All Commentary
Saturday, January 1, 2000

Double Take

By now you’ve noticed that The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty has become simply Ideas on Liberty. We made the change for several reasons, the major one being the unfortunate association of the name with a group with which we in fact are not associated.

Ideas on Liberty has as intimate a connection with the Foundation for Economic Education as The Freeman. It was the name of FEE’s first periodical. When FEE founder and president Leonard Read brought The Freeman to FEE in 1956, he merged the two publications and made Ideas on Liberty the subtitle for the new magazine. Those words have been on the cover ever since. Rather than a name change, then, it is more a refinement. After all, what words better describe this magazine than Ideas on Liberty? That is what it has always been about. And that it will remain.

We strove to maintain the magazine’s appearance despite the change in title. That’s our way of saying that the content will continue to be the best writing on individual freedom, private property, the market order, and the rule of law to be found anywhere.

We see Ideas on Liberty as Leonard Read saw it: as part of the lifelong endeavor to understand liberty in all its fullness. As Read wrote in the first issue of Ideas on Liberty in 1955,

[L]iberty, like truth, is an object of infinite pursuit, a quest without end, ever! … In brief, not a single person among us is justified in regarding himself other than as a student of liberty. No know-it-all exists or ever will.

In searching for a student of liberty, the search must be within one’s self. In the world of persons, it is only within each of us that the fertile, explorable areas exist. The best explorer of oneself is oneself. It is not possible to impart to others that which we do not possess. And even after we have made some progress in understanding, the most we can do for others is to make known to them a willingness to share what we have discovered by our own thinking, or what we find edifying from recorded thinking. Whether or not what we offer is, in fact, shared, is beyond our power; and we should realize this.

* * *

The story of the transatlantic ocean liner is one of bold entrepreneurship and technological innovation. It’s also a story of international competition, triumph, and tragedy. Anthony Young has the details on this titanic episode in the history of private enterprise.

On a smaller scale, car ferries have also succeeded in providing valued consumer services when left to private enterprise. But politicians never seem to get the message, as Andrew Morriss points out.

Everyone who studies economics begins with the supply-and-demand diagram, which purports to illustrate how market-clearing prices are determined. Yet there is something strangely dissatisfying about it as presented by mainstream economics. As Israel Kirzner shows us, that dissatisfaction is justified.

Crime has been diminishing, and every politician has been scrambling to grab some of the credit. Bruce Benson suggests, however, that much of the praise should go to the private citizens who take crime prevention into their own hands.

A key to a better life is technology, but it has certain prerequisites. Edward Younkins discusses the nature, requirements, and value of technology, and warns that government attempts to promote it are wrong-headed.

William Rappard was a Swiss classical liberal who left a large number of books exploring the free society and the conditions necessary for world peace and commerce. Richard Ebeling chronicles the life of one of the century’s most eloquent defenders of civil society.

The idea that everyone is equally qualified for education has been the foundation of government school systems for many years. It’s an assumption that Albert Jay Nock eloquently challenged throughout his career as a defender of freedom and individualism. Wendy McElroy explores Nock’s thoughts on education.

Our columnists have come up with provocative subjects this month: Donald Boudreaux draws two big lessons from the twentieth century. Lawrence Reed pays tribute to the politically shunned jitney. Doug Bandow debunks foreign aid. Thomas Szasz reveals the purpose of psychiatry. Dwight Lee shows why we shouldn’t want to create jobs. Mark Skousen looks to the economics of the next century. Walter Williams ponders who benefits most from capitalism. And Roger Garrison says to those who believe that government stabilizes the economy: “It Just Ain’t So!”

Our reviewers give the low-down on books about the enemies of science, Social Security reform, rising living standards, a forgotten antifederalist writer, the nature of economic theory, and the rule of law.

Finally, a correction regarding our November 1999 issue. In Wendy McElroy’s article, “Is the Constitution Antiquated?” (p. 26), the passage in the Constitution referring to “attainder of treason” is Section 3 of Article III, not Article II.

—Sheldon Richman

  • Sheldon Richman is the former editor of The Freeman and a contributor to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of Separating School and State: How to Liberate America's Families and thousands of articles.