"DEDICATION of a book is a writer's way of paying respect to someone, or of acknowledging a devoted helper, or of honoring a loved one - and, as a rule, the tribute is to a contemporary. Why, then, my dedication to Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850)?
First, Bastiat is one of my heroes. I am unaware of anyone who saw more clearly through the political fog than he and who more brilliantly and copiously revealed his insights.
And what integrity! For instance, his re-election to the Chamber of Deputies was in grave doubt: his constitutents had observed that he voted now with the Left and then with the Right, giving the appearance of inconsistency. This was his defense, ""I have not made an alliance with anyone; I have not joined either side. On each question I have voted according to my own conscience."" He was re-elected.
Second, and unconventionally, I think of Bastiat as a contemporary, for he does in fact live on. The fruits of his fertile mind are better known in the U.S.A. today than at any time since he began to write nearly a century and a ha l f ago-perhaps more widely understood and shared he r e than ever in his own country. This is an important kind of immortality.
However, I pay tribute to Bastiat primarily to portray a truth we so sorely need to recognize. Most antisocialists, frustrated by what goes on, and impatiently looking for immediate remedies, repeatedly resort to useless short cuts. They want action now! And get nothing for their pains, absolutely nothing except, perhaps, discouragement! The hard fact is that the trend lines in social thinking do not alter their direction much less reverse themselves - at your insistence or mine, however voluble. These trends, particularly when headed toward social decline, move with a ne a r inexorable force and are changed, if at all, by starter stuff - leaven-or , if I may coin a term, intellectual incubation."
"The Proper Role of Government
Given the present situation, where government is recklessly out of bounds and has its hand in practically every aspect of life, the well-informed citizen is expected to know all about everything: how to deliver mail, poverty the world over, giveaways to foreign countries, you name it, are up for public discussion. Most of these so-called national or world problems are of similar origin and nature — each one trying to manage everyone's business but his own. This hopelessly impossible challenge doubtless accounts in no small measure for so many having ""thrown in the sponge"" when it comes to thinking for self.
No person on the face of the earth knows how to make socialism work. And don't try! Instead, concentrate the thinking on what the principled and proper scope of government really is. This is easily within the realm of any reasonably intelligent person, and is first of all the kind of thinking for self in political economy one should cover. All else — welfare, security, prosperity — is in the realm of the free market: you to your affairs, me to mine."
Leonard E. Read
Leonard E. Read (September 26, 1898 – May 14, 1983) was an American economist and the founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, which was the first modern free market think tank in the United States.
After a stint in the United States Army Air Service during World War I, Read started a grocery wholesale business in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which was initially successful but eventually went out of business. He moved to California where he started a new career in the tiny Burlingame Chamber of Commerce near San Francisco. Read gradually moved up hierarchy of the United States Chamber of Commerce, finally becoming general manager of the Los Angeles branch, America's largest, in 1939.
During this period his views became progressively more libertarian. Apparently, it was in 1933, during a meeting with William C. Mullendore, the executive vice president of Southern California Edison, that Read was finally convinced that the New Deal was completely inefficient and morally bankrupt. Read was also profoundly influenced by his religious beliefs. His pastor, Reverend James W. Fifield, was minister of the 4,000-member First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, of which Read was also a board member. Fifield ran a "resistance movement" against the "social gospel" of the New Deal, trying to convince ministers across the country to adopt libertarian "spiritual ideals." During the period when he worked for the Chamber of Commerce, Read was also deeply influenced by more secular figures, such as Albert Jay Nock, and, later, by Ayn Rand and the economists Ludwig von Mises and Henry Hazlitt.
In 1945, Virgil Jordan, the President of the National Industrial Conference Board (NICB) in New York, invited Read to become its executive vice president. Read realized he would have to leave the NICB to pursue fulltime the promotion of free market, limited government principles. He resigned as a result.
One donor from his short time at NICB, David M. Goodrich, encouraged Read to start his own organization. With Goodrich's aid, as well as financial aid from the William Volker Fund and from Harold Luhnow, Read and Hazlitt founded the Foundation for Economic Education in 1946, which, in turn, helped to inspire Friedrich Hayek to form the Mont Pelerin Society the following year. For a period in the 1940s, philosopher Ayn Rand was an important adviser, or "ghost," as they called it, to Read. In 1950, FEE published The Freeman, an early free market periodical, considered an important forerunner of the conservative National Review magazine, to which Read was also a frequent contributor. He continued to work with FEE until his death in 1983. Read authored 29 books, some of which are still in print and sold by FEE. He wrote numerous essays, including the well-known "I, Pencil" (1958).
Read received an Honorary Doctoral Degree at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in 1976.