In 1990 I had the privilege of traveling to the Soviet Union as a student ambassador representing the United States of America. No other experience in my life had such a huge impact on my life.
Despite being only 15 years old at the time, seeing communism’s affect on people profoundly shook me to my core. At 15 I was starting to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up and where I wanted to live. But my adolescent Soviet peers did not have the freedom to choose an occupation or a place to live. Their government made these decisions for them.
The Communist Party dictated what careers their subjects were to go into and where they could live based on what they believed was in the best interest of the collective good. Each individual making up such collective was less important than the collective as a whole.
I just couldn’t believe that anyone could live in a society like that. Just being there I felt stifled and oppressed. But more than anything, I felt a deep sense of sadness for the Soviet teenagers I met and became friends with. There were very few differences between us: We were typical teenagers who wanted to make friends, have fun and learn about the world around us. However, we were worlds apart in the opportunities that we had and freedoms that we possessed.
After spending a month in the Soviet Union, I returned home forever changed. While I was too young to know the philosophical underpinnings of my beliefs versus the beliefs of socialists, I knew that individual liberty was a gift that was to be cherished and defended.
After graduating high school, I enrolled at The George Washington University as an International Affairs major. I began studying the Russian language, history and culture.
Finally we are up to the point of this story that I can tell you about F.A. Hayek and his famous book, The Road to Serfdom. During my sophomore year of college, I read Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. Like my earlier visit to the Soviet Union, this book intellectually changed me forever.
While at the age of 15 I knew that individual liberty was to be cherished, I could not articulate why. F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom filled in all of these gaps for me.
Because of this effect, I decided that I should write an in depth review of this classic in political/economic thought. So in the next few weeks I will discuss each chapter of this book. I don’t want this just to be a book review: I want it to allow me to clearly articulate why I believe that individual liberty is necessary for the good of humankind.
Many of you might be wondering what this has to do with personal finance and debt relief. Well, my belief in individual liberty greatly influences my beliefs about personal finance. Along with individual liberty comes individual responsibility. People need to take control of their lives and finances.
The only person who can get you out of your debt mess is you. And, luckily for Americans, the individual freedom that exists in our country allows anyone to change their lives. Through disciplined personal finance anyone can live the American dream. And the individualism of America allows that dream to be anything you want to make it.