Let’s talk about smart people. For a while, I thought I was one. I was one of the smarter kids in my high school classes, as long as we define high school of a series of classrooms in which everything is taugh but math. I had to work hard, sure, and do lots of dull memorization to pick things up, but I got good grades, and befriended the people who go better grades, and they would have been able to spot a phony.
College was less satisfying; I was meeting people in the tip-top percentile of intellect, and I clearly was just a little bit below that. Washington has treated me much the same way, as I’ve met the people who are, indisputably, the best there is at what I do. (There are times I feel like the best-trained ninja going up against Wolverine in a Frank Miller splash page.)
Still, that test of the others – being accepted or not being accepted by the people you know are smart – is proving pretty useful. After two-and-a-half years in the libertarian sphere, after wondering why my brilliant friends like* Katherine Mangu-Ward and Julian Sanchez and Kerry Howley and Will Wilkinson had been invited to Liberty Funds, I wondered why I was not.
A word about Liberty Fund. It’s a program set up by nice, big libertarian endowments that brings libertarians together to talk about economics and philosophy.
So: My friends were going to these things, and not me. I assumed, in December, that I was more of a reporter than a philosopher, and that was that. In January, that changed: I was invited to a LF about public choice theory. That’s how I spent this past weekend.
Thoughts? It’s a good program, executed well, and so intellectually challenging that I wonder how I spend my time in Washington again. There is really nothing like hunkering down for 90 minute stretches to convince a room of smart people that, no, really, you and you alone have the right idea for a majoritarian government reform that would stave off the tyranny of faction.
*one way you can tell they’re smart is that they say “such as” instead of “like” in the right places