Economics professor, founder of the Institute for Humane Studies
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  • F. A. Harper

    Floyd Arthur "Baldy" Harper (7 February 1905 – April 1973) was an American academic, economist and writer who is best known for founding the Institute for Humane Studies in 1961.

    Reference

    Harper, Floyd Arthur "Baldy" (1905-1973), by Will Wilkinson, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    "Floyd Arthur Harper, better known as Baldy Harper, is best remembered as the founder of the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS). The IHS, which Harper founded in 1961, is devoted to research and education in the classical liberal tradition and the promotion of libertarian ideals. ... In 1946, concerned about the future of liberal ideals in a world in which socialism was becoming dominant among the intellectual classes, Harper left the academy and joined the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), then run by its founder, Leonard Read."

    Born

    7 Feb 1905, Floyd Arthur Harper, in Middleville, Michigan

    Died

    21 Apr 1973, in California

    Associations

    Foundation for Economic Education, Economist, 1946-1958
    Institute for Humane Studies, Founder

    Articles

    Alternative Medicine Is Libertarian Medicine, by Butler Shaffer, 2 Dec 2006
    Discusses several aspects of healthcare, including self-ownership, being responsible for our own care, decentralised information, the collapse of external authorities and the dehumanizing decisions resulting from institutionalized healthcare
    "As this progression continues, these liberated souls will give real-world expression to the prognosis offered by one of the most thoughtful of all libertarian thinkers, the late F.A. Harper. In words that underlie the sentiments of all who seek those alternative ways of living that best suit their individual interests, Harper observed: 'the man who knows what freedom means, will find a way to be free.'"
    Floyd Arthur 'Baldy' Harper, RIP, by Murray Rothbard, The Libertarian Forum, May 1973
    Biographical remembrance of "Baldy" including his involvement in FEE, the Volker Fund and the IHS
    "Ever since he came to the Foundation for Economic Education in 1946 as its chief economist and theoretician, Baldy Harper, in a very real sense, has been the libertarian movement. For all these years, this gentle and lovable man, this wise and Socratic teacher, has been the heart and soul and nerve center of the libertarian cause. ... After nearly a decade of this slow and painfully wrought development, he was able to bring the IHS to the point where it could sponsor conferences, publish books and pamphlets, grant fellowships, and begin to fulfill the Harper dream of a center for libertarian ideas and scholarship."
    How to Become a Teacher [PDF], by Robert LeFevre, The Voluntaryist, Feb 1983
    Autobiographical summary of the events in LeFevre's life that led to the founding of the Freedom School, including LeFevre's relationship with Baldy Harper and the offer for him to lead the School
    "At FEE, I met and talked briefly with Read who quickly assigned me to Dr. Harper for further discussions. Dr. Harper was the complete scholar. He was thoughtful, gentle and profound. Also, he had an ample supply of hair which caused me to ask about his nickname. He revealed that his students at Cornell University where he had served with distinction for years, always called him that. ... Baldy refused to take credit for his own book. He insisted that it was as much the product of the other scholars at FEE as it was his. It had apparently emerged, at least to some degree, out of the discussions which had been held."
    In Search of a Word: Limited Government versus 'Anarchy', by Spencer H. MacCallum, The Voluntaryist, Oct 1996
    Contrasts the positions of Hornberger, who endorses "limited government, with that of Baldy Harper, who preferred to hold "the ideal of a 'total alternative' to political government" as a guiding light towards a voluntary society
    "Baldy Harper, Leonard Read's first associate at FEE and later founder of the Institute for Humane Studies, ... had no more idea than the man in the moon whether we or our descendants will ever actually see a 'total alternative,' as he put it, to political, tax-supported-government. But he pointed out the importance of holding the ideal clearly in mind as ... a compass to help us keep moving always in the direction of freedom. ... We need a transcendent ideal always in mind, Baldy would say, to help guide our everyday decisions that determine whether or not we keep on our heading toward freedom."
    Socialism: Illegitimate, Not Just Inefficient, by Gary North, 15 May 2001
    Discusses two aspects in the criticism of socialism: whether it is efficient compared to capitalism (according to the theory of value-free economics) and whether it is immoral (or contrary to human nature)
    "Floyd A. 'Baldy' Harper was not bald. ... He was hired by Leonard Read to work at the Foundation for Economic Education. Read later severed his formal connection with Harper over the issue of anarchism. Harper then moved to the William Volker Fund for a few years, supervising the publication of the Volker Fund's series in economics ... Harper wrote two small books, Why Wages Rise and Liberty: A Path to Its Recovery. In the second book, he made one crucial observation: if you do not have the right to disown a piece of property, then you do not own it."
    The Early History of FEE, by Henry Hazlitt, The Freeman, Mar 1984
    Excerpted from Hazlitt's remarks at the Leonard E. Read Memorial Conference on Freedom, November 1983
    "Other libertarian foundations were set up in emulation. 'Baldy' Harper, who had been working as an economist for FEE from its first year, left in 1958 and started his Institute for Humane Studies in 1963 in California. ... FEE opened its doors on March 16, 1946. ... The staff, as of September 1946, consisted of Leonard Read as Presi­dent, ... Baldy Harper as Economist ... In 1948 FEE published F. A. Harper's 71-page pamphlet on High Prices, and in 1949 Harper's 159-page book Liberty:A Path to its Recov­ery."
    The Writings of F. A. Harper—A Review, by Paul L. Poirot, The Freeman, Aug 1979
    Slightly amended from the "Introduction" to The Writings of F. A. Harper, published in 1978 by the Institute for Humane Studies, and serving as a review of the "two-volume memorial edition"
    "Dr. F. A. (Baldy) Harper left a position as Professor of Marketing at Cornell University to join the staff of The Foundation for Economic Education from 1946 through 1958. ... Baldy did adhere to the guiding rule of Soc­rates, 'Know thyself.' He believed with Socrates that goodness is based on knowledge, wickedness on igno­rance. Like Socrates, he sought truth all his life, in ways that at­tracted young scholars. By the So­cratic method of a series of carefully directed questions, he would en­courage the other person to find out the truth for himself."

    Writings

    A New Scheme, The Freeman, Feb 1956
    Comments on the implications of a plan whereby the United States government would act as guarantor for private ventures wishing to invest in Indian projects, providing compensation in the event of subsequent nationalization by the Indian government
    "A new scheme is afoot by which the people of the United States—rich and poor alike are likely to become trapped into financing national socialism abroad. ... And so it turns out that the scheme promises more than mere compensation to private investors. That alone is questionable enough. It is difficult to see why our government should redesign the deal this way: 'Heads, the investor wins; tails, all United States taxpayers lose.' But in addition, the proposal could easily create an international incident at some time in the future, while forcing us all to help pay for socialism abroad."
    Related Topic: Government
    Blessings of Discrimination, In Brief, 1951
    Discusses the human ability to discriminate, e.g., to feel the heat of a stove, which Buddha considered an "essential" virtue, contrasting it with the policy of nondiscrimination on employment, association and other areas
    "When a child is born, his development is watched with anxious anticipation by those who wish him well. He begins to laugh and scream with pleasure and displeasure about more and more things ... This is not a tragedy; it is a blessing. A child without any sense of discrimination is cursed with the threat of self-destruction. ... If man is to continue his self-improvement, he must be free to exercise the powers of choice with which he has been endowed. When discrimination is not allowed according to one's wisdom and conscience, both discrimination and conscience will atrophy in the same manner as an unused muscle."
    Liberty Defined, 4 Sep 1957
    Speech to the Mont Pelerin Society; Harper first offers his definition of liberty, then explores "adulterated" definitions, its relation to morals, moral law and basic humans rights, ending with his hope for the cause of liberty
    "Liberty stems from liber, which means to be free. ... Liberty is the absence of coercion of a human being by any other human being; it is a condition where the person may do whatever he desires, according to his wisdom and conscience. This means to have liberty one must be free without qualification or modification, so far as his social relationships are concerned."
    Morals and the Welfare State, 1951
    Examines five moral principles by which the idea of the Welfare State (described in more detail in an appendix) can be judged; extension of talk given 13 June 1951; later published as "Morals and Liberty" (see The Freeman, Sep 1971)
    "Now what is the test of morality or immorality to be applied to the Welfare State idea? I should like to pose five fundamental ethical concepts, as postulates, by which to test it. ... Economics and morals are both parts of one inseparable body of Truth. They must, therefore, be in harmony with one another. ... There is a force in the uni­verse which no mortal can alter. ... The Golden Rule and the Deca­logue, and their near equivalents in other great religions, provide the basic moral codes for man's conduct. ... Moral principles are not sub­ject to compromise. ... Good ends cannot be attained by evil means."
    Roots Of Economic Understanding, The Freeman, Nov 1955
    Explains the rudiments of economics by specifying required attributes (desirability, scarcity, exchangeability) then delving into how people, from the earliest age, become cognizant of economic concepts, but ending with criticism of econmic ignorance
    "The study of economics is the study of all matters pertaining to things that are desired but scarce, which exist for trade or can be produced. Those are the things we sometimes speak of as 'economic goods and services.' Those are the things which comprise economic activity in its entirety, which are being produced and owned and traded. A thing must first be desired before it comes within the orbit of economics. ... If it is to be economic, somebody must want it. Without want for it, nobody would work to produce it or sacrifice to buy it."
    Try This On Your Friends, Faith and Freedom, Jan 1955
    Poses a riddle about the extent to which government is needed
    "Do you enjoy riddles? This one challenges many students of liberty. ... To what extent should politicians be enthroned to rule affairs in our daily lives? ... A society of wholly good men calls for no political rulership whatsoever. ... Since evil acts wouldn't exist in such a society, control by government is neither called for nor proper. ... Now consider as the other extreme a society in which every man is wholly evil. ... complete political rulership of all the affairs of everybody would be called for~a totalitarian dictatorship in the extreme. One man would rule all. But who would serve as the dictator?"
    Related Topics: Government, Society
    UpdWhy Pay For Things?, The Freeman, Jan 1956
    Explains the options to how people can obtain things, in terms a five-year old can understand
    "'Why do we have to pay for things?' asked a five-year-old boy at dinner one evening. Probably his question was prompted by the suffering of privation endured by all small boys, with their many wants to be served by few pennies. ... One way to do it would be for everyone to grab what he can. ... Under that way of doing things in its pure form, people fight over what little there is to be had. ... The other way to decide who gets what is for each person to own things. ... You own what you make. ... Under this system, the person who makes anything may sell it or give it to other people."
    Related Topics: Children, Private Property

    Books Authored

    Liberty: A Path to Its Recovery [PDF], by F. A. Harper, Hans Sennholz (Foreword), Foundation for Economic Education, 1949
    Partial contents: The Nature of Liberty - Forms of Liberty - Liberty and Charity - Government in a Liberal Society - Democracy and Liberty - Liberty and Peace - A Measure of Liberty - The Extent of Lost Liberty - Special Privilege - Recovering Liberty
    Related Topic: Liberty
    • ISBN 0910614954: Paperback, Foundation for Econ Education, 2nd edition, 1993

    Videos


    Leonard Liggio on the Rise of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, by Jacob Hornberger, Leonard Liggio, 9 Mar 1995
    Talk given at Vienna Coffee Club (Future of Freedom Foundation). Liggio starts off with the New Deal and covers many events and individuals both at the core and the periphery of the modern libertarian movement

    The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "F. A. Harper" as of 26 Sep 2017, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.