BEGINNER

Character

Over the last 25 years, leaders in the free market movement have stressed the need for sound public-policy research and basic economic education. Though important, they are proving to be insufficient to overcome trends that are eroding our liberties. Why?


The missing focus is on personal character. 
 
In America’s first century, strong personal character kept our liberties substantially intact without the need for think tanks, policy research, and economic education. Americans from all walks of life generally opposed the expansion of government power not because they read policy studies or earned degrees in economics, but because they placed a high priority on character. Using government to get something at somebody else’s expense, or mortgaging the future for near-term gain, seemed dishonest and cynical to them, if not downright wrong.
 
A free society is impossible without character because bad character leads to bad economics, which is bad for liberty. Ultimately, whether we live free or stumble in the dark thrall of serfdom is a matter of our individual character.
 
To learn more about FEE's character initiative, visit the Blinking Lights Project page.

You can also read Lawrence Reed's pamplet Are We Rome? here.

 

Lawrence Reed on Liberty and Character:

 

Related Publications

ARCHIVE

The Morality of Capitalism

JULY 22, 2013

MULTIMEDIA

Morality and the Market

MARCH 18, 2010

ARCHIVE

Foundations of Morality

JULY 30, 2009

Related Freeman Articles

IDEAS AND CONSEQUENCES

A Tribute to the Polish People

SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 by LAWRENCE W. REED

IDEAS AND CONSEQUENCES

Character, Liberty, and Economics

The missing ingredient in the struggle against statism.

JULY 01, 2008 by LAWRENCE W. REED

IDEAS AND CONSEQUENCES

A Student's Essay That Changed the World

How Thomas Clarkson Emancipated Britain's Slaves

MAY 01, 2005 by LAWRENCE W. REED

IDEAS AND CONSEQUENCES

Joseph P. Overton: Character for a Free Society

Joe Overton Had His Priorities Straight and Was Honest in All Matters

OCTOBER 01, 2003 by LAWRENCE W. REED

A person's character is nothing more and nothing less than the sum of his choices. You can't choose your height or race or many other physical traits, but you fine-tune your character every time you distinguish right from wrong and act accordingly. Your character is further defined by how you choose to interact with others and the standards of speech and conduct you uphold.

IDEAS AND CONSEQUENCES

An Inspiration for All Time

Wilberforce Maintained an Optimism Worthy of the Goal Itself

DECEMBER 01, 2002 by LAWRENCE W. REED

img E-mail Subscription

VIEW PRIVACY POLICY

ONLINE EVENTS

FEE offers live online events for people new to the economic, ethical, and legal principles of a free society.

CURRENT ISSUE

September 2014

For centuries, hierarchical models dominated human organizations. Kings, warlords, and emperors could rally groups--but also oppress them. Non-hierarchical forms of organization, though, are increasingly defining our lives. It's no secret how this shift has benefited out social lives, including dating, and it's becoming more commonplace even in the corporate world. But it has also now come even to organizations bent on domination rather than human flourishing, as the Islamic State shows. If even destructive groups rely on this form of entrepreneurial organization, then hierarchy's time could truly be coming to an end.
Download Free PDF

PAST ISSUES

SUBSCRIBE

RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION