Mark-Thornton - Libertarian

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Soon after the 1996 election, Alabama Governor Fob James, speaking at a seminar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, casually mentioned that he had heard the campaign commercials for the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate. The tag line in the commercial had been, "Send me to Washington, and I'll get things 'undone'." Governor James told the audience that he turned to his wife, and said, "We need to bring that guy to Montgomery." He then asked if anyone knew who that candidate was.

Sitting next to James at the head of the table was Prof. Mark Thornton, the candidate in question. Thornton smiled, waved, and said "Hi Governor. Welcome to my seminar." The room exploded in laughter, James and Thornton shook hands, and soon after, the State Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Alabama became Economic Advisor to the Governor of Alabama.

Mark Thornton is a veritable one-man army for liberty. In fact, at the 1998 Alabama LP Convention, Thornton was given "Special Recognition for his continuing efforts for the cause of liberty as a candidate, as a party official, in academia, and in government."

LP candidacies have come a long way between Thornton's first race for Congress in 1984 to his recent campaign for U.S. Senate in 1996. Mark could barely beg an interview in his initial outing, since few people had even heard of the LP. In his recent effort, talk shows and reporters from across the state were even contacting him, asking about LP positions on a variety of issues. What's more, he has the distinction of being the first Alabama Libertarian to hold elected office, winning the post of Constable in 1988.

Likewise, his Libertarian Party activities have been crucial in Alabama. Thornton has been district representative, newsletter editor, vice chairman, and state chairman. In addition, he served as the faculty advisor for the Auburn University Libertarians for nearly a decade.

Since earning his Ph.D. in 1989, Dr. Thornton has been active in academia. His classes in "Political Economy," "Public Policy," and "Austrian Economics" provided a solid intellectual defense of freedom and free markets. (In fact, I once overheard two of his undergraduate students studying for his exam. One said to the other, "Remember, if the government does something, it's probably bad. If the free market does something, it's probably good.")

In addition to his teaching load, Thornton served as Coordinator of Academic Affairs at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and contributing editor to The Free Market, the Mises Institute's monthly newsletter. He also served for 10 years as the editor of the Institute's Austrian Economics Newsletter.

When Thornton published The Economics of Prohibition, he quickly became recognized as one of America's experts on the economics of illegal drugs. The book, available in both hardback and paperback, has been used by students and faculty in public policy courses across the country. Thornton continues to get invitations to speak on the issue, to write journal articles, and to submit chapters in multi-author books.


"My father came from a family of pharmacists and my mother came from a family of bar owners and liquor store owners, so it should not be too surprising that I would study the economics of drug and alcohol prohibition--its the family business!"

Books & Tapes

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