We’ve heard from many readers over the past few months who expressed anxiety and concern about what might happen to the views on these pages if our parent company, Freedom Communications, were sold.
We hope they are as pleased as we are at the news Tuesday that Freedom will remain in family control. That means the preservation of the heritage of Freedom’s founder, R.C. Hoiles, and the particular libertarian philosophy he shaped.
The company’s board of directors signed a definitive agreement with two investment banking firms to recapitalize Freedom and provide liquidity — a way to cash out stock — to certain family shareholders.
The movement toward a company sale or other resolution of a simmering family disagreement began more than a year ago. At the time, one employee observed to his colleagues, “This is a company worth fighting for.”
At Freedom Communications’ core are the founder’s values and a political philosophy articulated daily on the Opinion pages of The Tribune and in other Freedom newspapers throughout the country.
The Opinion pages are a bit of a throwback to the days when these pages in American newspapers represented the strong views of the owner. (The pages are also independent of the Tribune’s newsgathering operations.)
In contrast, many newspapers today talk about “all the views of the world” and seek to present “a forum of ideas.” Their political philosophy can best be described as “centrist pragmatist,” a squish of ideas of left and right or whatever works for the issue and the moment. Some editorial boards vote on their positions. Some are deliberately set up with members from the left and right.
Some even include “community members” in an attempt to represent the views of “the community,” as if two or three people can represent those views. They often simply reflect the dominant liberal view of the world or the values of their marketplace.
We are definitely different. We come at the world with an idea and a mission: to advance human liberty. Our editorial board discussions usually center on how to best and consistently apply our principles — what are the competing values? What is the highest value in this issue? The mitigators? Aggravators?
Among the principles that animate our discussions: respect for the individual, limited government (when was the last time you asked yourself, “what is the role of government in my life?” “In society?”), opportunity in free markets, an individual’s private property rights, low taxation and responsibility for one’s own conduct.
These principles, consistently applied since R.C. Hoiles bought The Orange County Register nearly 70 years ago, have contributed to shaping a community that tends to seek private solutions before public ones, has relatively low taxes compared with others, encourages private housing development for all rungs of the housing ladder and is a stronghold of entrepreneurship.
In recent months, the Tribune editorial pages have questioned the constitutionality of East Valley cities' excessive use of eminent domain for private redevelopment projects; condemned the trend toward government regulation of political campaigns; criticized the Phoenix-led juggernaut to waste billions of transportation dollars on a few miles of slow, expensive light rail; and championed partial privatization of the broken Social Security system. Yes, strong positions all; and, yes, we have welcomed rebuttals on every one.
In politics, the arguments and a fearless debate do matter. They detect overlooked issues, they clarify the dialogue, they change the outcome for the better.
If R.C. Hoiles had one bright shining moment in his publishing legacy, it was in 1943, when he editorialized against the internment of Japanese-Americans, one of only two newspapers in the nation we know of to have taken such a position and certainly the only one situated where the danger seemed highest.
He found it hard to believe that so many people coming to work here and make a life would have as their purpose the destruction of the freedoms they sought.
Strong guiding principles, strong opinions. It is, indeed, a company worth fighting for.