Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Me!? Speak at the Jeffersonville Rotary Club?

HARBESON: Remember, it’s ‘The Law’

>>SOUTHERN INDIANA — I have a magnet on my fridge a friend gave me that says “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

The quote is attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, so naturally the first thing I thought of doing was to learn more about her husband’s actions while in charge of this country.

That was scary. So scary in fact, that another friend’s magnet gift sits right next to it. That one says, “Mommy, I’m scared of the government.”

However, I truly jumped up the scariness scale when I decided to accept an invitation to speak to the Jeffersonville Rotary Club, which I did last week.

Eleanor would be so happy. I think.

For those who didn’t attend and are curious as to how it went, let me just say that I feel pretty good about it because I accomplished my main goal: Making it to the podium without tripping. But that could be because I was sitting about two steps away from it.

Let me also say I had a great time and everyone I met was extremely gracious and welcoming. I even received an e-mail a couple days later from a gentleman who said we were probably very far apart philosophically but he really enjoyed it and hoped I would return sometime.

If you want to know more, then I suggest you contact a local member of the Jeffersonville Rotary who attended and get his or her thoughts.

I do need to express a couple of regrets though. The first is not being able to meet the lady in the crowd who seemed to get a particularly big kick out of the problem I have with annoying black hairs growing out of my chin. I think she and I might have a lot in common.

I also regret being unprepared for a question asking where interested people could find more information on the liberty-oriented topics I brought up. I tried to anticipate the questions I might get but was stupidly unprepared for the obvious.

I suspect I looked like a deer in the headlights but I’ve never had the opportunity to make recommendations in front of a group of people, rather than on an individual level. On an individual level, I always direct people to more information that will be pertinent to their specific concerns and questions.

But even so, I’m happy I recommended Frederic Bastiat’s “The Law” as a great short introduction. This book was already at the top of my mind because I was discussing it just a few days earlier on the phone with my friend, Ben.

And interestingly, the book came up again during my pre-speech lunch conversation with Charley Reisert, the gentleman who first contacted me about speaking to the Rotarians.

Then, later this same week, the recommendation was further confirmed when I found myself in Jeffersonville’s Warder Park. I originally went to observe what I mistakenly thought was to be a Tax Day protest, but discovered it was just another political candidate rally.

So, I strolled over to the Timeline Of Liberty sculpture again and there was Bastiat, standing there holding a copy of “The Law.”

Once I saw him, I knew I made a good recommendation. I was reminded that anyone reading Bastiat would be well on the way to coming into contact with ideas about liberty in general, and might even eventually run into philosophical ideas that mean a lot to me, such as market anarchy and voluntaryism.

So I invite everyone to read “The Law” and let me know what you think. And thanks again to the Jeffersonville Rotary Club for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson tries to do one thing every day that scares her so on most days, she just reads a .gov website.


  1. Great to hear! The Law is a solid introductory book that has caused a lot of people to question the way they previously had looked at the world and interactions between individuals.

    You're article had me smiling re: learning more about FDR.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks Pete. It would be cool if this spurs anyone on to actually read it that never heard of that book before.

  3. I agree, Debbie. "The Law" is great. I need to read it again (probably on a regular basis).

    This story reminds me of a book I think you might like. I certainly did, and recommend it to you.

    It is one of many by Leonard Read, the founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, which was the first modern libertarian think tank in the United States.

    Leonard Read - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The book is "Elements of Libertarian Leadership", published in 1962.

    There is a free PDF copy available from mises.org on Leonard's author page.


    The reason I connected it with this story was Leonard's intense focus on self-improvement, coupled with urging the reader to share what he has learned and is learning in a public setting like you did.

  4. Thanks for that recommendation Bill. Interestingly, Charley, the guy who invited me to speak gave me another book by Leonard Read, Anything That's Peaceful.