JEFF DEIST: Tom, you grew up in Boston. Your dad was a blue collar guy and also a Teamster. So, tell us a little bit about him and your childhood.
TOM WOODS: He was a Teamster for 18 years, and worked as a forklift operator in a food warehouse for a grocery chain that no longer exists. I wouldn’t say he was a Reagan Democrat because he was never a Democrat. He was a blue-collar Reagan Republican. That was the kind of household I grew up in. My father had very strong political opinions.
At that time he had not finished high school. He was very self-conscious about not having a high school diploma, so he spent a lot of time reading about a wide variety of topics. You could talk to him about a great many things and he would have something intelligent to say. He wound up going back to get his GED when he was in his 40s.
On politics, he was the one who introduced me to the evils of communism and the merits of low taxes and things like that. It was fairly conventional Republican stuff, but for all that, if it hadn’t been for him telling me those things, I could easily see myself having fallen into conventional leftism. And why not? If you have poor people, why not give them money, and if you have some problem, why not appoint regulators to solve it? It all seems so simple. He challenged that narrative in ways that were very productive for me.
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JD: Isn’t that interesting how America used to have blue-collar-working-class guys who were well read in poetry or history or philosophy? Now, even people with advanced degrees don’t know as much.
TW: It is kind of funny. I took a bit of that from him in…