I'm meeting with several other Oxford Club writers and editors
at the Fairmont Princess in Bermuda.
- The hotel was a favorite getaway for
Mark Twain, who used to relax on the verandah in his trademark white linen
suit, reciting Kipling and delivering monologues to adoring fans. Twain
described Bermuda as "a magnificent heaven on earth." And, looking
out on the famous pink sand, blue ocean waters and lovely pastel houses,
it's hard to disagree.
- But the idyllic mood was spoiled today
when I received word that our good friend and occasional Oxford Club contributor
Harry Browne died Wednesday night from Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 72.
- Harry was perhaps best known as the 1996
and 2000 Libertarian candidate for President of the United States. (Some
friends argued I was throwing my vote away, but I gladly pulled the lever
for him twice.) Harry was also a best-selling author, a long-time investment
expert - in the true sense of the word - and a fiery advocate of personal,
economic and political freedom. He was also a great lover of opera.
- I first discovered Harry Browne more
than 20 years ago, when I read his classic book, How I Found Freedom In
An Unfree World. In it, he describes how many of us become "unfree"
by forever trying to live up to someone else's expectations, rather than
our own. He places the blame squarely on our own erroneous thinking. And
suggests a remedy called "Starting From Zero," where you sweep
away every aspect of your current life that doesn't correspond to your
- Too radical? Perhaps. But Harry was a
radical thinker. And "Freedom," Harry insisted, "requires
- Imagine my surprise a few years later,
when I learned that the author of this manifesto on personal liberty was
also a deep political thinker and an insightful investment commentator.
His book Why the Best-Laid Investment Plans Usually Go Wrong had a profound
influence on my investment thinking when I first read it in the late 1980s.
Even today, our Oxford Asset Allocation Model is based, in part, on Harry's
- (His book should be required reading
at every business school in the country, yet it's tough to find a copy
anymore. "My publisher told me the title was too negative," he
told me with a shrug last year. "And I guess he was right, because
it's out of print now.")
- I'm sure many of you remember Harry from
the annual FreedomFest in Las Vegas - or as the urbane master of ceremonies
at our Agora Wealth Symposiums in Vancouver. Others may remember his decidedly
"un-PC" political speeches, where he lambasted both major parties.
(Harry believed the federal government encroaches on our personal and economic
liberties with every action it takes. And he devoted much of his life to
reducing the size and scope of government.) Still others will remember
his hard-hitting investment articles, warning of the dangers of "unbeatable"
trading systems, get-rich-quick schemes, and self-styled investment "gurus."
- Personally, I'll remember Harry as a
gentle giant. As a soft-spoken man with a fiery message. And as a Renaissance
Man who loved history, beautiful women, fine wine, classical music and
- always - greater personal and economic freedom.
- Harry Browne was an inspiration to me.
He will be greatly missed.
- Alexander Green