Those who know me are aware that I am a slow learner – a pedantic, trudging engineer who likes toys and shiny things. It is a thread woven through the fabric of my being. In the late 1990s, I had the privilege of attending the big Atlas Foundation meeting back East courtesy of an innovative free thinker, Ricardo Valenzuela. Among those people, I found myself at home with the ideas and philosophies that had nettled my soul and kept me restless for decades before and I knew for a certainty that I was not alone with my books and philosophy. Many of the people I met and admired were going on from the Atlas conference to the Mont Pelerin Society meeting. My chosen profession, Cold War itinerant engineer supporting the government, was a source of unabated internal conflict; the locus of my personal philosophy at odds with the locus of my profession.
A few days ago I read Alberto Benegas-Lynch, Jr.’s article On Selling Classical Liberalism in this month’s The Freeman published by FEE. As a former board member of the Mont Pelerin Society, it seemed reasonable that he might provide some insight in how to communicate ‘my’ thoughts without someone throwing something at me. The insight was definitely there. Benegas-Lynch’s observations on the difference between selling goods and ideas were as clear as the finest crystal and as well crafted. Why did understanding come now, when I am well into my sixth decade, rather than the time I most needed it – on Bikini when Charles asked me for advice and I had little to give.
As the day surrendered its light and heat that summer in 1991, the stars reported to their appointed posts to cast the world in a less harsh relief. About an hour earlier, I had left my teammates barbecuing the tuna caught on the last trip out in the boat. I set out from the project camp at a good clip headed for my favorite spot on the ocean side of the north end of Bikini Atoll. It was a bit of a hike and no one would miss me for a long time; tales and beer were already flowing and the fish was on the barby. It was a rare chance for private reflection. The outer reef broke the waves and the tide was low. The tidal pool I occupied was warm and the gentle surges from the great Pacific soothed my tired, aching body. My mind focused on what I would say to Charles the next day. But wait, there’s more!