Maybe it was the topic; maybe it was the water.  But the 7th annual Freedom 21 national conference, held in late July in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, left most who attended encouraged and empowered to renew their fight for freedom. 

This year’s theme was “How to Advance the Principles of Freedom,” which of course is a direct restatement – with action accents – of the Freedom 21 mission statement.  One of the driving forces behind this year’s conference was the nationwide opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo decision that authorized local governments to take private property from one citizen and give it to someone else. 

While the ostensible “reason” for such a taking (which heretofore was, and in the minds of most Americans always will be, unconstitutional) is to turn blighted properties of low tax value into more lucrative properties with a higher tax value, most people realize that such takings authority can easily be used to silence or punish one’s political enemies.  That’s why property rights are seen by Freedom 21 as the keystone of all other rights in a free society. 

Among other speakers at this year’s gathering, CFACT’s Duggan Flanakin reported on his organization’s Social Entrepreneurship and Free-Market Environmentalism Demonstration (SEFED) program.  This program aims at winning friends for freedom by developing personal relationships with budding entrepreneurs and other residents in some of the world’s poorest communities, helping them cut through red tape and start up successful businesses, and working together to build community infrastructure that is needed to support both economic development and a healthy environment.

Flanakin reminded his colleagues that there is a worldwide cry for freedom today that has been sparked by cellular telephones and the Internet.  As even those in the poorest countries learn about the blessings of liberty (and the threats to human freedom that plague every society), people are awakening to the notion that all men are created equal and thus should have an equal opportunity to live lives of fulfillment and hope. 

Flanakin continued his remarks by stating that the job of free people is to welcome these freedom seekers and shield them from the unscrupulous who are their present or would-be oppressors.  The side benefit of working with people to secure their freedom is that those who do may well participate in the economic growth and enlightenment that follows such outreaches.  Not only is working with people to build their economies the right thing to do, he added, but it can also be very rewarding.

A major theme at Freedom 21 is reliance on the United States Constitution, which provides the legitimate framework for our laws and public policy.  The closing awards banquet featured as its speaker legal scholar Herb Titus, who urged attendees to work to renew America’s knowledge and appreciation of the Constitution and to return this nation to the foundation constructed by its founders.