Freedom Conference brings conservative thinkers to Steamboat |

Freedom Conference brings conservative thinkers to Steamboat

Former VP Cheney and daughter Liz top speakers

— This year's Freedom Conference in Steamboat Springs, with former Vice President Dick Cheney and senate candidate Liz Cheney as headlining speakers, has been sold out since June 1. But Routt County residents who are not registered for the conference still have an opportunity to experience it through three bonus sessions that have been opened to the public.

Organizer Rick Akin, of Steamboat Springs, said Monday he understands that some people may feel left out of the two-day conference on Friday and Saturday. It includes speakers and seminars on diverse topics from confronting Islamist terrorism, the changing media landscape, gun control, state sovereignty and educational issues.

"Last year at this time we were still selling tickets," Akin said. "For folks who aren't registered, we've managed to provide three sessions at no fee or a nominal fee."

A two-hour presentation titled "Defenders of Capitalism" is being offered first-come, first-served at 9 a.m. Friday in the Burgess Creek Room at conference headquarters in the Steamboat Grand. It features two speakers, Yaron Brook and Michael Williams, who are immersed in the writings of Ayn Rand. Rand held that capitalism, as a social system, is based on individual rights, including property rights, and that capitalism in its purest form requires the separation of state and economics.

"We're going to try to do a two-hour condensed version of a workshop we usually do in a full day," Williams said. "People who are attracted to this conference are generally for free markets and smaller government but don't have a full understanding of what capitalism requires."

Williams said the condensed seminar is geared to the general public and will present the tenets of capitalism from both an academic and activist stance but not so much in the context of partisan politics.

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"Neither (political) party today really represents the capitalist viewpoint," Williams said.

Brook teaches at the Ayn Rand Institute, and Williams is the director of the "Defenders of Capitalism" project for the Leadership Program of the Rockies.

Two more sessions are available at overlapping times at the end of the Freedom Conference on Saturday afternoon. The Rev. C.L. Bryant, who will talk at the closing luncheon, thinks that more African-Americans would ascribe to conservative political values if they had a different understanding of freedom.

Bryant has written that too many black Americans think freedom "is government doing more to overcompensate for wrongdoings during the pre-civil rights era. Instead of touting the individual achievement, autonomy and freedom from government that would lead to true equal opportunity, they demand that government give handouts, not a hand up. These handouts weaken us and, in Obama's own words, encourage dependency and diminish motivation."

The public is welcome to attend Bryant’s presentation from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., again first-come, first-served, at no charge in the Spring Creek Room at the Steamboat Grand.

Also speaking on "A New Course for Freedom" at about the same time as Bryant will beThomas Krannawitter, a former university professor who is formulating new strategies for educating and persuading people in the middle of the political spectrum about conservative viewpoints, Akin said.

Krannawitter is the director of the “Defenders of the Declaration” program of the Leadership Program of the Rockies. His talk, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., is in the Burgess Creek Room at the Grand and is free to the public with limited seating available.

The conference is hosted by the Steamboat Institute.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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