Interview with Donald R. Chambers, Author of Freedom First

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have published seven books. Six of them were textbooks (or reference books) regarding investments and finance. Freedom First is totally unlike my others.

What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

Freedom is paramount to health, prosperity and peace. Our country seems to be losing both the understanding of and appreciation for freedom.

What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

I hope that they will have a better understanding of the importance of economic freedom – in particular how market prices guide us towards better production and consumption of resources .

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I am working on a book regarding Christian grace.

Favorite book when you were a kid? 

Homer Price

What book is currently on your bedside table?

The Bible.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I love to play softball and soccer.

Your hero?

Elon Musk – for his courage and creativity.

If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook?

Elon Musk and catfish stew.

What’s your favorite spot to visit and what makes it so special to you? 

Keuka Lake in western New York State– I spent all of my childhood summers there with my brother, parents and grandparents.

Excerpt from Freedom First

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

I often ask my students what they think the Declaration of Independence means when it says all men “are created equal.” Does that mean a person like me is physically equal to LeBron James or mentally equal to Albert Einstein? The answer is obvious to those few students who know the words that come next in the Declaration of Independence: “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Founding Fathers knew that we are not mentally or physically equal. Rather, they were proclaiming the revolutionary idea that we are equally entitled to our rights.

So I am free to pursue a career in the NBA or to try to write a unified theory of physics. Simply put, the Founders were laying the foundation for a nation that would strive to make each person equal under the law. Coming from a shared history of a world in which kings were declared as directly speaking the word of God, this was a radical, innovative, and bold experiment. Ronald Reagan wondered aloud how “that little band of men so advanced beyond their time that the world has never seen their like since, evolve the idea that you and I have within ourselves the God-given right and the ability to determine our own destiny.”

Now the intelligentsia and political elites are trying to achieve equality of outcomes and, in doing this, they are taking away our rights to equal treatment under the law and to determine our own destinies. The only way government can ensure that I can compete equally against LeBron James in basketball or Albert Einstein in theoretical physics is to somehow destroy or constrain their abilities to excel. Kurt Vonnegut covered this point wonderfully and humorously in his short story, “Harrison Bergeron.” Vonnegut described the handicapper general’s efforts to bring ballet dancers and newscasters down to the skill levels of the least qualified citizens.

We can have equality of outcomes or equal treatment under the law. We can only pick one. If America picks equality of outcomes, it will ensure no one will have an incentive to invest in the future, innovate, or work hard. The pie could, in principle, be divided into equal pieces. But the pie would get smaller through time as the lack of incentives to maintain and innovate our production capabilities would lead to decay and obsolescence.

 Furthermore, some of the pie would need to be set aside to compensate for the inevitable corruption that enables the decadent lifestyles of the political elites of authoritarian regimes with weak private property rights. But the pie will necessarily get smaller and smaller. Just watch North Korea shrink and starve while South Korea flourishes. Watch Venezuelans suffer from a government unable to pump oil out of the ground. That is the future the intellectual and political elitists wish for America, which is why they never criticize the policies or leaders of those repressive regimes.

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