Freedom First: Brief Readings on Liberty, Peace and Prosperity - Book Review

Freedom First: Brief Readings on Liberty, Peace and Prosperity

Author: Donald R. Chambers PhD
Genre: Non Fiction - Gov/Politics
Date Published: February 6, 2019
ISBN-10: 1948035154
ISBN-13: 978-1948035156

Book Review of :  Freedom First: Brief Readings on Liberty, Peace and Prosperity


Freedom First by Donald R. Chambers is a published collection of commentaries on numerous economic and social ills that challenge the stability of our world and our nation’s future.  Most of his writings stress conciliation of the parties with the opposing views. He uses numerous real-life examples of how difficult change is for many issues because of the reliance or investment that people have in existing programs and in place solutions. Chambers talks of the different approaches the left and right use in solving issues. 

Freedom First is an insightful, scholarly, and persuasive analysis of socioeconomics highlighting what has gone wrong, what is going wrong and what could go wrong very soon.  It provides extensively researched and well-written insights with the expertise of an insider.  Its topics are lucid and forcefully-argued by Chambers an Emeritus Professor of Finance at Lafayette College, and a CIO at Biltmore Capital Advisors.

In one commentary he discusses the confusion of equal treatment under the law and equality of outcome that many have come to consider as one and the same.  As Chambers states, “We can have equality of outcome or equal treatment under the law. We can only pick one.” His discussion and explanations of diverse topics are all written in a vernacular easy for anyone with a high school education and an open mind to grasp. 

Chambers talks about how difficult change is when people and businesses have invested or relied so much on existing solutions that are now virtually unsustainable or appear to be very selective on who can benefit from the solutions.

In Abraham Lincoln's First Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1861, he stated "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”  His statement was apropos to Chambers’ statements about natural rights are entitlements to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Chambers stated that “ More specifically, people have a right to their own bodies and the fruits of their own labor—along with whatever property they can get through trade based on mutual consent. There are no other rights in a truly free society. Students have been taught to believe in other rights, such as entitlements to stuff they need or want: a job with an attractive wage, quality health care, and education, adequate food, etc. But enforcing these rights forces some people (people who produce more for society than they consume) to provide goods and services to other people (who consume more than they produce).”  

The statement Lincoln made regarding labor was pro-labor but also represented his core belief that no one should be forced to work for another to provide them with goods for free. 

Chambers doesn’t simply identify socioeconomic issues but also offers advice on how to overcome many of these problems.  He talks about systems that were designed and implemented in a prior century that now are facing unique inherited and unforeseen dangers that were inconceivable decades before but are now at economic crisis levels..

In some of his commentaries, he discusses the bias and prejudices that exist and the new ones society are introducing. Most prejudices we are born into or were socially learned in the communities we grew up in. They were reinforced by the environments and institutions we were a part of. Now new prejudices are being taught in universities and higher learning institutions which as Chambers warns are a “microcosm of the America to come if the multicultural revolution succeeds.” He goes on to say, “Instead of becoming heterogeneous, open, and welcoming, the campuses have become homogeneous, exclusive, and hostile. Free speech has been driven out of most campuses. The academic communities run by the intellectual elitists are not healthy. The victors on American campuses are fighting each other with quickly changing messages and alliances. The seething hatred and in-fighting under the surface of these communities stifle dissent and cast doubt on the communities’ pretense to respect all as equals. Their absolute power leads to absolutely vicious in-fighting.”

Much of Chambers’ writing has a conciliatory tone to it. He emphasizes the need for the left and right to come together on issues and make changes that will not only solve a “today” issue but will be an effective solution for the issue for years to come.

One interesting observation Chambers discusses is about identity politics. He talks about identity politics as being a divisive and dangerous political ploy.   Chambers defines identity politics as a process whereby people adopt political ideologies based on a desire to belong to a group of people that helps them feel good.  Examples of identity politics in action are people basing their vote on voting like some well-loved celebrity.  In the 2016 election, thousands of voters were influenced by celebrities’ actions such as Beyoncé with her #ImWithHer speech. Madonna performing her last-minute Hillary concert in New York’s Washington Square Park. J. Lo bringing Clinton onstage at a concert. Lady Gaga donning a Michael Jackson jacket to make her final pleas, and the Boss rocking his rallies. Identity politics is not new, throughout history many people, perhaps most, have formed their belief systems and adhered to policies dictated by these groups that make them feel inclusive. Chambers suggest instead of letting charismatic leader and well-organized political party, form your views try basing them on a belief system supported by reason and evidence.

Chambers speaks on today’s immigration issue, an issue that essentially has been a part of political platforms since the birth of our nation. In the late 1700s the anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment was that era’s immigration crisis.  In 1790 the Naturalization Act was passed restricting citizenship to "any alien, being a free white person" who had been in the U.S. for two years. A few hundred years later and we are still dealing with the immigration issue.  However, as Chamber asserts the issue isn’t really immigration but an open border issue with to restrictions to who or how many can pour into our country.

I cannot recommend “Freedom First” too highly. It is easy to read for non-economists. Chamber's astute observations, brilliant analysis of the issues and his warning that if we are to maintain a nation sustainable for all citizens, it is absolutely necessary to move away from our deeply entrenched ways and views of unlimited growth.  Chambers’ discussion addresses many dangerously antiquated beliefs and offers smarter ways to understand what it may take to be a human community that thrives and prospers in the 21 century.


About Donald R. Chambers PhD


Donald R Chambers is a recently-retired (June 2017) professor of finance with 36 years of teaching experience. Dr. Chambers has written several books regarding investments and personal finance that are distinguished by their clear writing and ability to make difficult concepts accessible to his audience. He is the lead author of the 600+ page Modern Corporate Finance: Theory and Practice which is in its eight edition (forthcoming with FlatWorld), the 1,000 page Alternative Investments which is in its third edition with Wiley, and several other books on finance. Dr. Chambers has published over 50 scholarly articles.

Dr. Chambers has had numerous appearances in media including national television, national public radio, regional television and regional radio. Dr. Chambers co-starred in a nationally-televised cable television series regarding finance in 1988 (45 Fortune) and frequently serves as a public speaker.

In more recent years, he has written numerous blogs and spoken frequently regarding investments in his role as Chief Investment Officer of Biltmore Capital Advisors.

Visit for more information on Donald R. Chambers PhD


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