I was saddened to learn today of the death of Tibor Machan. He was always very kind to me. We met when I was a law student—he taught across the street on the main campus at Chapman—and he put in a word for me at the Orange County Register, where he was something of a libertarian guru. After that, I was able to now and then publish an op-ed there and earn a little spending money.
After my first book, Cornerstone of Liberty, was published, he was very enthusiastic about it, and used it in his role as guru: he oversaw the conferences that Freedom Communications put on for its editorial writers across the country, and he invited me to speak at some of those conferences about property rights and other subjects. He had one criticism of me, he said: I put too much emphasis on earning. To earn property was sufficient, but was not necessary, as a justification for property—inherited property was morally justified, despite our not having earned it. After all, we don’t earn our bodies or our lives, but we certainly own those. When we rewrote the book, I made sure to clear that up, and to send him a copy thanking him for that point.
He taught me a lot more, too. He introduced me to Robert Hessen and his outstanding bookIn Defense of The Corporation, which helped me better understand the arguments about corporate personhood, as did his critique of Milton Friedman's views on the ethics of corporate managers. He introduced me to the work of W.D. Falk—one of his favorite philosophers, he said. Every now and then he would email along his thoughts and suggestions on various points, and he seemed always to be writing. I was always impressed with his output.
Tibor co-founded Reasonmagazine, of which he was proud, and Reason Papers of which I think he was prouder. He was a refugee from communism in Hungary. He loved the color orange, and for some reason loved to talk about that. One of my fondest memories of him is watching him and Nathaniel Branden sing "I'm OK, You're OK" together on the main floor at Freedom Fest in Vegas. He was a big and vibrant personality, who adored philosophy and relished freedom. He was a friendly and helpful man who gave me much encouragement and help along the way, and I will always be grateful for that. It was a genuine honor to know him.
In the latest Cato Audio, Christina and I discuss the current state of private property rights in the U.S., and how states can act to more fully protect this fundamental human right. You can listen online or download it here, and of course you can get our new property rights book here.