When Rebecca [Day] founded the Jacksonville chapter of the Bastiat Society, I had no idea what to expect. I volunteered to host the organizational meeting with Indie Art South as a sponsor. This happened in the pre-COVID era, and in-person turnout exceeded her expectations. The latest meeting of this group was a hybrid event, with a small number coming in person and larger number tuning in online. Justin Ptak was the speaker, and when all was said and done, my mind wandered off into many different directions. That is always the impact of the folks I affectionately call “Bastiaters.”
Ptak gave a roughly 30 minute talk last night, focusing on the impact of the lockdown on the free market and on individuals. Acknowledging the consequences, Ptak summed up what many of us have asked—“What do we do—what do we do?”
As thoughts of government ‘expert’ advice to wear two masks floated through my mind, I recalled a Canadian expert’s advice:
“Sex in a pandemic can be complicated, Canada’s lead medical doctor says, and it’s best to skip kissing and perhaps wear a mask to prevent spreading Covid-19.”
What to do?
Most of us realize precautions should be taken any time a communicable illness is widespread. When it’s a new communicable illness, it’s even more mysterious and leads to fear because fear of the unknown is a human trait. Yet some of the advice has been bizarre.
Ptak emphasized the power of the individual:
“Collectively, we do have these powers…everyone should just stand up and say ‘This is crazy…provide for yourself and others.’”
As I listened, I reaffirmed my belief that common sense goes a long way in protecting ourselves from anything we fear. (Article continues after photo.)
The event was most enjoyable from my point of view. This was the first such event my husband and I had hosted since the COVID phenomenon took over the globe. After the brief talk and Q&A, we ventured outside to enjoy a remarkably warm evening, considering it’s mid-February.
The closest thing I can compare these meetings to is the salon of yore. I’ve long loved the idea of this. It reminds me of a writers’ group I helped found with other female writers in the early 1980s. At that time, especially those of us who were freelancers, we worked in a male-dominated industry. We didn’t use our ‘salons’ to gripe—instead, we networked and discussed opportunities. I enjoyed them immensely just as I enjoy the Bastiat meetings when I’m able to attend.
People who are drawn to Bastiat are freethinkers. They’re well-read and content to attempt to bring about change by presenting ideas and stressing the role of the individual in economic freedom. That’s key, because if you don’t have economic freedom, you can pretty much kiss the rest of the aspects of personal freedom goodbye.
Last evening we talked about everything from Marx to concepts of Irish democracy and passive resistance. It was most inspiring and I’ve already got a list of subjects to research when I get some leisure time.
Ptak is a very interesting fellow—he lives in Jacksonville Beach and works in the arts, economics, and technology fields.
The Bastiat Society is an effort of the American Institute for Economic Research:
“Through the Bastiat Society program, AIER makes the ideas that enable peaceful trade and human flourishing available to the everyday business person. We are the only international network of business people committed to advancing peaceful trade and human flourishing.”
The society is not affiliated with a political party—one reason, perhaps, for the abundance of rational thought and the bent to question and analyze government policy. Some groups on both major parties’ side of the aisle go for physical destruction. The Bastiaters are quite the opposite, focusing on winning over minds by reasoned debate and passive resistance.
Meetings are usually held monthly, and it’s easy to join online. For more information, see the Bastiat Society’s Jacksonville Chapter page on Facebook.
If you’re interested in economics, Frederic Bastiat is a great source to start learning.
I’ve mentioned in previous columns the fact we rarely use our formal rooms and I’ve bemoaned the space that at times seems wasted to me. However, in these pandemic times, that large area and the covered area out back have been absolute blessings.
(Kay B. Day/February 11, 2021)