All Commentary
Sunday, January 1, 2006

Reflections on The Freeman

FEE's Publication Has Changed Lives

The Freeman has had a definitive influence in Guatemala, where a group of friends, inspired by FEE, founded in 1959 the Center for Social and Economic Studies, which in turn founded Francisco Marroquín University in 1971, dedicated to teaching the ethics, economics, and legal foundations of the free society. We are in debt to The Freeman, for much of what we did was inspired by FEE and its banner publication, The Freeman – from which we learned, were inspired by, and translated and published many of its articles.
—Manuel F. Ayau
Rector Emeritus, Francisco Marroquín University

“Given the amount of mail I get in my job I am very picky about what I take home to read. In recent years The Freeman has been one of only say half a dozen periodicals that are sent to me and of which I can say hand on heart that I read every issue from cover to cover. It is a very useful publication tackling interesting and timely topics and often bringing out unique insights. It is also well written and well edited, which is increasingly rare in an era when one bestselling book recently called the Chinese economy ‘highbred’ instead of ‘hybrid’!”
—John Blundell
General Director, Institute of Economic Affairs

“I read every issue of The Freeman. Even though I read tons of political publications, I am amazed that The Freeman always has an article or two that gives me new insight.”
—John Stossel
Co-anchor, Correspondent, ABC News’ 20/20

“I have been reading and enjoying The Freeman for years.The analysis is always rigorous, the writing clear, and the case for freedom compelling. May you continue to spread the idea of freedom around the world. Happy 50th anniversary.”
—James A. Dorn
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Cato Institute

“Congratulations on this 50th anniversary of The Freeman and best of luck for the future. During periods of great international turmoil, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty has provided a consistent voice for free-market principles. Reading it throughout my academic and political career, I still rely on its thoughtful, thorough, and informative articles to enhance and reaffirm my own economic ideology.
The Freeman, along with the Foundation for Economic Education, has promoted individual liberty even at times when such stances were not widely accepted. Today, it is clear that we still need The Freeman. Just as it did during its infancy, it will continue breaking new ground in furthering the cause of the free society. Happy birthday and best wishes for 50 more years!”
—Edwin J. Feulner
President, The Heritage Foundation

“Leonard Read was a pioneer in promoting the ideas of free markets and individual liberty. His major contribution was the establishment of the Foundation for Economic Education. An important part of its contribution was taking responsibility for publication of The Freeman a little more than a decade later. For the next fifty years the Foundation kept the quality of The Freeman high and made it an effective teacher of the basic principles of libertarianism to a broad and receptive clientèle.”
—Milton Friedman
Nobel Laureate

“The staff assembled by Leonard Read when he established the Foundation were all dedicated idealists, eager to promote freedom ideas. In FEE’s early years they put out some mighty good pieces—short ‘Clippings of Note,’ ‘In Briefs,’ and longer studies on wages, employment, inflation, rent controls, tariffs, and the TVA.
“But FEE’s contributions to the freedom philosophy languished as the staff writers waited for inspiration and strove for perfection in what they wrote.
Taking over The Freeman in 1955–56 probably saved FEE; a deadline each month gave the staff writers a new incentive and helped to focus their efforts.
“With Read’s insistence that FEE do more than simply criticize government policies and programs, every issue also explained some aspect of the positive pro-freedom viewpoint. Under Paul L. Poirot’s editorship, it offered a breath of fresh air to a world imbued with the philosophy of Roosevelt’s New Deal, Keynes, and World War II controls and regulations. Many of its articles still live as ‘classics,’ explaining how free markets operate. And The Freeman continues to live up to this tradition.”
—Bettina Bien Greaves
Former FEE staff member and trustee

“With the proliferation of libertarian and pro-liberty publications in the last 25 years, you might think that The Freeman has lost its importance. You would be wrong. The Freeman still has what it always had: a combination of clear and calm, yet impassioned, writing about the burning issues of liberty and empirically based articles on the case for liberty in scores of areas ranging from the right to buy imports to the right to be free of unreasonable searches to why Wal-Mart is good for the economy. On top of all this, The Freeman’s editors and writers do it concisely. I started reading The Freeman when I was 17. I still read it today at age 54.”
—David R. Henderson
Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
Author, The Joy of Freedom:An Economist’s Odyssey

“I was pretty much a normal, bright high-school student in the mid-1950s, a rebel without a cause. My extended family and friends had early on introduced me to the writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Jay Nock, Hilaire Belloc, Garet Garrett, Leo Tolstoy, and John T. Flynn, all of whom I enjoyed reading and with whom I was in general agreement, but I yearned for something more. I knew not what. A local high-school teacher saw that my brother and I tended to march to the beat of a different drummer and thought we would find a little ideological magazine, The Freeman, to be of interest. Little did she know!
“This introduction to free-market economics and to the coherent and consistent political philosophy that served as a firm foundation for the market system opened up a whole new world to me. And what a world! Not only could I read the persuasive free-market insights of Henry Hazlitt, Leonard Read, Frank Chodorov, F. A. Harper, Ben Rogge, John Chamberlain, Dean Russell, and other such luminaries each month, but through The Freeman I was also introduced to the more advanced Austrian economics writings of Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek. I knew then that I had discovered my cause, though this time, as a rebel with a cause. The mainspring of my new mission, however, was not economics only, though that was splendid in itself. No, it was even more. It was working to advance liberalism (in the classical sense) that was to be my noble and, I believe, ennobling enterprise for the next 45 years. Not only was liberalism morally correct, but it worked, too!
“To have spent my adult life working with many of the world’s brightest students as they labored at the cutting edge of the highest reaches of liberal theory and history has been far more than a poor boy from western Pennsylvania could ever have contemplated, let alone hoped for and deserved. Had I not been introduced to The Freeman at that critical juncture in my personal history, I have little doubt that I never would have embarked upon the path that I did. I cannot thank FEE and The Freeman nearly enough, not merely for my own introduction to the greater world of liberalism, but also for introducing thousands of like-minded students during the 1950s and 1960s to the philosophy of freedom. I am delighted that The Freeman today continues to serve as a beacon to students all over the world.”
—Walter E. Grinder
President, Institute for Civil Society

“[The Freeman is a] highly unique monthly. It is not a news forum, but rather an intellectual enterprise that mixes policy analysis with application and development of elemental principles of Smith-Mises-Hayek political economy. The applications are often quite creative and striking, so the periodical often delivers new insights even to old hands.”
—Dan Klein
Professor of Economics, George Mason University

  • The Foundation for Economic Education, founded 1946, works for a free and prosperous world.