Sunday, October 29, 2006

Agreement and Disagreement

One of the things I like about Liberty magazine is that, other than its commitment to libertarianism (precise definition to be determined later), the editors have taken no sides regarding the various contraversies within the movement. the writing of any individual can be accepted into the pages of the magazine, as long as it's well written and makes a coherent point.

Thus, there are pro and con articles on objectivism, the Libertarian Party, Friedman and Rothbard, to mention a few. They occasionally publish a fiction story and I think I even recall a poem or two. One can send in a comment on a news story to be printed in the Reflections column or just a clipping that may be placed in Terra Incognita.

It's for this reason, among a few others, that I decided to attend Liberty Lives!, the 2006 Liberty Editors Conference, in Las Vegas earlier this month.

There were several talks by individual speakers and several panel discussions on a variety of topics.

Mark Skousen tried to define the optimal size of government. I'm not sure that I got the entire program, but it started with a stipend from government, to be paid to every American, I guess out of the general fund, to take the place of all welfare and subsidy. While it might actually be less expensive than the outrageous hodge-podge we have now, it still requires that the funds first be extorted from the productive, with the unavoidable "administrative" rakeoff that always seems to serve to cause the "administators" to become the wealthiest among us.

My comment is that whatever government ought to exist, must exist in the absence of the initiation of force by said government. In other words, the only government that ought be tolerated is that which finances itself on a purely voluntary basis and never initiates the use of force.

Skousen returned Saturday morning to speak about Benjamin Franklin, and some of his lesser known activities to aid the cause of the American Revolution.

David Friedman gave the keynote address, in which he spoke about the upcoming changes, for better and for worse, to be caused by new technologies we'll soon be seeing. Some of it, to be employed by government and corporate entities, will increase surveillance of us all and make personal privacy more and more difficult. On the other hand, some of that technology will also serve to help us secure our financial privacy and to make interpersonal communication more private. Friedman, in his professorial style, admonishes us to become familiar with this new technology as it becomes available, and to use it to our best advantage.

Friedman also appeared in a few of the panel discussions, including "How to Fix the Drug Laws" (repeal them), The Future of Liberty, Libertarianism and Religion, and others.

Another highlight for me was the appearance of Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw. I read their book Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach (Warner Books, 1982) back when it was new, and have thought they're on the right track nutritionally since then. I've also appreciated the fact that they're in a constant battle with the evil FDA for our right to ingest that which we, each individual, wish. Ocasionally, David does slay the giant!

Pearson and Shaw gave a talk they called "One Million Deaths by FDA," in which they described one of the battles they had with the incompetent regulatory agency, regarding the right to publicize the beneficial characteristics of fish oil supplements. The one million deaths refers to the number of heart failure deaths that might have been prevented had fish oil advocates been able to publicize their findings earlier. The rule was, as I understand it, that fish oil supplements were on the market, but it was illegal to publicize the findings of studies that show the dramatic effects fish oil supplements have toward preventing sudden death heart attacks.

Jo Ann Skousen moderated a panel on Liberty in Film, in which the panelists described some of their favorite movies, and why they believe they have libertarian messages.

Saturday evening held the climax of the conference. It started with a very tasty Mexican food buffet dinner. Following dinner was a tribute/memorial to the life of Bill Bradford, the founder and late publisher of Liberty, during which several individuals described their friendship and experiences with Bradford during his life.

The evening was topped off by an hour of comedy by Tim Slagle. I only knew Slagle from the several short bits he's had published in the Reflections column in the magazine. They are always witty, funny and make good libertarian points. His stand-up routine was similar, but with a lot more belly-laughs. He made fun of vegetarians, "why don't carnivores have simulated salads made from lettuce-flavored meat?"and marijuana, with a little on the benefits of DDT. His humor was of the sort that one doesn't have to be drunk to find funny.

Debbie didn't attend the conference except for the Saturday night dinner program (which she also enjoyed), preferring to check out the various hotels and casinos on the Vegas Strip. She actually won a little money!

As for me, I had a great time, met several new and interesting people and learned a lot about one of my favorite monthly reads!

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

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