The following is adapted from a speech delivered in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 2010, in the “First Principles on First Fridays” lecture series sponsored by Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship.
The late Milton Friedman once wrote, “Freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. . . . Economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.” We can similarly say that freedom in philanthropic arrangements is an end in itself, but is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.
Each of us should think about how we can make a difference with our own charitable contributions, following the examples of Zach Bonner with his little red wagon and the generous Midwestern farm families who helped to build Hillsdale College. And our federal and state governments, for their part, should respect and defend the freedom that is vital to the great American tradition of generous giving.