Aaron Ross Powell on Visions of Liberty

friedrich hayek public policy libertarianism criminal justice health care

August 25, 2023

Aaron Ross Powell, formerly of the Cato Institute (at the time of this interview), and currently the host of podcasts ReImagining Liberty and Zooming In, talks to us about his new book with Paul Matzko called Visions of Liberty.

Want to explore more?
Read Powell's Substack.
Aaron Ross Powell, Finding a Balance Between Inner and Outer Freedom, at Cato Unbound.
Clark Neily on the Supreme Court's New Justice, a Great Antidote podcast.
Tom Wainwright on Narconomics, an EconTalk podcast.

Read the transcript.

Juliette Sellgren 
Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. Hi, I'm Juliette Sellgren and this is my podcast, the Great Antidote. I am for Adam Smith, brought to you by Liberty Fund. To learn more, visit www Adam Smith works.org. Hi, the great antidote is on a break from recording new episodes currently. In the meantime, we've handpicked these episodes for you, so sit back and relax, hop on your bike or get out your notepad. However you enjoy your podcast. We'll catch you soon for new episodes. It is my great pleasure to talk to Aaron Ross Powell, the director and editor of libertarianism.org and co-host of the podcast Free Thoughts. Aaron is one of those libertarians who makes other libertarians look good, not only because he edits their work behind the scenes, but also because he's so thoughtful that you almost forget that he's a radical visionary. Case in point, his new book, Visions of Liberty, which is what I want to talk about today. Welcome, Aaron. 

Aaron Ross Powell 
Thank you.

Juliette Sellgren 
Before we dive into what a libertarian utopia would look like, I want to ask you a question that I ask all my guests, which is, what is the most important thing that people my age or in my generation should know that we don't?

Aaron Ross Powell 
The main one I think would be to how properly to pronounce gif.

Juliette Sellgren 
I don't know how to do that.

Aaron Ross Powell (1.46)
It's not gif as lots of young people say, but it is G as specified by the creator of the image format. So that's the main thing that bugs me about young people. But on the less pedantic things, I was trying to think back to when I was in high school and in college and what I wished I knew then. And I mean there are lots of little things, but for me, I think the big thing is to more thoroughly question certainty that when we're young, we have a tendency to deeply, deeply embrace our ideas and with a degree of confidence that is I think often unwarranted.

And then as you look back, as our ideas change over time, we learned that a lot of that confidence, maybe we were overconfident in our ideas. And I think that there's a lot of value being confident in your ideas, and there's a lot of value in being very passionate about them. And I don't want to knock that and that's like a laudable thing, but I see a lot of young people, I see a lot of young libertarians, I see a lot of the non-libertarian young people who are so certain of the ideas that they believe right now that they are unnecessarily dismissive of other ideas or unwilling to take the time to really explore those other and opposing ideas. And I think it sets back intellectual development. So that would be the main thing. I think. I wish that when I talk to young people that you can be passionate about your ideas, but be less confident about them or more willing to entertain ideas that run counter to your own.

Juliette Sellgren 
Yeah, I think that's really good. I mean, more and more as I do this podcast, I kind of realize how little it is. I know about even the things that I fundamentally think I agree with and even little things where I just have no, it's stuff that you don't think about or just I don't know, but it's even in talking to other people, I'm like, have you ever thought about this? And they're like, no, because I know what I know is right. And I'm like, Hmm, let's all think about this other idea. And trying to, I don't know, devil's advocate type stuff, just to see how much people think about what they're saying, what they're advocating for, and kind of trying to see if maybe if you come at it from a different angle, some other viewpoint makes more sense. And I mean, that's part of the reason why I did this podcast was to try to introduce new viewpoints to people my age. So yeah, I like your answer.

Aaron Ross Powell (5.07)
And I think too, there's an inner personal side to it, which is you want to be able to explore, like you just said, you want to be able to explore other ideas because it might turn out that those other ideas are better than the ones that you hold or that they add nuance to the ones that you hold or that you learn something that you didn't before. But I think there's also an external and social element to this that a lot of the problems we see in the country right now are to a great extent that the result of people being so certain of their own ideas and worldviews, that they believe that there's something fundamentally wrong with people who don't hold them.

Every one of us thinks that the ideas that we hold, correct, because if you didn't think that your ideas were correct, you wouldn't hold them. None of us, we don't go around saying like, boy, I believe a whole lot of wrong things. But at the same time, if you think that your ideas aren't just correct, but are overwhelmingly obviously correct, so obviously correct that any reasonable person can see how correct they are, then you force yourself into seeing anyone who doesn't hold them as necessarily unreasonable. And when you've done that, not only are you cutting off listening to them, so then you can't learn as much from them, but you've pigeonholed them as being the kind of people who have something wrong with them, and then they become either easier to dismiss or easier to sneer at, or easier to put down distance yourself from and so on. And that increases the camp based thinking and the tribalism that we see. So I think it's both. You want to learn from other ideas, but you also want to appreciate that other people can have reasonable reasons for believing ideas that you don't necessarily think are correct. And so disagreement can be reasonable as opposed to kind of always seeing disagreement as unreasonable.

Juliette Sellgren (7.18)
Yeah, I mean there's a reason why we all have different beliefs, even if it follows the same train of thought. Everyone has different experiences or different influences, and that's why they took X idea a different way than you did or why they believe that the right solution to Y problem is something else. I think, yeah, I'd say it is really important to think about Y is it that so many different people believe there are different solutions than what I think is right. I don't know. Yeah. So now let's talk about your new book, visions of Liberty, which you co-edited with your colleague Paul Matzko and published at the Cato Institute. It covers a lot of topics like criminal justice reform, the drug war, healthcare, education, climate, many more topics. So can you tell us what the book is about and what you're trying to achieve?

Aaron Ross Powell (8.22)

The motivation behind the book was a problem that I have encountered when talking with people about libertarianism or hearing non-libertarians talk about libertarian ideas and namely, that's that libertarianism as a political philosophy is to a great extent, a whole series of negative statements. It's government is doing this and it shouldn't be. People want to exercise this particular power over other people and they shouldn't. And so it's a lot of libertarian policy then is we need to stop doing X, Y, and Z. The problem with that from a rhetorical standpoint is when say government action has been the thing that's been doing X, Y, and Z for years or decades or generations. And in the abstract those things like government's been providing education, government's been providing healthcare, government's been providing certain kinds of criminal justice solutions, and those things in the abstract are valuable. People want education, they want healthcare, they want criminal justice and so on when what you're saying is government should stop doing this and this and this, even if they're kind of on board with the rights-based arguments that government is violating rights when it does this or it's inefficient or so on.

At the back of the mind is this like, well, but what's the alternative? Yes, I understand that you're worried about rights violations, but if the result is I'm not going to have education for my children, maybe I'm willing to put up with some rights violations for that. And so what I wanted to do was advance a positive vision because I'm a libertarian. I mean, I care about rights, I care about those kind of the negative side. There are restrictions, there are things that you can't do to other people if we respect their dignity and autonomy and we ought to respect their dignity and autonomy. That's very important to me. But the reason that I decided to make a career out of this stuff is because I care deeply about making the world a better place, and I think that the world could be a radically better place than it is now.

And I happen to think that libertarian ideas and libertarian policies are the way we get to that radically better world. But I wanted a book that showed that to people, that optimistic side that said, it's not just about saying government stop doing these things. It's about saying, look, if we stop government from doing these things and instead allow individuals to exercise their own creativity in these areas, we will get these things that we wanted, education, healthcare, so on, but in this radically better way. And so I wanted a book that provided concrete visions of that that didn't just say, look, if we get government out of healthcare, healthcare will be higher quality and lower cost because that's kind of abstract. What I wanted to say was here's how healthcare might operate in a free market system. And it's the picture that we're painting isn't just a better way to do healthcare, but it's an inspiring vision of how good healthcare could be. So that was the goal with the book, is to bring together what I hope are inspiring visions of what a libertarian world might look like in order to get people thinking that's the kind of world that's worth pursuing.

Juliette Sellgren (12.04)
And it's different from a lot of books or even just policy papers or essays. You get completely transported into a different place like a new Future America. I really liked it. I don't know,

Aaron Ross Powell 
But I'm glad to hear that.

Juliette Sellgren 
I think I'm going to be giving it to a lot of people because I think it's important. And that kind of leads me to what I wanted to talk about next, which continues. This theme is the forward of the book that was written by David Boaz, who's the vice president of Cato Institute. He talks about the challenge given to us by [Friedrich] Hayek, the economist. You definitely know who that is. He says, we must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal utopia, a program which neither seems a mere defensive things as they are, nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty, which is not too severely practical, which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible. And in this book, I feel like you've taken on Hayek's challenge. So I mean, at least I kind of see it as a first step towards opening people's minds to see what is possible. So I don't know, do you view it as a first step and then if you see it as a first step or if you don't what next?

Aaron Ross Powell (13.50)
I think it is certainly a step and that degree of call it like a liberal utopianism does motivate the book. And it was actually, it was one of the things that we talked about as we were conceptualizing the book and working through the chapters was does a book like this get you accused of being too utopian that we're describing this pan gloss impossible worlds? And all that it demonstrates is that libertarianism is this kind of naive, we can make everything perfect view that doesn't engage in the here and now. And I wanted on the one hand to acknowledge that concern, but on the other hand, to aim past it to say, so when I asked colleagues, I wrote up a little thing that I gave to my colleagues that was, here's what I'm looking for in the chapters that I'd like you to write. One of the things that I said is Imagine that you don't have to worry about political possibilities right now.

You don't have to worry about could a bill doing these things make its way through Congress? Those are very important things for Cato scholars to worry about in their day jobs. But this was the projecting forward. And so I said, if you could imagine that you can wave your magic wand and any changes to public policy that you would like to be made can be made without friction, what would the world look like? And this raised, so on the one hand, what this did is I think it presents even if the visions that it presents are ultimately unattainable because of political friction or unattainable in the short term or near term, they give us a direction to em at, they're like, things could be this good and it might take us a long time to get there, and we might never get quite there, but each step in that direction is going to be a step in the right direction.

It's going to be an improvement. And having these very clear visions of the right direction make finding that right direction when we're picking realistic policy changes we can make in the here and now, it makes finding that direction easier. It gives us somewhere to aim at. Because if you don't have the clarity of the vision, it's similar to if you're talking about how could we be more moral? We might say, we can imagine a perfect moral being like a moral saint. And we might say none of us can ever be moral saints, but having an idea of a moral saint makes it easier to figure out which direction we should be going and improving to the extent that we can. And there was that, but there's also a Hayek inside to it. There's a Hayek concern in that. So someone who wants to advocate state action in an area like let's take healthcare in the healthcare debates, A person who wants single payer healthcare, the story that they can tell to potential voters is, if you vote for me, I will pass a law that will say you receive healthcare of the following kinds at the following locations at this cost or at no cost.

You can give this very concrete, this is what I will vote the following world into being a libertarian or a Hayekian or someone who believes in markets and localized knowledge and allowing people to act on localized knowledge and so believes in decentralization. The story that they tell is, if you vote for me, I will strip away the rules and regulations that are preventing those things, the localized knowledge, the decentralization, the markets from getting to work and they will come up with solutions will be better. But I can't tell you what those solutions, exactly what those solutions will look like with a high degree of certainty because if I could, I would be rich, right? That's the role of entrepreneurs is to figure out things that I don't know and you don't know. And no one knew until they tried it. And so there was also a slight, when you're reading the chapters, there was a problem of can we actually predict with certainty and with a high degree of concreteness what the libertarian future will look like?

And so these are, it's important to see these chapters not as this is absolutely what Libertopia would look like. And in fact, some of the authors disagree with each other on what it might look like, but instead, these are possible ways it might turn out. And while they might not be exactly right in all their contours, the authors I and the authors and my co-editor and the authors of the book are pretty confident that, however, it turns out, it will be at least as good and at least as appealing as the vision that's in that book. But if we were offering this is exactly how the future would turn out, then we fall prey to the planner's conceit that Hayek is pushing so hard against.

Juliette Sellgren (19.17)
I mean, I can definitely see the challenge in that. I mean, trying to think about the future, even if you don't know if it's certain, I don't know. I don't think I'd be able to write a chapter of your book. I mean, if someone was like, do this. I don't know if I could honestly, because I have no idea what the future's going to look like. I have no idea. Even if it's possible, I don't know. I don't know. But what I kind of want to know what I've been thinking about, what I thought about as I was reading this, and as I was thinking that I had no idea how anyone could possibly think so outside of the box. And so I'm always very optimistic, but it's difficult to try to even pin down one idea to pin down the vision, which was done perfectly in your book. But I mean, without giving names, how hard was it for your colleagues, for the people who wrote the chapters to embrace the vision and to describe what this world would look like?

Aaron Ross Powell (20.35)
I think it was a different degree of challenge for different authors. Some of them, you can tell we're waiting a long time to get an opportunity to write a chapter. This I'm thinking like Alex Nowrasteh chapter on immigration where he does a alternate history of the United States if the Supreme Court had made a different decision earlier in our history to dramatically liberalize immigration, and then he follows through what the world might look like from that. And he wrote that chapter fast enough that I am relatively certain that he had already thought of this entire elaborate alternate history before I even envisioned the book. And he was just finally an excuse to write my Harry Turtledove style chapter.

And so there were a number like that. There were some colleagues who it was more of the shift from thinking about here and now policy change to envisioning down the road how those policy changes would concretely affect the world was more of a challenge because that's not the way that most of the stuff they write is stuff that we write. The policy analysis that we write at Cato are, here is a law that Congress has that ought to be changed in such and such a way for the following reasons, or here's a new law that ought to be introduced, or here's the problem with existing regulations or whatever. But it is this very much within closer to the Overton window thinking and just thinking about the here and now, which is good, how you get policymakers to listen to you about policy change. It's not to tell them we're going to just radically change everything because they won't pay attention to that.

And so for some of my colleagues, it was harder to get into the mindset of having that magic wand and picturing the perfect world. I think too, some of the areas are easier to write that sort of thing, or at least to give a kind of fun sci-fi scenario than others. So some of the technology chapters, it's like, well, these lend themselves very much to here's emerging tech and we can see the emerging tech. And now let's imagine the world if we ran with that, if the barriers, the regulatory barriers to it's widespread advancement in use, we're abandoned. We can come up with cool scenarios of what that might look like. Others, it's like the government's doing this stuff and if it stopped doing the bad stuff, we'd have just more of what we've already got. So free trade is a good example of this. We have a lot of free trade and we know, so we can look around and we can see what our lives look like when there's free trade. And so then it's the concrete scenario is simply, it looks like the world does now, except a lot more goods can cross borders, and so there's even more specialization in trade, and so we're all wealthier.

So I think those were the kind of axes around which some chapters were easier or more difficult was how much they lend themselves to this speculative scenario making. And then also just how much the individual authors were able to step outside of the immediate policy recommendations. That's our bread and butter.

Juliette Sellgren 
I just still would never have been able to even think of writing some sort of chapter like that. I wish I could, but I definitely couldn't.

Aaron Ross Powell (24.46)
I think you also need to know your area really well, which is one of the reasons this is an edited volume and not a single author volume was as we're coming up with the idea for the book, it was very clear that you wanted each one to be written by someone who had been spending their entire career deep in that one specific area of policy because they would know all of those details. And so if you had a single person try to write the whole thing, the scenarios would probably come across as more superficial than I think what we got in the final product.

Juliette Sellgren 
Yeah, I mean, I really liked how it varied between chapter to chapter. It wasn't exactly the same thing. Each chapter was written kind of differently, which I really enjoyed. I also really liked the cover. I don't know, my mom was like, this is a book that Aaron edited. You should read it. And I was like, I like, oh yeah, just get it. And then it came and she was like, this is it. And I was like, that book looks so nice. If I had no idea what that book was, I would want to read it just because it looks nice. And Don Boudreaux said, and I can quote him on this because I remember talking to him about it. He said, that book is so pretty, I really want to read it.

Aaron Ross Powell 
That's awesome.

Juliette Sellgren 
So I mean, the cover of the book, I feel like maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like it was somewhat purposeful. Was it? Or did you just like that or what?

Aaron Ross Powell (26.28)
So there was a lot of work that went into the cover and not just the design of the cover, but also the paper stock of the book, the textured feel of the cover. I spent Eleanor, who heads up our book production at Cato, gave me lots of samples of paper and cover stock that I just messed with until I found the one that felt right. So yeah, I mean I wanted this book, and it's similar to the prior edited volume I did with Grant Babcock called Arguments for Liberty. I wanted the book, and this is a personal taste thing, to feel like the kind of book that you would pull off the shelf in a hip little used bookstore and the kind of book that you'd pull off and see had been well loved. And I wanted that feel of timelessness to the design. And in part because I think the alternative way, especially a book that's about predicting the future, if we went with a futuristic cover design, those end up feeling really dated really quickly, just look at sci-fi novel covers from 20 years ago when they all feel dated.

So I wanted to avoid that. And so I went with something that had slightly more of an abstract and retro feel that harkened back to the paperbacks, paperbacks from the sixties or seventies that had that aesthetic because it felt more timeless to me. But I've always, for all the books who do it libertarianism.org, I've always, it's been graphic design is really important to us throughout the project is to make these things, if you're asking someone to pay for a physical object that they're going to carry around with them or keep in their house, I feel like, I mean, the content has to be good, but also put the effort into making the design look really good because then there's going to be something they're going to want to carry around or want to have.

Juliette Sellgren (28.42)
I mean, for me, my biggest challenge is always hardcover books, any academic book and most idea books, like anything that is about economics or policy is always hardcover and I cannot stand hardcover books. And so I was just really excited about this one. And also it's just, it fits because it's about policy, but in kind of a removed, futuristic way, and it's kind of like an academic book, but in a removed, futuristic way. So I feel like it's perfect. I don't know, it's just a very satisfying book.

Aaron Ross Powell 
I too don't particularly enjoy reading hardcover. I just don't find the feel of them in my hand as nice as a good paperback. So that's why there was never any intention of doing a hard cover of these books because I'm less of a fan of them. We also wanted to keep the price low because our audience is younger people and students who don't typically have a huge amount of disposable income. So making people pay extra for a hardcover seemed unnecessary in this case.

Juliette Sellgren (29.55)
I mean, I can definitely just tell you that that is a hundred percent right every time I go to the bookstore, always, if it's a hardcover, I don't care if I want to read the book, I will choose a book that is cheaper that I only kind of want to read because I don't have that much money. I'm 17, I'm not going to be paying $30 for a hardcover book. You got it right on the mark there. I kind of wanted to turn to not only this, but just kind of the future of what this book can do. I, so I was reading, well, I read the whole thing, but I kept rereading Clark Neily's chapter because it's especially relevant right now because it's just like the timing is right of when this book came into my life. People are using this moment to try to find a way to change the criminal justice system.

And even though that's really difficult because all the incentives are lined up to maintain the status quo, he uses the magic wand. He uses that to talk about what it would look like to create a vision for what it would look like if it was not that way. And I think people in their attempts to make change, everyone has a different idea and kind of it's scattered to make change, but no one really, while there's a general goal, there's no specific vision for what we want out of this movement. And I don't know, I thought it was really good timing. And Clark wrote the goals of a truly just and well-functioning system would be much more modest than those of our present system and such a system would restore several features that we have largely eliminated, including A.) robust protection for substantive and procedural rights, B.) strong accountability for those charged with enforcing the laws, and C.) high levels of citizen participation in the administration of criminal justice, which is what people seem to want. But it's like the attempts to get there seem kind of scattered because I don't think anyone has come together and put two and two together and decided that we need this to get to that point or tried to kind of go backwards. This is what we want. How do we get there in a specific way? I don't know. I mean I know some people have, but it just seems like looking on social media, people are kind of all over the place. So can you talk about how this book could be an agent of change and kind of uniting people in a similar vision?

Aaron Ross Powell (33.01)
I think to the extent that the visions that are in the book, the visions of each of the policy areas is inspiring, which was, as I said, our hope in writing the book or in the book, each one can give something to rally around. And I do think that having an inspiring vision to rally around can be very powerful in a way that simply having a negative statement, we want to stop this thing or we want the world better. But the only idea we have about that is to stop the following three things that we think are bad in it, that

If you can say, here's an inspiring vision of the world, it can bring people together around it, and as you said, it can give them then the motivation to try to figure out how to get there. But it's also something that I think can maintain the rally around effect in the way that simple grievances, even when they're a hundred percent justified grievances about things that absolutely should be stopped immediately, which is the case with a huge amount of the criminal justice protests that are happening right now and the racial justice protests that are happening right now, that having that ongoing vision. I think this is one of the problems like Occupy Wall Street movement had concerns about things they thought were wrong with the world, and I think some of those concerns were perfectly justified, some less, but they were able to get a lot of energy around protesting those things initially.

But as soon as they turned to, okay, well what do we replace it with that it fell apart, it dissipated. The encampments went away because there was this disagreement. And my goal with the book is not to say this is the only vision worth pursuing, in part because I think there are lots of visions worth pursuing, and also for the reasons we've talked about with Hayek. We might not be a hundred percent accurate in all of these predictions, but rather to inspire people to say, this is something we can rally around and we can keep working until we've accomplished this. But also to say, this is a vision that we can all agree would be better than what we've got now, but to encourage other people to come up with alternate versions too. That's what I'd love to see is someone say no. I think in fact, all of the stuff that you said we ought to do in criminal justice, the problems that Clark you've identified with the current criminal justice system are exactly like they're the right problems to identify and the ones that we have to fix, but in fact, in their absence, and if we were freed up to apply our creativity to these solutions, here's an even better way.

It might turn out, here's an alternative that I think is even more inspiring. But as long as we share the common goals in it, we're aiming like the kind of criteria by which we're judging the world as better in these visions that we have agreement on those. We can continue to rally as we update them. But I do think, as you said, I do think having this concrete vision and saying to someone, because if you say the world's pretty bad right now in all of these ways and we're going to complain about it and we're going to try to stop some of the bad stuff, I think that

Doesn't hook as many people, or there are lots of people who won't be hooked by that, who would instead be really hooked by or motivated by. Here it is, here's what we think the world could be like. Are you with us in trying to figure out how to make this happen? And so I think Clark's chapter is a good example of that because on the one hand, it does identify very clearly the real problems we have in the criminal justice system right now and says, these are the things that we absolutely must change. But at the same time, it answers that question of, look, if we get rid of all these things, yes, police misconduct might be bad and yes, police violence, but if we got rid of all of that, how would we have a criminal justice system? It also answers that question says, here's the humane and just criminal justice system. We could have instead, are you with me on this? And I believe, I certainly hope, but I believe that a lot of people who read this book, even if they're not, don't think of themselves as Libertarians, will see maybe not all of the visions in this, but at least a number of them will really speak to them and say, yes, that's exactly the kind of world that I would like to achieve. I'd like to figure out how to get us there.

Juliette Sellgren 
I'm kind of curious about this. Do you have a favorite chapter or passage in the book?

Aaron Ross Powell (38.34)
That's a hard question to answer without. I love them all and all of my colleagues are great and turned in fantastic chapters, but I think the ones that I enjoy the most, and this is just a taste thing, are the ones that played the most with the format. So I like Alex's a lot because it is this fun alternate history that is very detailed and is just interesting in and of itself, even if you're not particularly interested in libertarianism or public policy or whatever. It's a fun alternate history. Similarly, my colleague Trevor Burris, his chapter on the War on Drugs takes a similar approach. It's not an alternate history, but it's a attempt to map out what the coming decades might look like if we abandoned the war on drugs and does it in this very speculative describing future scenario sort of way, which makes it again, a lot of fun. Or my colleague will Duf Field's chapter, which tries to describe in a world where technology allowed for really robust freedom of digital expression, what might a typical day look like? Those are the ones that just from my kid who grew up reading a lot of science fiction tastes were probably the most fun.

But I think all of the chapters, it is also just going to depend on if we cover, we cover a lot of policy areas and people have the policy areas that matter most to them. And so I think that the answer to which are the best chapters is going to vary too a lot based on the ones that are on policy areas that matter most to you, you're probably going to find the most compelling. But yeah, for me it was the ones that took the framework that Paul and I articulated for a chapter and really went with it in their own direction.

Juliette Sellgren
Yeah, I mean, I think there's something in this book for everyone because there's so much, there's so many chapters. There's even within the chapters, there are so many different parts. I don't know. I think everyone can find something that they even partially agree with or that they could maybe see as a possible future that they'd like in this book, which is so cool. So to wrap up, I wanted to ask you, what is one thing that you believed at one time in your life that you later changed your position on and why?

Aaron Ross Powell (41.39)
I've changed my position on a lot of things, lots of political issues, lots of economic issues, but the one that I think as I was thinking back, trying to figure out the answer I would give on this, the one that is the starkest in my mind is changing my view on religious faith. That when I was, particularly when I was in college, I was a very hardcore new atheist sort. I wrote quite a lot of essays about the obviousness of atheism and how just nonsense and bad religious belief was and how we would be better off if we got rid of it and so on.

So I was deeply into that set of ideas. I have changed quite a lot in that regard over the years, not in abandoning the underlying atheism. I haven't come to believe that the metaphysical claims are correct, but in my assessment of the place of faith and spirituality in the world and the value of it to the individual, and this culminated in over the last four or five years ago, deciding that I was going to start calling myself a Buddhist and embracing that. But I think that's the thing. I've changed my views in a lot of stuff, but that's the one where when I look back at it, I look back at what I used to believe and the way that I used to think about things to where I am now. There's the biggest contrast and the most regret for how certain I was and how much that certainty cut off a field of human experience and an understanding of the ideas of other people that I regret now.

Juliette Sellgren 
Once again, I'd like to thank my guests for their time and insight. I'd also like to thank you for listening to the Great Antidote Podcast. It means a lot. The Great Antidote is sound engineered by Rich Goyette. If you have any questions, any guests or topic recommendations, please feel free to reach out to me at great antidote@libertyfund.org. Thank you.