Putting Faith in Champions of Freedom, Not Politicians

It's a mistake to look for heroes in politics. It's too ugly a business.


It's election season, and so once again people look for heroes. Is Ron Paul one? Maybe. He's fought a long, lonely battle to limit the power of government. As government grows, I yearn for champions of freedom who fight back. Rep. Paul has done that.

But it's a mistake to look for heroes in politics. It's too ugly a business. My heroes are people like Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek and Ayn Rand.

Damn—they're all gone.

Here are some other champions of liberty you might not know about: Alfred Kahn was a bureaucrat who, under President Carter, managed to kill off the Civil Aeronautics Board and Interstate Commerce Commission. By bringing freer markets to transportation, he saved Americans billions of dollars.

Norman Borlaug saved billions of lives. He invented a high-yield wheat that ended starvation in much of the world. He also criticized the environmentalists who fight the bioengineered food that could end hunger altogether.

How about Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler magazine? He brought tastelessness to new depths—but by spending his own money to defend free speech in court. He is a champion of freedom. So is musician Willie Nelson. He brought the battle against drug prohibition to the very roof of the White House (where he reportedly smoked weed).

How about the former president of the Czech Republic, the late Vaclav Havel? He demonstrated that speaking truth to totalitarians, while being willing to suffer the consequences, can be more potent than tanks.

John Blundell's book "Ladies of Liberty" tells the story of female heroes I knew little about—women like Mercy Otis Warren, who helped shape the American Revolution, and the Grimke sisters, who fought slavery.

Damn, they're gone too.

For my Fox Business show, I interviewed some champions of liberty, like John Allison, who ran BB&T, the 12th-biggest bank in America.

Most people don't think of businessmen as champions of liberty, but I do.

People resent bankers, and frankly, we should resent those who use their cozy relationship with government to freeload. But folks don't understand banks; they think bankers simply grab money for themselves. Allison is one of the few CEOs willing to face the cameras and explain banking to people.

"Banking is essential," Allison told my audience. "Banks allocate capital to people that deserve it. We see really big problems when the banks do a bad job and give capital to the wrong people."

When the bailouts were proposed, Allison spoke against them.

"I was the only CEO of a large bank that was opposed to TARP."

But when TARP passed, a federal regulator forced Allison to take your tax money.

"He said, 'You know, John, you guys have way more capital than you need … (but) … if you don't take TARP, you're in really serious trouble, because we make all the rules on how you run your bank.' So we ended up taking TARP. … And it was a rip-off for healthy banks, because we didn't need the money. … And we paid a huge interest rate."

Allison also defended individual freedom and private property by refusing to lend money to developers who acquired land through government confiscation called eminent domain.

"When the (Supreme Court's) Kelo decision was passed and basically there was carte blanche for the government to take somebody's property and give it to some other private individual, we said we wouldn't make loans to developers that did that. Interestingly enough, we lost some public entity accounts … but we had thousands of people move their checking accounts to BB&T. … We're proud that a business would actually act on principle … ."

Allison became outspoken about freedom after reading Ayn Rand's "Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal."

Steve Forbes is another businessman eager to explain that when people are free to practice capitalism, it's good for the world.

"The purpose of business is not to pile up money," he told my audience, "but to create happiness—giving people a chance to discover their talents. … It's the best poverty-fighter in the world.

We certainly need more champions of freedom like these.

NEXT: Dueling Defense Charts: Cato Wins; Heritage Loses

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  1. I met John Allison. Cool guy.

    1. He announced his retirement shortly before making those comments about TARP. I wonder if he was pushed out and went down swinging publicly.

      BB&T Corporation (NYSE: BBT) today said that longtime Chief Executive Officer John A. Allison will retire as CEO on Dec. 31, 2008.

      Treasury “is totally dominated by Wall Street investment bankers” and “cannot be relied on to objectively assess” the impact of government policy on the financial industry, Allison wrote in a Sept. 23 letter to Congress.


  2. In a just world there wouls be several high schools already named after Norman Borlaug, along with a day reserved in his honor.

    I pick Earth Day. Suck it hippies.

  3. Jimmy Carter was the most libertarian president since Coolidge.

    I know it seems counter-factual to wingnuts but its true.

    1. Jimmy Carter was the most libertarian president since Coolidge.

      The fact that a good argument can be made for this shows how far we have fallen.

        1. Selective Service, anyone?

          1. No Olympics, anyone?

            1. homebrewing legalization FTW!

    2. One would have to scrape the barrel to call Carter anything good… even with his one decent quality – wanting to change marijuana laws – he was/is still a dick.

  4. My God Flynt looked like the deviant he was.

    And yeah making Earth Day Norman Borlaug day would be perfect. The resulting bitching would smoke out the greens for the anti-human fanatics they are.

    1. flynt started-out as a truckstop pimp. stossel should vet his choices better.

      1. His step daughter claims he raped her. He is just a horrible person. Yeah, I don’t consider him to be much of a hero.

        1. Please show me where Stossel is making Flynt out to be a hero. You can be a champion of freedom and an asshole at the same time.

          1. I suppose Charlie Manson has some pretty enlightened views on the drug war. Does that make him a “champion of freedom”?

            1. Really?


              Pushing the envelope by showing pictures of people fucking is the same as being a convicted murderer?

              1. It is not. But being a pimp and a child rapist, which is what Flynt was, is getting pretty close.

                1. A child rapist according to his step daughter who has what to gain from these accusations?

                  Have you ever heard that incentives matter?

                  1. Google here. She seems pretty credible. Flynt was a sick bastard. Doesn’t mean he didn’t have the right to print dirty pictures. But there is nothing admirable about the guy.

                2. Do we know he’s a child rapist, or is that an unproven allegation?

                  1. His step daughter seems pretty credible on the issue. And we know for a fact he was a pimp. And that is about one step up from being a child rapist. The guy is a total deviant scumbag.

                  2. It was his daughter, not his step daughter. She was livid about the People v. Larry Flynt. Google her. She gives a very credible account. I would give you the links. But I am blocked.

                    I know people are falsely accused of such things. But people are rightly accused too. I fail to see anything about Flynt that would cause me to give him the benefit of the doubt. Gee, former pimp and pornographer molested his daughter. That is just unthinkable, NOT.

                    1. Just to make sure there’s no conflict of interest going on here (incentives and all that), can you state for the record John that you are, in fact, not a competing pimp or child rapist, trying to smear Flynt do reduce your competition?

                      I’ll take your word for it, but it’s kind of like asking if you’re a cop before you’re allowed in the back room of the head shop.

                    2. My pimping days ended when I got married. My wife really frowned on that activity. So I had to give it up. And despite my best efforts, she won’t buy into my idea of adopting a 17 year old swimsuit model from Prague.

                      So no Jim, I am no longer in competition with Flynt.

                    3. Awesome; one less competitor for me!

                      And actually if I recall correctly, I think PS can help hook you up with chicks from Prague…

                3. What is wrong with pimping?

                  Don’t you approve of free markets and their advocates?

                  1. Pimping is a black market activity, not a free market activity.

                    When you can grasp the difference, grasshopper . . . .

                    1. I’d just like to point out that John’s ‘argument’ was to equate Charles Manson with Larry Flynt.

                    2. No. My argument is that sometimes someone can be so personally loathsome that that outweighs any good they might do in other areas.

                    3. “No. My argument is that sometimes someone can be so personally loathsome that that outweighs any good they might do in other areas.”

                      Your point being proved by equating Charles Manson and Larry Flynt, now I get it.

                    4. Both Manson and Flynt are examples of people who are really lousy people but may in fact hold enlightened views on some subjects. The fact that they have one or two views I like, doesn’t make them any more credible or anything to be looked up to.

                      So in a sense they are equatable in kind if not the quality of their misdeeds. It was an analogy with a dash of hyperbole to make a point.

                4. Damn you, PS!

                  1. “Damn you, PS!”

                    Rightfully orphaned comment.

                    1. It was in response to your bringing up the “was it proven?” question one minute before I did.

                      And apparently John needs you to hook him up with some chicks from Prague. I told him that shouldn’t be a problem for you.

                    2. Yeah like I could hook up anybody, all the women I know are married. And I don’t think John is interested in the hardbodies we have in these parts.

                    3. No I don’t like young boys. I do however like women. And there seems to be a large supply of attractive ones in Prague. The ones I saw didn’t look like coke addicted 14 year old boys. But maybe I don’t go to the places you do.

                    4. …all the women I know are married.

                      If Europe is still the same way it was in the late 90s, that isn’t a problem.

                    5. What a civilized place Europe is.

            2. They really went after him because of the explicit pictures of the Vietnam War dead.

          2. I can’t think of anyone who has been one without being the other.

      2. I respect the truckstop pimps for the job creators and providers-of-wanted-services that they are.

        Why do you hate the poor skanks trying to make money, Urine?

        1. I don’t hate the skanks. I hate the creatures who shake them down for money because they know they can’t go to the cops for help. Nothing wrong with hookers. Pimp in contrast are the lowest for of life in the universe next to Congress critters and Kardashians.

          1. You hate Flynt for his epic takedown of your hero Jerry Falwell in the “I fucked Mom in the outhouse” parody.

            It is great parody though!


            The Campari ad! Brilliant!

            1. No. I dislike Flynt because he was a pimp and apparently sexually abused his daughter. I know you are nuts Shrike. But I never figured you for some kind of child molesting incest freak.

              1. Really? I don’t think you’re telling the truth, cause I sure know I did.

                1. The pimping is a far different matter than molesting the daughter.

                  Do we have any evidence which demonstrates that Flynt coerced / strong armed / intimidated his working girls?

                  John, if you do not have actual evidence which supports the proposition that Flynt beat up his girls, intimidated them, etc., your view of Flynt is premised upon rank speculation.

                  Why is the daughter’s account credible? Are there facts which tend to support her version of events?

                  For moi, unverified accusations must fall to the great good of standing up to a totalitarian toady like Falwell.

                  1. Of give me a break Mike. I don’t like Fallwell. But publishing a parody of him took no courage whatsoever. Fallwell was reviled by everyone but his followers. Standing up to a totalitarian? That is fucking ridiculous. Falwell was a clown political figure routinely screwered by comedians. Standing up to a totalitarian is standing up in a place like Cuba and risking jail not publishing a stupid cartoon in a free country about someone who is generally disliked in the first place.

                    And all pimps rely on intimidation. Why do you think the girls give them their money? It is no different than being any other mobster. It is a protection racket. Anyone who is a pimp is a scumbag end of story.

                    And as far as the daughter, go read her accounts. She gives details. And Flynt was a drug addled pornographer former pimp who frequently published incest and child molestation fantasies in his magazine. Why would his denial have any credibility.

                    Come on Mike. You can’t defend people like Flynt. It just discredits Libertarians.

                    1. Publishing the parody didn’t take much. Fighting it all the way to teh Supreme Court so the next guy with something important to say didn’t get muzzled? That took some conviction and some balls.

                    2. It takes conviction and balls to hire a lawyer? Fallwell sued him. It is not like he had any choice. And the case was huge publicity for him and his magazine. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if him and Falwell colluded on the whole damn thing. That suit gave both of them attention they didn’t deserve.

                    3. It takes conviction and balls to hire a lawyer? Falwell sued him. It is not like he had any choice. And the case was huge publicity for him and his magazine. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if him and Falwell colluded on the whole damn thing. That suit gave both of them attention they didn’t deserve.

  5. Who are the guys in the picture?
    One is Larry Flynt, the other?
    Please confirm.

  6. Thanks for submitting the transcript of this past weekend’s show as an article, Mr. Stossel.

    Very efficient of you, if not terribly original.

  7. My heroes are people like Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek and Ayn Rand.

    Christ man. Your heroes are (with the possible exception of Friedman) the scum on the bottom of the barrel of thinkers? Glorified cultists whose ideas about freedom always seemed to include some of the ugliest anti-human impulses? You can’t read Dr. Phil and think you’ve mastered all of the science of human psychology. Rand and Hayek should be read only as an insight into the outsize contribution their silly religions have made to economic policy in the world–invariably without positive results.

    1. Reminder: It’s Thursday.

      1. Everyone appreciates your not contributing anything, ever, except to bitch about me for having the audacity to be smarter than you.

        1. Everyone appreciates your not contributing anything, ever, except to bitch about me for having the audacity to be smarter than you.

          See what I did there?

          1. But I don’t even know who you are.

            1. And nobody cares who you are.

              1. On the contrary, several people here absolutely obsess over me. Like Mainer.

                1. I sincerely doubt anyone gives half a fuck who you are. Too bad a poll would only result in zero votes.

                  1. That’s not fair to Tony. I think everybody here has had a turn at faceraping Tony. He’s like the smalltown girl with all the tattoos and daddy issues that relieve all the lonely teenage boys of their humiliating virginity.

                    I think most people would have fond memories of Tony, and he would garner many votes.

                    1. We don’t obsess, Tony… we ridicule you on a regular basis, which is less than you deserve.

    2. Rand and Hayek should be read only as an insight into the outsize contribution their silly religions have made to economic policy in the world–invariably without positive results.

      Well well Tony what if we spin the table and say the exact same thing about your “Liberal Views” and each and every socialist hero you have.

      1. No you can’t, since my views have contributed to the greatest increase in human well-being the universe has ever known.

        1. Hitler really contributed a lot towards the extinction of the jews; Hell, Mao and Stalin still hold the high scores.

        2. Is that your starting premise, or something you feel an obligation to prove?

          1. It’s a requirement. I support “whatever leads to maximum human well being.” If that happened to be libertarianism, I’d have to be a libertarian. But it happens to be social liberalism.

            1. I support “whatever leads to maximum human well being.”

              Well, we all support that, for some value of “human well-being”. But you realise that to assume a list of goods for what constitutes well-being is to assume your conclusion, or at least a large part of it? That’s what ethics is about. Ayn Rand (who as it happens I have very little admiration for) didn’t say, “Screw human well-being.”

              But it happens to be social liberalism.

              That would be an example of something you ought to prove.

              1. Fair point. I consider human well-being to consist of access to basic needs and the opportunity for upward mobility. These do entail individual liberty. Social liberalism sees individual liberty and social welfare as harmonious, not in conflict. I think of these concerns as non-arbitrary.

                1. “individual liberty”

                  Let’s see… Team Blue wants to ban us from smoking in bars, driving gas-powered vehicles, making “too much” money, eating trans-fats, and wants to control internet and broadcast content.

                  But if we want to be gay, we’re given permission.

                  Gosh, that’s a fair trade-off.

            2. It does seem that this is a common theme among smug liberals – i.e., that their views are the most superior and enlightened, because they clearly have led to the greatest good for society as a whole.

              On another forum I frequent, I recently got embroiled in an insanely lengthy gun control thread in which the leading antagonist finally came around to this argument – he was questioning whether allowing people carry guns, or in some cases, even own them in the home, actually conferred a net benefit on society as a whole.

              Because, you know, the best way to make sure the greater good of society as a whole is served is to deprive individuals of their rights to property and self-defense.

              1. Well done to that guy for actually changing his mind, but I have to say I think the “greatest good for society as a whole” is just a meaningless concept.

              2. A specific a minor issue in the grand scheme. To me the relevant calculation is whether more lives are saved by armed self-defense or more lives are lost as a result of lax gun regulations. I don’t know what that would come out to but I would guess that redneck Rambo fantasies coming true are rarer than they’d like to think.

                1. Yeah, some slavers believed that too circa 1860.
                  Are more whites made comfortable because of slavery than there are negroes discomforted by enslavement?

                2. Tony, since no evidence exists that “lax gun regulations” cause any deaths at all I’m not sure how you could ever make that “relevant calculation”.

                  Switzerland has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world despite having some of the most “lax gun regulations” anywhere. And the homicide rate has remained unchanged in the face of stricter gun laws imposed due to pressure from EU countries.

                  Jamaica on the other hand has extremely strict gun laws and one of the world’s highest murder rates.

                  The fact is that no country has experienced any sort of reduction in the homicide rate after imposing stricter gun control. There are actual studies showing that.

                  Of course, since your feelings are the only things that count, actual evidence is unecessary.

                  1. Defending yourself against home invasion = Rambo.


    3. Nice to see that Tony’s switched up his fallacies, the appeals to emotion were getting old.

    4. Rand and Hayek are greatly misunderstood by their legion of fans.

      Stossel is the exception in this fandom. Glenn Beck would be the rule. Hayek would despise Beck and his ilk in every way.

      Their intent was not to deceive (as opposed to an L. Ron Hubbard).

      There is a similar but much smaller cult around Adam Smith (who championed progressive income taxes).

      Don’t confuse Rand/Hayek with their fans, in other words.

      1. Rand and Hayek are to the history of thought what John Stossel is to the history of punditry.

        1. derpa derp

        2. goddamn tony. You are at it again….every single time – idiocy.
          Do you have brain damage? Perhaps a genetic condition that hasnt allowed your cognitive abilities to develop?
          More likely, oppositional-defiant disorder.

    5. Would I be wrong in assuming everything you know about “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Road to Serfdom” came from reading blogs at Daily Kos?

  8. What? Friedman singlehandedly enacted a coup to install a fascist dictator in Chile for the sole purpose of running free market experiments on the poor! And here you are defending him, you sick bastard.

    1. Thursday everyone, Thursday.

      I already fucked up with Shriek earlier. Won’t be repeated.

      1. I didn’t think he was trolling. I thought he was kidding. Even trolls are not that stupid.

        1. You never know. Juice might really be Naomi Klein.

      2. Thursday is circle jerk day?

        1. Spare us your sexual fantasies.

    2. True, but he was brilliant at it.

  9. “How about Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler magazine? He brought tastelessness to new depths”

    Uh, no, he brought us ugly naked women, an important aspect of diversity. All the hairy, fat, midget, and amputee sites owe Larry Flint an Alabama piledriver…

    1. Was there ever an attractive woman in Hustler?

  10. Whoa! Stossel just got hit by a car. I guess the show’s over.

  11. Counter-intuitive “not to viewers of the Stossel show, but to normal people.”

    I don’t know if I should be flattered or insulted.

  12. “There’s a dark side to communism.”

    You don’t say.

  13. The rich are paying more than their fair share for what they get back? Doesn’t their water come out of the tap faster? Aren’t the roads they drive smoother?

  14. Stossel buttering up the voters in his studio audience. I guess he’s filing to run for president tomorrow.

  15. Up next: President Situation debates Stossel on spray-on tan subsidies.

  16. Dave’s most afraid that Stossel won’t plug his book.

  17. I have to admit, Ropeik is a pretty interesting guest.

  18. As said the man with the plural first name, “Never tell me the odds!”

  19. St. Louis Cardinal = racist.

  20. Businesses want to hire anchor babies!

  21. Holy shite, Shamwow guy making fun of his legal problems in this commercial for the Schticky.

  22. Admit our instincts are wrong? Ropeik is the George Costanza of this group. “I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.”

  23. Yeah, but quiz that little girl on the issues. It’ll be all identity politics geared to moody vampires.

  24. That couple is a sitcom waiting to happen.

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