Sweet Land of Liberty

I am deeply honored to receive the Richard Weaver Award, to stand in the ranks of the distinguished men who have received it, and to have an award in the name of a man who has always been one of my heroes. As a lifelong libertarian, I have been moved by the occasion to reflect on one of the most important questions of our time: What exactly is the relationship between the principles of liberty, the "abstract" principles if you will, and the undeniable fact that they were instantiated most fully and gloriously in the Old Republic, in the Ignited States of America, in the old patriotic hymn the "sweet land of liberty," at least until recent decades?

Free-market economists generally focus on the point, which I believe undeniable, that a free-market economy, and its necessary underpinnings, the secure rights of private property, will vivify any culture, any civilization. The people of any country will be immeasurably better off to the extent that they enjoy a free market and its blessings. One of the most inspiring works by my favorite "development economist," Lord Peter Bauer, was his first book, West African Trade, which demonstrated in detail that the back country jungles of Nigeria and what is now Ghana prospered from a vast network of market exchanges along the jungle trails, markets which were largely unknown by the British officials luxuriating in the capital city or by their African Marxist...

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