"I told everyone what to do, they didn’t listen, so to heck with them!”
That quote is from my last conversation with Burt Blumert, who would have turned 88 this week. Burt is one of the unsung heroes of the liberty movement. In fact, it's not an exaggeration to say that without Burt many of the movement's most important institutions would be much smaller and less influential--if they existed at all.
As founder and manager of Camino Coins, one of the nation's leading coin dealers, Burt "discovered' the Austrian School of economics and libertarianism by reading about the history and economics of gold.
A close friend of Murray Rothbard, Burt was a tireless promoter of the ideas of liberty. He helped found and served as President of The Center for Libertarian Studies, one of the first libertarian educational institutes.
Burt also played a key role in helping Lew Rockwell found the Mises Institute. Burt served on the Institute's board and, following the passing of Margit Von Mises, served as Chairman of the Institute's board.
Burt was also the publisher of, and contributor to, LewRockwell.com and played a major role in the founding and growth of Antiwar.com.
Burt was also a close friend and business partner of Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul. Burt managed Dr. Paul's 1988 Libertarian party Presidential campaign and was active in the LP for many years.
I was privileged to get to know Burt in the early 90's. Burt was one of the finest and funniest men I have ever met. At the time, I was a young kid fresh out of law school, while Burt was a successful businessman and movement leader. But Burt (like Murray Rothbard) never talked down to me or treated me as anything less than a friend and valued movement colleague. But that is how Burt treated everyone.
While, like all of his friends, I greatly miss Burt, I'm glad he lived long enough to see the cause he devoted so much of his life to transform from a relatively tiny movement into a rEVOLution because of his friend Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign.
Here is Dr. Paul's official tribute to Burt from the Congressional Record:
Madame Speaker, Burton Samuel Blumert passed away on Monday March 30, following a long battle with cancer. Burt was a true hero of the freedom movement and my close friend, advisor, and business partner. As the founder and manager of Camino Coins in Burlingame, CA, Burt was one of the nation's leading dealers in gold and silver coins. A student of Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian school of economics, Burt understood the important role precious metals played in protecting ordinary citizens from the damage wrought by fiat money and inflation. Thus, he regarded his work as a coin dealer not just as a business, but as an opportunity to help people by providing them with some protection from the Federal Reserve's inflation tax.
After I stepped down from Congress in 1984, I partnered with Burt in the coin business, a partnership which lasted until I returned to Congress in 1996. Our partnership was based on nothing more than our words. As anyone who ever dealt with Burt could testify, that was all that was needed, because Burtâ€™s word was truly his bond. I am unaware of anyone who dealt with Burt who questioned his integrity or his commitment to his customers.
As well-known and respected as he was for his leadership in the coin business, Burt was best known as a promoter of libertarian ideas. Burt was a long time friend and patron of Murray Rothbard, one of Misesâ€™s top American students and a pioneer in economics, political theory, history, and much else. Burt helped Murray establish the Center for Libertarian Studies, and served as its president from 1975 until his death.
Burt also played a key role in the flourishing of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, which, as its name suggests, is the leading center for the promotion and development of Austrian economics and libertarian political theory in the nation. Burt served as a founding board member of the Institute and he chaired the Institute’s board after the original chair, Mrs. Margit von Mises, passed away in 1993. He also published The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, a well-read libertarian newsletter written by Murray Rothbard and Mises Institute President Lew Rockwell.
Burt played a major role in making the ideas of liberty a force on the internet by serving as the publisher of LewRockwell.com, as well supporting the development of Mises.org. Burt also played an instrumental role in the development of Antiwar.com. Burt also served as chairman of my first run for the presidency, and important counselor in the second.
In addition to his work with these organizations, Burt was a friend, mentor, and patron to numerous libertarian scholars and activists. He was incredibly generous with both his time and his resources. Talking to Burt was always a treat, because he had one of the best senses of humor I have ever known, and it seemed like he was always in a good mood. Events that would send his friends into fits of depression, rage, or both would be used by Burt as fodder for a series of jokes and wisecracks. Even in the last days of his battle with cancer he remained upbeat. One of Burtâ€™s friends called him shortly after learning about Burtâ€™s cancer, but instead of consoling Burt, this friend ending up having his sprits lifted by Burtâ€™s humor.
It is somewhat of a comfort to myself, and I am sure to Burtâ€™s other friends, to know that he lived long enough to see so many of his efforts bear fruit. Today, the Mises Institute teaches sound economies and the principles of liberty to thousands of students every year while Mises.org is one of the leading economics websites in the world. LewRockwell.com is one of the top providers of political, economic, and cultural commentary on the web, while Antiwar.com is the leading source of information for scholars, journalists, and activists looking for material to combat the propaganda of the war party.
As I travel across the country, I am astounded at the number of young people I met who are interested in the cause of individual liberty, peace, and sound money. Many of them got their introduction to these ideas through one of the many organizations nurtured by Burt Blumert.
Madame Speaker, perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to a departed friend is to say that they left the world better than they found it. That is certainly true in the case of Burt Blumert. While I am saddened that I will never again benefit from Burtâ€™s good humor and wise counsel, I am comforted by knowing that I was blessed by his friendship and the thought that the vibrant and growing freedom movement will serve as a living monument to Burt for years to come. I therefore join friends of liberty around the world in mourning Burtâ€™s passing, and saluting all he accomplished during his lifetime.
For a sample of what made Burt so special, order Bagels, Barry Bonds, and Rotten Politicians, a collection of his best columns from LewRcokwell.com.
(hat/tip on Burt's birthday David Gordon).
Tags: Ron Paul, the Liberty Movement, Mises Institute, Libertarian Party, Burt Blumert