberty.1

  No doubt about it, biological individuality—variation—is the mainspring of our love of liberty. However, the spring isn’t as strong as it might be. And I suspect the weakness may stem from lack of awareness. The eyes of many persons are insensitive to freedom and, thus, this wondrous achievement has no reality for them; it doesn’t even exist! So, let us try to open those eyes.

  Further, let us not deal harshly with their blindness, for that would reveal a myopic weakness in those of us whose eyes are attuned to freedom. And I confess such nearsightedness at times. It isn’t easy to be patient with those who fail to see what we see. Overcoming this psychic blindness in ourselves may be the first step in attuning another’s eye to freedom. So, let us strive for patience, bearing in mind the infinity of things and ideas for which no living person has ever had eyes.

  A striking example of these variations comes to mind. I had quoted most favorably a brilliant zoologist, and assumed that he might be pleased to have a copy of my new book. His acknowledgement was in a sentence or two, no more than a shrug of the shoulders, as we say—obviously, not pleased.

  Nevertheless, when his next book was released, I entered it with enthusiasm and was rewarded by enlightenments such as these:

      . . . man is an integral, small, but significant part of a universe that is creative at all levels.

      Minds are self-creative. They are not born, they are made.

      . . . when we express ourselves creatively, in whatever field, we best fulfill our nature.

      And potentialities mean not just skills, but the full range of the capacities for sensing, wondering, learning, understanding, loving, and aspiring. In this light, the ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursuing his own education.

      • The only equality lies in the right, if any, for equal opportunity to develop freely his own worth.

      . . . recognition that no one else is like oneself gives at once a unique value to the individual and at the same time demands that every individual recognize the uniqueness of others.

      . . . the greater the minds the greater the difference.

      These (Leonardo da Vinci and others) are uncommon giants. . . who grew out of the so-called common stock of a multitude of uncommon individuals of lesser stature.

  Never have I felt myself more on the same wave length than with this great zoologist. And then, later in the same book, this one:

      Now all is changing, thanks to antibodies, antibiotics, the surgeon’s knife and the welfare state.

  Little wonder that he shrugged me off when I sent him my book—I being attuned to freedom, he to socialism. However, we should look for truths from whatever source, so why not be grateful for those found in the writings of one who gives thanks for the welfare state! He at least acknowledges that “no one else is like oneself,” and asks “that every individual recognize the uniqueness of others.” This is to say that the eyes of no two persons are attuned the same. Each is unique, indeed.

  No two of us are identical, not even “identical twins.” Interestingly, no individual is the same as he was a moment ago. For instance, in a span of five years one’s octillion atoms flow away as a new octillion replaces them. Imagine: In every second of one’s life, over 6,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms (6 quintillion) come and go! Thus, I am a different person than I was at the beginning of this sentence. My eye is attuned differently—hopefully attuned to more—than a moment ago. This goes for everyone, and should help us to “recognize the uniqueness of others.”

  All things in the Cosmic Scheme are in flux—be they atoms, or galaxies, or man’s earthly life. The action flows. This is why, as Roger Williams says, our “inborn individuality was and is the mainspring of our love of liberty.” Inborn? Yes, in people like Williams and, relatively speaking, in a few others. But mass perception of this truth is not a requirement. Were everyone like you or me or anyone else in their attunements, all would perish. The requirement is that those of us who love liberty make that mainspring stronger—discover how better to explain our love.

  Who among us knows precisely how to make this explanation? To my knowledge, no one! Conceded, there are thousands of us who see the light and love what we see. But how describe it? ’Tis comparable to explaining sunlight or Creation! However, thank Heaven, we can cast our eyes aright, keep attuned to freedom, and perhaps improve our explanations of creation at the human level. A few thoughts that come to mind:

      Individuality is an undeniable fact of life, that is, everyone is different. But we can enjoy the fruits of these trillions of differences only as they are free to flow. This fact, and this alone, is all the light I need to love liberty.

      Never lend support or give encouragement to any—not one—man-concocted restraint against the release of creative energy.

      Keep an eye on highly energetic individuals. If they employ their energy to run their own lives, to brighten their own light—learning—they will be our benefactors. Failing this, they will use their energy to run our lives, make us carbon copies of themselves—malefactors.

      Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works—Matthew 5:16

      Lead Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom. Lead Thou me on!—Cardinal Newman

  May our eyes be more and more attuned to freedom: the private ownership, free market, limited government way of life—the flowing and the good life!

Awake For Freedom's Sake - Digital Book

Saturday, January 26, 2013


It is hardly lack of due process for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes.


  Here is a truism, an old folk saying: “He who pays the fiddler calls the tune.” This certainly applies to the relationship between government and the citizens. When government subsidizes—pays—it regulates; it calls the tune which determines the extent of our enslavement. For it is an observed fact that the road to the Command Society is paved with dictatorial regulations: enslavement edicts.

  Is “enslavement” too harsh a term? That great British thinker, Herbert Spencer, wrote in 1884 an unusual but a thoughtful and realistic definition of slavery:

    What is essential to the idea of a slave? We primarily think of him as one who is owned by another. . . . That which fundamentally distinguishes the slave is that he labours under coercion to satisfy another’s desires. . . . What. . . leads us to qualify our conception of the slavery as more or less severe? Evidently the greater or smaller extent to which effort is compulsorily expended for the benefit of another instead of for self-benefit.1

  Based on the authority of the Supreme Court of the United States, and deductive reasoning as well, it should be obvious that all who ask for subsidies are inviting regulations that lessen self-benefits. Such persons are asking for slavery—no less!

  The same can be said of those who ask government for a monopolistic position in the market—seeking to gain by the coercive elimination of would-be competitors. When successful in such depredations, they gain by denying others the opportunity to gain. Their gain is someone else’s loss, and if that isn’t a form of subsidy-slavery, pray tell, what is!

  Reflect upon the countless subsidies being sought, not merely by the socialists but by those who call themselves “free enterprisers.” Each subsidy, when granted, gives birth to not one but to numerous regulations. The number of governments in the U.S.A. approximates 100,000. Consider the many regulations spawning from each of these, and the total is staggering. All regulations that limit creative action—most of them do—explain our country’s rapid decline into the Command Society—enslavement. Along with the enslavement occurs the deadening of private ownership, a fundamental feature of the free society.

  The government type of enslavement is the satanic offspring of at least three hallucinations:

  1. I am wise! With few exceptions, those wielding power over others are corrupted. Authority of this nature tends to intoxicate them; they see others as fallible, but never themselves.

  2. I am it! Government controls what it subsidizes. Elected and appointed holders of government office develop the mentality of L’ Etat c’est moi, I am the state. They come to believe that the funds they use to subsidize are the government’s own money, and they are the government, and thus they are it!

  3. I am omniscient! This is the little-god syndrome: “Be like me, do as I say, obey my edicts, and thou shalt be graced with the good life.” The truth? Not a one of them is any more competent to direct our mortal moments than to direct our spirits in the Hereafter! This is to say that they can no more effectively direct creativity at the earthly level than they can direct Creation. Managing the creative lives of others is beyond any man’s competence. But these wiseacres don’t even know this—a hallucination, indeed!

  I repeat, private ownership is a fundamental feature of the free society. The alternative is government ownership of nearly everything, as in Russia or Red China. And that’s a far cry from the free society!

  Merely holding title to a piece of property does not mean ownership if control is absent. One does not own that which he does not control. In Mussolini’s Italy titles to enterprises were retained, but that fascist regime controlled wages, prices, hours worked, what goods and services could be produced, to whom sold, and so on. Titles without control are utterly meaningless.

  This is a point never to forget: The millions of regulations in today’s U.S.A. are controls! Thus, to the extent that regulations exist, to that extent has government ownership replaced private ownership.

  No one can or ever will list and explain all the controls now in force. Even finding out what they are would take several lifetimes. Thus, a sampling must suffice. First, a few comments on education. Government control of schooling—a grave error held over from our country’s early days—unquestionably accounts for the plethora of regulations in every other walk of life. Youngsters brought up in the atmosphere of government schooling are in danger of remaining addicted to that regulated life. With an exception now and then, Amiel’s observation is realistic:

    Scratch the green rind of a sapling, or wantonly twist it in the soil, and a scarred or crooked oak will tell of the act for centuries to come. So it is with the teachings of youth, which make impressions on the mind and heart that are to last forever.

  It is not necessary to examine government “education,” past and present. Merely have a look at government control of private education at the present time. At this point, I asked the prime mover of the most private of all private schools known to me about government regulations imposed on his school.2 He listed a few of the numerous controls he has to cope with.

  Is he really an owner? As an illustration of control hear this: The Chairman, Department of Accreditation, State of Kansas wrote, “You exceed all of our standards, but you do not meet them.” Thus, my friend’s school is not accredited even though its standards exceed requirements. Why? Simply because they do not square with the lower standards set by the government! This is not the pursuit of excellence or of learning, but of coerced mediocrity.

  Graduates of my friend’s school cannot enter a government university in Kansas without an examination. But any graduate of a government high school is automatically admitted to any government university in that state.

  Here is another example of the degraded level of government “education.” The New York State Board of Regents prepares standard examinations in the social sciences (and various other disciplines) to be administered to all students taking the course in public schools throughout the State. A former colleague of mine once took one of these exams in two different ways. First, he tried truthfully to answer all questions as he thought they should be answered. An official grader for the Regents Examinations awarded him the score of 52 on the test. Then my associate took the same examination the second time, giving the answers he thought the State wanted. The same official grader awarded him the grade of 92!

  I am convinced that government “education,” founded on coercive regulations, is more the cause of controls over all creative activity than anything else. Controls proliferate in nearly every enterprise and occupation, and there isn’t a better illustration of this than medical practice. When doctors obey all laws—Federal, state, and local—they must spend more time filling out forms than treating patients! Many of them are quitting.

  Of course, numerous doctors—as well as people in other fields—ignore the controls and, by so doing, become, lawbreakers. Such disrespect for laws which interfere with trade and promote class warfare carries over into disrespect for all laws—including those essential to keeping the peace and invoking a common justice. Further, these same people spend more time scheming how to course around regulations than they spend discovering how to produce better goods and services at lower prices. Many of them are failing.

  So, what shall we do about government “education,” the take-off point for our descent into the Command Society? My answer: Let’s have a vigorous and spirited competition in demonstrating the wonderful superiority of private education. One of these days one of us will find an explanation so clear and dramatic that the right will arise to displace the wrong. Let me share two thoughts which I find inspiring:

    I am convinced that the freedom-of-choice principle is so woven into human existence that any effort to curtail it is an attempt to curtail life itself. To lose our freedom to choose is to lose our humanity.

    —Professor Bertel Sparks

    I am an American because I believe that the destiny of America is to be the abiding place of liberty and free institutions, and that its own practice and enjoyment of these blessings shall be to the world a beacon light which shall radiate its influence by peaceful means to the uttermost part of the world, to the uplifting of all humanity.

    —J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

  The procedure is simple enough: Uplift ourselves in understanding and explaining the blessings of freedom to choose and, by so doing, we will uplift humanity!

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Friday, January 25, 2013


A government. . . for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools.


  Kakistocracy is a word so seldom used that one might assume the designated condition never existed. Its definition is included in only a few of the larger dictionaries: “A government by the worst men.” One of them adds: “. . . opposed to aristocracy.” And that calls to mind Jefferson’s view: “There is a natural aristocracy among men; the grounds of this are virtues and talents.”

  I like Lowell’s definition of kakistocracy. What it boils down to is a government by the worst of men, for the benefit of rogues, paid for by simpletons! Is our once-upon-a-time Republic falling into this nonsense? My purpose is to highlight our kakistocratic tendencies and to offer a few thoughts as to how they can be halted and reversed.

  A communist society, to my way of thinking, qualifies as a kakistocracy. Its coercive theme, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” strikingly parallels a form of government in which knavery exploits ignorance. This observation requires a bit of explanation.

  Regardless of the descriptive term—communism, socialism, the welfare state, or the planned economy—the redistributionist philosophy in practice presupposes the existence of three classifications of individuals, the typical specimens being: (1) the person with ability, that is, the one from whom honestly earned property is taken, (2) the person with “need,” that is, the one to whom someone else’s property is given, and (3) the person in command of the instruments of coercion, that is, the authoritarian.

  The first typical specimen: Those whose property is coercively taken evince neither knavery nor foolishness unless they are “taken in” and thus become a party to coercive statism. Those who are “taken in” appear to be on the increase; behold the well-to-do and business “leaders” who petition government for countless special privileges. In these instances, we witness our “best educated” citizens exhibiting both knavery and foolishness.

  An important aside as related to the above and the two following categories: Let us never refer to any individual as a knave or fool. This is inferiority showing through in ourselves. Everyone errs, more or less. Hang labels only on notions which appear to be knavish or foolish.

  The second typical specimen: Perhaps it is foolishness more than knavery that prompts the innocents to accept something for nothing. As they permit government to assume the responsibility for their security and welfare, they relieve themselves of self-responsibility, the removal of which depersonalizes the individual and thus destroys him. Coercion is destructive, never creative!

  The third typical specimen: The coercionist who forcibly takes from some and gives to others. Such a dictocrat exemplifies both knavery and foolishness. That he sees some benefit to himself in this action is self-evident for, if he saw no benefit, he would not act in this manner. Nor need the benefit he foolishly sees be entirely material; he can be and often is motivated by the thirst for power or popular acclaim or a mixed-up sense of social justice. To feather one’s own nest, that is, to gain self-satisfaction at the expense of others, regardless of the motivation, is knavery, pure and simple.

  Foolishness shows forth in the coercionist in that he unintelligently interprets his own interest. He fails to see that he cannot develop, emerge, improve himself while he is riding herd over others. The coercionist who has you on your back, holding you down, is just as permanently fastened on top of you as you are under him. In that sense, the slave owner is enslaved, as is the slave.

  It is not necessary to outline in detail how far down the Marxist road we Americans have descended. A reading of the ten points of the Communist Manifesto should convince anyone that we are headed into a kakistocracy.1

  To my way of thinking, nothing better symbolizes—highlights—this degeneracy than state lottery tickets. When governments go so far beyond their legitimate role that gambling is resorted to as a means of financing, demagoguery approaches its worst stage—kakistocracy, no less!

  New Hampshire was the first to authorize a state lottery some 15 years ago. Since then, a dozen other states have done likewise and it is reported that another dozen are more than likely to follow suit. Equally disconcerting is the number of churches that resort to gambling to finance “good causes.” They call it “Bingo.”

  One of the most pernicious notions men hold is that, “The end justifies the means.” For example, Father Joseph, a devout Capuchin monk and chief adviser to Cardinal Richelieu, believed that the political ascendancy of France was the way to bring God to humanity. His belief was put into practice. Result? Millions of people in Central Europe were slaughtered.2

  Now to some reflections on gambling. If individuals wish to risk their savings or bread-and-butter money betting with each other as in crap shooting, poker, or any other games of chance, that’s their own business—so long as it’s peaceful, involving no one else without his consent. Each winner or loser is fully entitled to the consequences of his choice. Bear in mind that this is back-and-forth gambling: one’s loss is another’s gain. No other—church or government—is siphoning off any fraction of the amount gambled.

  Here at issue is the siphoning-off type of gambling, be it church Bingo, race tracks, professional gambling houses, or state lottery tickets. In all of these, there is a percentage taken by the operators, the take having various labels: “kitty” or “house take” or “pinch.” If one engages in this sort of gambling long enough, assuming no more income from any source, the operator will siphon off all of one’s dollars. The “kitty” eventually gets all! This is a fact rarely grasped by those who play this game. Now and then they observe a whopper win that eggs them on.

  For clarity’s sake, visualize a pool, the water being siphoned off, none poured in. Sooner or later, a dry pool! How avoid? Pour in new water! Analogous is to pour new income dollars—the old are gone—into the gambling pools.

  What is the percentage siphoned off by the various types of “kitty” gambling? In roulette, assuming no cheating by the operator, it’s 6 per cent. I have observed the take as high as 80 per cent in adjustable slot machines, often called “one-armed bandits.” However, no one can give accurate percentages of the take in this kind of gambling; they’re in constant flux.

  When churches promote Bingo to aid “good causes,” that’s their business, not mine. Why not oppose? There’s no coercion! Bingo to your heart’s content, if you so choose.

  While we are not compelled to buy state lottery tickets, the funds siphoned off by this popular scheme are used to finance overextended governments, all overextensions being coercive—no exception. Offer me a barrel stuffed with lottery tickets for free and my response would be, “Thank you, no! I am opposed to, not in favor of, kakistocracy!”

  Observe the lottery hawkers on the streets of Paris or Rio or Montevideo or cities in other countries where the free market, private ownership, limited government way of life is giving way to socialism. Who are the buyers? The wealthy? The middle class? Indeed not! Anyone sensible enough to have accumulated substantial savings isn’t likely to be taken in, to any serious extent, by the “kitty” or “house-take” type of gambling.

  The buyers of lottery tickets are the poorest people—frantically trying to escape from their poverty by “hitting the jackpot.” And, why not? Many of their spiritual “priests” have advocated the practice, and their secular “priest”—government—has done likewise.

  Poverty, of course, is a relative condition. Many people in the U.S.A. think of themselves as poor only because they compare themselves to those who are better off—the millions of affluent Americans. The fact is that our “poor” are extremely wealthy compared to most of the people who inhabit this earth. Anyway, they gamble. Again, why not? Our welfare state offers something for nothing, assuring them food, shelter, and clothing should they plead distress, and the cause of their distress matters not; it could be gambling or whatever!

  Is there a cure for this devastating trend? You bet there is! Observe that I am willing to gamble on this. But the remedy is not to be found by merely spuming lottery tickets. The knaves have countless other ways of “financing” kakistocracy, inflation being one.

  What then? The rebirth of a natural aristocracy—virtues and talents—is the answer. To repeat what I have written many times, the foolish and knavish notions in the minds of the millions are no more numerous today than in America’s heyday; they are only more obvious.

  When a society is graced with a first-rate aristocracy—men of virtues and talents serving as exemplary models—foolish and knavish notions are held in abeyance. Why? People fear appearing as fools or knaves before those held in high esteem. Not many would steal if aware that Christ were viewing the act!

  But note what’s going on. There are only a few with aristocratic potentialities. Today, most of them, be they business or labor “leaders,” clergymen, “educators,” or whoever, have slumped. True, they remain standard setters but their standards are shameful, founded on expediency, acclaim, special privilege, and the like, rather than on high principles and righteousness. Result? Foolish and knavish notions are no longer held in abeyance, for nothing is standing against them. They show forth in profusion as does fungus on a heap of muck!

Is the rebirth of an aristocracy likely? In my opinion, it is certain, for such is ordained in the Cosmic Plan. The only question: When? No one can answer, for no person knows what is going to happen in the next minute, fortunetellers, soothsayers, prognosticators to the contrary notwithstanding.

  The one question that makes sense: When and to what extent will you or I strive for this required exemplarity—becoming an aristocrat? This, and this alone, is all any person can do toward ridding the world of kakistocracy.

  And why not strive for this role? Seeking for righteousness, learning to understand and explain why freedom works its wonders is a joyous adventure. Besides, it’s what we’re here for. So why not enjoy ourselves by trying to outdo each other in lending a hand to the Cosmic Plan! Freedom of all people to act creatively as they please is the formula for Heaven on Earth. We are betting our lives on this!

Awake For Freedom's Sake - Digital Book

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Peace is the happy, natural state of man; war, his corruption, his disgrace.


  January 24 marks an important anniversary in my life. It was on that date in 1918 that the S. S. Tuscania shoved away from the docks in Hoboken, N.J. never to return. This Cunard liner, with 2,500 American troops aboard—including me—was torpedoed and sunk in the Irish Sea 13 days later.

  I thank Heaven for my survival and for the countless blessings that have followed in these passing years. Not the least of them is a growing understanding of war and its causes and an awakening to how peace can prevail between nations and among men. Another blessing in these days of a growing authoritarianism is the privilege of still being able to share these findings with anyone who cares to listen—freedom of speech and press. I’ve also taken the liberty here of borrowing Tolstoy’s title, but believe he would approve.

  The background: John and I were roommates in Big Rapids, Michigan, students at Ferris Institute. The fife and drum corps, with flags waving, stimulated our “patriotism.” Two months before high school graduation—April 7, 1917—the U.S.A. declared war, to “Save the world for democracy.” This mission obviously needed our help. So, we promptly hopped a freight train for the nearest Naval Recruiting Station in Grand Rapids. Both of us were rejected, and went back to finish school; but our desire to “Save the world for democracy” was undiminished.

  We found jobs in Lansing that summer and fall. One day, while walking by the local Recruiting Office, we noted a sign to attract enlistments: “Join the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps and go to France at once.” Of course, we applied. I was accepted, John rejected—and dejected. In a little over two months I was aboard the Tuscania.

  Some of the Tuscania’s survivors were taken on Torpedo Destroyers to Liverpool but 500 of us were debarked at Larne, Ireland. Telegraphic services were out of order, so word of our rescue was delayed. We were listed in hometown newspapers as nonsurvivors. John, on reading of the loss of his friend, went immediately to Canada, joined the Canadian Infantry and was in the frontline trenches in two weeks. Six months later I had a letter from him saying he was in a hospital. Over the top for the first time, he received 12 shrapnel wounds, half of them still open. That was the last I heard from John! Bless his wonderful soul and to hell with war!

  It is one thing to despise the hell of war and quite another to understand and explain the blessings of peace. But I will try.

  When Edward Thomson declared that “Peace is the happy, natural state of man,” he assuredly meant the what-ought-to-be—man’s Manifest Destiny. “War his corruption, his disgrace” has characterized far too much of human history, and still does.

  The Reads have quite a war record. My great-great-great-grandfather and my great-great-grandfather were in the Revolutionary War, my grandfather in the Civil War, I in World War I, my two sons in World War II. It has taken this background and all these years for me to see the light.

  What I see is that the cause of war is authoritarianism; the blessings of peace, on the other hand, flow exclusively from the freedom of everyone to act creatively as he or she pleases. There is a single word around which the issues of war and peace revolve: Creation! War thwarts it; peace makes way for it.

  Who are those who thwart Creation at the human level? They are the millions wielding political power who do not understand the destructive nature of that power. As a consequence, they function primarily as wreckers of civilization. These runners-of-our lives subscribe to the crude and primitive definition of government: “to exercise authority over; direct; control; rule; manage”—bureaucratic despotism!

  But are those now in office the sole authoritarians? Why are they there? Is it not because countless millions seek special privileges which the powermongers promise and provide? Those with a lust for power dream of schemes that appeal to blocs of voters with a lust for confiscated wealth. Who then are the generators of war? The political despots obviously, but also their partners in evil. To the extent that anyone seeks, encourages, supports special privilege, to that extent is he a party to a mass assault on human life.

  Admittedly, this conclusion would shock these millions of partners. Unquestionably, most of them participate innocently in their wholesale depredations. For instance, do the businessmen who demand restrictions of competition think of themselves as partners in evil? Or labor union leaders? Or proponents of government monuments? Or farmers who demand subsidy? Or other “welfare” recipients? Not one in a thousand! Theirs is a naivete founded on politico-economic errors of the primitive past, an unawareness of new truths revealed.

  What has been revealed is the formula for “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” Those who really understand this formula, and so order their lives, are not here to run our lives but rather to lay the foundation for life. Founded on what? A revolutionary concept, the very essence of Americanism:

    . . .That all men are . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

  Until 1776, men had been killing each other by the millions over the age-old question as to which form of authoritarianism should preside as sovereign over man. The argument had not been between freedom on the one hand and authoritarianism on the other. This revolutionary concept was at once spiritual, political and economic. It was spiritual in that the writers of the Declaration proclaimed the Creator as sovereign; political in that it unseated government as sovereign; and economic in this sense: If one has a right to his life, it logically follows that he has a right to sustain his life, the sustenance of life being the fruits of one’s own labor.

  The Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights more severely limited government than ever before in history and that limitation accounts for the American miracle. We have experienced the greatest outburst of creative energy ever known—Creation at the human level!

  When government is limited to invoking a common justice—permitting anyone to do anything and everything that’s peaceful—men are free to try. This makes possible Creation at the human level. Its essence: freedom to pursue one’s own uniqueness, be it inventing or learning or whatever; freedom to bargain for wage or price; freedom to produce and to trade voluntarily with others in this or any other country.

  Those who accept the sovereignty of the Creator—Infinite Wisdom—are never know-it-all’s. As Edison phrased it, “No one knows more than one-millionth of one percent of anything.” Where then lies the wisdom that accounts for the American miracle? Definitely not among the despots who would run our lives! Coercion, a physical force, can only stifle, restrain, inhibit, prohibit, penalize. Never has it been, nor can it be, creative. This is why government should be strictly limited to defending life and livelihood.

  The wisdom that accounts for our unprecedented welfare may be found in the free and unfettered market. It is a configuration of tiny bits of expertise, a coming-together so fantastic that it must be taken more in faith than clear understanding. It is to be found in a totality of free-flowing coordination. Paraphrasing Edison, it comes from millions of individuals, each with his one-millionth of one per cent of something. Trillions of little think-of-thats coming together when free to flow!1 Why has this been such a secret? It’s like trying to explain Creation!

  Reflect on the trillions of cells that compose this most remarkable form of life—the human being. The cell has no awareness of the phenomenon of which it is an indispensable part. Yet, no cells, no man. This is somewhat analogous to the problem at issue here.

  Consciousness is the reality. Begin with the oyster—none whatsoever! Move up the scale through higher levels of consciousness to the chimpanzee and then to the ultimate earthly level: Man. But man possesses only finite consciousness, no more than a drop in the bucket compared to Infinite Consciousness—Creation. Further, man’s perception is but an infinitesimal fraction of Infinite Wisdom; and your wisdom and mine are but infinitesimal fractions of earthly wisdom. Here is the truth we need to grasp: The wisdom that can potentially grace mankind is the result of untold minuscule enlightenments freely flowing into an overall enlightenment. In other words, freedom and creation at the human level!

  As noted, until 1776 men had been killing each other by the millions. But to our disgrace, we have been doing much the same since—the Reads included. In view of the U.S.A.’s glorious achievements, why this corruption? Where lies the error? My answer: Authoritarianism where freedom should reign, resulting in war instead of peace!

  While our Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights were superior politico-economic documents, they were not perfect. Perfection is not within the grasp of man.

  The most flagrant error was a failure to do away with slavery. Slavery is as anti-freedom as any evil of man. Why did our Founding Fathers allow this error? It was their overriding desire to bring into the Union the states that allowed slavery. Political expediency, the result of which was The Civil War!

The Constitution contains several anti-freedom propositions, each founded on the false assumption that elected officials have the wisdom to run our lives. This reflects, in turn, an unawareness of the wisdom in the free and unfettered market.

      To regulate Commerce. This explains the early tariffs, quotas, embargoes—denials of freedom to trade, presumably to protect our infant industries against the European giants! But observe how this error has been magnified during the past four or five decades. Today there are so many regulations that no one knows what they are. And many a business is in bankruptcy because of these regulators.

      To coin Money, regulate the value thereof. The chickens of this error are coming home to roost. The money supply in the late thirties was about $35 billion. Today? Over $300 billion! If it continues to escalate at the same rate, the dollar will soon be useless as a medium of exchange. The sole remedy? Divest government of this power, and leave money to the free market where the wisdom is.2

      To establish Post Offices and Post Roads. Government mail delivery deteriorates day by day; yet postal rates mount, as does the Department’s annual deficit. Until the recent oil crisis, brought on by the political interventionists, every four pounds of oil was delivered from the Persian Gulf to our eastern seaboard—half way around the world—for less money than government will deliver a one-ounce letter across the street in your home town! The remedy? No more approval by Congress to “finance” Post Office deficits, and repeal the law prohibiting first-class delivery by free market enterprisers. Result? Government will be out of the mail business overnight.3 As to post Roads, they, too, should be left to the market.4

      To promote the Progress of Science and the Useful Arts. Alexander the Great’s artist, on the completion of a painting, would put it on public display, stand behind and listen to comments by passers-by. On one occasion, a shoemaker criticized the shoes. The artist complimented him. Whereupon the shoemaker began a criticism of the whole portrait. Shouted the artist, “Shoemaker, stick to your last.”

  Let us say to government officials, “Stick to your business of keeping the peace.” They are no more capable of promoting the progress of science, art, education or whatever than I am of promoting the skills of portrait painters or the talents of a Bach or Beethoven, an Einstein or Edison!

  Nothing better demonstrates this error than government “education.” Coercive? Indeed: compulsory attendance, government dictated curricula, and the forcible collection of taxes to pay the bills. “Education” today is a national disaster. Coercion should no more be applied to education than to religion. What to do? Leave education to the market where the wisdom is!5

  Finally, why all the wars? It is because political appointees are our international emissaries. With few exceptions since the U.S.A.’s founding, these bureaucrats haven’t had the slightest idea of how the free market, private ownership, limited government way of life, with its moral and spiritual antecedents, works its wonders. Not only do they believe they are wise but they are unaware of the remarkable wisdom that blooms from the free and unfettered market. And this know-it-allness is, of course, but the product of earlier errors, some of them noted above. Wars are caused by assigning international tasks to wielders of power.

  What is the formula that will assure peace on earth, good will toward men? Freedom to produce and exchange with anyone, anywhere. Free traders are the only ambassadors of good will! With the exception of the Civil War—that pitiful error founded on a horrible evil—note how peaceful are the relationships between the residents of our fifty states. Why? Our Republic is the largest free trade area on this earth. Indeed, unless one observes road signs, there are no observable border lines except on maps. No ports of entry, no gendarmes, no passports, no visas. And instead of wars between our states there is peace, and for one reason: Freedom!

  I, a New Yorker, trade as freely with an Oregonian as with a local shopkeeper. When I exchange 30 cents for a can of beans, it is because the grocer values the 30 cents more than the beans. He says, “Thank you!” I value the beans more than the 30 cents and I say, “Thank you!” Why this peace and good will? Enhanced value on the part of each! ’Tis the free and unfettered market at work.

  To extend this peace and good will on an international scale requires only that all who freely choose to do so, as freely exchange with Frenchmen, Japanese, Argentineans or whoever as I do with the local shopkeeper or with Oregonians. The obstacle? All of them have trade barriers excluding such free exchange.

  What to do? Remove our own barriers—all of them. What will be the result if we set such an example? In no time at all foreign producers will enter the U.S.A. with their goods and services. Observing the efficacy of free entry and free exchange, they’ll soon follow suit by removing their own barriers. Ambassadors of good will crossing borders of nations as freely, peacefully and unconsciously as we cross our state borders. Someone has to initiate what’s right. Why not Americans—right now!

  Away with wars and their ignoble causes! “Peace is the happy, natural state of man.” And the key to peace is freedom.

Awake For Freedom's Sake - Digital Book

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


No government ought to exist for the purpose of checking the prosperity of its people or to allow such a principle in its policy.


  Burke’s judgment—wise in my view—is assuredly at odds with most of the governments that have prevailed throughout history. What I wish to demonstrate is that those governments which “ought not to exist” spawn sub-governments which also should not exist. They are a bane to justice and human welfare!

  To set the stage for this thesis, let’s note from history certain exceptional eruptions of truth—moves toward freedom. While none might be described as a state of perfection, each was attended by a prosperity previously unknown.

  The first—about 5,000 years ago—was achieved by the Sumerians in the land that is now Iraq. Wrote Samuel Noah Kramer:

    Its climate is extremely dry, and its soil, left to itself, is arid, wind-swept and unproductive . . . it had no trees for timber. Here, then, was a region with “the hand of God against it,” an unpromising land seemingly doomed to poverty and desolation. But the people who inhabited it . . . were endowed with an unusually creative intellect and a venturesome spirit. . . they turned Sumer into a veritable Garden of Eden and developed what was probably the first civilization in the history of man.1

  Sumerian civilization passed from memory and was unknown until modern times. About a century ago some archeologists began excavating in the Middle East seeking more knowledge of Assyria and Babylonia. They had no inkling of an earlier civilization, Sumer. Excavating deeper than originally intended, they came upon fantastic surprises: beautiful buildings, artistic sculptures, and other works of art and, above all, clay tablets, prisms, cylinders, cones by the thousands, all done in cuneiform signs, setting forth their freedom philosophy, religion, and so on.

  The chapter headings of another of Kramer’s books affords a list of the blessings of freedom that bloomed in this first civilization in Sumer:2

    The First Schools

    The First Bicameral Congress

    The First Historian

    The First Case of Tax Reduction

    The First “Moses”

    The First Legal Precedent

    The First Pharmacopoeia

    The First “Farmer’s Almanac”

    The First Moral Ideals

    The First Proverbs and Sayings

    The First Biblical Parallels

    The First “Noah”

    The First Tale of Resurrection

    The First Love Story

    The First Literary Catalogue

    Man’s First Golden Age

  Why dwell on this ancient civilization at such length? Because it was freedom-oriented. Kramer was a leader in transcribing these cuneiforms into English; and it was his conclusion that:

  The Sumerian was deeply conscious of his personal rights and resented any encroachment on them, whether by his king, his superior, or his equal. No wonder that the Sumerians were the first to compile law codes, to put everything down in “black and white” in order to avoid misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and arbitrariness [limited government].

  Today, some of the world’s best museums have rooms filled with these cones, cylinders and the like—particularly the Louvre in Paris. While inspecting these years ago, I came upon “The Cones of Urukagina”—two of them—and among the inscriptions were these cuneiforms:


  Meaning? “Freedom from Taxes.” Four centuries after this first civilization got under way, the city-state of Lagash had become a total bureaucracy—all parasites and no hosts. Urukagina succeeded in becoming King and he restored freedom, but in ten years he was overthrown—Lagash back into the same old mess! However, for a spell, we have one of the historical exceptions.

  A second exception occurred in Athens, described by Edith Hamilton:

    . . . the shadow of “effortless barbarism” was dark upon the face of the earth. In that black and fierce world a little centre of white-hot spiritual energy was at work. A new civilization had arisen in Athens, unlike all that had gone before.

  Admittedly, it was not like ancient Sumer, but Athens was featured by an unparalleled freedom for that day and age. And Athens flourished for a time.

  Move on to medieval times: Venice in the heyday of Marco Polo (1250-1325). Here was freedom to produce and to exchange with others thousands of miles away. Visit Venice today and have a look at St. Mark’s Church, aglitter with the wealth accumulated during Marco Polo’s time. Exceptional? Observe Venice and all of Italy today. In the same old mess again!

  Take note of the French Physiocrats. These people were free traders; their motto was laissez-fare, that is, a fair field and no favoritism. In 1774 the new king, Louis XVI, appointed one of the leaders from this group—Turgot—as controller-general and minister of finance. What a scholar and opponent of runaway government! Most of the ideas and reforms he courageously advocated were consistent with the private ownership, free market, limited government way of life. A ramrod-straight Frenchman!

  True, prosperity did not attend the efforts of the Physiocrats and for the simple reason that their freedom ideas were not put into effect. Why the failure? The opposition became so bitter and strong that the king, a political weakling, dismissed Turgot after two years in office.

  Why, then, bring the Physiocrats into focus? One of the most remarkable events in all history flowered from their ideas and political exemplarity. Adam Smith had spent much time with these freedom thinkers, who thus contributed to the inspiration underlying The Wealth of Nations. This, in turn, led to the overthrow of mercantilism and brought in its stead the wonderful industrial revolution: the repeal of restrictive laws, the redirection of production to serve the masses of consumers, and an observance of that absolute principle: freedom in transactions. England, the freest nation on earth, enjoyed a prosperity never before experienced. Again, an exceptional instance of freedom in practice. Have a look at England today: the welfare state and the planned economy on the rampage—the people driven back into poverty!

  And, finally, for the greatest exception of all time: the U.S.A.—for a time! And do not overlook the role of the Physiocrats and Smith as related to the American miracle. It was the simultaneous appearance of The Wealth of Nations and the Declaration of Independence, along with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that put government in its proper place and left Americans free to act creatively as they pleased. The result: by far the greatest flourishing of creative energy ever known, and a prosperity beyond the dreams of all who had gone before.

  The U.S.A. another exception? Yes, for we are witnessing the same kind of fall that England has experienced, except our fall is from a higher level. Another reason why we are still so prosperous is an enormous momentum from the past. The ways of freedom are still in our blood; they continue to serve even when not understood. Thank heaven, we still have time to bring about a reversal.

  “Government” has been used since time immemorial and is plastered to the vocabularies of this and other countries. Talk about the tyranny of words!

We’re stuck with this notion of government in this sense: “to exercise authority over; direct; control; rule; manage.”

  What is the thoughtful procedure for such a reversal? It is merely to think of our governmental agencies—tens of thousands—as they ought to be thought of: not “for the purpose of checking prosperity,” but rather to invoke a common justice and to keep the peace. Let them protect all creative actions against infringements by anyone. No life should be arbitrarily directed, controlled, ruled, managed; for no one—nor any combination of persons—has a moral right to exercise authority over any honest and peaceful action. Briefly, use the government to protect and defend, rather than plunder, peaceful persons.

  Finally, to sub-governments. When governments exist as now—when we allow them to dictate our way of life—sub-governments are a natural and destructive consequence. A primitive political darkness besets mankind whenever and wherever the light of liberty is not seen.

  Labor unions in today’s U.S.A. definitely qualify as sub-governments. Their power to control the positions of most officeholders—Federal, state and local—is obvious. Further, they have an enormous say as to whether this or that legislation shall be approved or rejected, and who shall or shall not hold political office.

  Observe, also, the extent to which these sub-governments go beyond the political realm. They have a monopoly of millions of jobs in various industries. For instance, they coercively control wages—minimum and maximum—the hours their millions of members may work. So great is their power that many owners of businesses agree to their demands rather than face failure. Sub-governments, indeed!

  True, the owners of countless business firms are the victims of a sub-government. Yet, many of them and their organizations are no less sub-governments than labor unions. Recall how the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, in the early days of the New Deal, sponsored the so-called National Industrial Recovery Act, a system of strangling controls. I was on the staff of the National Chamber at that time, and I remember it well.

  Take note of the many chambers of commerce and trade associations that have the power to exact special privileges for their members. Those who indulge in this kind of action—“gains” at the expense of others—are sub-governments. Logically, they cannot censure labor unions. Nor can those who engage in collusion—with much success—to obtain tariffs, embargoes, quotas and numerous other restraints to free pricing and open competition.

  The group that obtains a Gateway Arch for its city, or the thousands upon thousands of other groups which acquire “pyramids” for themselves at the expense of others, are sub-governments.

  Again, here’s a man of such influence that he can, by a mere phone call to Washington, the state capital, the county seat, or the town hall, twist some political action to suit his whim and fancy. His number is legion—more than anyone will ever know. Each is a sub-government.

  Perhaps the above is sufficient to suggest the fact that sub-governments multiply rapidly, with only an infinitesimal minority of the victims sensing anything wrong in this utterly destructive type of action.

  The reasons are at least two-fold:

    1. The victims have taken no note—are completely unaware—of the exceptional instances during the past 5,000 years of how freedom works its wonders—its blessings bestowed on everyone.

    2. They’re stuck with “government” in its tyrannical meaning, believing that its function is “to govern, direct, manage.” Not the slightest idea of what is meant by limited government.

  My respects, then, to our teachers: the Sumerians, the citizens of Athens in bygone days, the Venetians of Marco Polo’s time, the Physiocrats, Adam Smith and, above all, our Founding Fathers. Why not share their wonderful lessons with those who care to listen!

Awake For Freedom's Sake - Digital Book

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


It is only an error in judgment to make a mistake, but it shows infirmity of character to adhere to it when discovered.


  Everyone’s life is marred by numerous mistakes; to err in judgment is a trait common to all of us. Who among us has not failed in some enterprise or other? But if our shortcomings are acknowledged we can learn from them! Reflect on these two bits of wisdom:

    We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success; we often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.

    —Samuel Smiles

    Exemption from mistake is not the privilege of mortals: but when our mistakes are involuntary, we owe each other every candid consideration; and the man who, on discovering his errors, acknowledges and corrects them, is scarcely less entitled to our esteem than if he had not erred.

    —J. Pye Smith

  My countless mistakes have led to a discovery far more important than first meets the eye. Not wishing to adhere to the mistakes—an “infirmity of character”—and believing with Smith that “we owe each other every candid consideration” are good reasons for sharing the discovery. It has to do with a mirage.

  A mirage, as the term is commonly used, is an optical illusion: a thirsty man “sees” an oasis in the desert where there is only sand. However, the dictionary tells us that the word “is often used figuratively of something that falsely appears to be real”—the sense in which it is here used.

  What, then, is the mirage to which I allude? Here it is: that which gives socialism the appearance of working is the freedom socialism has not yet destroyed. It is a kind of optical illusion which imputes workability to socialism; we are “seeing” something that isn’t there!

  History is replete with instances of mankind seeing things that aren’t there. Progress springs from seeing, as nearly as possible, things as they really are. Generations of men and women saw the sun appear in the morning and disappear at night. This led to the notion that the sun revolves around the earth—which is why we still speak of the “sunrise” and the “sunset.” An astronomical mirage! Then came Copernicus and Galileo. The discovery? ’Tis the earth that rotates as it orbits the sun!

  There was a time when the earth was believed to be flat. An earthly mirage! The discovery? The earth is a spheroid!

  With respect to human relationships, many unenlightened tribes “thought” that the way to prosperity was to raid each other and take home the loot, this being the “economic” genesis of socialism: from each according to his ability to raid and to each according to his need. What a mirage! The discovery? Let each produce, compete, and exchange: private ownership and the free market!

  Those in the early stages of economic sophistication tend to believe that the production of goods and services is composed solely of adventures in the material realm. No more to it than the production of widgets and gadgets. Another mirage! The discovery? Everything by which we live—from simple pencils to jet planes—has its origin in the spiritual before showing forth in the material, that is, spiritual in the sense that ideas, discoveries, inventions, insights, intuitive flashes are all of a spiritual nature.

  That dinner plate of yours is inconceivable had not some cave dweller eons ago discovered how to harness fire. The car you drive or the plane on which you fly would be out of the question had not someone a millennium ago invented the concept of zero. All modern chemistry, physics, and the like would be impossible were we to rely on Roman numerals. These spiritual forces—think-of-thats—since the dawn of human consciousness, number in the trillions times trillions! Recognizing the spiritual is an absolute necessity if we are to understand the present-day American mirage.

  Admittedly, the above is sketchy but may be enough to suggest a truth, namely, that all mirages are due to mistaken correlations. An example that highlights such errors: Marat, member of the French Chamber of Deputies, observing a rapid rise in prices during the French Revolutionary period, recommended to his fellow Deputies, “Shoot the shopkeepers!” He mistakenly correlated rising prices with business avarice, not with overextended government of which he was a leader. What would have been the proper action had he not been a victim of this error, as common today as then? Apologize for his wrong correlation, resign from his dictatorial post, and find a job, maybe as a clerk in a shop serving customers! In this case, he would have seen the error of shooting shopkeepers.

  To repeat: That which gives socialism the appearance of working is the freedom socialism has not yet destroyed. The source of this error? The masses observe two opposite politico-economic practices developing simultaneously: Socialism advancing as never before in American history, and a plethora of goods and services no other people on earth have ever experienced. Therefore, goes the “reasoning,” socialism must be the cause of the existing prosperity! Politicians, most of whom unknowingly espouse socialistic doctrine, claim the credit; and the masses, who are just as thoughtless in these matters, believe them. What a mistaken correlation—a mirage if there ever was one!

  Those who ascribe workability to socialism are “seeing” something that isn’t there. It has no workability—none whatsoever! Socialism—state interventionism—is founded on coercion; it is “do as we say, or else!” Who are these we’s? They are those elected or appointed to political office who naively believe that all of us would be more creative were we to imitate their feeble minds. But try to name one among millions of officeholders who can force you or me to have even one improved idea, or command us to invent a life-saving drug, or discover any new thing. These poor souls deserve our sympathy for not knowing that they know not.

  Only freedom is workable. It accounts for all the prosperity there is. This claim, however, is difficult to communicate and, thus, will be accepted only by those few who begin to comprehend how trillions of vastly varying bits of expertise, when free to flow, configurate into the goods and services by which we live and prosper.

  An interesting aside: We rarely, if ever, observe anyone deserting the freedom philosophy. Why? One cannot desert something never possessed! Those fortunate enough to have really understood the free market, private property, limited government philosophy, with its moral and spiritual antecedents, could not, short of a psychiatric flip, desert such a blessing any more than desert life itself—life and freedom being two parts of the same equation.

  Why then, in the absence of a general understanding of freedom, does freedom persist in performing miracles? The urge for freedom is a built-in habit of Americans more than of any other people; Professor W. A. Paton sheds light on why this continues to work its wonders:

    Competition, it must be insisted, is not a cruel or baneful influence; it is rigorous, but neither unfair nor destructive. Competition should not be equated with misrepresentation, fraud, or any form of predatory conduct. The essence of competition is pressure on the producer to reduce costs and improve products to attract and keep customers. . . . Here is the feature of the market which provides protection for the interests of the customers. Competition represents the pressure needed to keep all producers disciplined and on their toes.

  Away with the mirage. How? Limit public officials to keeping the peace, to restraining all actions destructive of human creativity, and to invoking a common justice. Then and only then will freedom abound to the benefit of one and all alike.

  “It is only an error in judgment to make a mistake, but it shows infirmity of character to adhere to it when discovered.”

Awake For Freedom's Sake - Digital Book