by Mark Skousen
Editor, Forecasts & Strategies


Dear FreedomFest friends,

Welcome to another great FreedomFest, “the world’s largest gathering of free minds.”

Every FreedomFest, the first thing I do is get the printed program and circle all the breakout sessions I want to attend.  You should do the same.  You can get started now by going online to, and see the entire up-to-date program.  There are over 260 sessions to choose from, including my wife’s Anthem film festival.

Order the MP3 Recordings!  Since I can only attend about 10% of all the sessions, the first thing I do is buy the recordings of the entire conference — order forms can be found at the Registration Table.

Here are the sessions I have chosen to attend this year:



12 – 12:50 pm. Champagne 1. “Meeting at High Noon:  The Insider Guide to This Year’s FreedomFest: Plus the Book the New Socialists Fear the Most.” 

This is an introduction to this year’s events, highlighting my favorite sessions. I will also talk about the incredible response to my full-page ad in The Economist (over 1 million subscribers), “The Making of Modern Economics: The Lives and Ideas of the Great Thinkers,” third ed. now published by Routledge.

1-1:50 pm. Bordeaux.  “My Favorite Western Actors: John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Jimmy Stewart” by Marc Eliot, Hollywood #1 biography.  He has written full-length biographies of all three.  Glad to have Marc Eliot back.

I’m also interested in attending in Champagne 1 the session entitled “Building Zion: Mormons and the American West,” with BYU Professor Daniel Peterson, a regular at FreedomFest.  Prof. Peterson will speak of the Mormon pioneers settling of the West, their practice of polygamy and socialism (“United Orders”), their attitude toward the native Americans, and the Book of Mormon as American scripture.

2 – 2:50 pm.  Bordeaux.  “Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Lin Yutang:  What the West Can Learn from Eastern Philosophy.” I’ll be on a panel with Keli’i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute Hawaii and Doug Casey.  Keli’i will claim that Confucius, considered the most influential Chinese philosopher in history, was actually a libertarian; Doug Casey will discuss “the first libertarian” Lao-Tzu and the father of Taoism; and I will make the argument that Lin Yutang, who lived in the East and the West, is the greatest Chinese philosopher of the 20th century.

3 – 3:50 pm.  Burgundy.  “Best of Western Lit: What We Can Learn Today from Dante’s Inferno,” by Daniele Struppa, president of Chapman University.  I’ll be introducing him.  Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!  He will make the case that we should still study Western civilization, and then explain how Dante is relevant to today.



4:45 – 7 pm.  Opening Ceremonies in Rivoli Main Ballroom.  Lots of fireworks with Wayne Root on “Go West, Young Capitalists (to Texas, Nevada, but Not California!)….My interview free-market environmentalists Terry Anderson and P. J. Hill on “Anarchy and the Long Arm of the Law: How Wild Was the Wild West?”….Leonore Skenazy on “The Free Range Life of Raising Children”…Hollywood’s #1 biographer Marc Eliot on “Why the Western Captured the Imagination of America”…Actor Kevin Sorbo on “The Liberty Life, Hollywood-Style”…Herman Cain on “A Life in Business and Politics”…and finally Elizabeth Ames interviews Cain and Stephen Moore on “What I would Have Done at the FED.”

We will then be escorted into the Exhibit Hall with a music performance by Mark Lee Gardner and Rex Rideout playing an upbeat version of “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” the #1 Western song of all time.

7-8 pm.  Gala Opening Cocktail Party in the Exhibit Hall. I look forward to greeting each other and the exhibitors, what John Mackey calls “The Trade Show for Liberty,” and join in the autograph sessions at the FreedomFest bookstore.  Here’s a chance to buy one or more American eagle silver dollars from our coin dealers…and see if you can solve my daily “white mates in two” chess problem.  Hopefully you will encounter our libertarian card magician, Peter Studebaker, and meet up with Western musicians Mark Lee Gardner and Rex Rideout.  What fun!

Be sure to have a photo taken in front of the historic Wells Fargo Stage Coach.  I’ll be there.

I’m always amazed at the buzz you feel entering the opening cocktail party as friends see old friends and make new ones.  There’s nothing like it.

As the late Nathaniel Brandon said at his first FreedomFest, “I feel an electricity here I haven’t felt in years.”



We’re start the day’s session at 8 am with a welcome from our new MC Jason Stapleton.  I will make some general announcements about this year’s FreedomFest, including our “Wild West on Wall Street Summit,” and my wife Jo Ann will talk about this year’s selections in the Anthem film festival, which runs throughout the conference.

8:20 – 8:50 am.   Rivoli Main Ballroom.  Global Economic Summit with Veronique de Rugy (moderator), Peter Schiff, Magatte Wade, Olav Dirkmatt, and Barbara Kolm discussing Trump trade wars, Latin America’s turning socialist/Marxist, European nationalism, China’s future, and corruption in South Africa.

During the morning general sessions, we will also hear from our many financial sponsors.  One is Michael Sheppard of Treasurer Investments, who will announce a silent auction of a beautiful bronze American Eagle sculpture.  You can bid on it throughout the conference.

9:10 – 9:30 am.  Rivoli Ballroom.  Libertarian media personality John Stossel on “Calling Out the Politicians,” highlighting his encounters with the Powers That Be in Death Star (Washington DC).

9:50-10:00 am.  Rivoli ballroom.  I will interview Michael Lathigee, president of Investment Club of America, which specializes in investing in successful private business.  I’m an investor, and the Club has made a lot of money.

11 am – 12 noon.  Rivoli ballroom.  This is our big debate this year, “Conscious Capitalism vs Pure Greed,” between John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, and Kevin O’Leary, author of “The Cold Hard Truth” about business and investing.  I serve as the moderator.  Hold onto your hats!

Mr. O’Leary is so enthused about this debate that he did a 2 min promo for us.  Watch it here:

12 noon – 1:00 pm.  Champagne 2. Special luncheon (ticket required) with Kevin O’Leary, who will speak on “The Inside Story of Shark Tank.”  Kevin tells me that people have a ton of questions about Shark Tank — he’s ready to reveal all, and said he’s willing to stay longer to answer people’s questions.  Limited seating!

1:10 -1:35 pm. Vendome A.  “How Not to Get Rich:  What You Can Learn from the Financial Misadventures of Mark Twain” by Alan Pell Crawford.  I listened to his audio book of the same name, and found it fascinating that the country’s most successful American author ended up broke because of speculative fever.  Join me, as you learn more about your mistakes than your winners.

1:10 – 2 pm.  Champagne 1.  “Investment Strategies that Really Work” with Mike Lathigee, president of Investment Club of America.  I’ll head over to this session after attending Crawford’s talk on Mark Twain.  Lathigee invests your money in successful businesses, and has a great track record.  Become a member!  I did, and am collecting monthly checks.

I’m also tempted to attend Randy Barnett’s interview with attorney Alan Dershowitz in the Rivoli ballroom (via Skype).  He’s my favorite celebrity lawyer.

2:10-3:00 pm.  Champagne 1.  “God or No God” Debate:  “The New Atheists:  Are They Right about God?”  Hyrum Lewis, BYU-Idaho professor and author of “There is a God: How to Respond to Atheism in the Last Days” will take on Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and prolific author.  Alex Green will moderate.  Can’t wait for this one!

3:10 – 4:00 pm. Vendome A.  “Investing in Private American Businesses:  Democratic Capitalism at its Best” with Vince Foster, chairman and founder, Main Street Capital.  Since its inception in 2007, Foster’s private equity fund has outperformed the stock market and even Warren Buffett.  He will reveal his secrets to his 98% success rate investing in private companies — unheard of!  This is my #1 stock recommendation (up 25% this year alone).  After his talk, we will have a meet and greet.  See you there!

4:30 – 6:30 pm.  Rivoli ballroom.  General sessions with Rich Lowry, editor of National Review; Kevin Williamson on his new book, “The Smallest Minority”; an all-women’s panel on “After Ayn Rand: The Power and Vision of Libertarian Women,” with Naomi Brockwell, Jennifer Grossman, Terry Kibbe, Stephanie Lips, and Jenny Beth Martin.  Moderated by Valerie Durham.  And “The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Millennials:  Will Liberty or Socialism Win?” hosted by John Stossel.  He will be asking tough questions to the presidents of fourth youth organizations.

8:00-9:00 pm.  Champagne 2.  FreedomFest Square Dance & Show, with professional caller Vern Vernazzaro and the Mama Wranglers. Join us, whether single or couple.  This will be an unforgettable evening.  My wife and I have been looking forward to this square dance for months!



8:30 – 10:30 am.  Rivoli Ballroom, General Sessions.  Judge Douglas Ginsburg (President Reagan’s original choice for the Supreme Court) on “Constitution Day,” sponsored by Free to Choose; Pitch Tank, where the top 4 growing businesses will compete for the top prize — always fun to watch.  (John Mackey and Kevin Harrington, among others, will be the judges.)  We will also hear from some of our financial sponsors.

10:30 – 11 am.  Coffee break in the Exhibit Hall.  Autograph sessions at the FreedomFest bookstore, brose over 100 exhibitors.  Get a picture taken at the Wells Fargo Stage Coach.  C-SPAN will be doing interviews at their booth on Thursday and Friday.

11 – 11:50 am. Chablis.  “Billy the Kid and Jesse James: American Robin Hoods or Wild West Psychopaths?” with Mark Lee Gardner and Rex Rideout.  They will play some ballads of both outlaws.  Not to be missed!

Another tempting session is the big debate in the Rivoli ballroom on “Immigration:  Open Borders or Walls?” between Candace Owens and Wayne Allyn Root (for the wall), and Doug Casey and Rakesh Wadhwa (for open borders).  Rich Lowry of National Review will be the moderator of this angry debate.

12 – 1:00 pm. Versailles 2.  “Eating Meat is Neither Healthy or Ethical — Or is it?” Debate for a full hour or longer between John Mackey (Whole Foods Market) and Bruce Friedrich (The Good Food Institute) and Joel Salatin (outspoken Christian libertarian farmer from Virginia) and Jeff Riley (Fitness Innovations).  Alex Green will be the moderator.  Let the food fight begin — it will certainly build up an appetite for a late lunch.

Another tempting session is the debate in the Rivoli ballroom, “Trump’s Trade War:  Art of the Deal, or No Deal?” pitting Stephen Moore (defending Trump) against GMU Professor Don Boudreaux (pro free trade).  Richard Rahn as moderator.

There are a couple of other events you may want to consider:  The Anthem film festival panel, “Out of Our Minds: Do Patents Foster Innovation or Kill it?” with George Gilder, Jenny Beth Martin, Luke Livington, and Paul Wendee.  In Versailles 3.

I see that bestselling author Tom Clavin is doing a roundtable in the Exhibit Hall on his new book, “Wild Bill Hickok:  The True Story of the American Frontier’s First Gunfighter.” 

1:00-2:00 pm.  Lunch in Champagne 2 with Forbes economist John Tamny, “the Genius of Income Inequality,” sponsored by FreedomWorks.  (Get a free ticket at their booth 401).

2:10-2:35 pm.  I’ll back in the Vendome A financial seminar room for “Top Ten Stocks to Buy Now” with Hilary Kramer, Jim Woods, and yours truly.  Moderated by Roger Michalski, publisher of Eagle Financial Publications.  This session could pay for your trip to Vegas!

Afterwards, I’ll be attending the rest of the session in Versailles 2, “Progressive or Oppressive?  Balancing the History of Manifest Destiny” with historians Tom Clavin, Stephen R. C. Hicks, and John Prevas.  Gary Alexander, moderating.

3:10 – 4:00 pm. Champagne 1.  “3:10 to Yuma:  Hollywood and the Romantic Ideal of the Old West,” with Marc Eliot.  I’ll be introducing him, and will find out why Westerns were so popular, then died out.

Another tempting session in the Rivoli ballroom is “The Dirty Dozen of Federal Laws,” with John Stossel (moderator), Keli’i Akina, Anastasia Boden, and economist extraordinaire Sean Flynn.  I can think of several:  The Jones Act, Ethanol subsidies, federal civil asset forfeiture laws, the drug laws, Social Security and Medicare….It will be interesting what this group of experts come up with.

4:00 – 4:30 pm.  Exhibit hall break.

4:30 – 4:50 pm.  Rivoli ballroom.  “On the Other Side of Race:  A View for the Future,” with Candace Owens, the fiery black conservative.

4:50 – 6:05 pm. Rivoli ballroom.  The mock trial, our most popular event.  This year we are putting “The Second Amendment on Trial,” with prosecuting attorney Michael Shermer and defending attorney John Lott.  Plus star witnesses, and a jury of 12 from the audience.  And for the first time, I will serve as the Judge!  A very controversial subject.

6:05 – 6:50 pm. Rivoli ballroom.  “The Magic of Liberty,” with Penn Jillette of the famed magic act Penn & Teller, followed by Penn & talk show host Glenn Beck:  “An Odd Couple Talks Liberty” and Q&A from the audience.  Fun!

7:00 – 8:00 pm. Champagne 3.  Penn Jillette Reception (ticket required).  Great opportunity to meet Penn and have your picture taken with him.

Afterwards, Conversation Circle with Marc Eliot (on Woodstock 50 years ago), reception for comedian Evan Sayet, yoga with Lauren Williams, Anthem film festival, and karaoke!



7:30 – 8:30 am.  Champagne 2.  Breakfast with the Skousens!  Jo Ann will be speaking on “Investing for Two: How Couples Can Successfully Manage Their Finances,” with my comments afterwards.  We gave this talk at the Las Vegas Money Show and it was very well received.  Hope to see you there.

8:30 – 10 am.  Rivoli Ballroom.  “Freedom v Socialism: Why America Has Always Been Great,” with talk show host and author Glenn Beck.  He will be followed by “Our Wild Ride in Washington,” a panel with Senator Mike Lee, Representatives Justin Amash and Thomas Massie.  Hosted by Matt Kibbe and Free the People (expect a lot of controversy).  We also have a panel on “War and Peace: What is it Good For?”, with top foreign policy experts assessing the dangers in the Middle East and other hot spots around the world.  Moderated by Zilvinas Silenas, the new president of FEE.

9:55 – 10:00 am.  Rivoli ballroom. After this panel, I will present the Leonard E. Read Book Award to Cato’s Christopher Preble for his excellent new book “Peace, War and Liberty.”  This is our annual book award to authors who promote liberty.  It suggests “Read This Book!”  Chris will sign books during the 10:30 coffee break.

10- 10:30 am. Rivoli ballroom.  Before the coffee break, we have one more panel, “How to Argue Against the Socialists of All Parties” sponsored by the Reason editors Matt Welch, Katherine Mangu-Ward, and Nick Gillespie.  Reason has its tradition “Reason Day” sessions on Saturday.

10:30 – 11:00 am. Coffee break in the Exhibit Hall.  Be sure to pick up a signed copy of Christopher Preble’s new book, winner of the Read Book Award.

11-11:50 am.  Versailles 2.  “Funding Libertarians on Campus:  Hostile Takeover or Academic Balance?” with Daniele Struppa (Chapman U.), Jim Gwartney (FSU), and Don Boudreaux (GMU).  Gary Alexander moderating.  Marxists are famous for taking over departments.  Should libertarians do the same?

You might also want to see Charles Murray and his wife Catherine Cox talk about their book “Apollo” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the landing of the moon.  They are going to be interviewed by Ed Hudgins on the topic “The Final Frontier:  Moon Landing, Star Wars, and Space Exploration.”  The interview is via Skype satellite in the Rivoli ballroom.  Perfect for this occasion.


12:00 – 12:50 pm.  Rivoli ballroom.  Closing Panel with Senator Mike Lee, Congressman Justin Amash, Jennifer Grossman, John Fund, and Magatte Wade.  I’ll be moderating.  We will discuss what we have learned at this year’s conference, and we talk about what we can expect in the next year.  I will also announce theme for FreedomFest 2020, and our controversial celebrity speaker for next year.  We will announce the winner of the $1776 prize, or two free tickets, to next year’s FreedomFest, donated by Valaurum.  Treasure Investments will announce the high bidder in the silent auction for the beautiful Eagle sculpture.

12:50 – 1 pm.  Group photo in front of the Wells Fargo Stage Coach in the Exhibit Hall for all those who have a silver dollar.  Not to be missed!

1-2 pm.  Lunch – Kiosk open in the Exhibit Hall, or sign up for a hosted luncheon.

2:10 – 3:00 pm.  Versailles 2.  “The Wild in the Wild West was RIGHT!  The Case for Anarchy” with Jeff Berwick, Doug Casey, and Katherine Mangu-Ward.  I will be the moderator and will challenge these crazy anarchists.

3:10 – 4:00 pm.  Loire.  “Call of the Wild West: Jack London, Socialist or Rugged Individualist?”  I will be presenting my views of America’s most popular writer of Western fiction.  I’ve been a lifelong reader of his books and short stories.  What is the true meaning of his classic “Call of the Wild”?  The answer may surprise you.  I will also read you my favorite short story by Jack London.

4:10 – 5 pm.  Versailles 2.  One final “Showdown in the FreedomFest Corral:  Which is Better, Democratic Capitalism or Socialism?”  John Mackey will take on a hard-core Marxist professor, Barry Eidlin (McGill University in Montreal).  I will serve as moderator.

6:00 – 10:00 pm.  Rivoli ballroom.  Saturday evening reception and banquet (ticket required) with the Amish Outlaws rock n roll band and Loop Rawlins, the cowboy entertainer.  Dinner, desert, the Anthem film festival awards, and much more.  Musicians Mark Lee Gardner and Rex Rideout, as well as libertarian magician Peter Studebaker will be making the rounds during the cocktail reception.


After a long four day event, it feels great to get out on the dance floor.  See you there!


This is also my opportunity to thank everyone who has worked so hard and put in countless hours or work and creativity to make this year’s FreedomFest and Anthem Film Festival an incredible success — Valerie Durham, our conference director; Autumn Bennett, Norann Dillon, Nathan Williams, Harold Skousen, our registration team, and of course my wife Jo Ann. 


And see you next year!  Dates are July 13-16, 2020, at the Paris Resort, Las Vegas.  Details to be announced soon at


Yours for peace, prosperity and liberty, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen



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