As I began my Taliesin Nexus working week with production calls and odd tasks, it was difficult to shake the excitement that in the middle of the week, I would be catching a plane and travelling to Las Vegas to attend the annual FreedomFest conference.
From looking through the agenda, I was particularly excited and to check out the Anthem Film Festival, a Libertarian film screening subsection of FreedomFest, and to hear from political pundit Larry Elder, who is a powerful speaker and a truly individual thinker. Elder’s ideas regarding race and identity in America have made him a formidable pundit in the public media sphere and certainly do no go without controversy – but then again, which great thinkers do?
I arrived in Las Vegas on a Wednesday evening and journeyed to my hotel, to the sight of towering bright buildings and endless, monotonous billboards advertising lawyers for injury, divorce, you name it. Welcome to Vegas, I thought to myself.
Stepping into the Paris resort for FreedomFest, I passed the morning gamblers and walked under a roof painted like a Paris evening sky and next to euro-style storefronts. I checked out the Anthem Film Festival, which was as great as I had hoped, and sat through a panel discussion moderated by Mark Skousen, featuring a dialogue between two libertarian CEOs; Whole Foods founder John Mackey and former Carl Jr’s CEO Andrew Putzer.
The riveting discussion ranged between the use of tariffs by the current presidential administration (and the near-appointment of Putzer himself), the Goliath-like rise of Jeff Bezos and Amazon, the 2008 financial collapse and a reflection on the salacious advertising strategies of Carl Jr’s in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Another real highlight was a passionate, deliberating talk by Judge Andrew Napolitano on the power of individual rights from the founding of America to modern times. Napolitano has an authentic and commanding way of speaking and constantly quoted the founding fathers “inalienable right to liberty”. He spoke of the British colony’s early governmental meddling in American affairs and the right to individual freedom through the Crown setting up secret courts to search properties at whim, even at their financial cost, which felt very relevant in today’s mass surveillance world of NSA lawlessness.
All in all, it’s an honour and a privilege to represent Mannkal at FreedomFest, and I really will treasure the opportunity to hear from great minds like Larry Elder and Judge Napolitano.