Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Festival of All the Freedom Government Will Allow

If it is approaching summer, it is time once again for Pseudo-Freedom Fest – the annual festival organized by Mark Skousen. 

There is no doubt that Skousen plays a part – the allowable boundary for the one “extreme” called freedom.  I have written enough about Skousen’s role and views in the past – I will not repeat any of this here.  For those interested, my first commentary on Skousen’s views can be found here; and this on last year’s Freedom Fest (including a nice little back and forth with Daily Bell, in this case unable to avoid running into a conflict of interest that hindered journalistic integrity).

So I will not repeat any of this.  I have not, however, looked specifically into Skousen himself – his background, training, etc.  I have heard he is an Austrian economist, and has written a textbook on this subject.  Maybe I am wrong on this (a search at LvMI turns up several items).  But, what else?

Skousen was an economic analyst for the CIA from 1972 to 1975.


Skousen served as president of the free market nonprofit Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) from 2001 to 2002.

Skousen's brief tenure as president of FEE ended on a controversial note when he resigned in late 2002 at the request of the organization's Board of Trustees. This move followed Skousen's decision to invite, as keynote speaker for FEE's annual Liberty Banquet, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani proved to be an extremely unpopular choice among many of the organization's board members as well as several prominent libertarians.


An almost idealistic proponent of liberty and political freedom…

Idealistic?  Not based on anything I have seen or read. 

Back to the upcoming festival; I only want to point to the headline draw, the first item mentioned in promotion of this event of freedom (emphasis in original):


We’ve just confirmed the Dream Debate of the Century — Paul Krugman, #1 Keynesian and top New York Times columnist, will face off Heritage’s chief economist Steve Moore, #1 supply sider and Wall Street Journal columnist.

 A Keynesian vs. a supply-sider: I am unable to identify which of these two debaters, in this “Dream Debate of the Century” is debating on the side of freedom.  I will assume you all know Krugman.  What about Steve Moore?

Moore spent ten years as a fellow of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. Moore was the senior economist of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee under Chairman Dick Armey of Texas, where Moore "was instrumental in creating the FairTax proposal.

Cato, Fair Tax, Dick Armey – nothing indicating freedom.  He is currently with Heritage – conservative, yes; freedom?

Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

No freedom here.  Standard “make government efficient” rhetoric (we see how well that’s played out over the years) along with a bomb-them-all foreign policy.

So, I guess Krugman will represent the pro-freedom viewpoint in this debate.

Back to the “Dream Debate of the Century”:

Krugman and Moore have been taking shots at each other for years, and now they will finally meet on stage, one on one, to battle it out on the hot issues of the day:  Red States vs. Blue States (especially California)….Flat Tax vs. Progressive Tax….Austerity vs Stimulus….Inequality vs. Growth… ….Market Healthcare vs. ObamaCare….Inflation vs. Deflation….Easy Money vs. Deficit Spending…Market Capitalism (USA) vs. State Capitalism (China)….and many more topics vital to our theme “How Can We Best Restore the American Dream?

Note that Skousen is telling you the limits of the acceptable dialogue:

·        Red States vs. Blue States: you must buy into one or the other.
·        Flat Tax vs. Progressive Tax: what about no tax?
·        Easy Money vs. Deficit Spending: I don’t even know what to make of this.
·        Market Capitalism (USA) vs. State Capitalism (China): Because having markets any more free than you might find in one of these two places in not possible.

Finally, to the theme of the entire festival: “How Can We Best Restore the American Dream?”  I don’t know about the American Dream.  I do have some understanding about freedom.  I am certain one will never restore freedom if freedom is never discussed.

Skousen’s role with Freedom Fest is to ensure that actual freedom is not discussed; that the term is so muddied that any consideration of the concept is not possible as there will be no word for it.


  1. If Skousin was really interested in promoting freedom, the freedom debater would be either George Reisman or Robert Murphy.

  2. Good call, BM. Skousen is a statist tool whose mission is to promote the bankrupt conservative ideology behind a libertarian facade.

  3. Is Skousen involved with Mises Canada at all? I have seen some very questionable articles coming from them lately that smack of planted "right wing" memes.

    This observation is my favorite part of your article:

    "Note that Skousen is telling you the limits of the acceptable dialogue."

    This is almost the oldest con in the book. You have to choose one or the other, and they both serve the con artist.