FreedomFest, held every July in Las Vegas, is becoming quite the libertarian/conservative event of the year. Going on for three days, with over a hundred and sixty lectures and panels, it has become a must-go and a fascinating meeting. “Are We Rome?” was the topic this year, led off by Steve Forbes describing the misery and bankruptcy that was Rome in its last century, when men sometimes sold their children into slavery in order to pay their taxes. The last day was highlighted with a live broadcast on John Stossel’s Fox Business Network show of leading participants, which was so successful that it was rebroadcast twice on Fox the following Sunday.
Everyone could find subjects that interested them from rarefied economics to history and philosophy, such as Paul Cantor’s “Empire and the Loss of Freedom: What Shakespeare’s Rome can Tell Us about Us.” Another whole section, called Anthem—The Libertarian Film Festival run by Jo Ann Skousen, showed movies and freedom documentaries. Ten feature documentaries and 11 short narratives filled the program including “Atlas Shrugged II,” “America’s Longest War”—Reason’s movie about the drug war—and “Sick and Sicker—What Happens when Government Becomes Your Doctor.” Some 2,200 people attended and all received a copy of The American Conservative in their welcome packages. TAC has helped promote the conference for years.
Lead speakers were a veritable Who’s Who of the libertarian movement. Steve Forbes; Mark Skousen, who organizes the yearly conferences; Grover Norquist; financier Jim Rogers; Charles Murray; Arthur Laffer; George Gilder; Steve Moore; Cato’s new president, John Allison; Tom Palmer of Atlas; Reason’s Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch; TAC’s editor Dan McCarthy; Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks; Fred Smith of CEI; Jeff Tucker of Laissez Faire Books, which ran the book offerings; and other top intellectual leaders. The list is too long to name all the significant men and women. Senator Rand Paul was the keynote speaker.
Topics of discussion covered an incredible intellectual range, almost all by very qualified speakers. Doug Casey’s talk was “The Greater Depression is Here to Stay.” Other topics included “Silver Coins and Crypto Currencies, Is There an Alternative to the Dollar,” “Selfishness vs. Altruism,” “Darwin’s Doubts,” and “How Dictators com to Power in Democracies.” Mark Skousen spoke on “A Viennese Waltz Down Wall Street—Austrian Economics for Investors.” See the program link above for the incredibly varied topics covered. This is a list of speakers and topics. Here is a way to order audio or video copies.
The American Conservative hosted a breakout panel, “Why America Can’t Run An Empire—and Why America Can’t Win Guerrilla Wars” with Dan McCarthy and Jon Utley. The audio can be obtained here.
I was also on a major panel “War Powers and the Constitution” with Rep. Justin Amash, David Boaz of CATO, and former Rep. Tom Campbell.
Some 50 volunteers from Students for Liberty helped man the events. Grover Norquist was recorded at the Reason booth with interesting views on immigration: here is the audio. Dozens of exhibit booths included most leading think tanks interspersed with investment advisors and offerings. Liberty Fund Books had its usual splendid display of freedom classics.
The conference ended with “A Roman Farewell Banquet” with music and dance. George Gilder has summed up the yearly conferences stating, “Freedomfest is THE mandatory conference for all lovers of liberty.”