Lawrence W. Reed Gives Shorter University Students a Lesson on the Responsibilities of Freedom

MARCH 17, 2014

This article was originally published on Shorter University's website on February 28, 2014.

Drawing a parallel between Ancient Rome and modern-day United States, guest speaker Lawrence W. Reed emphasized to Shorter University students the importance of personal character and having a strong grasp on the purpose of the U.S. Constitution so that Americans can avoid repeating history.

The president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) spoke to students on Thursday at Shorter University’s Robert H. Ledbetter College of Business, where he was the guest of Richard Johnson, adjunct professor for character education. The lecture was sponsored by Shorter’s College of Arts & Sciences.

“The U.S. Constitution is aimed at the government, and it’s intended to be a rulebook for the government,” Reed said. “Our founders established what I think is the finest constitution ever written because they gave a great deal of thought to the importance of confining and restricting the concentration of power.”

As in the case of Ancient Rome, our society runs the risk of becoming complacent, thus opening the door to the loss of liberty, he said.

“No group of people who have lost their character have kept their liberty,” Reed said. “Sooner or later they lose their liberty. There is nothing about freedom that is automatic or guaranteed. It can be lost, and this has happened frequently throughout history. So when you have liberty, it is worth preserving.”

The fall of Rome was not the result of barbarian attackers, he said. Instead, Rome committed suicide because its citizens let go of personal character.

“Because of their loss of personal character, they lost their constitution,” Reed told the group of students. “And because of that, they then lost their liberties and their society. Hopefully that will not be the story of America.

Reed lives in Newnan, Ga. He is president emeritus of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Mich., where he spent 20 years prior to assuming the FEE presidency in September 2008. He is the author of more than 1,000 columns and articles that have appeared in publications worldwide, including The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor.

Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christian university committed to excellence in education. The Princeton Reviewannually includes Shorter on its list of best Southeastern Colleges. Shorter University is a member of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). Shorter offers traditional bachelor’s degree program in 48 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, and four master’s programs. Shorter is online at


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July/August 2014

The United States' corporate tax burden is the highest in the world, but innovators will always find a way to duck away from Uncle Sam's reach. Doug Bandow explains how those with the means are renouncing their citizenship in increasing numbers, while J. Dayne Girard describes the innovative use of freeports to shield wealth from the myriad taxes and duties imposed on it as it moves around the world. Of course the politicians brand all of these people unpatriotic, hoping you won't think too hard about the difference between the usual crony-capitalist suspects and the global creative elite that have done so much to improve our lives. In a special tech section, Joseph Diedrich, Thomas Bogle, and Matthew McCaffrey look at various ways these innovators add value to our lives--even in ways they probably never expected.
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