Friday, January 20, 2012

Homage to my personal heroes of liberty

Please check out my Podcast dedicated to this topic.  Thanks for listening and reading!

This post is really an homage to those I owe my political, economic, and philosophical framework.  I didn’t come to this philosophy lightly or without great discernment and reflection.

Obviously, I’m not a prestigious or scholarly person of the Ph.D persuasion nor do I pretend to be someone like that.  I really am just a layman like the rest of us out there in society (not sure I like that word but I’ll use it in this case).  With that being said, I feel much more informed and aware of the reality that exists around me than many of the Ivory tower types in D.C. or in higher education.  And, my hope is that those of you out there can follow the same path.

The 2008 financial crisis really launched me in what I’ll call my quest.  All of the media hacks and pundits tried to explain the dynamics of the crisis and how absolutely no one could have predicted the crisis.  The only consensus about the crisis was that there wasn’t a consensus on how it was caused.

I didn’t buy any of this nonsense.  But, three individuals were instrumental in curing my apathy and actually DID predict the crisis.

The person I want to recognize is Peter Schiff.  Schiff is the President of Euro Pacific Capital which is a global strategy and investment firm.  So, I had been following him on Headline News, Fox News, and CNBC and some of the other cable channels explain for awhile the dynamics of the bubble in Housing and the root causes of it (fiat money from the Fed and the increased money supply and artificially low interest rates).  The YouTube called Peter Schiff Was Right has more than 2 million hits and it’s a must see production. 

Peter Schiff took on an army of misguided Keynesian investment hacks and the comical part is how he was treated on these shows.  Many times he was laughed at on-air by the guest and even some of the hosts of these shows.  Peter remained un-phased in his arguments and theory (rooted in Austrian economics) about what caused the bubble and the ensuing housing bust.

So, I owe a thank you to Peter Schiff and his books like Crash Proof as well as How An Economy Grows and Why It Crashes, which is written as a children’s book caricature. 

The second person I want to recognize is Tom Woods who is an Economic Historian, best-selling author, and Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute.  Tom Woods is just a fantastic author who’s educated me on so many things. 

His book, Meltdown, is without a doubt the single best resource on the crisis, economic history, and the business cycle I can recall.  It’s really hard to sum up everything in Meltdown other than it’s a handbook you must own if you want to understand the free market, the Austrian theory of the business cycle, and sound money. 

How many times have you heard your friends or family say how the entire financial crisis was caused entirely by Wall Street and if not for them, all of this would have been avoided?  Or, it was caused by greed on the “free market” as fault of the financial collapse?  Meltdown just explodes these myths and gives you a bulletproof argument about the real cause of how the boom was started and why the bust was the likely result.

And, as a devout Catholic like myself, Tom Woods has written a wonderful book called The Church and the Market discussing common honest arguments and disagreements with the Church’s social teachings.  Whether it’s minimum wage, labor unions, inflation, or even the guild system, all of the arguments are well reasoned and posited in a polite manner with good scholarship and references to other Church teachings.  Even if you are not Catholic, the book is a brilliant read about the virtues of the market from a moral perspective.

The final person that I owe a deal of gratitude for getting me excited about the principles of liberty, free markets, and economics is Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.  I first was introduced to Ron Paul back in early 2007 when one of my old roommates from Iowa told me about him.  Once I actually grasped the arguments of Ron Paul, I wanted to know more and more and more.  It was like he was a highly addictive drug.  Except, Ron Paul wasn’t Meth or Speed.  He was (and still is) an antidote and cure to the disease of tyranny, power, and control.

Probably the most important part of Ron Paul’s message was on the topic of Foreign Policy.  I remember the moment during the GOP debates when Rudy Giuliani was utterly shocked at Paul’s theory of why Al-Qaeda and Bin-Laden attacked us on 9-11.  At first glance, I didn’t understand Paul’s argument.  But after reading the works of Michael Scheuer (the CIA’s Bin Laden unit Chief during the late 90s and early 2000s) – which were recommended readings by Ron Paul - I understood clearly the degree to which animosity breeds contempt from foreigners and those who view the United States as an instigator of trouble instead of a liberator, hero, or savior. 

A foreign policy of non-intervention, friendship, and trade with nations just makes sense and is not naïve as many make it out to be.  Being the world’s policeman is not a virtuous ideal that individuals around the world enable us to serve.  A national defense should be confined to protecting the borders and sovereignty of its own people and not to inflame conflict around the world just because it can do so.

But, Ron Paul’s message is not necessarily about politics as much as what the proper role of government.  And, his candidacy to be President is more than just a political endeavor as much as it is a strategy to create a bottom up movement.  This movement is aimed at unsuspecting citizens with the hope to awaken the principles of liberty and the application of such a framework.

After starting my blog, I’ve evolved in my opinion of government and what the concept of liberty entails.  Ron Paul (and the folks at Lew and the Mises Institute) basically “cured my apathy” and “woke me up” like Morpheus did with Neo in The Matrix.  Ron Paul is our Morpheus and he hands us the red pill to wake up from the chains of government enslavement … of your mind.

In many ways, the contributions of Peter Schiff, Tom Woods, and Ron Paul encapsulate the red pill.  After all, there is no spoon if you believe in Liberty, Freedom, and Prosperity.

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