Ivo Vegter – How I would promote individual liberty in South Africa


This is the essay and motivation contributed by Ivo Vegter as his entry in the recent Freedomfest competition sponsored by Bob Glenister. This essay was one of the winning entries.

I write at least two essays every week, in which I discuss topical issues from the viewpoint of free market economics and social liberty.
My columns are published in The Daily Maverick, CAR Magazine,Brainstorm, and ITWeb.

Here is a selection: http://www.thedailymaverick.co.za/opinionistas/Ivo-Vegter

Throw a dart at it, and I’ll wager that each will stand on its own, subject only to its date, as a testament to how I believe I can best promote the principles of liberty. They cover a wide range of
subjects.

If I had to choose, the hydraulic fracturing column (http://bit.ly/kaWsie) stands out for its 70,000-word comment  discussion, involving all kinds of people of all political persuasions. It led to a book deal to discuss the impact of environmental exaggeration on developing countries. A favourite of mine for its felicitous metaphor is: The bonsai economy(http://bit.ly/lnGFTK).

In every case, I try to reduce topical issues to Austrian-school  principles of individual freedom. The only exceptions are when I skirt  a tricky point for the sake of public palatability. I’m always
conscious of writing not only to fans who agree, but to a broader  audience who do not. Therefore, to paraphrase Orwell: “Break any of  these rules sooner than say anything that might appear outright barbarous.”

By writing the way I do, I engage many people who vehemently disagree with me. Some are good opponents, testing my own principles and expositions. Some have, over the years, admitted their realisation to me that I, channelling Mises (or at least Reagan and Thatcher), was right all along. Many have said I made them think, and that makes it worth the effort.

Why should I be sent to Freedomfest?

Now you might suppose that on the grounds of this immodest exposition
of my modest history, I’m trying to claim that I deserve to attend
FreedomFest, that I would cover it competently, and that therefore,
Bob’s money would be well spent. I’m not. I’m more concerned about the
fact that I might be missing ways to avoid skirting issues for the
sake of public palatability. Worse, there may be cases in which you
believe me to be quite wrong. Worse still, you may be right. If so, I
plainly need education. I cannot think of a better place to learn than
a gathering of the best free minds on the planet.

I write opinion full time for a living, and as a rule I don’t join
organisations, lead campaigns, or even do much pure reporting. In
part, this reserves my time for the research and thought required for
these columns, but it is also because I’m very aware of the need to be
scrupulous to avoid perceptions of vested interests. Accusations of
being an activist or a shill are damaging to a journalist, even if
they have no basis in fact and do not controvert the substance of an
argument. Since my target audience is much broader than just other
libertarians, the need to remain entirely independent is a touchstone
for me. So, more than the mere fact that sponsorships are the only
means for me to attend events such as FreedomFest, the fact that it
would preserve my perceived independence is why this particular
sponsorship holds so much appeal.

Also, I have a US visa, and I suspect John Mackey is a fraud.

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