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[Sunday Reads] The Age of Institutional Distrust

Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.

George Orwell, 1984 

A founding principle of The Freeport Society is encapsulated in the phrase “more 1776, less 1984.”We reject any overt or covert efforts that drive us ever closer to George Orwell’s 1984 dystopia. We embrace all that return us to the 1776 principles of our Founding Fathers – our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of wealth. 

While we’re not yet on a path to full thought control as Orwell depicted in 1984, this week we were reminded of the potential for our institutions to bend toward their own narrow interests, and not those of the people. 

The Covid-19 pandemic was a defining moment in human history. Its impacts will be studied and felt for decades to come. Most of all, the loss of life and loved ones was the greatest tragedy.  

But there is also the lingering effect of learning loss for our children… and the enduring economic consequences felt worldwide: widening income disparity, record deficits, and inflation… all of which impact the growth prospects or our economy, our portfolios, and the investing recommendations we make here.   

Clearly, the pandemic presented world leaders with an unprecedented challenge – and well intentioned people did some amazing work to bring the pandemic to an end. But now that we’re in the post-mortem phase, a key question is rightly being asked: Where did our institutions fail us, and what can we learn from it?  

Recent events driving conversation on this topic include Anthony Fauci’s appearance before the House Oversight Committee.  

During his testimony, he distanced himself from a former advisor accused of deliberately avoiding oversight rules, including Freedom of Information Act requests in an attempt to thwart efforts at discovering the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

Most of this appearance was a political theater opportunity for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, but underlying this show is news from mid-May that the U.S. government has halted funding to the research group at the center of the virus origin controversy. 

Also this week, Reason published an interview with Jay Bhattacharya, the Stanford health policy professor who was censored for his (at the time) contrarian views about the Covid-causing virus. 

He’s a plaintiff in the Murthy vs. Missouri case, argued before the Supreme Court in March. This case examines the issue of government communication with social media companies and whether those interactions comprise illegal censorship.   

You will find an excellent discussion and analysis of this topic on the All-In Podcast (a favorite of ours spanning tech, investing, politics, and culture from a group of “bestie” venture capitalists).  

Here’s a link to a YouTube presentation of that podcast, at the beginning of that conversation. We think you’ll enjoy the perspectives represented in this discussion, which will allow you to draw your own conclusions. 

At The Freeport Society, we try to avoid wading into politically charged topics. But  examination of this particular topic is important because exploration of it leads us to a critical conclusion: We need more from our institutions in the form of transparency and accountability.  

We need more 1776…

With a focus on the first principles of free market democratic capitalism.

As George Orwell wrote…

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.  

Here’s to truth, and to our freedom.