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You Can Never Again Say You Did Not Know

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.


Most lovers of a free society want to be optimists. All that has to happen for liberty to be widely embraced is for people to open their minds and shed the baggage of the statist or socialist impulse. Simple enough, right? No. It isn’t simple at all, and that’s why too many lovers of liberty fall into the pessimism trap.

If winning the day were simple, we’d have won overwhelmingly — and permanently — long ago. Alas, it takes work. It takes time. It takes commitment. It entails setbacks along the way.

In spite of all that it has to offer, liberty enters the intellectual fray with two substantial disadvantages:

  1. It demands risk and restraint today in exchange for a better life a little later; and
  2. Like anything truly worthwhile, it must be painstakingly explained.

Socialism and other risky, interventionist schemes that push society in that direction appeal far more to thoughtless and immediate self-gratification — and they rest heavily on gimmicks, demagoguery, and bumper stickers.

Think about it. Mere slogans like the vapid “I’m for people, not for profit!” or the moronic “Socialism = Sharing” carry instant weight with the naturally large numbers of people who want politicians to give them something (whether power, subsidy, or attention) at the expense of their fellow citizens. We who advocate the restraint of political power and respect for property must take the time to invoke reason, logic, history, and economics.

We who advocate the restraint of political power and respect for property must take the time to invoke reason, logic, history, and economics. 

But facing a tough hill to climb is no reason to be pessimistic. Pessimism…

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