Now the good folks from FreedomFest are taking this to the next level by conducting a survey to determine the “50 Most Influential Libertarians.”
I invite everyone to participate by clicking here, especially since filling out the survey gives you a $100 discount when registering for this year’s FreedomFest (to be held in mid-July).
Having worked in libertarian circles for many decades, I’m going to look at each of the categories and take a guess on who will get the most votes and also give my two cents on which of the people are the most under-appreciated.
We’ll start with libertarian authors.
I’m guessing P.J. O’Rourke will get first place in this category, though Robert Higgs and Charles Murray also are possibilities.
The most under-appreciated choice is James Bovard. I’ve known Jim for decades and his writing is both principled and entertaining. I’ve shared several of his columns if you want to get a taste.
Now let’s move the business and finance category.
I actually know only about half of the people on this list, so take my views here with a grain of salt. For my guess on who will win, I’m torn between listing David Koch and Charles Koch, who have done so much to build libertarian institutions, and Steve Forbes, who has done so much to popularize free markets.
For the most under-appreciated libertarian, I’m going with John Aglialoro. How can you not applaud a guy who finally delivered a movie version of Atlas Shrugged?
Now let’s look at libertarian celebrities.
I have no idea who will win this category. I’m wondering if voters will pick the biggest celebrity, meaning perhaps Clint Eastwood.
It’s also hard to pick the most under-appreciated libertarian in this category. But I’ll go with Penn Jillette. I’ve seen his Las Vegas show (Penn and Teller) two times and I imagine hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans have been both entertained and enlightened by the experience.
By the way, I wonder why Howard Stern wasn’t listed.
Time now for the top libertarian in freedom organizations.
This is another hard-to-guess category. If I’m basing my choice on (deserved) celebrity status, I would have to pick between Mark Skousen, who has made FreedomFest a must-attend event, Jeffrey Tucker, the guy who is dramatically expanding FEE’s outreach, and Johan Norberg, who is famous for his short videos on freedom.
For under-appreciated libertarians, Tom Palmer deserves praise as one of the most determined and effective libertarians ever to traverse the globe (literally and figuratively). And Barbara Kolm deserves some sort of prize for her yeomanlike (yeowomanlike?) efforts to save Europe with her annual Free Market Road Show.
Let’s shift to the media category.
I would be stunned if John Stossel didn’t win this category, though Judge Napolitano and the guys from Reason may give him a tough race.
My choice for under-appreciated libertarian would be Neal Boortz or Julie Borowski.
The big oversight is that Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit isn’t listed.
Here are the choices for politics.
I assume there’s not much suspense on who will win. If Ron Paul doesn’t come in first place, I’ll eat my hat. Actually, I retract that offer. Based on my less-than-impressive election predictions, I no longer feel confident about my ability to prognosticate. But I still think Ron Paul wins, perhaps followed by his son.
For under-appreciated libertarians, I’m going with Justin Amash and Thomas Massie. It is very helpful to have a couple of solid libertarians in the House of Reprehensibles. They probably should have included Congressman Brat as well.
Here’s another very difficult category, the top libertarian professors.
It’s impossible to make good selections since there are so many good choices. If you put a gun to my head, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Walter Williams or Thomas Sowell emerge in first place because they’ve both done such a great job over the decades with their books and columns.
It’s also difficult to pick the most under-appreciated libertarian. The crowd from George Mason University is superb, Richard Epstein and Randy Barnett are amazing legal minds, and the Schoollands do great work.
By the way, it’s a terrible oversight that Robert Murphy and Ed Stringham are not on the list.
Last but not least, we have the think tank crowd.
It goes without saying that the Cato Institute (America’s most principled and effective think tank) should win this category. And you have lots of Cato people from which to choose, so pretend you’re a dead person in Chicago and vote early and vote often.
For the most under-appreciated libertarian, I’m going to pick someone who isn’t even on the list. Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center deserves lots of write-in votes. Not only did she escape France, but she’s been one of the most effective and determined policy economists in Washington. If you need any extra convincing, just watch this video.
Once again, here’s the link for those who want to take the survey.