Venezuelan journalist and Cato adjunct scholar Carlos Ball passed away last week. He was 75. Carlos was a champion of liberty and a long-time friend to so many of us in the freedom movement in the Americas. His life was a testimony to the power of ideas, and he lived it true to his classical-liberal convictions.
I first met Carlos at the Mont Pelerin meetings in Cannes in September 1994. We hit it off immediately. After that, we were occasionally in touch by e-mail. He often took articles I wrote and translated them into Spanish for his large audience.
I last heard from him in April during the busiest time of my year and, now to my regret, did not get around to answering him.
I still remember an insight that Carlos gave me that has helped me not be a nationalist and helped me distinguish between people of a given nationality. Somehow we got talking about how foreigners who visit the United States generally find Americans friendly but their first impression of America is typically the Immigration officials who grill them at the airport or at the border. They have a much less positive impression of these particular Americans.
Carlos told me that his father had once been the Venezuelan government's ambassador to the United States. His father had told him: "Carlos, never judge a people by its bureaucrats." For this streetwise public choice insight, I am grateful. Ever since then, that one insight has helped me navigate in foreign countries.