Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Foreword to But...at What Cost: A Skeptic's Memoir

What made a busy former tutor and small-business entrepreneur a Tea Party activist? Why did she threaten to quit? What caused her to switch from political organizing to writing her memoir?

You will find the answers in But…at What Cost?  Author Judy Axtell has experienced, as the Chinese say, “interesting times.” She became a changed person. Socrates is credited with admonishing, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Judy Axtell’s often-challenging, closely examined life has been well worth her struggles. She has lived and learned.

Initially, a few years ago, Judy emailed me to ask that I prepare a flier for her Tea Party group, summarizing our joint skepticism about “global warming”: Is the climate actually getting warmer? Due to human activities? More bad than good? Preventable at reasonable cost? My background in environmental physics, mathematics, and modeling was just what she wanted in support of the position I shared with the Tea Party. A friend I was helping write a memoir had called me to Judy’s attention. We quickly became allies, by phone and Internet.

Judy and I first met in person in the fall of 2013. We agreed to work together on a book that would distill her experience of seven decades into an explanation of how and why her views had changed radically from the liberalism of her youth to the conservatism of her maturity. We met about twice a month to discuss and debate her ideas and hone their presentation. She wrote rapidly and well, finishing her first draft in less than half a year, despite her continual revising in an effort to get it just right. She has given her views prolonged, serious thought, and hers is a life story worth reading.

Some say that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality. Others have claimed that one would need to be cold-hearted to be a conservative in one’s youth and empty-headed to be a liberal in one’s adulthood. Those two messages are much the same: experience teaches, and it often teaches that lofty ideas fail when applied to real people.

Judy Axtell’s book is a cry from her heart that America must return to the principles of individual freedom and responsibility that catapulted this country to greatness over the past two centuries. She believes only this will help erase the terrible consequences of slavery, America’s “original sin.” Until politicians stop pitting one group against another, we will continue to pay the price for past slavery, segregation, discrimination, and Jim Crow. Rather than recognizing and protecting the individual as the basic unit of society, politicians divide us into voting blocs, as “mascots” and “targets” in the words of the brilliant black economist and political philosopher Thomas Sowell, one of Judy Axtell’s heroes and one of mine.

It was my real pleasure helping Judy to produce her book, a candid and thoughtful memoir we hope its readers will both profit from and enjoy.

Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.



Judy's book is available through amazon.com.

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