Friday, February 27, 2009

Atlas Shrugs



According to the Economist, sales of Atlas Shrugged have soared as of late. In fact, on January 13th, it actually beat out sales of Obama's "Audacity of Hope" on Amazon.com's book ranking. Interestingly enough, according to the Economist's charts, it seems that sales of the book in the last two years spiked whenever there was large economic turbulence or intervention, such as the bank bailouts. Are we on the path to "the strike?"

SFL at CPAC

Many SFLers that I have talked to have plans to attend CPAC this weekend in Washington, DC, and so I am proud to announce that SFL will have a small but meaningful presence at the conference this year. Our booth is in the middle of the Exhibit Hall (look for the SFL banner), and we are giving away free SFL t-shirts to any students willing to wear them around throughout the day. Come stop by, say hello, and help us recruit more individuals to the fight for liberty.

Also, SFL Executive Director Alexander McCobin will be speaking Friday afternoon on the Grassroots Successes Panel at 2pm in the Regency Ballroom. He will be giving a 2 minute speech on SFL's success, so the more pro-liberty individuals there to cheer him on, the better. If we can get a nice chorus of "A Free Academy, A Free Society" afterwards, that would also be pretty sweet.

So if you're at CPAC, stop on by and show your support for liberty!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

SFL Conference Covered by Atlas

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a friend of Students for Liberty, has a great post on their blog about the 2nd Annual International Students for Liberty Conference, held last weekend at George Washington University in Washington, DC:

Atlas’s Joseph Humire, who helped SFL organize part of the event, enjoyed meeting many of the international students and fielding questions that they had about the free market movement in their countries. After the conference, Joseph said, “Not only was it great to meet many of the international participants, it was also surprising to see how many American students viewed the free market movement as one that is truly international and transcends borders and boundaries. With our vast network, Atlas can play a great role in helping connect international and US students with free market movements around the world.” Atlas looks forward to participating in future Students For Liberty events and helping to facilitate connections between students and free market think tanks.

Atlas focuses on the promotion of economic liberty abroad, and is a great resource for foreign students or those interested in the economic climate internationally.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Harvard's Board of Overseers

As Anne Neal discussed at the ISFLC panel "Changing the Academy", university leadership needs to change and be held accountable in order for students to see more of their rights secured.  (The very fact that a university has "board of overseers" makes me think of Childhood's End.)  Apparently Harvard is having new elections for its board that pits student freedom against old ways, and The Boston Globe picked up on it with this article.  

FIRE has always advocated for individual rights in the academy, and I am willing to bet that every reader of this blog values those freedoms.  However, when university and college administrations squash things like freedom of the press or restrict speech to measly zones, we are all in trouble.  Institutions of higher education should allow us as students to grow intellectually, so here's to hoping that this election spurs the debate for freedom in academia.

Taxation is Voluntary?

So the blog has been inactive the past few days because the SFL Exec Board has been trying to rest up after a long, but fun weekend. We'll be posting pictures and summaries of the 2009 International Students For Liberty Conference soon, but in the meantime, I just had to post this video a friend sent me. Do you think that this interview could be used to justify not paying your taxes?


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tip of the Day: Contact the Media

As previous tips have mentioned, the campus newspaper provides a great mechanism for getting your organization's message to the student population. But don't forget that there are other media outlets serving your campus and community, notably local newspapers, television news networks, and public access stations. Invite these news outlets to your events, and try to build relationships with their staff to help get your message out.

The first step is to craft a press release for your event. This should include the event, speakers, sponsors (the more you have, the more likely you will be to get the press interested!), location, and time, as well as contact information for your organization. Send this out to local media at least a week ahead of time; fax numbers and email addresses will be available on the appropriate websites.

Next, craft a media packet with information on the issue being discussed at your event. Don't get polemical -- include hard facts and statistics, and make sure to cite sources. Make sure to reiterate the information in your press release, as well, including biographies of speakers, the mission statement of your organization, and your contact information. This will make it easier for a reporter to cover your event, and thus increase the likelihood of getting space on the page or in the evening news.

Remember that colleges serve as a source of pride and identity for a community: local inhabitants want to know what students are doing! So don't be shy; contact your media, build relationships with reporters, and spread your message!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Panel 4: Liberty and Politics

Jeff Frazee led off this panel with a call for unaffiliated lovers of liberty to get involved in politics, emphasizing that failing to be a part of the process leaves the system in the hands of those who are enemies to our ideals.

Dr. Jim Lark, professor at the University of Virginia and a member of the Libertarian Party National Committee, argued that although the goal is a freer society no matter the party that accomplishes it, the Libertarian Party allows one "to feel good about yourself in the morning."

Aaron Biterman, a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, began by saying that there are Republicans that are also socially liberal and non-interventionists, and the Republican Party offers lots of potential for pro-liberty individuals.

Brooks Nelson, National Chairman of the Democratic Freedom Caucus finished the introductory speeches by arguing that the Democratic Party is premised on the principles of liberty and is an optimum forum.

Panel 3: How to Change the Academy

Greg Lukianoff started off by mentioning that he recently received the Playboy Freedom of Expression award, but alas, no bunnies attended the ceremony. FIRE seeks to check abuses within the academy by challenging limits to free speech and free thought.

Anne Neal opened her talk by arguing that the only way to change the academy is through outside organizations like SFL, FIRE, and ACTA. The system is too ingrained. We need to have people from the outside challenge the things they don't like.

Jasmin Guenette spoke on IHS's program in developing academics dedicated to liberty. Their strategy is to build up the number of serious academics who support liberty to change academia. They also want to forge partnerships with others who support liberty and benefit academia.

Professor Daniel Klein first began studying why free market economics is not dominant. For the past 10 years, he has been studying culture and the way society works. What he has learned is that the prospect looks bleak in academia. But it is an important effort.

Panel 2: Foundations of Liberty

Dr. Korok Ray from Georgetown began the panel by talking about the importance of economics in the defense of liberty.

Dr. C. Bradley Thompson from Clemson went on to agree that economics supports the cause of liberty, but the stronger argument for liberty comes from the moral foundations. Without the moral defense of capitalism, it cannot succeed.

Dr. Tom Palmer from Atlas argued that there can be multiple arguments for liberty, and we should embrace the diversity of justifications. Liberty is such a powerful philosophy because it can be defended in so many ways.

Dr. John Hasnas spoke last and gave what he calls the common sense justification of liberty: we live by these principles in our daily lives.

Panel 1: How to Change Society

Scott Barton from IHS spoke on the Hayekian theory of social change, beginning with ideas, going to the second hand dealers of ideas, and then policy changes. For IHS, we must begin with academia and then we can change society.

Dr. Jo Kwong from Atlas talked about the importance of building an international community that supports liberty.

Scott Bullock from IJ spoke on the importance of using the law and courts to change society. He also gave a very well delivered argument for humanizing the message of liberty. IJ seeks to put a face on human rights violations.

Kurt Weber from SPN talked about the value of working at the local level, and how great it is to see so many young people get involved in the cause of liberty.

SFL's Student Awards

Last night, SFL held its first annual SFL Student Awards Ceremony. Students do incredible things around the world. They start organizations, they organize movements, and they lead social change. It is important to highlight the work students are doing both to give credit where it is due and to let others know just how amazing student work can be, to provide inspiration for other students, and show the world that the future generation of leaders are ready to take up the cause of liberty.

Event of the Year: Ivy League Alliance for Liberty Constitutional Convention
Running an event takes tremendous amounts of work with little recognition. Planning takes an incredible amount of time and something always goes wrong. Holding a highly successful event is an accomplishment that every organizer should be proud of.

The Ivy League Alliance for Liberty first began as a discussion during the Philadelphia Students For Liberty Conference. Several participants recognized a need to connect their organizations together to promote collaboration and interaction. Rather than letting this become idle chatter, several students decided to make the alliance a reality. On January 31st, 2009, the Ivy League Alliance for Liberty Constitutional Convention was held at Columbia University. The convention's participating organizations and organizers deserve tremendous credit for putting together this event.

Student Group of the Year: University of Michigan College Libertarians
The Group of the Year award goes to a group that has shown an outstanding commitment to promoting the ideas of liberty and illustrated successes in developing as an organization. The best organization is not the one with the most members or the one that has held the most events, although this group has both. It is about having a strong membership of dedicated students and events that make an impact on the campus at large. The best groups seek to broaden their reach both on campus and beyond to other organizations. Ultimately, this award goes to the organization that we consider to be a model, an example of what a group should be that others can look toward for inspiration.

The University of Michigan College Libertarians have one of the largest and most impressive membership bases. Their students have interned at state and national think tanks, attended prestigious seminars, and even run for Mayor of Ann Arbor. Their events are some of the most unique and well attended ranging from bringing Jon Stossel to speak to holding a Gun Giveaway in support of the Second Amendment. Last, they were instrumental in holding what was perhaps the most successful SFL Regional Conference, the Midwest Students For Freedom Conference.

Student of the Year: Aaron Moyer (Drexel University)
This award goes to a student that has shown true passion for the cause of liberty and represents the drive that students possess to change the world. While there are many students doing incredible things, we want to recognize one student that has made a difference on campus and we believe will make a difference in the future.

This year's recipient has been a true leader in his community. On campus, he founded and served as the first president of the Drexel Student Liberty Front. He then helped organize the Philadelphia FOrum for Freedom, a coalition of pro-liberty student groups in the area, and stepped down from his position in the Student Liberty Front to lead the PFF. A testament to his sucess as a leader is how greatly the Drexel group has flourished thanks to his successful transfer of leadership. Now, he has begun his own nonprofit organization, the Freeman's Union, to provide grassroots education on liberty. We are proud to award the 2009 SFL Student of the Year award to Aaron Moyer from Drexel University.

Friday, February 20, 2009

International Students For Liberty Conference Begins Today!

Today is the first day of the 2nd Annual International Students For Liberty Conference. Just a reminder to attendees that registration will run from 3-5pm in the Marvin Center on George Washington University's campus. After registration a meet and greet will run from 5-6pm before dinner begins at 6pm. The Executive Director of Students For Liberty, Alexander McCobin, will give a welcome speech and conference logistics will be reviewed by other Executive Board members. Afterwards, Students For Liberty will hand out awards recognizing excellence in support of liberty. We will finish the night the Institute for Humane Studies social at the Melrose Hotel. I'm thrilled for the conference to begin; it should be an outstanding weekend!

Over the weekend the Students For Liberty Executive Board will be posting frequent updates on this blog and our Twitter account. Stay tuned for regular updates on what is happening at the International Students For Liberty Conference!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Audacity You Can Believe In!

Isaac Morehouse of Students for a Free Economy in Michigan pointed out the incoherence of President Obama's cap on executive pay at firm's receiving federal assistance in a recent post on SFE's blog. According to Business Week, one-third of public university presidents make more than $500,000 per year, the cap that has been placed on private firm's executive pay. Morehouse rightly asks:

I wonder if the Commander in Chief will also demand caps on their salaries since they receive research grants and federally subsidized student loans?

My suspicion is that the answer is "No."

Monday, February 16, 2009

At Least They Waited Until After the Super Bowl...


Oregon is currently considering increasing the tax on beer by 1,900%, with the intention that the tax revenue could help pay for drug and alcohol treatment programs offered by the state. Although the bill's sponsor voices a willingness to compromise, I can't help but be reminded of the federal tobacco tax increase just a few weeks ago to help fund the S-CHIP program.

A Sad Day in Venezuela

Late last night, I received an email from my friend in Venezuela, Andreina Pinedo, a student at Universidad Metropalitana, and one of the organizers of the International Observers program that I participated in during November, which brought over 20 young people from half a dozen countries to Venezuela to monitor the elections. Her message is a sad, but one that must be shared:
Today, Feb 15th, our nation's democratic values were once again put to the test, and honestly I do not know whether or not they have survived. For those of you that don't know the story update, a new referendum was held today, one which proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow all electoral positions to be reelected indefinitely, including of course, the presidential post [prior to this amendment, individuals were limited to two terms in the presidential office, and Hugo Chavez was in his second term]. Since it was proposed in December, Venezuelan's were confused, for Chavez seemed to have rushed the elections on Feb 15th, even though it was just close enough for the date to be approved by the national assembly; eventually, and not surprisingly, the assembly approved his proposal and on January 14th set the date for the referendum on Feb 15th. From that point on, students crowded the streets, some days more so than other days, since most of us were in exams during January, but definitely as enthusiastic as usual. Our strategies differed, but the mission was the same: call people to vote! The weird part is that there was a group of more-active-than-ever students, and more-apathetic-than-ever other ones, I must admit that I include myself in the latter. It makes sense when you realize this has been the third election in less than 1.5 years. The point is actually that the fight was ours, and every person made themselves useful in every way they thought was best, and I truly belief our effort was gigantic, amazing, and worth it.

Today, voting started slow... very slow... for two reasons: the process was very very quick so there were almost no lines, and the closing time was changed to 6pm so people didn't make an effort to wake up early and vote. A huge amount of students invaded the streets in cars with megaphones and vans with microphones calling for people to go out and vote, for either option, but VOTE! All other electoral actions, situation rooms, call centers, exit polls, and denounce centers worked great as well.

After a long day, the 1st official bulletin was released. We lost, 54 points for YES to the amendment... 46 points NO. The defeat is hard, and regretfully, it is real. We feel this means that the existing threat to our democracy and to our political future, has become a reality. In an evidently disproportionate campaign, where the YES spent millions on amazing posters and publicity, where the newly elected, pro government, mayor of one of Caracas's divisions was head of the campaign, keeping up with lack of resources and strength was difficult. In the end, today has made us realize and remember that this struggle is far from over, that Chavez's popularity is not so fragile, that we live in a nation who's citizens have not realized the importance of good governance as opposed to the fanaticism of a leader... and that we CANNOT stop. The percentage of people that abstained was 32% a few points less than during the Dec 2007 referendum. However when you take a look at the numbers, it was pro-gorvernment voters who voted and diminished our lead.

This email represents a way of reminding you all of how much we appreciate all the work you did in Nov with us. I never stop thinking about how important your job here was and how much it meant for us. I hope that you are still interested in our country's situation, and continue to spread our word.

This year still has another election waiting for us: legislative posts within each state (I completely translated that and have no idea if it makes any sense to you), which will be held in August. We will be there again and do our best to gain more spaces in Venezuelan politics. But 2012 already scares me, especially after listening to the president's "acceptance" speech, in which he obviously proclaimed his candidacy for yet another presidential period. Fireworks are still heard in Caracas.

Thank all of you who have sent us, in one way or another, messages of hope and patience for today. We are all sad and impressed, mostly confused by what comes next. But we are still here to receive your good thoughts and to inform you of our actions. Your support is truly appreciated!
What I am taking from Andreina's story is not that the students lost this time, but that this is the first loss they have had to experience. Ever since the Venezuelan students took to the streets in protest of the closing of the largest private television station in the country, RCTV, they have not suffered a defeat until this one. They were the first group to take on and defeat Chavez in not one, but two elections. And the only way that Chavez was able to win was by holding an election less than 3 months after a national election that he had already lost. When I was in Venezuela, there was much to be concerned about. There are threats to the cause of democracy and human rights, yes. But there is much hope for the country as well. There are people doing inspirational things in Venezuela and leading a cause with a passion not seen in many other places. This battle was lost, but the long war is not over. I believe in the cause of liberty that the students are undertaking in Venezuela. And I believe that they will continue to make a difference, making Venezuela a freer place.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stupid Laws, DC Style

In spirit of the upcoming Students For Liberty conference in Washington DC, here are some practices that attendees should be aware of that are illegal in the District:

- Painting lemons all over your car to let people know you were taken advantage of by a specific dealer.
- Posting a notice in public which calls another person a 'coward' for refusing to accept a challenge to duel.
- Being a small boy and throwing a stone anywhere in the District of Columbia.
- Catching fish while on horseback.
- Delivering more than one bottle of alcohol by mail per month.


Last but not least, fellow liberty-lovers:
- Engaging in any sexual position other than missionary is illegal.

Two Tips for Today: Create a Logo and Use it

Since I missed my post yesterday because I was at KAP, I'm going to give two tips today. First, create a logo. Having a logo makes your organization more real and more easily recognizable. The logo should somehow represent liberty and connect it with your university. This way, you show school pride and people understand what your group is about. Here are some sample logos:

Penn Libertarian Association: Atlas holding up the Penn Shield is a reference to Ayn Rand, one of the organization's intellectual heroes

Drexel Student Liberty Front: A porcupine represents libertarianism as an animal that does not fight others, but is able to protect itself when attacked.

Temple Libertarians: The statue of liberty as an owl combines the common image of the statue of liberty, which stands for libertarianism, and the school's mascot, the owl

The second tip is that once you have a logo, you need to use it. All too often, groups come up with logos and let them fall by the wayside, just being a drain on time and energy. Logos have the potential to be incredibly valuable, though, as they brand your organization and make your message more well known. Put the logo on all letterhead for the organization. Add the logo to emails. Include the logo on surveymonkey's you create. Get people to love the logo.

Broken Windows Fallacy, Mate

In reaction to the recent Australian brushfires, which destroyed over 1,000 homes and taken over 200 lives, an Australian newspaper printed this economic analysis:
As an aside, the bushfires may help the nation fend off recession: Goldman Sachs JBWere economist Tim Toohey says rebuilding will generate an economic stimulus equal to 0.25-0.4 per cent of GDP over the next 18 months.

"As tragic as the events of the past two days have been, the rebuilding phase will provide a catalyst for economic growth in coming months, even if the personal and environmental cost takes years to recover," he says.

If this isn't a clear-cut example of Bastiat's broken windows fallacy, I don't know what is! His logic is, that since houses need to be rebuilt, the new demand for wood/concrete/construction labor will benefit the economy.

What he, rather surprislingly, ignores is the destruction of wealth that the fire caused in the first place--that the economy lost 1,000 homes and 200+ people who had trained skills, which the economy needs to replace to make up for what was lost. The "growth" that this economist predicts is only goes to making up for what was destroyed in the fire. Without the fire, the wood/labor/capital that was used to make up what was lost could have been used for other, more productive things.

Video: Michelle Muccio on the Stimulus

Check out this video by Michelle Muccio of Acton talking to people about what $800 trillion could do if given back to the people instead of being used as a stimulus. Michelle spoke at the 2008 International SFL Conference and is a great advocate of liberty.

The best question: "Do you think the government can spend the money better than you could?"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

SFL/YAL Happy Hour Tonight!


This is an open invitation to those in the DC region to join Young Americans for Liberty and Students for Liberty in a toast to liberty and prosperity at Hunan Number One restaurant (map available here) @ 6:30pm in Clarendon. Come join the crowd for food, drinks, and fellowship.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tip of the Day: Copy Other Groups' Best Practices

Running a student organization is difficult. Starting one is even more difficult. No one expects you to come up with everything on your own. It's okay to take ideas from other organizations, and in fact encouraged. By copying what other organizations do well, you are able to make your own organization do better. Effective management, like the economy, is not a zero-sum game. By doing what other groups have done successfully, you're making yourself better at no one else's expense.

The important question is: how do you learn the best practices of other organizations? Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Attend other groups' meetings. The Penn Libertarians would actually go to the International Socialist Organization's meetings to see what they were doing and evaluate what they were doing good and bad. If it's a public meeting, you should not be ashamed to attend their meeting. Be open that you're with another organization, but interested in learning from them. This may even lead to future collaborative projects.
  2. Join other groups' list-serves. The other groups' should be happy that their list-serve has increased in size, and you get to see what they're doing.
  3. Attend events of other organizations.
  4. Ask leaders of other organizations to have coffee and talk about how they run their organization. Some will say no for various reasons, but you may strike gold and find one other leader who is open to talking with you.
  5. Get involved with SFL. If it's difficult to learn from other groups on your campus, then learn what other pro-liberty groups are doing through SFL.
The important thing to remember when studying other organizations' practices is to not take them all at face value as good ideas. Many groups are run poorly and have bad practices. You should constantly be evaluating whether a certain practice would work for your group or not, and select which ones to implement.

Stimulus Ad Articles

Yesterday, SFL and Cato on Campus published an ad challenging government intervention in the economy in 15 school papers around the U.S. The ad has already garnered attention on campuses, producing at least two articles from papers.

The Daily Pennsylvanian covered the ad here, with this analysis:
When telling the President wasn't enough, the sponsors of a petition on the economy sent a message to the future leaders of the country instead.
The Daily Collegian covered the ad here, highlighting the role of one of Penn State professor Richard Gordon who signed the statement challenging economic interventionism:
Since [retiring], Gordon has been paying close attention to the stimulus plan and said legislators pushing the bill through Congress haven't given enough opportunities for discussion. His main problem with the stimulus bill is that it isn't a stimulus at all -- it won't provide an immediate recovery, he said.

PSU Libertarians Debate

Last night, the Penn State Libertarians debated the College Democrats and College Republicans. The Daily Collegian covered the debate in this article. The quote of the debate (as I can find from the article must be Michael Policelli's on the War on Drugs:
"The average marijauna user is no more dangerous than the average World of Warcraft player."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tip of the Day: Write Op-Eds for the Campus Paper

Given the work that SFL is doing with economic intervention and our recent ad co-sponsored with Cato on Campus, it seems like a good time to explain why it's valuable to write op-eds for your campus paper. Most campus papers are not liberty friendly. The slant of stories, the topics chosen, and their outright endorsements are rarely in support of liberty. The easiest way to get your opinions in the paper is to write op-eds and letters to the editor to get published. Not only does this get your ideas in there, but your bio can also highlight your organization. Take the hot topic of the day, or respond to another article in the paper. If you can, have a member of your group get a weekly op-ed spot to guarantee their ideas are presented.

SFL Publishes Anti-Intervention Ad


Last week, the Cato Institute ran an ad in major national newspapers across the U.S. challenging the idea that everyone agrees on the need for a stimulus bill. Over 200 economists signed a statement arguing that government spending will not improve our economy. The ad (available here) was a huge success, and garnered considerable attention from media, public officials (e.g. Sen. Jim Bunning held the ad up at a press conference as intellectual fodder), and citizens critical of further government intervention. As a follow up, Cato is not only running an updated version of the ad this week in national papers, but in addition, Cato on Campus and Students For Liberty will be publishing the full page ad in the school papers of 15 of the most prestigious universities in the U.S.: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, MIT, Penn State, Princeton, Stanford, U of Cal Berkeley, U of Chicago, U of Michigan, U of Penn, and Yale.

Check Out the Ad Here

In addition to this ad, students and professors on these campuses will be addressing the stimulus in various other ways including:

1. Submitting op-eds and letters-to-the-editor to their school paper.

2. Participating in Teach-Ins on the stimulus. The Ivy League Alliance for Liberty is holding an All-Ivy Teach-In on the Stimulus on Wednesday, February 11th, and has invited other schools around the country to join in on the effort to raise awareness about the stimulus package.

Keep checking back for updates on what students are doing to express their support for liberty and opposition to government intervention in the economy. You can also check out Cato on Campus’s coverage here. What is important are the ideas behind government action, the soundness of the economics, and the legitimacy of the philosophy. SFL is dedicated to educating students and all individuals on the philosophy of freedom.

If you are interested in contacting SFL about the ad, please reach out to Alexander McCobin by email at amccobin@studentsforliberty.org.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tip of the Day: Send a Weekly Email

It's important to keep your organization's members updated on what's going on with the club. You also want to make sure they know you are active and that they are interested in what's going on in the world of liberty. To this end, you should be sending a weekly email to the group list-serve. More than once a week and you are overloading the group. Less than once a week and members think that the group isn't doing anything. Make a habit of sending it on a particular day, like every Tuesday, depending on what works for you.

While it's important to send a weekly email, it's even more important to make sure that you have enough information to justify a weekly email. If you are constantly repeating the same information, then students have no reason to open it. If you're not putting any information in there, students will just archive because they have no expectations. Here are some things you can include in each week's email to make it fresh and valuable:
What is most important about sending a weekly update is that it holds your self accountable. You must make sure that your club is doing enough to fill up a weekly email rather than being unable to send out such information. Keep communicating with your members. Send a weekly email.

Cornell Libertarians in the Daily Sun

This Wednesday, the Ivy League Alliance for Liberty will be holding its first formal event: an All-Ivy Teach-In On the Stimulus. Joining the ILAFL will be a variety of schools that agree with this cause. The purpose of these teach-ins is to educate people on what the stimulus means and the economics/philosophy behind the stimulus.

Andrew Loewer, President of the Cornell Libertarians published a letter to the editor in today's Cornell Daily Sun. Here is a brief excerpt:
We have all read about the programs of the New Deal in our history books and how they permanently changed the role of government in our society. Today we face a bill that even in inflation-adjusted dollars dwarfs those game-changing social programs.
If you would like to hold a teach-in on your campus as well, please email me at amccobin@studentsforliberty.org.

It's also worth pointing out that Brendan McCauley, treasurer of the Cornell Libertarians, also had a letter to the editor published today. Not on the stimulus, Brendan takes issue with FDA regulations and includes this quote:
The principles of limited government are hardly in vogue these days, but please consider this: If a government can claim to control the maximum age its citizens are allowed to reach, is there any power that it does not have?... Of course, when the government interferes in medicine, it’s not just your money on the line. It’s your life.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Friend of SFL Offers Alternate to Stimulus

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced an intent to have a vote on H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as early as today. Meanwhile, those who support maintaining some vestige of free markets in America are not going gently into that good night. As Richard commented yesterday, popular opinion is turning against the bill; today, Politico picked up on the inability of President Obama to control the stimulus "message," a striking contrast from the well-oiled message machine that was his campaign.

Among those coming out against Obama's claim that "there is no disagreement" about the need for a stimulus plan is Harvard Professor Jeffrey Miron, friend of SFL who delivered the keynote address at our Boston Conference this past November 1. In an article posted on cnn.com, he proposes a libertarian stimulus package. As Professor Miron argues:

In any case, libertarians do not argue for doing nothing; rather, they advocate eliminating or adjusting policies that are bad for the economy independent of the recession.

He proposes a nine-point plan to lift the economy out of its current freefall:

1. Repeal the Corporate Income Tax
2. Increase Carbon Taxes while Lowering Marginal Tax Rates
3. Moderate the Growth of Entitlements
4. Eliminate Wasteful Spending
5. Withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan
6. Limit Union Power
7. Renew America's Commitment to Free Trade
8. Expand Legal Immigration
9. Stop Bailing out Businesses that Took on Too Much Risk

It's a great article and worth a read.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Public Opinion Turns Against "Stimulus"

The Rasmussen polls have been charting the decline in the public approval of the stimulus bill since January.

The approval-disapproval rate has practically flipped from 45%-35% in January 19 to its current day 37%-43% on February 2. There are now more people who disapprove of the bill than support it. The more pork that is found out and the more economists who speak out against it, hopefully, the further public opinion will sour against the "stimulus" bill.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tip of the Day: Be Professional

SFL just ran it's first E-Leadership Seminar tonight (more information on this will be announced soon). For the seminar, I covered several best practices of highly successful student leaders. The first one I mentioned deserves to be put up here: Be professional.

The stereotype amongst all nonprofits and other organizations dedicated to liberty is that student groups are irresponsible and they are lucky if they can arrange any kind of event with a student group. This is a terrible reputation that groups need to recognize and fight against. If you want to get the respect and assistance of outside organizations, administrative support, and become a successful organization, professionalism must be exuded at all times. This means several things:
  • Respond to all emails in a timely manner. Do not wait a week to answer emails. Respond within 48 hours. You check your email at least 10 times a day. You can respond within 48 hours.
  • Be respectful in emails. Use proper pronunciation and check for grammatical errors.
  • Do not expect support, but be grateful when you receive it.
  • When you bring in a speaker, dress in at least business casual to introduce him/her. Have water on hand for the speaker. And invite them out for drinks afterward.
  • Treat your role in the organization as if it were a job, because it is.
Use common sense. Being professional isn't rocket science. It's fairly intuitive. It just requires you to remember to do it.

Daschle Withdraws Nomination for Secretary of HHS


Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has officially withdrawn his nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama Administration amidst a flurry of questions regarding over $100,000 in unpaid taxes.

This comes only hours after President Obama's pick for performance czar (a new position), Nancy Killefer, withdrew her name from consideration due to similar tax discrepencies.

Last week, Timothy Geithner was confirmed to be Secretary of the Treasury by a vote of 60-34 despite unpaid taxes to the tune of $34,000.

I suppose that when Obama promised transparency, he only meant transparent corruption.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Victory for FIRE at Penn State

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recently won another victory for student free speech at Penn State.

Its charter initially had this preamble:

Actions motivated by hate, prejudice, or intolerance violate this principle. I will not engage in any behaviors that compromise or demean the dignity of individuals or groups, including intimidation, stalking, harassment, discrimination, taunting, ridiculing, insulting, or acts of violence.


...which, according to FIRE, was in "impermissably vague terms" which could mean "almost anything." After being addressed by FIRE, Penn State has agreed to modify their preamble to include:

Consequently, these Principles do not constitute University policy and are not intended to interfere in any way with an individual's academic or personal freedoms. We hope, however, that individuals will voluntarily endorse these common principles, thereby contributing to the traditions and scholarly heritage left by those who preceded them, and will thus leave Penn State a better place for those who follow.


Thus, Penn State has changed their speech code to a voluntary call to respectable behavior.

Tip of the Day: Work with Other Organizations

I apologize for not posting Tips of the Day every day last week. I have 3 tips to make up for, and will post them later this week.

Today's tip is to work with other organizations. You don't have to pretend that your organization is the only one on campus. In fact, if you do think this way, you are shooting yourself in the foot. A great way to increase your presence on campus and have more well attended events is to co-host them with other groups. This could range from co-hosting a speaker to having a debate with another group. The point is to have them as involved in the event as you are so that they invest their resources, time, and membership. There are many advantages to doing this:
  • Learning how other organizations function and discovering their best practices for holding events.
  • Educate other students/organizations about your group's existence and mission.
  • Have students from other organizations attend an event that you are hosting who otherwise would not have attended.
  • Gain greater legitimacy on campus by free-riding on the already-established organization's legitimacy.
  • Access other group's resources to make the event successful (e.g. money, campus connections, fliering strategies, etc.)
Be creative when thinking of organizations to work with. Go for the low-hanging fruit like NORML and business clubs, but also go for more uncommon partnerships like an event with the LGBT Center in celebration of the Lawrence v. Texas decision or the Undergraduate Minority Council on how the war on drugs adversely harms minority groups. You can even engage the campus socialists in a debate, which has its own range of benefits.

It is important to not seclude yourself from the campus community. Your organization should be at the forefront of activity. Working with other groups builds relationships and increases your organization's strength. Don't sacrifice your principles, but don't be scared to go beyond what you're used to.