Remembering Burt

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I had a number of comments to make about the passing of Burt Blumert, but Lew’s article this morning encompassed most of them, and in a far better way than I could have expressed. Burt’s death, while not unexpected, remains very, very sad. Those not privileged to have known him personally may remember Burt primarily as the pragmatic, dollar-and-cents businessman who kept so much of the libertarian machinery in the black. But to those who knew him, he was – as Lew attests – at the very heart and soul of the Mises organization, LRC, and other working libertarian systems. I suspect that when the appropriateness of a particular action was under discussion, Burt was among the first persons to whom others turned for advice.

Whenever Burt’s name is mentioned in the future, my initial response will always be to remember his lovely, dry, and intellectually wicked sense of humor. This is one of the many reasons, I am certain, why he and Rothbard got along so well: humor – not self-righteousness – has always been the means by which emotionally and intellectually centered people hang on to their souls. It remains a great tool for dissolving artificial boundaries that otherwise keep us in conflict.

The late George Carlin was asked what he thought his response might be if he discovered that, contrary to his beliefs, there was an afterlife. What did he think God’s response would be to his presence in heaven? Carlin thought God might answer “now we’re going to have some fun around here.” If there is a life after death, the transcendent souls had better be ready for Burt, for he will have taken his sense of humor with him.

3:11 pm on March 30, 2009

Remembering Burt

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Everyone who knew Burt was struck by his sense of humor, and he kept this quality to the end. In my last talk with him, he was in considerable pain. Nevertheless, when I told him that his book had sold well at the Austrian Scholars conference, he said, “The check bounced.” But even more important than his humor, he was a person of immense kindness, always there for his many friends.

It’s hard to think of Burt without at the same time thinking of his greatest friends, Murray and Joey Rothbard. They loved to talk to each other, and I spent many happy hours in their company. I met all three of them in 1979; it does not seem like thirty years ago. “In thinking of the days that are no more.”

6:01 pm on March 30, 2009

Remembering Burt

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Writes Ravindran Kuppusamy:

I was very sad to hear the news on Burt. About eight years ago, when I moved to Munich, Germany, from San Francisco, I was “green” when it comes to getting gold coins in this part of the world, so I wrote to Burt, but did not expect any responses. He spent his valuable time to respond to an unknown person’s e-mail, subsequent followups, and clarified a lot of things for me. A classy gentleman!

9:58 am on April 6, 2009
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