Last week, Dr. Marlene McMillan was on Michael Ray Dresser’s radio program. Here is a transcript, available exclusively on this site! (Michael Ray’s comments/questions are in bold, and Dr. McMillan’s responses are in regular text).
Dr. Marlene McMillan is a speaker, author, and national expert on the subject of liberty. She’s the author of The Connection between Liberty and Prosperity. She has been teaching about how liberty affects your everyday life (including your bank account) for over 20 years.
She is a master at making complicated subjects easily understood, personally applicable, and even entertaining. She is passionate about liberty and enthusiastic about the power of ideas.
Welcome Dr. Marlene! It’s great to have you on the show. You mentioned the power of ideas and the importance of liberty. What got you started on this work?
Well, I was really raised in a home of people who have been called Torchbearers of Liberty. Liberty is won or lost just like a relay race. It depends on the passing of the baton, and my parents did a fabulous job of instilling in me the vision and power of liberty and I love passing that on to others.
So what is a practical definition of liberty?
Great question! You cannot talk about something unless you can define it—here it is:
Liberty is the opportunity to make a choice to assume responsibility and accept the consequences.
If you need a bailout… If you’re expecting someone else to assume the responsibility for your consequences, whether your an individual or a nation, you’re really not living in liberty.
So what is the difference between liberty and freedom?
The difference is actually very insightful—this sometimes make fireworks go off in people’s minds when they hear it. Freedom implies license. Freedom says “I’ll do what I want to do the way I want to do it, when I want to do it, and no one can tell me different.” That’s how people think of freedom, but under that definition, I could go into your house and take whatever I wanted, and then leave.
Liberty, on the other hand, involves responsibility. Responsibility ensures and maintains liberty generation after generation. It gives people the opportunity to be all they want to be, and to attain their goals.
What about a democracy and a republic? Which one do we have in America?
You might be surprised when I say that our founding fathers thought a democracy was the worst form of government! Now, most of us have grown up in an education system which teaches us that we live in a democracy. The news reminds us daily. But the word democracy literally means “mob rule.” It means the majority makes right, whether it is or not. America, on the other hand, is a constitutional republic. A republic is rule by law, rather than rule by men.
Consider the context of the founders. If you are governed by a king, and that king happens to have a bad day, he might decide to make a really terrible law. So, we do not want to be under a system where the law is determined by the whim of a king. In a republic, you actually know what the rules are going to be—you have predictability. And when you have predictability, you have prosperity. Business people like predictability, sure, but everyone likes to know that the laws are stable, and things will not change on a whim.
What about centralized planning?
Central planning is an alternative system that does not work. Recall the saying “if you don’t know history, you are doomed to repeat it.” The system of centralized planning has a history of being very ineffective. It would be like this, Michael. If I said to you, “Would you like to get a public official to go buy your groceries? Would you like someone at the white house to buy your dinner?” Of course not! Sometimes people have a disconnect between the big, far-away civil government, but they forget that government starts with self-government. They forget that the greatest liberty and the greatest opportunity is accomplished when decisions are made as close to the problem as possible.
So how do we define the problem? You and I might define it one way, but the politicians define it another way.
Well, that’s why I teach people to think from principles. Because you cannot pass an issue down from one generation to the next, but you can pass a principle. You don’t know what issues the next generation will face. Issues are always changing. Principles do not change, so when you teach people to think from principles, you end up with people who are empowered. They recognize that some new law may look like it will solve the issue today, but it actually puts our grandchildren in bankruptcy! Or it means that people in other parts of the country will be damaged by this law. And it makes you start thinking about the consequences of the choices you make, and the bills you support.
Now, one of your points is about the connection between education and poverty. Is it possible to educate people out of poverty?
So many people think that education is the answer to everything, but there is more to it than that. When you talk about something like education, you’re involved in propagating it. The more we talk about education, the more attention education gets. If you want to have a bigger problem, talk about your problems!
Take drugs, for example. Since we started drug education, there has only been more abuse of drugs. Education makes you more friendly with whatever you’re studying. Often our schools teach what I call death education, and it makes students more comfortable with death. I think the people who came up these education initiatives are well-meaning, but the end results of what they’re doing are destroying our nation.
There are more people in America who go to college now than in the history of the country. Education doesn’t always mean a solution to poverty.
So how do we define poverty? I think the best way to define it is poverty is a product. Someone is making money out of poverty.
Oh, Michael, you’re right on. Poverty is an industry, and many people make money off of other people’s poverty.
One of the things I say before public hearings, especially about education, is that a parent loves their child more than the government ever can or will. Even Thomas Jefferson said that you should educate people, but also that you should empower them with opportunity. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you are educated and then walk around with a sense of entitlement. So we have to empower people to educate themselves. Too many keep people from learning by letting the ignorant think they’re educated.
Now, we can find the 31+ Causes of Poverty book at your website whylibertymatters.com; can we find any other books there?
Yes! You can find The Connection between Liberty and Prosperity, and I also have a book called Mountains of Deceit. Just go to www.whylibertymatters.com to get more information, and thank you so much for having me!