By Bradley Harrington
“I wanted a place that treated me as an individual, not as a member of a tribe.” — Yaron Brook, 2017 Interview, on why he emigrated from Israel to the United States in 1987 —
Anyone who ever has bothered to read anything I write knows two things about my political ideas:
■ That I’m an uncompromising advocate of unfettered laissez-faire capitalism, whereby the state’s role is limited to the protection of man’s individual rights, and that I view that social system as the key to all personal liberty and economic progress; and
■ That I therefore view all attempts by government to “manage” or “regulate” such a system beyond those life-and-property protections as both coercive in their natures as well as highly destructive to those goals.
Consequently, when I began observing ads in the WTE touting the “2017 Governor’s Business Forum” (www.wyomingbusinessalliance.com) being held here in Cheyenne on Nov. 7-9, my initial thought was: “Great, just what Wyoming needs, more collectivistic nonsense like ENDOW and the thousands of other decrees hogtying Wyoming’s productive capabilities.”
Until I recognized a man’s picture in those ads, that is, and realized who it is that’s scheduled to provide the Keynote Address for that “Dynamics of Change” conference: None other than Yaron Brook, Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI at www.aynrand.org).
“Well, somebody’s made a huge mistake,” was my second thought, as I didn’t see how any of our customary collective of state political hacks could ever assume that Brook would have anything to say on such topics that they’d want to hear.
A few phone calls and emails later, however, and that information was confirmed. Nor, in a subsequent interview, was Brook himself any less puzzled than I was.
“What were they thinking? I have no idea what they were thinking,” he said, laughing and joking. “And the Governor himself is introducing me. I think that will guarantee his failure at the next election.”
As the Keynote speaker, Brook will be discussing “Capitalism Without Guilt” — and, as someone who speaks nationally on a regular basis regarding such ideas, he is thoroughly aware of the political and intellectual hurdles that face such conversations:
“Bureaucrats and politicians are conditioned to think that all solutions emanate from government, from the top,” he said, “and even the ones who go into government, claiming to be ‘free-marketers,’ hardly ever live up to that, theoretically or in action.”
After his opening speech, Brook will also be taking part in a panel discussion on “Wyoming’s Fiscal Future” — where, he said, “I will be arguing that the best thing the state can do is sell off all the land it owns in Wyoming, get out of the energy business, get out of all these businesses, reduce spending, cut taxes and just step out of the way. Energy is not the business of the state; the state’s ‘business’ is to protect individual rights and that’s it.”
And my third thought? “I’m sure looking forward to listening to that!” I replied.
Nor are Brook’s words to be summarily rejected out of hand, as he has both an MBA and a PhD in Finance, and several books to his credit as well. Along with fellow ARI intellectual Don Watkins, he’s published “Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas can End Big Government” in 2012; “Equal is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality” in 2016; and, his latest, “In Pursuit of Wealth: The Moral Case for Finance,” fresh off the presses just this year.
Regarding this last, “It is the first book to defend what is arguably the most important industry in a capitalist economy, the financial industry, which competes with the fossil fuel industry as being the one which provides the most value as well as being the most hated,” Brook said. “There are massive amounts of mythology that surround this field, and this book is both a moral and practical defense of it.”
And, as one looks over our current intellectual landscape, it’s certainly obvious that such defenses are sorely needed.
“Even from 1987 to now, we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in the spirit of what it means to be America as well as a constant expansion of government and its destruction of the U.S. economy,” Brook said. “This is the tribalism from which I tried to escape.”
So, Dear Readers, if you have any interest in some real-world solutions to such issues, I’d suggest you buy your tickets and show up to hear what Yaron Brook has to say — for I guarantee you’ll have your premises checked in a way they’ve never been challenged before.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: email@example.com.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on October 29, 2017. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.
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