Friday, September 28, 2007

John Berthoud, R.I.P.

By Richard Vedder

The fight for higher education reform is tied into a bigger fight, for more rational and lower cost government. Efficient higher education can mean fewer government subsidies and lower taxes. It can mean using private resources and markets to do what public resources and the public process does now. I consider the work that CCAP does to be part of this broader reform effort.

A great fighter for lower cost government died quite unexpectedly yesterday, John Berthoud, President of the National Taxpayer Union. John was a close friend, and a great advocate of lowering taxes as a means of forcing governments to think and act more efficiently. John was a young man --under 50 -- and his loss is huge to the taxpayer movement and to our nation.

John was a bright, educated guy, with a Ph.D. from Yale, but he never bragged, never was trying to use his talents to promote himself. While other tax fighters loved to grab microphones and crave personal newspaper publicity, John worked quietly but very effectively to promote his cause (lower taxes, not John Berthoud). And, knowing that life is short (too short in his case) and we are just passing through, John liked to have some humor and fun while we fought for what we thought was right. Kim Dennis of the Searle Freedom Trust (and other groups) would throw marvelous Cosmos parties, and they were always more fun when John was there. At World Taxpayer Association meetings (the one in Saint Petersburg in 2003 particularly comes to mind), we would have long involved dinners laced with copious quanitities of libations, and John and all his many friends would spend most of the evening laughing --after a day of very serious business. John was very useful in bringing taxpayer groups around the world into harmony and common ground on a number of occasions.

In short, John was a lot of fun, both at the American Exchange Council (ALEC) where I first met him, and in his 11 years at NTU where I knew him in an official capacity as a board member. But above all, he was a very competent and effective champion of free markets, limited government, and individual liberty, and his loss weighs heavy on his friends and all of those wanting public sector reform.


TC said...
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Anonymous said...

"John Berthoud, R.I.P."
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