BRIAN LAMB, HOST: David Boaz, author of "Libertarianism" and "The Libertarian Reader," can you remember the first moment you thought that's what you'd call yourself politically?
Mr. DAVID BOAZ (Author, "Libertarianism: A Primer"): I'm not sure I remember it exactly. It was probably when I was a high school senior, and I probably read Ayn Rand and started thinking of myself that way. It might have been when I was in college, when I really felt what these ideas amount to that I've--developing here is libertarianism.
LAMB: Why Ayn Rand?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, a lot of people read Ayn Rand when they're young. I was interested in politics. My father was involved in politics, and so he got me thinking about it. Actually, I think the first political book I read might have been "The Conscience of a Conservative" by Barry Goldwater, and then I read "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt, which is just a brilliant discussion in 100 pages or so of what economics is, what it means to think like an economist, and that got me thinking in that direction. And then when I was a senior, Ayn Rand wrote great novels. I mean, whether you were interested in the politics or not, they were fun to read. And I pulled one off the shelf, and I ended up reading it all through spring break, and that really kind of made me think about what I thought the nature of freedom was and what individual rights were supposed to be. And that put me on the course, I think.
LAMB: Which one of her novels did you like the best?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, it's hard to say. I think "Atlas Shrugged" is probably the most comprehensive, the one she thought was the fullest presentation of her ideas. But a lot of people think "We the Living" is a more--more of a real novel. The characters are less political; it's more realistic. It's probably the one that was most autobiographical. But if you kind of want the political message that Ayn Rand is putting out, then I think "Atlas Shrugged" is the best.
LAMB: Tucked in "The Libertarian Reader" is a name associated with Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan.
Mr. BOAZ: Alan Greenspan...
LAMB: Where were they ever together?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, Alan Greenspan became very close to Ayn Rand when he was a young man in New York, was a great admirer of her philosophy and personally close to her, and contributed one or more essays, I think, to one of the books that she edited that were mostly her essays and some other people. And I assume that he still maintains that admiration.
LAMB: Did you ever meet her?
Mr. BOAZ: I did not, no.
LAMB: This--I got two of--books. It's the first time that we've ever done two books. One's called "The Libertarian Reader." What's this?
Mr. BOAZ: That's a collection of--really, I think, the first time this has been done--a collection of all the greatest libertarian writings ever. I generally say from John Locke to Milton Friedman but, in fact, there are a few below--before John Locke, including an excerpt from the Bible. It's one of the first indications of libertarian thought. And it does go right up to Milton Friedman and people younger than he is, Richard Epstein and some of my colleagues at the Cato Institute. All the greatest writings on libertarianism ever.
LAMB: And what's this?
Mr. BOAZ: "Libertarianism: A Primer" is an introduction to the ideas, the history of libertarianism, the way libertarianism approaches the relationship of the individual and the state, and also the way it approaches contemporary issues. It's all written by me; the other one is all written by people of much greater stature.
LAMB: What's the Cato Institute?
Mr. BOAZ: Cato Institute is a public policy research organization. That's sometimes abbreviated to `think tank.' We're in Washington. We'll be celebrating our 20th anniversary this spring. And it is devoted to the ideas of individual liberty, free markets, limited government and peace.
LAMB: Where'd you get the name Cato?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, that's a complicated story. The institute is named for "Cato's Letters," which were a series of pamphlets published in the 18th century that were very popular with the people who made the American Revolution. They were published in England, but they were classical liberal--which is ideas we would now call libertarian--essays on contemporary issues. The reason we picked that name is that we perceive that the authors of "Cato's Letters" were taking the ideas of philosophers like John Locke and applying them to the issues of the day. And that's what the Cato Institute does. We take the ideas of people like John Locke and Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek and apply them to issues of the day.
LAMB: How big is the Cato Institute?
Mr. BOAZ: We have a budget of about $8 million. We have 50 staff members. We have maybe 60 scholars around the country and even a few around the world that we work with as adjunct scholars. We publish 10 books a year, 30 studies a year.
LAMB: Now I remember talking to Adam Bellow, who is the editorial director of The Free Press that published this. Why did you go to him to do this instead of publishing the books yourself?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, I think that The Free Press, being a part of Simon & Schuster, has great reach. They can reach bookstores, they reach reviewers. They can distribute books better than the Cato Institute can. And after all, I'm the senior editor at the Cato Institute, so if I'd been editing my own book, I'm sure it wouldn't have come out as well. I got some good editorial help from The Free Press.
LAMB: When did you get the idea that you wanted these two volumes to come out? How long ago?
Mr. BOAZ: About a year and a half ago. It was actually a pretty quick schedule. The Free Press was very good about turning books around much quicker after the manuscript was done than usually happens. It was, I would say, in '95 that I really got interested in writing a book. If I--if I'd done it my way, it probably would have been more of a manifesto and less of a primer. It was Free Press' idea that a primer was what was really needed, that people would like to read an introduction that was not just sort of my opinion about the issues of the day but that does introduce a tradition that goes back, really, to the Bible and "Antigone" right on through the Renaissance, the Levelers, John Locke, Adam Smith, the American Revolution, up to the present day. So there's sort of a chapter of history and then the ideas of those people are woven throughout the book.
LAMB: On the cover of both books, of course, is your name, and the--the person to see this for the first time would just jump in there and say, `That's David Boaz (pronounced Bow-az),' but you pronounce it Boaz (pronounced Bows). How come?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, I have no idea. That's what my father told me to pronounce it. We are eighth-generation Scotch-Irish Americans and we claim that in Scotland we're related to all of the people who spell it B-O-W-E-S, so maybe that's the reason that--200 years ago nobody could spell and people--when we--when people learned to spell, they wrote it down different ways.
LAMB: What town were you born in?
Mr. BOAZ: Mayfield, Kentucky. It's almost on the Mississippi River.
LAMB: What was your childhood like there?
Mr. BOAZ: Oh, pretty standard "Leave It To Beaver" childhood, I guess. Actually, I think "Leave It To Beaver" was set in Mayfield, although I never assumed it was Kentucky. My father was a lawyer, my mother was a homemaker. I have a younger brother and sister. We all went to college. Pretty typical childhood.
LAMB: What kind of reading did you do early?
Mr. BOAZ: I did a lot of reading, all sorts of things. I read a lot of novels. One of my earliest passions was astronomy, when I was about six, seven years old, and that was the beginning of the space program, and I did a lot of that reading. I'm sure I know less about astronomy now than I did when I was seven years old, but at the time, it was very important to me. When I got to high school, I was very interested in politics and I read lots of big, thick political novels. And then I got more interested in political philosophy, and I started reading things like Henry Hazlitt and Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.
LAMB: Can you point to anybody that got you interested in that stuff?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, my father, certainly. My father was very interested in politics. He was a...
LAMB: He--was he a politician?
Mr. BOAZ: He was a judge in our local community, and he was very interested in political ideas and he talked about the role of the government. He felt the federal government was way too big and I guess that got me thinking in that direction. And then as I started reading, I found a lot of evidence that I felt that was true, and I now probably think it's a lot more too big than he would have thought.
Mr. BOAZ: I think, probably--well, for one thing, it's gotten a lot bigger, and we can see more of the problems than, say, we would have when my father was my age. But for another reason, I think, I just perhaps read different things, thought about things differently and decided that there was a more fundamental indictment of the size of government, that there is something about human beings that means they ought to be free to live their lives the way they want to and that intrusion by government into that process is wrong. And that came to seem very consistent and very right to me.
LAMB: Where'd you go to college?
Mr. BOAZ: Vanderbilt University, just sort of the closest, big--good school to western Kentucky.
Mr. BOAZ: Right.
LAMB: What'd you study?
Mr. BOAZ: I started out studying political science and then I decided that I wasn't very impressed with what one studies in political science. It seemed to me they took a very interesting subject and made it pretty dry and uninteresting. So I ended up with a degree in American history, which I think is a great background for doing anything.
LAMB: What'd you do after school?
Mr. BOAZ: I came to Washington almost immediately. I edited a magazine called New Guard, which was sort of a political magazine for young people. Then I moved to a group called the Council for a Competitive Economy. And then it wasn't very many years after college that I ended up at the Cato Institute, and I've actually been there for 15 years.
LAMB: How old is Cato, by the way?
Mr. BOAZ: Twenty years.
LAMB: In the back of your primer, you have a little question and answer thing, a little game...
Mr. BOAZ: Yes.
LAMB: ...that you can play to find out if you're a libertarian or not. And you have two categories, personal freedom and economic freedom. And it might be interesting to just go down the list of the questions you ask. What was the purpose of this, by the way?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, I--it's really the publisher's idea and I think their view is that it's an involvement device, it's something you might pick up on a shelf and decide to look at, and maybe that would cause you to buy the book. I'm a little uncomfortable with it because I think I've tried, in the book, to give a whole sense of a tradition--as I say, running back to the Greeks and the early Israelites, running through the Renaissance, the American Revolution, through great 20th century thinkers like Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, and I think it's awfully simplistic to try to sum it up in 20 questions. So it's--it's not my favorite part of...
LAMB: So you're not real happy with this? Yeah?
Mr. BOAZ: It's not my favorite part of the book.
LAMB: Well, in the fir--you say you're supposed to take the quiz and then you apply--give yourself 10 points if you think you decide that you des--five points if you're--you're not sure. Anyway you say, `Who should decide whether or not you wear a seat belt? Own a gun? Serve in the military? Smoke marijuana? Use a risky medical treatment? Engage in a homosexual relationship? Buy a pornographic video? Buy a sexist book? Send your child to a particular school? Have uncensored access to the Internet?'
Mr. BOAZ: Well, each one of those, I think, does make a libertarian point. Question's not whether these are good things to do. There are a lot of the things on that list that I don't want to do, that I wouldn't really want my friends to do. The question is: Who should make the decision? If you're an adult, should you make the decision whether to wear a seat belt or use an untested medical treatment, or should the government make that decision for you? And the libertarian answer is that individuals--adult individuals should be able to make those decisions for themselves.
LAMB: What's your favorite thing that's libertarian?
Mr. BOAZ: The wonderful, modern society we live in.
LAMB: This society's libertarian?
Mr. BOAZ: Sure. It's not quite as libertarian as I would like, but the modern world--since the American Revolution and since Adam Smith sort of summed up the--the notion of spontaneous order in free markets, the modern world is built on the ideas of John Locke and Adam Smith. We do have a society in which people are largely free to make their own decisions, in which free markets have created tremendous prosperity. I'm sure you have people on your shows every day complaining that some people are poor, that we can't get certain things, that health care is not good enough, that--all kinds of problems with the economy.
But if you look at it in historical perspective, for tens of thousands of years, people were desperately poor. They suffered back-breaking labor. And about 250 years ago, we had the Industrial Revolution. We started having free markets. Karl Marx called it capitalism because he thought capital was the point, but that's not the point. The point is people working freely, allowed to trade and exchange, and they created this tremendous wealth so that we can sit here in this television studio, and you're going to film this and be able to broadcast it nationally, internationally. Millions of people are going to be able to watch this. You have put some of this information on an Internet site, and people can access it any time of the day. Tremendous advances in society and the economy, and that's because we've had a relatively libertarian society.
So I guess what I like best about libertarianism is the fact that I can live here at the end of the 20th century, and have unprecedented access to ideas and music and goods and travel and all those things that make life really worth living.
LAMB: Legalized drugs?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, that's another little aspect of it. Yes, I think that adults should be able to make decisions about what they put in their own body. And--and it's interesting you say `legalized drugs' and you didn't say whether you meant pharmaceutical or recreational. But I think the rule applies either way. If I wanted to use marijuana or cocaine, I don't think it's Bill Clinton's decision whether I should do that. Similarly, if I have a disease and my doctor recommends a drug, but the FDA hasn't approved it, I think I should be able to use it without a ureaucrat's permission.
LAMB: Same-sex marriages?
Mr. BOAZ: I think that if the government is going to recognize marriage, then it should do so on an equal basis. And if two people love each other, two adult individuals, then it is good for them to be able to make a committed relationship.
LAMB: Peace--the word `peace' comes up in your books here. What ...
Mr. BOAZ: I like peace.
LAMB: But what about military and peace and all that? How does--what's the libertarian view there?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, we need a--we need a government to protect our rights. We need a government to protect us from people who might hurt us on our own streets. That's why we have police. We have courts to settle disputes. And we need a national defense to protect us from people who might hurt us overseas. But if you look at the history of the world, there have been so many instances of governments getting into wars to aggrandize themselves, to gain land, to gain power. It used to be that kings would say, `I did it to get better known.' Fortunately, the liberal libertarian impulse in modern life has been so strong that a king can't say that anymore. But we still have too many countries getting into unnecessary wars, sending off kids to die, exploiting the society, seizing money to be spent on military expenditures. We need a strong national defense. We need to be secure from our enemies. But in the present context, I don't think that means that we need American boys in Somalia and Bosnia and all the other places around the world that our government seems determined to meddle.
LAMB: Million and a half men and women under--or in a uniform today in the United States. How big an Army, Navy and Air Force would you keep?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, that's a prudential thing. I don't think it follows directly from libertarian theory or anything. But my colleagues at the Cato Institute who study military and defense matters say that we would be perfectly well protected with an Army of about a million people--Army, Navy, Marine Corps, etc.
LAMB: On page 279 of your primer, you say that, `Most of our political leaders are still living in the Washington that Roosevelt built, the Washington where if you think of a good idea, you would create a government program. Consider a few examples.' And you start right out by saying, `Senator Bob Dole reads the First Amendment...'
Mr. BOAZ: The 10th Amendment.
LAMB: I'm sorry. Thank you--`the 10th Amendment on the campaign trail but introduces bills to federalize criminal law, welfare policy and the definition of marriage.' Bob Dole's not your candidate.
Mr. BOAZ: Bob Dole's not my candidate. I think that's a problem with people who talk about the 10th Amendment. There's a lot of talk about the 10th Amendment protecting the rights of states and the people and limiting the powers of the federal government. It absolutely does. But politicians who talk about that--nevertheless, when a popular issue comes up, they pass a federal crime bill. I don't think there's any authority in the Constitution for the federal government to be setting up most things as federal crimes. They pass a bill to make church burning a federal crime. Church burning is a terrible thing, which is why it's illegal in every one of the 50 states. You don't need a federal law about that.
LAMB: Your second one is, `Vice President Gore announces a plan to tear down public housing, saying, "These crime-infested monuments to a failed policy are killing the neighborhoods around--around them." He reminds his listeners in the years past Washington told people around the country what to do, dictating wisdom from on high. And let's be honest, some of that wisdom really wasn't very wise. And then he announces a plan to build new public housing projects.'
Mr. BOAZ: I think a lot of this reinventing government initiative of the Clinton administration shows a sort of disconnect between understanding that the current government structures have failed and then basically rebuilding them, recapitulating them. `Public housing has failed, so let's build more public housing.' I think it's a real unwillingness to face the fact that coercive intervention in people's lives doesn't work as well as markets do. If we had freer markets, we'd have better housing for the rich and for the poor.
You know, the way poor people get housing in a capitalist economy, generally, is they get used housing that rich people built, lived in for a while and passed it on. And that's not--you know, used clothes, maybe, are getting a little threadbare. That's not usually true with used housing. You'll see ads in New York City advertising prewar construction. And what they're saying is those buildings were built so well because they were built for wealthy people that they're still better today than a lot of newer housing. So let the free market work. You'd get better housing than the Housing and Urban Development is going to build.
LAMB: Is there any regular columnist in any newspaper that is a libertarian?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, it's difficult to say exactly what a libertarian is a lot of times. People have libertarian attitudes on a lot of things. In America, almost nobody is totally un-libertarian. I think Stephen Chapman, whose column appears in the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Times and a lot of other newspapers around the country, I'd call a libertarian. And I'm sure that there are a few others that haven't sprung to mind right away.
LAMB: Is there anybody in television that you know that's either a reporter or a commentator that's libertarian?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, in general, of course, reporters don't want to have political opinions and so I'm not sure. There may well be some of them, but--but they try to keep it to themselves. As far as television commentators, I'm not sure that I think of one right off. I think there are a lot of radio talk show hosts around the country who are libertarians.
LAMB: The--the most visible?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, I think David Brudnoy in Boston would admit to that. I think Neal Boortz in Atlanta probably would, Gene Burns, who I believe is now in San Francisco. I think those people put out a pretty solid libertarian message from time to time.
LAMB: Is there a place to go if you want libertarian thought every week?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, if you want libertarian thought every week, you could go to the Cato Institute Web site every day. Other than that, Reason magazine is a monthly; Liberty magazine is a bimonthly. Those are probably the places that you'd be most likely to get it. Although, as I say, if you have a newspaper that has Steven Chapman's column, he's pretty consistently libertarian.
LAMB: Who owns Reason magazine?
Mr. BOAZ: It's owned by The Reason Foundation, which is a sort of competitor of the Cato Institute, another libertarian-oriented think tank.
LAMB: Are there different kinds of people involved in The Reason Foundation than are involve in the Cato foundation?
Mr. BOAZ: Not exactly. The Reason Foundation--a big part of what they do is publish a monthly magazine, and so they have journalists involved there. And we don't really have journalists at the Cato Institute. Also, The Reason Foundation has really specialized in the issue of privatization, especially of state and local services, so they have a lot of privatization experts, and we don't really have--we don't do so much on that issue. We do more national issues. So it's a matter of emphasis and so on but not really different kinds of people.
LAMB: What's Liberty magazine?
Mr. BOAZ: Liberty magazine is a bimonthly. It's a younger magazine than Reason, been published for a few years. It's published out of Washington state. I think you might find it a little more movement-oriented, more for people who really are self-consciously libertarians and think of themselves that way, and they want to read hard-hitting libertarian analysis. Reason is more of a current affairs magazine, like The New Republic, but with a libertarian perspective on issues.
LAMB: And what about Harry Browne, the candidate for the Libertarian Party? Do you--did you support him?
Mr. BOAZ: I'm an independent. I don't really do politics. And, of course, at the Cato Institute, we're not supposed to get involved in politics.
LAMB: But do people at the Cato Institute, you know, on their pri--I mean, from what you've heard around the--you know, your organization, do they like the idea there's a Libertarian Party? And does someone like Harry Browne represent their thoughts?
Mr. BOAZ: I think it's certainly fair to say that Harry Browne was an articulate exponent of ideas that most of the people at Cato would also agree with. Some people at Cato are Republicans because they think that's the best place to advance ideas of free markets in civil society. A few are Democrats because they're more interested in issues of civil liberties, of peace. Some are members of the Libertarian Party, and a lot of us, as I say, are independents. We find ourselves kept pretty busy putting out books and studies and talking about ideas without getting involved in electoral politics. And I think a lot of libertarians these days are particularly interested in issue politics, rather than candidate politics, so they're active in taxpayer groups, in drug policy reform groups, in term limits advocacy, things like that.
LAMB: Who's the best-known academic today that's a libertarian?
Mr. BOAZ: I would say probably Milton Friedman. Richard Epstein at the University of Chicago Law School is certainly another. Robert Nozick at Harvard University wrote a book called "Anarchy, State & Utopia," which is very important, which is excerpted in "The Libertarian Reader." I'm not sure if he calls himself a libertarian these days. Nozick is a very interesting guy. He writes a book, he gets intensely into a subject and then he moves on to different subjects. So in the 20 years since he wrote "Anarchy, State & Utopia," he hasn't written about political philosophy. He's written about other things.
LAMB: In this primer that you have, the--I mean, not the primer, "The Libertarian Reader," you have a lot of different articles in here, and you have something from The Nation magazine.
Mr. BOAZ: The Nation was a libertarian magazine in the first half of its life. I believe it was founded around the time of the Civil War. And throughout the 19th century, it was a classical liberal magazine. It advocated free markets, the rule of law, decolonization, international peace but very much free markets. And so there's an essay there actually written in The Nation in 1900, looking back on the 19th century and saying, `Look at the tremendous achievements that free people, freed from vexatious meddling of governments, have been able to produce. But alas, today it seems that people have forgotten the principles of the Declaration of Independence that brought us to this happy state. And we are going to be doomed to a century of war and statism before we get back on the path,' and that was pretty prescient. We have been through a 20th century with a lot of war and a lot of statism because we forgot the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
LAMB: Thomas Paine has a piece in here.
Mr. BOAZ: Thomas Paine, one of the great libertarians of all time. One of the interesting things about Tom Paine--he's known as a rabble-rousing writer. Everyone reads "Common Sense" when they're in college. "Common Sense" is a great essay. One of the great things about Thomas Paine is that he put together two elements of libertarian theory. One is the theory of justice, of individual rights, that adult individuals have the right to live their life the way they want to. The other is a theory called spontaneous order, the theory of the self-regulating society. It's academics would say it's not the normative theory, it's the positive theory. It observes the world and says, `If you leave people alone to trade and--and exchange and make their own decisions, a self-regulating order will emerge. You don't need the government to create order. Order emerges.' Thomas Paine put those two ideas together, and so in that sense he's a really key libertarian thinker.
LAMB: You also have the Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson.
Mr. BOAZ: One of the greatest pieces of libertarian writing ever.
Mr. BOAZ: I think that the second paragraph of the Declaration, `We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' That is a beautiful, succinct, eloquent statement of what libertarianism is. And it goes on to say that, `It is to secure these rights that governments are instituted among men.' That's why we have government, not to give us midnight basketball, not to tuck us in at night. We have government to secure our rights. And that paragraph goes on to say, `When any government ceases to do that, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.' That was where you got from the libertarian theory to the right to rebel against an oppressive government.
LAMB: What's "Federalist" Number 10? And why did you include that in the...
Mr. BOAZ: "Federalist" Number 10 talks about the dangers of faction and how the Constitution was designed to limit faction--we might say special interests today. The Constitution was designed to keep any of us from being able to use the government to get what we want at the expense of other people. That's in a section called Skepticism About Power, which is the first section of "The Libertarian Reader." And in a sense, the first principle of libertarianism is, as Lord Acton said, `Power tends to corrupt.' So libertarians are very skeptical about anybody having a lot of power. That's why we like federalism. That's why we like separation of powers within the federal government. That, in fact, is why libertarianism really arose in Europe. Why didn't it happen in Africa, Asia, Latin America, wherever? One reason is that Europe was a very divided civilization. It has, obviously right now, many countries; through the Middle Ages, it had more countries and city-states and polities than it does now. And I think it was the fact of one civilization divided into so many different governments that kept any government from getting so powerful that it could stamp out the ideas of liberty and the expressions of--of people living their own lives.
LAMB: On page 193, why government gets too big, `Bureaucrats and politicians are just as self-interested as the rest of us,' you say.
Mr. BOAZ: Does that require explanation?
Mr. BOAZ: I think a lot of us learn in our civics books in college that, you know, there are two kinds of institutions. There are the self-interested, profit-seeking institutions of business, and then there's the public interest and that's government. But some great actually, Thomas Jefferson sort of refuted that 200 years ago, but more recently, James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock and some of their colleagues in the public choice school of economics in politics said, `Well, wait a minute. Two roommates graduate from college. One goes to work for General Motors, one goes to work for the government.
we supposed to believe that, starting the day after college, the one who goes to General Motors is self-interested and the other one is public-interested? What if, just as a hypothesis, we said, "People who go into government are also self-interested, like any normal human being"? What would happen if that was the truth?' And what they found, of course, was when you spell out the implications of that, you see a government pretty much like the one we have.
So the argument that I'm making there is people in government are self-interested, just like people in business. The question becomes: Which kind of institution will serve the public interest better? And I contend and libertarians contend that, in fact, competitive market processes will cause all of us to serve the public interest better than coercive government structures.
LAMB: You talk--you give us some examples in there, and one of the people you talk about is Dwayne Andreas, Archers Daniel Midland. What would a libertarian do with that whole--I don't know whether you call it a subject, but what would you do to make things different? The ethanol, Senator Bob Dole's involvement...
Mr. BOAZ: Oh, the best thing to do would be to take away the government's power to hand out favors to companies like Archer Daniels Midland. ADM subsidizes all the politicians in Washington. It subsidizes all the public affairs shows except yours, because--you know, on all the commercial networks, you see ads from ADM. This is all part of a process, because ADM earns its profits in Washington. Most companies earn their profits out in the marketplace; ADM earns most of its profits in Washington. The ethanol subsidy makes it profitable for them to produce ethanol. I believe they also profit from the sugar quotas which prevent cheap sugar from overseas from coming into our country. They really do their farming in Washington. And so what libertarians would like to do is take away from the federal government the power to hand out those benefits. A great thing might be if we had a constitutional amendment that said, `Congress shall have no power to regulate the economy.' If you did something like that, ADM would have to go out and look for profits in the marketplace, like other companies.
LAMB: Why do you think they spend so much money on the news shows?
Mr. BOAZ: Because I think it enhances their image in Washington, makes them seem like nice guys and so, when they go in and ask for a $100 million subsidy, not only have they given money to the politicians, but they've created this image of themselves as a public-spirited company, so it doesn't seem so outrageous.
LAMB: Do you think they would get this subsidy if they didn't send money to the politicians or, you know, help finance their campaigns?
Mr. BOAZ: I certainly hope the politicians wouldn't do things that crazy for free, but I don't think it's as straightforward as that might imply. There are lots of subsidies, lots of regulations that benefit some companies that I think probably nobody has ever given a contribution for or anything like that. We have a government; both parties, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, who believe that the role of the federal government is to divvy up the national product, to decide, `Well, we have $6 trillion in our economy this year. How much will we let the people who earned it keep and how much will we give to ADM and how much will we give to Chrysler and how much will we give to Social Security? How much will we give to farm subsidies?' They don't seem to have an understanding that that money is earned by individuals and that the people who earn it really have a prior claim to it.
LAMB: What'd you think of the Chrysler bailout a number of years ago?
Mr. BOAZ: I think it was just an absolute, quintessential example of what's wrong with government subsidies. The Chrysler Corporation couldn't produce cars that Americans wanted to buy. I saw a great cartoon once--in fact, I think Ed Crane has it framed on his wall, my--my boss at the Cato Institute. It shows Lee Iacocca in a car with a bumper sticker that says, `Buy what America builds'--good old buy America notion--and a guy in a Japanese car parked next to him with a bumper sticker that says, `Build what America buys.' That's what Chrysler wasn't doing. They weren't building what America buys, so they were going to go out of business. So they went to the government instead of figuring out a way to produce a car that Americans wanted to buy, they went to the government and they got a $1 1/2 billion subsidy. And a lot of people think that was a great success; we saved the Chrysler Corporation. We did, although, of course, they downsized by two-thirds of their workers, so we didn't save very many of the jobs. And besides which, what we don't see--and this is one of the key readings in "The Libertarian Reader"--is what is not seen. That $1 1/2 billion that was lent to Chrysler was not lent to you to build a house, was not lent to some other businessman to expand a business that was actually selling things people wanted to buy, was not borrowed by a student to go to college and become a more productive worker. We can't see what didn't happen, but what we do know is that people who were more credit-worthy didn't get credit because that money went to the Chrysler Corporation.
LAMB: Now if you had to put together a little evening's discussion group of libertarians that you've--that are in "The Libertarian Reader," people that you'd like to have around the table to hear their wisdom on libertarianism and the history that you've known, who would you put--let's put five or six of them at the table.
Mr. BOAZ: Are you talking about history forever or contemporary or...
LAMB: Just five or six people you'd like to have at your dinner table to talk about politics and libertarianism.
Mr. BOAZ: Well, I'd like to have Thomas Jefferson there. George Will called him `the man of the millennium,' because he enunciated, really, the--the concept of the millennium, which is individual rights. So I'd love to have him there. I'd say Friedrich Hayek, who I did have the pleasure of meeting, was a great Nobel laureate, economist and social thinker, but I certainly would like to have spent more time talking to him. Probably Milton Friedman, who, fortunately, is still alive and I do have a chance to talk to sometimes. And I think probably Ayn Rand, who, for all of her foibles, was a brilliant, fascinating, penetrating woman, and I would love to have been able to spend some time with her and see what it was that people found so mesmerizing personally. And I think maybe that's four--maybe I'd take Thomas Paine.
LAMB: Cato is set up how? Who runs it?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, we have a board of directors of about a dozen people, and we have contributors, about 12,000 people who become Cato sponsors and--and support us financially. And then we have 50 staff members. The president and CEO is Ed Crane, who founded it. I'm the executive vice president. Our chairman is William Niskanen, who was a top economic adviser to President Reagan. And then we have about 10 policy directors who direct our work in the area of constitutional studies, fiscal policy, environmental issues and so on. And then...
LAMB: Who of those do we see on a regular basis on television shows and...
Mr. BOAZ: Well, I think you see Bill Niskanen, the chairman, who talks about economics a lot. Steve Moore, our director of fiscal policy studies, talks a lot about taxes and spending. Roger Pilon, our director of constitutional studies; Jerry Taylor, our director of natural resource studies--those are all pretty visible. And I think Ted Carpenter, our vice president for foreign and defense policy studies, does a lot of the defense-oriented shows.
LAMB: Is Doug Bandow...
Mr. BOAZ: Doug Bandow, yes. He is not a policy director; he's a senior fellow. But he does a lot of writing for us, so you see a lot of op eds by him and he does a lot of TV appearances.
LAMB: I asked our folks to put the names of your board members on the screen so that the audience can see who supports this. How much--let's--let's take a look at who they are. There's Peter Ackerman of Rockport Financial Limited; K. Tucker Anderson of Cumberland Associates; James Blanchard III, Jefferson Financial; John--is it Blokker or Blokker (pronounced differently)?
Mr. BOAZ: Blokker.
LAMB: Of Woodside, California; Frank Bond of Holiday Health Spas; Gordon Cain of The Sterling Group; Edward Crane, who is your president; Richard Dennis of the Dennis Trading Group; Theodore Forstmann of Forstmann Little & Company; is that Ethelmae...
Mr. BOAZ: Ethelmae Humphreys.
LAMB: ...Humphreys of the Tamko...
Mr. BOAZ: Tamko Asphalt.
LAMB: ...David Cook...
Mr. BOAZ: Koch.
LAMB: ...I knew I'd get that wrong; John Malone of Tele-Communications, Inc.; and William Niskanen; David Padden of the Padden & Company; Howard Rich, US
Term Limits; and Frederick Smith of the Federal Express Corporation.
Mr. BOAZ: I think one common thread of the people I mean, in general, the people who are on the board, other than the two staff members, are significant financial contributors, people who help us raise money as well as giving some themselves. I think one common theme running through there is, they're entrepreneurs. You don't see very many presidents of Fortune 500 corporations; these are people who have built their own companies. They have a sense of the dynamics of the free market. John Malone really helped to build TCI, the big cable company. Fred Smith is probably the best known, the founder of Federal Express. Ted Forstmann is a venture capitalist, which sort of means that he funds entrepreneurs to get businesses off the ground. And some people here may have heard of Howard Rich, who runs US
Limits. He is also a businessman, an investor, but US Term Limits has been
his big political interest recently.
LAMB: What was the thing that Richard Dennis funded a couple years ago?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, Rich Dennis has funded a lot of things. He is a generous contributor to Cato. He is also a funder of the Drug Policy Foundation; he's very much in favor of reform of our current policies of drug prohibition.e's a commodities trader in Chicago. He's also an active Democrat, so he's funded a lot of Democrats.
LAMB: There was something else he funded, either a media organization or--I
Mr. BOAZ: Well if your memory goes way back, he funded something called the Roosevelt Center for American Policy Studies, I think was the name--funded that quite generously. And that organization is no longer around.
LAMB: How many of those board members are members of political parties and active?
Mr. BOAZ: I don't know. I suppose half of them, probably. Rich Dennis, as I say, is an active Democrat. I think Ted Forstmann is an active supply side Republican, a fan of Jack Kemp and Steve Forbes and people like that. I think probably several of them are Republicans, and a couple of them have been or are in the Libertarian Party. Actually, David Koch was the Libertarian Party's candidate for vice president in 1980, which was, you know, the only way you can give a large amount of money to a minor party. It turns out there's all sorts of ways to give a large amount of money to a major party that we didn't know about.
LAMB: Have you ever sat around the table and listened to those people on that board talk about politics?
Mr. BOAZ: Somewhat, yes, sure, at our board meetings.
LAMB: What's their number-one interest?
Mr. BOAZ: I think their number-one interest I mean, I think it's broad. I think their number-one interest is individual liberty, and so that goes into a lot of areas. That's why they're on Cato's board instead of some organization that only does one issue. But I suppose if you insist on narrowing it down from the concept that they really do believe in liberty, I'd probably say economic growth. They're very concerned about overtaxation, overregulation, overspending and what that's doing to the prospects for growth. You know, we used to grow at 3 percent or 4 percent a year in this country. It doesn't sound like much. We used to grow at 3 percent or 4 percent; now we grow at 1 percent or 2 percent. But it's the difference between doubling your standard of living in 15 years or 30 years or 70 years, and that makes a big difference. And I think that we shouldn't be growing as fast as we did in the 1950s; we should be growing faster. We have more rapid technological improvement. We have global markets now. I think the fact that we're only growing at half the rate we were then is atrocious.
LAMB: In your book, you talk about the post office and that--as a matter of fact, you've got Fred Smith there with FedEx. You don't think much of the post office?
Mr. BOAZ: I don't think much of large, gargantuan, bureaucratic monopolies, that's right. You know, we have an antitrust division. We talk all the time about competition and monopoly and if two companies merge, will that be a threat to competition? And then you've got this huge part of the economy, communication of ideas, and it's run by an 800,000-person government monopoly. Now what's happening, of course, is that, increasingly, all important communications are going through Federal Express or UPS or through electronic mail. So even though the Postal Service has a legal monopoly, it's losing a large part of its market share.
LAMB: You have a ch--I don't know that we can do this or not, but you have a chart here--maybe you can explain it--`What Uncle Sam Has Really Promised You, Latest official projections available as of January 1996.' And, Andy, get real close, if you can, on this. What was the point of this?
Mr. BOAZ: The point of it is to say we have a serious problem looming with Social Security. A lot of people think that Social Security is the greatest success of big government. And I think that's a pretty good indication if that's their greatest success, they don't have much to claim, because what's happening with Social Security is that it was a great system for older people; it's a great system for people who are retired now. But for baby boomers and for generation Xers, it's going to be a disaster. We are heading toward bankruptcy around 2010. A lot of people like to say we're heading toward bankruptcy in 2029. That's when the theoretical trust fund is depleted. But around 2010, the cash flow turns negative; there's more money going out than there is coming in. And since the only thing that's in this Social Security Trust Fund is government bonds, this is just a matter of--they're going to start cashing in government bonds, which means the US government is going to have to start subsidizing Social Security. If they didn't have the government bonds, what would happen when the cash flow turned negative? The US government would have to start funding Social Security more than what our Social Security taxes are. We have a looming crisis that politicians don't want to admit they've created, and that chart has a lot of details on it.
LAMB: What would libertarians do about Medicare?
Mr. BOAZ: I think that we have to move toward having more of a free market in health care. You know, it's easy to say in theory, `I don't think the government should be involved in retirement. I don't think it should be involved in health care.' We get better health care, we can save more money for retirement if we have minimal taxes, minimal regulation, and we let the free market work. The best retirement plan we could have would have been to continue our growth rate of 4 percent rather than knock it down to 1 1/2 percent. But it's more difficult--once the government sets up these programs and you have to get out of them, then it's more difficult. We need to move toward free markets in health care. In the case of Medicare, that might mean voucherizing it. It might mean letting younger people out to invest in private plans like medical savings accounts. It--certainly with Social Security, it means letting younger people out to invest in private retirement accounts where they can do better. Medicare is going to be even more difficult because it's more bankrupt, going to be out of money sooner. But I would say voucherizing, marketizing and putting more reliance on individuals saving for their own health care is the solution.
LAMB: Here's "The Libertarian Reader." Inside there, you also have an article by H.L. Mencken. Was he a libertarian? Who was he?
Mr. BOAZ: He generally was. He was probably the greatest journalist of the first half of this century. He was, interestingly enough, known as a liberal back during the era of Coolidge and Harding. He was, you know, this great liberal journalist who was always railing against the pomposity of the complacent bourgeoisie of the Republican administrations. Then when Roosevelt came in, Mencken started to be considered a conservative, because he also railed against the excessive government and the pomposities of the New Deal. I think what he really was was a libertarian all those times. He believed in the individual and he didn't much believe in government.
LAMB: Clear up this--the--you have the federalists and the anti-federalists. And in--and in your book, especially the one--"The Libertarian Reader," in the introduction, was talking about that James Madison was a conservative libertarian federalist, and then an anti-federalist is a radical libertarian. What--what was the difference?
Mr. BOAZ: This is a libertarian country. All the founders were basically libertarians, and in an earlier generation, we would have called them liberals or classical liberals. They would have called themselves Whigs, perhaps. But we can look back at their ideas and say they were basically libertarians. They believed in individual rights. They believed in government only by consent. They believed in free markets. And the difference between the federalists and anti-federalists was over issues of how much power can you give to the federal government? And the federalists wanted to give a tiny amount of power to the federal government, and the anti-federalists thought that even a tiny amount of power was too much. And as I say in the reader, we're still judging that argument, because if you look at what the federalists gave the government in the Constitution, it's a pretty libertarian grant of power. The government was not granted the power to go out and do everything from Social Security to midnight basketball; it was granted the power to regulate commerce between the states and to handle foreign affairs, and that was about it. The anti-federalists said, `You do that and it will get too powerful. It will exceed its bounds. You will not bind down the government by this Constitution.' And clearly, on that score, you have to say the anti-federalists were right.
Now whether that means we should have stuck with the Articles of Confederation and not tried the Constitution is a more difficult question. But I think if you look at George Mason and James Madison, you're talking about two Virginia libertarians who disagreed over whether the Constitution was too risky.
LAMB: Are there any libertarians on the Supreme Court?
Mr. BOAZ: No, I don't think there's anybody on the Supreme Court that I would call a libertarian. You look at different--you can--you can certainly find--I think Justice Thomas' opinion in the Lopez case, which said, `There are things the federal government can't do,' was certainly a libertarian analysis. But on some civil liberties cases, we've had people who might be considered more liberal give ringing libertarian dissents or opinions.
LAMB: Is Bill Clinton at all a libertarian?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, Bill Clinton is so eclectic and has such wide-ranging interests that it's hard to say. Bill Clinton has been reported recently to have said he might be interested in replacing the income tax with a national sales tax. I'm not that keen on a national sales tax, but it would be better than the federal income tax. And he's also talked about how successful the privatization of Social Security in Chile has been. So if you look at those things. Also, I think you can say, in some ways, Bill Clinton has a tolerant libertarian attitude toward social issues, although after Dick Morris got hold of him and said, `Move to the right and talk about curfews and school uniforms and things,' he might have come across as less so.
LAMB: In your book, you also--in one of the two books here--by the way, the one, "The Libertarian Reader," sells for $27.50, and your "Primer" sells for $23. How many copies of each did the Free Press print? Do you know?
Mr. BOAZ: I think there's about 12,000 copies of each in print, which is a fairly small run for a popular book, but we'll see how popular it is.
LAMB: Did you--is this your first book?
Mr. BOAZ: I've edited several books for the Cato Institute. The "Primer" is the first book I've written.
LAMB: How did you put all this together? How much help did you have?
Mr. BOAZ: I had a lot of help from some libertarian scholars and colleagues. I would say that when I was first asked, `What about putting together a reader?' and I sat down and made a list of 30 articles I would put in, 25 of those are in there and another 20 have been added. So I was--you know, I was 60 percent right on my first cut. But I asked a lot of people for advice and I balanced it and I said, `I'd like to have that, but I really have to cover this subject, so I'm going to have to do something else.' And--and then, at the last minute, we decided that the book was about 10 percent too long for the--the price we wanted to put on it and everything, so some amount of help. I--I think--I think you could say this represents close to a consensus of what libertarian scholars these days, if they could all vote on what should be in there, should be.
LAMB: Other names you have in here are Frederick Douglass...
Mr. BOAZ: Frederick Douglass.
LAMB: ...and William Ellery Channing on slavery and William Lloyd Garrison. What's your--what's your position on slavery, and...
Mr. BOAZ: Well, slavery is about the greatest violation of individual rights there can be, and so abolitionism was clearly the libertarian cause of its day. William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, I think, were libertarians. If you read their writings, they talk about individual rights. They talk about `No man is empowered to govern another.' And they call slavery `man stealing.' And they reason they call it man stealing is, they are saying, `You are trying to steal the very essence of a man from himself.' And they rested their argument on self-ownership, which is an old libertarian theory. The first reading in here about it is from Richard Overton, who was one of the Levellers in England. Self-ownership, the idea that I own myself, that is the base of my individual rights. Nobody owns me; I don't belong to the collective; I don't belong to other people. I own myself. And if I do, slavery is an attempt to steal me from myself.
LAMB: You have Woman as a Moral Being by Sarah Grimke? Is that the way you pronounce it?
Mr. BOAZ: I think so.
LAMB: And the other one is Angelina Grimke, Rights and Responsibilities of Women. What's the point there?
Mr. BOAZ: They were sisters. They were abolitionists. In the struggle for abolitionism, they began thinking about their own rights as women and realized that they didn't have full equal rights, either. And so women did not do a lot of public writing at that time. They did do public speaking. But both of those excerpts, I believe, are from letters. Now they were letters that were sort of like open letters to the Boston Anti-Slavery Society. And one of the reasons they're in there is partly because feminism and abolitionism were clearly libertarian causes, but another reason is that both of those rest the case for abolitionism and women's rights squarely on the notion that each adult individual holds moral responsibility for his own actions. And so to try to control his actions, either to make him a slave or to forbid him from entering into contracts, which was a way women were treated at the time, is to take away that moral responsibility, to tell him, `You can't be'--or to tell her, `You can't be a full and complete adult because you don't have the responsibility to enter into actions and be responsible for them.'
LAMB: You mentioned Lord Acton earlier and you quoted him on power. Is it--does it mean anything that most people, when you they tend to quote him and I'm--I'm looking for the quote here--people say, `Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.' And then some people who know the quote come back and say, `Power tends to corrupt.'
Mr. BOAZ: That's right, power tends to corrupt. And...
LAMB: Does it always corrupt, in your--from what you've seen?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, I guess I would say it always tends to corrupt. It's always dangerous. But this is the tension in setting up a government. We need a government of some minimal sort to protect us from each other. Most people want to live their lives peacefully most of the time, but some people would harm other people if they had the chance. That's why we set up a government: to protect our peaceful exercise of our rights. But then we immediately face the dilemma, `How much power can you give the government without it starting to infringe on your rights?' And that's why I think you say power tends to corrupt.
If you look at the United States, we've had 200 years of a pretty free society. Power has not entirely corrupted the people who have run the United States, but it has tended to move in that direction. And I don't mean just the John Huang illegal fund-raising and all that kind of thing. I mean the notion that politicians are better than the rest of us, that they deserve better protection, that they are treated almost as if they were monarchs.
We have this inauguration, you know, that's going to be the most expensive inauguration ever--the most expensive public funds, anyway--for a guy who's already president. In England, that's what you do when you crown a king, not when you have a new prime minister. So I think there's a sense that we have too much of the trappings of power associated even with our republican form of government.
LAMB: You point out to us that Lord Acton's real name is John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton. Who was he?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, he was a very distinguished 19th century British scholar, reader. He's kind of a sad case, because he was always going to write the history of liberty in the world, and it would have been a brilliant book. It's--it's said that he read a book a day for his entire life, and he wrote a book review a day for much of it, and he wrote essays and he lectured at, I believe it was Oxford University. But he never wrote that book. And libertarians call it the greatest book never written.
LAMB: You say that a person named Roy Childs Jr. `is one of the brightest and most dazzling personalities I've ever known and remains an inspiration to me and many other libertarians.'
Mr. BOAZ: Well, to be technical, that line is actually written by Tom Palmer, who wrote the bibliographical essay for that book.
Mr. BOAZ: But I'll endorse it.
LAMB: Do you know--did you know him?
Mr. BOAZ: Yes. I knew Roy Childs very well. He was another person who kind of sadly never wrote a book. He would have been a few years older than I am. He would be in his 40s now, and he died young. But he was a brilliant thinker and writer, fascinating person, bubbling over with ideas. I always say he once made me fascinated by opera for about 10 minutes. I don't know anything about opera, but I just asked him a question once and he started rattling on about it, and it was fascinating. And he had that capacity. He wrote a lot of libertarian essays which, unfortunately, never became a book.
LAMB: John Perry Barlow is a rancher, a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and a co-founder of the Atlantic Electronic Frontier Foundation. Why is his essay in here?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, he has an essay called The Future of Government, and it helps us to get into the--you know, this--this goes all the way back to the Bible and through the American Revolution, but I wanted to get into the information age. And John Perry Barlow, I think, has the last essay in the book. It's called The Future of Government, and it talks about how the information age is really going to undermine the powers of government, makes it possible for people to get more information than they ever had available to them, makes it possible for them to live outside the bounds of any particular government. We're going to see people in the next few decades moving to wherever the taxes are lowest and the living is best. It's going to be very difficult for governments to control people because we're going to have so much freedom to move around.
LAMB: Because we're spending so time--much time with this gentleman this year, I see a number of essays in here by Alexis de Tocqueville. Why? Was he a libertarian?
Mr. BOAZ: Tocqueville was a libertarian, one that you might call a conservative libertarian, very concerned about tradition and order in society, something of an aristocratic approach.
LAMB: Why do the liberals claim him, too?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, I don't think there's--you mean--you mean today's modern liberals?
Mr. BOAZ: I can't imagine. I really don't know what they think they see in de Tocqueville. Tocqueville was a brilliant critic of American democracy. He was a great admirer of it, but he pointed out the kinds of things that could happen, could be foibles of a democratic society, which was a new experiment. People didn't know. He was really kind of predicting. There's an essay in there, What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear. We know what sort of despotism non-democratic nations had. Could there be despotism in a democratic nation? And he warned about a government that would beneficently cover the surface of society with minute and petty rules and regulations. And I have to say that was pretty prescient. I mean, today we've got regulations on everything from how long you have to stay in the hospital after you have a baby to midnight basketball to what drugs you can take if you're sick and your doctor recommends something the FDA doesn't, all for our own good. The government is always beneficent to us, and yet, they're covering our society with this network of rules.
LAMB: If you had to pick a book or two that--besides your book right here--that you would want to read that would be, you know, the best thought for you on libertarianism, what would that be?
Mr. BOAZ: I would probably say two books by Friedrich Hayek, "The Road to Serfdom," which is a--a relatively popular introduction to libertarian, liberal ideas, and "The Constitution of Liberty," which is more his magnum opus. And I just kept reading and underlining "The Constitution of Liberty," in particular, as I was writing these books, and I wanted to include every chapter from it in "The Libertarian Reader."
LAMB: When did he die?
Mr. BOAZ: He died in 1992. He was about 90 years old.
LAMB: What do you remember about him?
Mr. BOAZ: Well, personally, of course, when I met him, he was a very old man, and so I remember a very old man of old-fashioned, European demeanor, a gracious gentleman, a scholar who was always so careful and precise to state his objections to other people's ideas without ever criticizing other people personally. He dedicated his book, "The Road to Serfdom," to the socialists of all parties. And I think he was very sincere in wanting to say, `I share your aspirations. I understand your dreams. But please read this warning of what will happen if you let government have too much power.' And he kept that respect for every--for all of his adversaries to the end of his life.
LAMB: When he died, where was he? What--was he still at the University of Chicago?
Mr. BOAZ: I believe he was--no, he had gone back to--I believe he was a native of Austria and he had gone back to Germany where, obviously, they speak German. And--and so I think he felt more comfortable after spending about 30 years in England and the United States.
LAMB: Here are the two books--first time we've done this. The first one is "Libertarianism: A Primer" by David Boaz, and the one right under that is "The Libertarian Reader," also edited by David Boaz, which includes a lot of contemporary and classic writings about libertarianism.
Thank you very much for your time.
Mr. BOAZ: Thank you.
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