Freedom in Fiction

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There is a
story told that after leaving the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin
Franklin was approached by a woman who asked what form of government
the delegates had created. Franklin responded: "A republic,
if you can keep it."

Keeping a republic
is indeed a difficult task. The ideas set forth in our Constitution
and by our Founding Fathers are constantly under assault from the
media, larger government and our own misguided decisions.

For many years
I have contributed financially to worthwhile organizations that
champion limited government, freedom, self-reliance and market systems.
Their scholarship leads to news stories, radio interviews and television
appearances that educate the public and lay a foundation for better
policy decisions. Yet very few groups use movies, music, books or
video games — what I would call popular culture — to communicate
their ideas.

Today's popular
culture is dominated by those who believe in a large "compassionate"
government that will take care of us when we are old, sick, poor
or down on our luck. One example is Michael Moore's newest documentary,
Sicko. The film proposes replacing America's current health
care system with a government-managed program. Even before the official
release date, the movie has opened in select locations to sellout
crowds and received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival.

On the other
side of the fence, there are very few examples of popular culture
championing entrepreneurs, markets, the private sector and charitable
organizations as ways to fix society's problems. Authors like Ayn
Rand, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are probably the best-known
exceptions. Atlas
Shrugged
popularized private initiative, while debunking
those who would use more government as a way to feed their parasitic
and unproductive behavior. Lewis' The
Chronicles of Narnia
and Tolkien's The
Lord of the Rings
contained political philosophies arguing
against totalitarian rule.

In an effort
to make the cause of freedom more appealing, I have collaborated
with the Mackinac Center to establish the Freedom in Fiction Prize.
This international contest will offer a prize of up to $100,000
and create an incentive for authors to write the next best-selling
book championing values necessary for a free, productive and truly
compassionate society.

Anyone over
the age of 18 can enter the contest. Interested authors can view
a copy of the competition rules
or request an information packet
by contacting Freedom in Fiction Prize Project Manager Justin Marshall
at 989-631-0900.

The contest
consists of two phases: The first requires entrants to submit an
opening chapter, one additional chapter of choice, an entry form
(available online), a signed disclaimer (available online) and a
book outline by Jan. 1, 2008. The outline should include a summary
discussion of the major themes within the book and the major characters
(hero and villain) that comply with contest requirements. Characters
that demonstrate an appreciation for liberty and free markets and/or
oppose government oppression and restraints should be essential
elements of any submitted work.

By March 31,
2008, up to 10 authors will be chosen to complete their manuscripts
and receive a $1,000 check. Each author will have one year to finish
his or her book and mail it to the project manager by March 31,
2009. A distinguished group of judges will read each book and announce
the winning author by June 30, 2009.

The winner
will receive a $10,000 check for their manuscript. If the author
chooses, he or she can then proceed to publish the book and qualify
for the additional $90,000 prize by selling 10,000 copies within
one year of its publication date.

It is my hope
that the Freedom in Fiction Prize will help discover the next best-selling
author. Imagine children and adults all over the world reading the
next Harry Potter and learning the importance of a free society
at the same time. If that happens, I'd say our Republic has more
than a fighting chance.

July
12, 2007

James M.
Rodney [send him mail] is
Chairman of the Board for Detroit Forming, Inc. and President of
the Rodney Fund. He is also a member of the Mackinac Center for
Public Policy's Board of Directors. For more information on the
Freedom in Fiction Prize please visit www.mackinac.org/freedominfiction
or contact: Mr. Justin Marshall, Project Manager, Freedom
in Fiction, 140 West Main Street, Midland, Mich. 48640; Phone: 989-631-0900;
Mobile: 989-430-8667; Fax: 989-631-0964; E-mail: marshall@mackinac.org.

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