Everybody says they want financial freedom. Most of us never find it. We may think we’re free, but in fact we’re slaves to forces we can’t control. Often we don’t know they control us.
That thought came to mind because this week I’m at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas. Founder Mark Skousen bills it as “the world’s largest gathering of free minds.” I’ve never been before, so I’m eager to learn how free these minds really are.
(Note: If you can’t go to Freedom Fest, watch the free live video stream
of the general sessions.)
Looking at the agenda, I see a wide assortment of politicians, media personalities, and entrepreneurs. Some are familiar names. Others are more obscure. They all have one thing in common: independence.
With the notable exception of Whole Foods Market (WFM) founder John Mackey, few Freedom Fest speakers represent large corporations or consumer brands. Many have their own businesses. Others work for small companies, publishers or nonprofit organizations.
I suspect the attendees have a similar composition. They’re here because they want to learn about freedom from people who seem to have found it.
Why, then, does corporate America not participate in Freedom Fest? Aren’t they interested in freedom?
No, they’re not. Freedom is low on their priority list.
Free people ask questions. They make informed choices and then accept responsibility for the results.
To be blunt, most large businesses don’t want independent-minded customers. They want sheep who believe what they’re told, who don’t think about costs and quality.
Soft drink companies, for example, prefer you not know the ingredients of their drinks, or what they will do to your body. Their advertising instead shows happy, sexy people having fun at the beach.
The not-so-subtle message: Drink our products and you’ll be happy and sexy too.
It’s completely false, but most people believe it. That’s why the companies are so big.
This explains why John Mackey is a Freedom Fest favorite. He built Whole Foods Market for quality-minded consumers who want to know what they’re buying.
Such people are a minority, but they are enough to make Whole Foods a sizable company.
I suspect many Freedom Fest attendees want to follow John Mackey’s example. The odds are against them but they’ll try anyway.
That’s what freedom is all about.
Patrick Watson is an Austin-based financial writer. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickW
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