Bad character leads to bad economics, which is bad for liberty. Ultimately, whether we live free and in harmony with the laws of economics or stumble in the dark thrall of serfdom is a character issue. — Lawrence W. Reed in The Freeman
I’ve followed Larry Reed’s brilliant career for more than 20 years. Now the president of the venerable Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Larry was president of the Mackinac Center in Michigan when I first “discovered” him back in the mid-80s and began featuring his commentaries in the national news magazine I edited at the time. He was the person I turned to for an on-the-scene assessment in 1989 when the Evil Empire began to implode and my conspiratorially-minded colleagues refused to accept the legitimacy of this amazing phenomenon. As one of America’s best-known defenders of the free market, Larry had been invited to Russia to explain the fundamentals of capitalism to the ideological descendants of Marx and Lenin. He had gone there himself and seen what was happening.
As I noted in a July 89 commentary, there was reason to be cautious, for the Communists have a long history of feigning liberalization in order to flush out hidden dissidents; but the events leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall seemed genuinely to be the moment that staunch anti-Communists had fought for, and the great drama had gone on long enough for me to suspect that something more than skepticism was troubling my colleagues. Were they mourning the apparent loss of our raison d’être?
Larry had the answer to my question. It was real, all right. No one in Russia believed in socialism anymore, and its victims were eager to enjoy the fruits of economic freedom. It was great news, and I couldn’t wait to leave the office so I could celebrate openly.