14 Jul 2009

Final Fulminations From FreedomFest

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I flew back from FreedomFest Sunday, but believe it or not I actually have to work to earn money, and so I haven’t had time to blog about the festivities till now. Some remarks:

* Tom Woods and Gene Epstein absolutely destroyed John Fund and Warren Coats regarding their Friday debate, “Fed Up With the Fed: Should We Abolish?” Tom gave a good opening, and at the end the crowd erupted into applause. Then Coats got up to give the opening speech for the “No” side, and he started out by saying, “Yes, the Federal Reserve has made mistakes. Alan Greenspan held rates too low for too long. After the crisis hit, Ben Bernanke committed the dangerous precendent of buying mortgage-backed securities and hence politicizing the markets…” and he just keeps listing all the way the Fed stinks. And then he ran out of time and had to sit down!! (I’m not kidding.) John Fund opened with a line of Shakespeare and did some damage control, such that I imagine the people in the crowd who always longed to sit at the cool table in high school may have been swayed. But all in all, Tom and Gene just owned their opponents. (Of course, it was a lopsided event; the crowd was packed with Ron Paul fans.)

* Earlier that day, Rob Bradley (full disclosure: the guy who recruited me for IER) was in a debate (on “Conscious Capitalism) against John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods. It was interesting; I was watching the founder of the organization that gives me a bunch of money, debate the founder of an organization that takes a bunch of my money. But it was a big lovefest; all four people in the debate agreed 99% with each other, and I think they even used that number themselves. One very interesting disclosure was that Mackey said environmentalism had nothing intrinsically to do with his management philosophy, and that if someone were a skeptic on climate change then that was fine. I’m going to bring that up the next time the Whole Foods clerk asks me to start using their “green” bag.

* You won’t believe this, but see for yourself on the left side of page 11 [.pdf] of the conference schedule. On Saturday 10:30 am, I was slotted to speak on my book, and at the same time in the main arena, Mr. Schiff from Euro Pacific Capital was speaking. And you know what? I managed to pack out my room, with a good 35 people or so. I’m serious. (You need to follow the link to get the joke.)

* I caught most of the talk by Thomas Krannawitter, who is Tom DiLorenzo’s arch nemesis on the topic of Abraham Lincoln. TK was hired by Hillsdale during my last year (I think) teaching there, and I immediately liked him because, despite the PhD, he is a normal guy. During his talk he said something like, “So where is this alleged right of state secession coming from? As Lincoln pointed out, if a state could secede from the Union, then what about a county from the state? A neighborhood from the county? Indeed, followed to its logical conclusion, a secessionist would need to be an anarchist.” Later TK and I were both near each other signing books. I asked Tom something like, “Suppose you were confronted with an anarchist who didn’t like Lincoln. Would you have anything to say to him, besides your view that anarchy wouldn’t work?” And I think Tom basically said, “Yeah, there’s no logical contradiction there, I just think he would have a hard time proving that it would be a workable society without the rule of law.” I’m pretty sure Tom didn’t know my background [.pdf] on this, and I’m also pretty sure he didn’t know who David Friedman was, sitting two spots to my left. Tom could have held his own debating us, but I’m just saying it was ironic because I don’t think he realized he was within ten feet of the Hall & Oates of anarchist theory. (Calm down, I’m Oates in that analogy.)

* Regarding the above point, no I didn’t get to talk to David Friedman. In between us was Quee Nelson, who was kind enough to give me a free copy of her book criticizing postmodern philosophy. I only read about 40 pages on the plane, but it was really good. If you are a secular rationalist and yet think freight trains really exist, I highly recommend the book.

OK back to the coal mines… (Speaking of which, after Waxman-Markey saves the planet from destruction, will wise alecks say, “OK back to the solar panel factory”?)

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