Walter E. Williams

 In February 2003, he was elected the president of the Czech Republic. Influenced by the works of noted liberty-oriented scholars such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, and statesmen such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and his enthusiasm for Adam Smith, Vaclav Klaus is an eloquent and uncompromising voice for individual freedom and the free market, as well as a staunch critic of growing centralized power and control in the European Union.

 The title of President Klaus' address was "The Threats to Liberty in the 21st Century." Not his words, but the threat to liberty in the 21st century is the same as it has been throughout mankind's history. That threat is use of the coercive powers of government, under the color of law, to take the rightful property of some people and give to others, and the forcible imposition of the will of one group of people on another group. Such acts, most often done in the name of good, explain the ugliest portions of human history.

 The question is whether America will degenerate into what has been mankind's standard fare throughout history. We have yet to see the kind of arbitrary control, abuse and violation of basic human rights seen elsewhere. But if we ask ourselves which way are we heading, tiny steps at a time: toward more personal liberty or toward greater government control over our lives, the answer would unambiguously be the latter. Organizations like the Foundation for Economic Education might slow the process and even help reverse it.

 We Americans face an awesome challenge and responsibility because if liberty dies here, it's probably dead for all places and all times.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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