On Our Way To Freedom Fest

For years now, a number of Peak Prosperity readers have been encouraging Chris and me to attend Freedom Fest, a conference billed as "The world's largest gathering of free minds". 

Every Spring, the calls and emails begin: Are you guys going to Freedom Fest this year?

They tell us this is consistently the most stimulating week of their entire year. And that, like at our annual seminars, the people you meet and relationships you make there are well worth the price of admission alone.

Well, this year we decided to take up the invitation.

So tomorrow Chris and I will make our way (me from the West coast, he from the East) to Las Vegas, where we'll spend three immersive days listening to speakers, panel discussions, and having 1-on-1 chats. Certainly, there will be some personalities there we're interested to meet in person -- John Mackey, Senators Ron & Rand Paul, Steve Forbes, Bill Bonner, and the like -- whom we'll see if we can get access to and record a podcast for the site.

Most important, though, we've been told by past attendees that the Freedom Fest audience is already completely bought in to the Economy "E" of our 3E story; however, it's quite unaware of the similarly unsustainable Energy and Environment "Es". This may be an important gathering of influencers to speak to, in hopes of propagating the full Peak Prosperity message to the sizable army of followers they reach.

At least, we think it's worth a shot.

So we'll be taking good notes and a selfie or two from the halls of this year's Freedom Fest, and we'll share the interesting nuggets we learn during the process with you all here on the site.

If you're going to Freedom Fest this year, or just happen to be in the Las Vegas area, come meet up with us. We'll be signing copies of our book Prosper!: How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting at the Valaurum booth in the Exhibitors Hall at 2:50pm on Thursday.

And for those of you who will be following our experience vicariously here through the site, much of the speeches, debates and panels will be live streamed for the first time this year. You'll be able to watch them here:

And, as a warm-up, here's an interview we did a few years back on the growing surveillance State with Mark Skousen, Freedom Fest's founder and producer:

We'll start sharing updates as soon as we're on the ground...


Adam & Chris

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://peakprosperity.com/on-our-way-to-freedom-fest/

Good luck helping some of these other  well-known thinkers open their eyes to the other 2Es.  I look forward to your updates!

On Teaching  Kahlil Gibran

No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge.
The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.
If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.
The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.
The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it.
And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither.
For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.
And even as each one of you stands alone in God's knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the earth.     

Reference: http://www.katsandogz.com/onteaching.html

I heard somewhere that there is a water shortage on the west coast - especially Lake Mead - what you don't drink can be donated to the good folks of Nevada.  Safe travels to both of you.

Reaching for The Great Oracle  the Limits to Growth Curves,  I am told we shot over the edge of the cliff in 1982. 
All sorts of Collective and Authoritarian decisions needed to be made by then. They weren't. 

Civilization ascends in hob nail boots and descends in velvet slippers. 

Stephan Moleneux,  quoting someone else.

Am I supposed to be  happy saying "I told you so"? At this moment in time we have more chance of proving Einstein wrong or grasping at Alien straws than pretending that this bus will magically levitate. 

All this talk of  Fweedom is just  that, talk.

I could have called this piece Hitler redux but too many people would have gone running for their safe spaces and calling for an Authoritarian Daddy to make me stop.

Oh the irony.

Glad to hear that you and Chris are going to make it this year.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have in the past.  They will have some interesting speakers but they could really benefit from hearing from both of you to complete the 3E picture (they really do focus on the Economy in isolation from much of the other 2Es).  Looking forward to seeing you both later this week and will stop by the Valaurum booth as well.

Chris and Adam,
Good luck at Freedom Fest.  One of the big turning points in terms of the first E for me was reading John Mauldin and Jonathan Tepper's Endgame: The End of the Debt Supercycle and How it Changes Everything back in 2011.  For many years before that, I thought that US government debt was way too high, but it was their book that put our high public debt to GDP ratio into the context of the other rich countries, showing that pretty much all of the OECD was in the same over-leveraged boat.  They also introduced me to Rogoff and Reinhart's This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, for a more theoretical look at debt supercycles and and how governments have typically responded.  

As I think most here know, Mauldin also comes of as very…confident, to put it nicely, but his message was more important to me than his delivery style.  Also, he makes a lot of right-wing claims about economics, and as my origins are from the left, this also made it a bit challenging for me to read him.  But, it was really his book that spurred me to make my first physical PM purchase and I was also able to get it into our school library.  Since then, some students have read it.  We were also able to get Rogoff and Reinhart on the shelves, but it's not as accessible for most of them.  It wasn't the first, and I'm sure it won't be the last time that mixing the waters of political ideology was a good thing for me.

I know Mark Skousen from his book The Making of Modern Economics, a decidedly neo-liberal and quite editorialized account of the history of economic thought.  As Clean Energy Fan points out, Skousen and most of the other luminaries at Freedom Fest are likely to be focusing on the first E at the expense of the other two.  Climate change, for example, doesn't seem to be taken seriously by either Skousen or the folks at the various Von Mises Institutes around the world, because it just doesn't fit with their economic ideology. I would guess that would also be true for peak oil.

So, I hope that you guys are able to mix the currents of ideas in both directions, and awaken some of the folks at Freedom Fest to the possibility that the global industrial growth bus is not the way forward, and that there are constructive responses to the limits to growth that we face.



I hope you two sell MANY copies of the Crash Course, the foundational book that opens eyes to the THREE Es.  In fact, Id like to see you "push" the Crash Course more often on your posts, especially for newcomers.  If your original videos were played at ALL college campuses, (4 1/2 hr one), I believe the word would spread much faster, and influence the college crowd.

Hugh, you're much kinder than I would be.  Freedomfest appears to be nothing more than a sales conference to pump up the true libertarian believers.  Las Vegas is, of course, the perfect venue for such an event.  Plenty of hookers, blow and gambling for those with too much money and too little sense.  As someone once defined it, libertarianism is a philosophy abandoned by millions of college sophomores every year.
Let's face it, libertarianism is completely inconsistent with a liveable environment.  As Ayn Rand once supposedly advised, you should find the filthiest smokestack you can, run up to it and kiss it.  If Chris and Adam want to familiarize those in attendance with the orphan E, the environment, they will find a stone deaf audience.  Environmentalism is by definition a collective enterprise, libertarianism is by definition the glorification of the individual and his/her selfish interests.  The two cannot coexist.


for the daily commentary. 
Looking at the schedule I see among many interesting topics, "Power Moves: Latest Trends in Energy and Investment" at 10 am on Thursday, "Mock Trial on Global Warming" at 7 pm on Thursday. 
Oh then there's one on voter fraud on Friday and oil in the middle east on Saturday. 

You guys are going to be like 2 pigs in slop, figuratively speaking. cool


What a great quote from Kahlil Gibran!

Having just taught my first seminar last week in a language other than English, in this case Portuguese (Brazil), I recognize in this quote that we are always speaking different languages to each other when we try to relate our knowledge, thoughts and beliefs.

You cannot force ideas or understanding down each other´s throats, but with integrity, compassion, and persistence you can put them on a plate for them to contemplate. All but the most obdurate will have to eventually come to grips with these matters if they truly have merit.


Doug - I hear you but am not so quick to throw the baby out with the bath water.

None of us have the whole picture of everything. Although, from the given agenda, I can see that many attendees might be hostile to such matters as Global Climate Change (or the other 2 E´s in general), I, personally, would not be dismissive of everything espoused at Freedom Fest. If we cannot be open to the ideas of others then how can we expect them to truly listen to us? Respectfully engaging in debates does not require accepting or acquiescing to someone else´s point of view but requires both parties to wrestle with each others ideas. This can go a long way to defusing polarization even if it doesn´t result in a complete meeting of the minds.

I´d de interested in seeing that ´Mock Trial on Global Warming´ as one of the participants is Professor Kerry Emanuel from MIT. He is about as solid a climate scientist as you will find and was one of my own professors (Meteorology) back when I was at MIT. It doesn´t look like it is supposed to be an echo chamber discussion.

All in all, I think that Chris and Adam are likely to open many people´s eyes to a larger picture where energy and the environment provide the foundation upon which our global economy depends. Who knows, maybe next year they will be asked to return as presenters! Regardless, I look forward to hearing their impressions and reports from Freedom Fest this year. 


To a libertarian view, environmental destruction is a collective effort. Yes, when you have unowned resources, you can get some tragedy of the commons, and that’s bad. But that’s only one small area. To really destroy the environment, you need laws that make it prohibitively costly to protect or renew the environment.
Things like, misapplied antitrust laws that force coal mines to blow methane off into the air, so that the government can say “see, we’re doing our job” as they turn a blind eye to their regulatory capture.

If the arctic ice cap totally disappears for the first time this September I bet the people at FF will declare it a government conspiracy.

Thanks for the feedback all.  Now that Mark has told me about the AGM connection, I will be quite interested to see what that event holds.
I will, of course, be going with an open mind.  I've never been before and so I'm sure that there will be some there that I resonate with strongly and some less so.  

All I really care about is if people have open minds.

This political season has been hard, and fracturing, and so I am quite keen to see what the political mood there is.

I'll be sure to provide updates as I can to the site, and tweet the rest.

…now I have to catch a flight heading east and south before I can catch the next one heading west and north.  ;0

I didn't see that Kerry Emanuel would be participating in the mock trial.  I assumed it would be an echo chamber.  I, too, am very interested.  I wonder who will represent the libertarian perspective.

I've been more or less following libertarianism for over 40 years since my undergrad days.  It has a superficial attractiveness, but once the implications sink in it becomes far less interesting.  It must be remembered today that when libertarians complain of "burdensome regulations", it is largely a euphemism for environmental, health and safety regulations.  Their's is a world of social Darwinism.  

If and when they come up with realistic plans to address climate change and the other environmental rapes being committed while they drop quarters in the slots, I might begin to think differently.

I took the time to google the other participants on the panel. A few are dyed in the wool deniers; Will Happer, Patrick Michaels and James Taylor (not that James Taylor.)  And, of course, the "moderator" is Michael Medved.  For entertainment Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, author of a book entitled Ske?tic (really) and columnist for Scientific American is also on the panel.  I'm not completely sure of his position of climate change, but he claims allegiance to science.  He has some great TED videos.

So, Emmanuel will be decidedly outnumbered but possibly not without allies.

It should be interesting.  I hope we can get it.




Man, it's hot here…

man, I love in air wifi.

Silly, but I'm excited about you and Chris participating in this event.  Kind of like the morning at a race track when anything seems possible…  Good luck!!
Mark, isn't that a great lesson on teaching from Kahlil Gibran?  I was afraid of coming off preachy in posting it, which wasn't my intent.  I just really liked the idea he conveyed; it rang true to me.

Personally, I'm wondering if social cohesion will fail before the other E's. I tried to find a fourth E to express "civil unrest" but unfortunately the best that the online thesaurus could come up with is Edginess. So I guess I'm you are safe with just 3 E's.
Stay safe. We look forward to your reports.

i am looking forward to hearing your experiences.  I knew Steve Moore (Cato Institute)years ago and was actually surprised to hear how his views have softened.  He used to be a hard core Ayn Rand every man for himself person. We all learn as we live.  
I have been a long time fan of Michael Shermer (great books).  Would love to hear what he will say over the weekend.  He helped clear up my thinking so much about reality and distortion.  Eagerly awaiting your updates.  Don't think Stossel will be too interested in the other two E's.  Just saying.

I'm here at the FF opening ceremony (Chris is still en route). Things are about to kick off, and I've got my laptop out to liveblog the nuggets that catch my attention.
I'll update this post every 5-10 minutes, so if you're reading this as am typing, hit 'refresh' every so often to get the latest.

Speaker #1: Terry Brock/Mark & Jo Ann Skousen – Welcome & Intro

  • TB: this year's FF theme is "freedom rising". The intrusion of government is increasing, yes, but more & more are awakening to this and demanding change/making change --> choosing more freedom
  • A dance/drum procession has kicked off, reminiscent of Stomp. Supposed to be some sort of physical visualization of 'freedom', I guess.
  • Ooh, there go the flaming nunchucks....
  • MS/JS: lots planned for the next few days, will be awesome, etc
Speaker #2: Wayne Allen Root -- Is Freedom Rising?
  • Freedom is falling: GDP depressed for 7 long years (record for US economy), more businesses now close each day than open
  • If you can't keep/save your own money from govt, business suffers
  • When government takes/debases money, it is stealing opportunity for the citizenry
  • Tax & regulations are making it too onerous to start & run businesses. We are killing the 'makers'
  • Some of the assaults over the past decade: raised taxes, payroll taxes, Affordable Care Act compliance expenses, increased capital gains taxes, phased out tax credits, raised insurance premium while lowering coverage, raised legal and accounting bills needed to account for new regulations and taxes, raised minimum wage, restrict independent contractors, increasing sales taxes, IRS audits of small businesses have increased, raising Social Security qualifying age, trying to get rid of mortgage deductions, making it harder to do business or store $ overseas (I missed a few - he talks fast)
  • The solution: cut taxes, cut regulations 
Speaker #3: Steve Forbes -- Reviving America
  • US stuck in economic morass
  • But the good news is that we can fight back & pull ourselves out of this
  • The real battle is the battle of ideas (has 3 big ideas for reform to share)
  • Health Care: Health care costs are too high, as are insurance premiums which don't cover enough anymore. The reason why is that the health care market is not free, it's run as a cartel. Examples like flu shots and LASIK surgery, which are not covered by health insurance, are examples that competition brings down prices and raises quality. Forbes has a lot of specific ideas for transparency of costs/quality, choice of doctor, and other reforms that give more freedom to the patient -- predicts this will lower costs and improve care.
  • The Tax Code: Way to dense and complicated; nobody knows what's in it. It's a monster. Throw it out and start all over. Replace with single rate flat tax, with exemptions for families with kids. Same thing for business. Should only take 1 sheet of paper and 1 minute to do your taxes. Will boost economy overnight. And it's moral, unlike our current solution (we spend billions of hours and dollars per year just filing taxes collectively)
  • Money: Fed is manipulating money through bad policies. Solution: take our money out of the hands of politicians, go back to a fixed rate for the dollar = return to the gold standard. During the years the US was on the gold standard we had the highest economic growth rates in history.
Speaker #4: Lawrence Reed -- Real Heroes
  • We'll need heroes to create a path forward towards an optimistic future
  • He's written a book about heroes, several stories he'll share here:
  • Fanny Crosby - lived from 1820-1915, she wrote the lyrics to 9,000 songs. First woman to address the US Congress. She knew 21 US presidents personally. She was blind, as well. Her message: no handicap is more powerful than the spirit to make a difference.
  • Jesse Owens - worked his way through college with menial jobs, supporting his family at same time. Triumphed for his country and race at the Berlin Games. Never received a thanks from the US President, even though all the white runners were invited to the White House.
  • Vivian Hellens(?) - scrappy entrepreneur anti-tax evangelist. Thought withholding taxes were wrong, could only escalate the issue by non-compliance. She did and while the IRS steamrolled her, she fought back in the courts. Similarly, she fought for women's right to own businesses.
  • Joe Louis - fought as a boxer and a WW2 soldier. Fought the IRS, as at the time, the top tax rates were 75-90%. Louis had fought a number of charity fights, receiving no payment himself -- though the govt treated those fights as taxable income, creating crushing tax debts for him.
  • American needs more men & women who cannot be bought. Who are not afraid of risks to advance what is right. American, in other words, needs more heroes.
Speaker #5: Larry Elder -- The Axis of Indoctrination
  • We're in a culture war.
  • Hollywood has a real bias, and a lot of influence.
  • Academia is similarly skewed in terms of bias, and again, positioned to have an outsized impact on young minds.
  • Media is coloring the news it delivers. In many cases, the messages run contrary to the data. Elder uses stats of police shootings to make his point.
Speaker #6: Michael Medved -- The Year Of Rage
  • We do not have a news business in America. We have a "bad news" business = if it bleeds or enrages, it leads.
  • Like Elder, Medved is using police shooting stats to indicate that the media message often does not fit the actual data.
  • Average American spends over 30 hours per week in front of a screen, largely only consuming news of dysfunction. As a result, our sense of our country and what's going on it is often very afar from reality.
  • Things are not as bad as we are being led to believe -- we need to take a "media diet", and give ourselves opportunity to hear news from our communities vs our devices. Even 1 day a week doing this is worthwhile.
  • Eschew anger/complaint/competitive victimhood. Embrace gratitude, optimism and hope.
Initial Impressions
  • Tonight is just the tip of the iceberg. Tons more speakers, panels, etc tomorrow.
  • I haven't mixed with the other attendees yet, so I reserve the right to amend my initial impressions -- which are intended as objective observations, not judgments
  • Folks here are pretty conservative, culturally. It's kind of interesting: many of the speakers seem like conventional Republicans in their values, except they seem (and this is me postulating) betrayed by how the current Republican party has moved away from sound money and responsible economic stewardship.