Benjamin Franklin was an inspiration to every strata of society. In the 18th century, it was commonly believed that aristocrats and commoners would live and die as such, but Franklin worked to erase this distinction. He was a commoner who became a wealthy self-made man, who lived a life or reason, purpose, and pride, and fought for all Americans, including the children of slaves, to be able to do the same.
About Mark Shupe
Mark Shupe is a contributing author at Center for Individualism. He is also an investment strategy advisor and fitness instructor. Mark studied economics and finance at the University of Notre Dame. His writing passion includes the history of Western Civilization, the moral case for Capitalism, and the promise of Individualism.
Entries by Mark Shupe
The mass distribution of ideas and the massive increase in human knowledge can be attributed to the invention of the printing press. This was the catalyst for human flourishing after a thousand years of despotism, anarchy, and mysticism. Johannes Gutenberg’s invention launched the Age of Reason and the unleashing of the human mind.
Human Action provided an entirely new and superb structure of correct economic methodology and theory. It is the most important book on economics of the twentieth century and quite possibly the most important book in economics, period.
Perhaps no one in American history has a better claim to the title self-made man than the one who escaped from slavery to become one of the America’s greatest anti-slavery activists, and an author, lecturer, and diplomat. Frederick Douglass never urged black Americans to enlist out of service to their country. They owed the country nothing. To Douglass, the United States owed black Americans the right to fight.
After four months of debate and compromise in the 1787 sweltering heat of Independence Hall, Publius published 77 essays in New York City newspapers to sell Americans on the idea of ratifying the new Constitution. It is the most enduring achievement of the Enlightenment, and under its decentralized structure, it has proven itself to be the example for human flourishing throughout the world.
John Locke had a precise sense of what political freedom means. Natural law dictates that no one can be legitimately subject to the will of another person or group of people. Through reason, Locke proved that no one is born to serve or rule. Legitimate government protects these rights, and is created by the consent of the governed. As the Enlightenment flowered in the 18th century because of modern science and maritime trade, Locke’s sense of natural law was enshrined in America’s Declaration of Independence.
St. Thomas Aquinas combined the classical Greek ideal of reason with the Christian ideal of equality to usher the Catholic Church, and humanity, into the Age of Reason. Metaphorically, he invented water – what we know as the Western ideals of personal liberty, self-reliance, invention, tolerance, and limited government. The ensuing prosperity from human creativity is Poetic Justice.
Ayn Rand is one of the most admired and reviled characters in 20th century literature. Her magnum opus novel, Atlas Shrugged was panned by conservatives and progressives alike, yet it had something for everyone. A strong female lead character, a pollution free motor, heroic characters, good and evil, a love story, and a thriller. It was a manifesto for Man’s right to life, liberty and property – capitalism. A modern epic tale of America’s Declaration of Independence, a prophecy of a dystopian future, and the recipe to avoid what actually happened to her native Russia.
In the wake of recent sell-off in US and global stock markets there is no shortage of economists and financial analysts with opinions about what happened, why it happened, and what’s going to happen. None of them have any personal stake in the financial well-being of their audience, and many exist only to add to the confusion. To have confidence as investor, understanding the nature of markets is essential.
“The most important period of life is from birth to age six.” This quote from Maria Montessori underscores how essential it is for a young child to have engaged parents who live a life of reason, purpose, and pride. Our government schools and public universities are graduating too many future parents who have never heard of this, and eventually rely on these same schools to also act as parents. It has been going on for 50 years. It has to end.
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