Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fun Fact of the Day

Historical failure of gun/weapon control:

There was a general prohibition on carrying weapons within the established borders of ancient Rome. Although the Ides of March has passed, it is ironic to think on how Julius Caesar, then, was stabbed to death by the Roman senate. I guess the Roman senators had a "do as I say, and not as I do" mentality towards knife control.

Maybe if Caesar had fired a few rounds from his pistol in self defense, he could have scared off his assailants...

George Will You Marry Me?

Ok that's incredibly cheesy, I know, but it's not nearly as nauseating as our recent spending habits.  Most conversations now involve the economy, the "bailout", and how our taxes are being spent.  When governments that have already nationalized industries (i.e., Germany) are telling us to watch how much we're spending, you know something's amok.  Cue George Will, a masterful writer (in my humble opinion) and author of this piece from RCP today.

Commentators say Bastiat won a lot of success in his satirizing French policy, and this Goodness and Niceness Act of Will's seems like something the candlestickmakers would write.  Sometimes it helps to take a step back and see how some actions are just ridiculous under a different name that hasn't been desensitized...like a $770 billion check.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dear A.I.G., I Quit!

If you've turned on a TV or read a newspaper in the past 2 weeks, you've heard about the AIG corporate bonus/government mob scandal. I put that slash in there because the reason this is such a big deal in my mind is not because businesspeople in finance received bonuses, but because of the federal government's response to the AIG paying its employees what was in there contracts (shocking indeed!). A lot of this comes down to what was specifically in the contract in my mind. If the contract said that people would get a sizable check at the end of the year so long as they were not fired, then they are owed that by contract. It's not even a bonus at that point because they're not being rewarded for performance, but rather, it's just a larger paycheck they get one week than they did another according to the terms of employment. For politicians to think that they can undo these contracts at their whim and merely within days of when the bonuses are to be paid because they don't like this specific group is an abuse of power and one of the greatest antitheses of rule of law that I can imagine. This should be no shock to anyone, though, because once the government starts to gain control over corporations and eliminate private industry, the tyranny will surely come out with little wait.

Yesterday, the New York Times published a letter from one AIG executive who resigned in disgust with AIG's handling of the situation. It's a doozy and if you haven't read it yet, I highly encourage you to check it out. Here are some fun excerpts:

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

It’s now apparent that you [one of the leaders at AIG] either misunderstood the agreements that you had made — tacit or otherwise — with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, various members of Congress and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York, or were not strong enough to withstand the shifting political winds.

Daniel Hannan, a British MP, recently criticized Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a meeting of the EU for his handling of his nation's affairs going into the crisis--i.e., taking the path of big-government, protectionism, and high debt. Hannan is succinct and devastating in his criticism, which could just as easily be applied to the political leadership in the United States:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Time-Sensitive Call to Support Liberty and Free Trade

In last night's E-Leadership webinar, the question was raised, "What activities can you give group members to make them feel important and doing meaningful work?" While the typical answers are to flier the campus or host social events, I'm writing to both request a favor and give you another activity for your group to perform that can get many members actively involved.

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation (and Tom Palmer in particular, who you probably already know) is spearheading a Free Trade Petition that they plan to unveil at the upcoming G20 Summit on April 1st. With the current economic crisis and efforts by many governments to enact protectionist regulations. This "is a part of a much broader campaign that will be mobilized around the world to alert the public to the dangers of attempts to block trade and to revive positive efforts toward increasing freedom of trade." Atlas has called upon our help for this petition. While there have already been hundreds of signatories to the petition including many notable public figures, your role as a student leader has the potential to launch this this petition dramatically.

First, please forward this petition to your list-serve and encourage members to sign it. The petition only takes a philosophical opposition to government intervention in the free economic transitions between individuals of different countries, a position that should be readily acceptable.

Second, and more importantly, I am writing to ask that you organize members of your group to get economics professors at your school to sign the petition. Here is what this would involve: Have members of your group print out a copy of the petition and the web link to sign it online (http://atlasnetwork.org/tradepetition/, or http://tinyurl.com/c5vb21). Find a list of your school's economics professors and any other professor who you think would be sympathetic to these ideas, and divy it up amongst members. Send your members to meet with the professors in person during office hours or whenever they're available and ask the professors to sign the petition online (note, they need to do so online for it to register) before April 1st so the petition has as many signatories as possible. If you send your group's members in teams of 2, it's a bonding experience, while at the same time letting professors know about your group's existence and promoting a worthwhile cause that has the potential to advance liberty around the world.

If you have any questions about this, please let me know. I would also appreciate it if you can let me know if you can do this or not. Even asking just a handful of econ professors who you think would be open to the petition would be helpful. I strongly encourage you to take part in this opportunity as students around the world will be joining in on this effort.

SFL Receives International Criticism

SFL has received its first taste of international criticism! A UK blog called HACKWATCH, written by Stuart MacLennan, made a post today criticizing several UK groups for being friendly with SFL. The post is available here.

Note that once you get past the inaccuracies of the post where it says that SFL is affiliated with the Libertarian Party (we are a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization) and that we hosted Rush Limbaugh and so are right-wing (I think they confused us for the hosts of CPAC, which brought Rush Limbaugh in to speak), all the post really says about SFL is that:
Indeed, Conservative Future boast on their blog about how enjoyable the company of SFL were...
I don't think it's such a bad thing that an international organization visiting the U.S. found SFL to be enjoyable company. In fact, I'm very happy to hear that the people we met from them liked meeting with us (I assume the post that Stuart is responding to is from here on Conservative Future's site). So it may not be a criticism of us so much as a misunderstanding of what SFL stands for and who we are, but it's international recognition nonetheless!

This post raises an interesting point of discussion, though. Stuart calls SFL "right-wing". Personally, I very much dislike the term "right-wing" as I disagree with many positions of the political right (e.g. social conservatism, interventionist foreign policy, etc.) and think that a philosophy of liberty does not fit comfortably in the bipolar political spectrum. While I think many who read this blog would agree with that assessment, and so asking what people think of that would probably not produce much, I'll bring up an important topic that I've had many conversations about, but have not raised online yet: what is the relationship of liberty advocates to the left and the right? If we do not want to be associated with the big government policies of the right, how do we make that difference known?

Note: I'm now in touch with Stuart via Facebook. He's a nice guy and hopefully we'll get a good-natured debate going out of this.

Disaster Socialism

In the "never waste a crisis" category: Geithner to Seek Unprecedented Powers

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will push for unprecedented new regulatory powers on Tuesday to seize financial institutions whose failure would pose serious risks to the U.S. financial system, according to two senior administration officials...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Introducing Liberty from London

I'm honoured and delighted to be the first international author to grace the Students for Liberty blog. By way of brief introduction, I have several fingers in the pro-Liberty pie, running the Cities of London & Westminster young conservative group, and co-editing the blog TheYoungConservative. In addition, I'm Campaigns Director for Conservative Future, the youth wing of the British Conservative Party, and I was also privileged to attend the 2nd International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington DC last month.

My aim with this weekly column is to give you a flavour of the fight for liberty here in the UK. Britons lack a written document such as the US Constitution, and so our liberty is frequently at the whim and caprice of governments, a fact I seek to highlight in this inaugural post where I call for a global First Amendment. In the UN, EU, etc, we have bodies that could implement such an initiative, if there was but the will.

Yours in Liberty,

Edward Hallam




Sometimes it seems almost as if Liberty is being actively conspired against, the whole world round. These past few weeks have highlighted yet again that even in the allegedly liberal democracies of the West free speech is under unceasing assault.

Last month the democratically elected Dutch politician Geert Wilders was banned from entering the United Kingdom, where he was to address a small meeting in the House of Lords and screen his 15 minute film “Fitna”, by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on the grounds that his presence “would threaten community security and therefore public security'”. You can draw your own inferences as to what she means by that.

As a Briton and European citizen it’s frankly embarrassing that, if I wished to, I couldn’t hear from a legitimate European politician on my native soil; but I could if I were in America, where he has recently been on a speaking tour (which seems to have passed off without civil unrest.)

Then, just last week, the Canadians seemingly returned the favour in kind, by refusing to permit controversial British MP George Galloway, of the fringe Leftist ‘Respect’ party, into their country, where he was to address a public forum entitled ‘Resisting the War from Gaza to Kandahar’. Galloway is an ardent critic of the War on Terror and Israel; apparently the Canadians deemed his views on their presence in Afghanistan incompatible with his presence on their soil.

I’ve no time for Galloway, or his views, and so it pains me to agree with him, when, commenting on the ban, he said:

This decision … is a very sad day for the Canada we have known and loved – a bastion of the freedoms that supporters of the occupation of Afghanistan claim to be defending.

I wouldn’t adopt his language of ‘occupation’, but I do adopt his sentiment. Free speech is indivisible, even in the current geo-political climate. That someone may be offended by what you have to say is an irrelevant consideration; indeed, if the only permissible speech and opinions were those that no one disagreed with, then they wouldn’t be worth expressing at all.

At an event in London recently veteran Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe made that point that in post-World War II Britain one could legitimately advocate Fascism, even after all the blood and treasure so recently expended defeating that evil. Likewise, during the Cold War one was free to do the same for Communism, the 20th Century’s other great evil.

But the assaults on free speech do not simply begin and end with outright censure. It’s the unequal application of censure which leaves one increasingly exasperated, too.


Consider the case a little over a week ago in which a coterie of Muslims protested against British troops who were parading through the town of Luton, England, having just returned from service in Iraq. They shouted, and waved placards, which branded our troops “butchers”, “killers” and “extremists”. Such behaviour is abhorrent, and deeply offensive to tens of thousands, if not millions, of Britons, but should be tolerated as an expression of free speech – which it was.

By contradistinction, student Paul Saville was recently arrested and charged with causing criminal damage “under the value of £5,000” for the offence of writing, in chalk no less, on a pavement (or sidewalk, if you prefer) the phrase: “Liberty. The right to question it. The right to ask: ‘Are we free?’”, in protest at what he perceives to be the “loss of civil liberties” in Britain. It’s as if authority has no concept of irony. He is currently awaiting trial.

There must be one rule for all, and that rule should be unqualified, unfettered free speech; which is plainly distinct from incitement to, or trying to solicit, violence.

Now, more than ever – indeed, today is the anniversary of Patrick Henry’s great oration “Give me liberty, or give me death!” – we need a global First Amendment.

Want to Blog Here?

SFL is going to open up the list of authors for the blog to new students with a passion for liberty and the ability to communicate issues of interest to students dedicated to liberty succinctly. So, if you would like to become a regular blogger on this site, shoot me an email at amccobin@studentsforliberty.org with a short description of why you want to write on the blog, the types of posts you would like to write as your niche, and two sample blog posts.

SFL on NPR

I was interviewed for a WAMU segment on whether all young people support Obama a few days ago and it aired this morning. Check it out here: http://wamu.org/news/09/03/23.php#25649. It's under: "Young Conservatives Hope to Rebrand Republican Party" (the name was not my choice, and the pro-liberty angle comes out pretty strong in my short segment).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Iranian Blogger Dies in Jail


Omid Mir Sayafi, a 25 year old Iranian man, has been imprisoned since April 2008 for criticizing the Ayatollah on his personal blog. He died in jail yesterday under suspicious circumstances:

[An official] said another prisoner in Evin, a Dr Hessam Firouzi, "had warned officials in the jail of the state the young blogger was in.

"Dr Firouzi called me from the jail to say Omid had a slowed heartbeat and he had taken him to the infirmary, but that doctors there did not take this seriously and said he was faking it," Dadkhah said.

He added Firouzi reported that Sayafi had also been very depressed.

Prison officials "said that he committed suicide."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Philosophy of Liberty


(H/T: Christopher David Pille)

US Bonds No Longer Risk-Free

Marketwatch reports that credit-default swaps for US debt currently have risen "nearly seven times higher than a year ago and 60% higher than the end of last year."

In layman's terms, this means that the risk that the federal government won't be able to pay back its bonds has dramatically increased. Basically, faith that the US government will repay its debts has taken a severe hit, certainly due to the massive deficit spending incurred in the year so far.

What are the long-term impacts? Econ majors, feel free to comment on my reasoning, but not only will we now have trillions in more debt to pay, the federal government will also have to pay a higher interest rate to get people to buy the bonds. Last year, the US paid 8% of its entire 2008 budget merely on paying off interest. Perhaps this number will rise in the years to come as debt piles on and on.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bailout Mascot


Not sure of the original source for this, but thanks go out to Austin at the LP from whose facebook profile I pilfered this image!

Obama Flip-Flops on Taxing Health Benefits

If you recall back to the presidential debates, you'll remember that Obama criticized McCain's health insurance plan--which was to end the tax-exempt status of employer-provided health insurance benefits. McCain's reasoning was that ending the special status for employer-provided benefits would help transition health insurance towards a more efficient, individually purchased system, much like car insurance and the like. Obama called it "one of the biggest middle class tax-hikes in history," etc.

Rather surprisingly, Obama has totally changed his mind about taxing health benefits. The New York Times reports:

In television advertisements last fall, Mr. Obama criticized his Republican rival for the presidency, Senator John McCain of Arizona, for proposing to tax all employer-provided health benefits. The benefits have long been tax-free, regardless of how generous they are or how much an employee earns. The advertisements did not point out that Mr. McCain, in exchange, wanted to give all families a tax credit to subsidize the purchase of coverage.

At the time, even some Obama supporters said privately that he might come to regret his position if he won the election; in effect, they said, he was potentially giving up an important option to help finance his ambitious health care agenda to reduce medical costs and to expand coverage to the 46 million uninsured Americans. Now that Mr. Obama has begun the health debate, several advisers say that while he will not propose changing the tax-free status of employee health benefits, neither will he oppose it if Congress does so.

Death and Taxes...as jobs?

As a lot of us are looking for jobs or grad school for next year, it's difficult to face the reality of a shrinking job market. However, intelligent and resourceful students know that there are some industries that will always remain. I saw this clever little article today, and as the title indicates, many students are looking for career in the funeral business. Whether you're 22 or 55, online classes will evidently always be available for those interested in this particular field.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Too Many Grades Chasing Too Few Students?

GradeInflation.com is documenting the upward trend of average GPAs in American universities, seeking to prove that it is a case of increasingly lax standards of achievement rather than continuously improving performance.



Michael Gordon, a professor of management at Rutgers University, observes:

Faculty members have not fulfilled the responsibilities associated with their proclaimed right to be the final judges of student performance. In shirking that duty, they have also neglected their broader obligations to society: Teachers weaken rather than bolster the commonweal when they fail to award meaningful grades. Grading laxness at all levels of American education has contributed directly or indirectly to a variety of problems, including declining scores on the SAT, decreases in the ability of American undergraduate and graduate students to understand prose, and poor training in mathematics and science, which puts American students behind their peers in many European and Asian countries.


(HT: Mark Perry's blog)

To be fair, grade inflation is not always the teachers' fault. It might also be a conscious objective of the school itself (in that case, public high schools).

In the spirit of March Madness, here is GradeInflation.com's grade graph of college basketball divisions.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reason.tv Viewing Party TONIGHT!


DC Reasonoids will be meeting tonight at Reason Headquarters (1747 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC) for a viewing of John Stossel's latest 20/20 special, "Bailouts, Big Spending, and Bull," featuring Reason.tv contributor Drew Carey (yes, the one from The Price is Right)!

The event starts at 8pm, with a pre-show conversation at 8:30pm. More details available here. RSVP requested. The event will be streamed from Reason's website for those unable to attend.

Institute for Liberty Takes on Maddow



The Institute for Liberty's Andrew Langer takes on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow over the Employee Free Choice Act. The video does a lot to clarify some of the confusion over the controversial bill. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Audit the Fed T-Shirt Contest!


Campaign for Liberty is sponsoring an "Audit the Fed" t-shirt contest, seeking out the best idea for a t-shirt supporting Ron Paul's recently-introduced legislation. Note that a full graphic or anything of that sort is not necessary, just your good ideas! Submit your thoughts to Allison Gibbs at allison@campaignforliberty.com. Deadline is Tuesday, March 17, and I am told there are "incentives offered!"

Thai Government Cracking Down on Speech

Thai authorities have jailed blogger Suwicha Thakhor for violating the lese-majeste law that ordains that the monarch "shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated." In a great statement of libertarian principles, the jailed Thakhor said:

We have to be able to think freely...they cannot stop ideas by sending people to jail.

The academic community has come to the side of those pushing for greater civil liberties in the Southeast Asian state. As the Bloomberg article notes:

More than 50 international scholars, including some from Harvard, Yale and Columbia universities, wrote to [Prime Minister] Abhisit this month saying “recent legal actions” under the lese-majeste law “led to the deterioration of basic civil liberties.” They urged the dropping of all cases and said enforcement of the law had led to “heightened criticism of the monarchy and Thailand itself, both inside and outside the country."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nationalized Citibank Commercial

In case you haven't seen it, here's a new "commercial" from the nationalized Citibank. Note: Not safe for work.


In other news, Citigroup has recorded a profit for the first two months of 2009. Maybe we should nationalize some more industries...

Greatest Threats to Liberty

Reason.TV has just posted the footage of Radley Balko and Michael Moynihan when they spoke at the International Students For Liberty Conference on the "Greatest Threats to Liberty Today" panel.

Radley Balko speaks out against the war on drugs:


Michael Moynihan discusses threats to free speech:

Bush v. Obama

Jim Cramer, of CNBC's Mad Money with Jim Cramer, has recently found himself caught in a food fight with the White House. After criticizing Obama's stimulus package as untargeted and the President's doom-saying counterproductive, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs demeaned the reach of Cramer's show, to which Cramer posted a lengthy rejoinder defending his claim that Obama has introduced policies that will effect the "greatest wealth destruction by a President." The onslaught of criticism from liberal figures in the public sphere led to this insightful comparison from Mr. Cramer on how the Bush and Obama Administrations handle criticism:

The Bush administration, I believed, simply chose to ignore my warnings, perhaps because of a brutal combination of ideology, fecklessness and complacency. Publicly, it was easy to ignore a carping Democrat, even as most of my insight came from apolitical people who ran many of the major trading desks and were simply worried about the sure-to-come tsunami spawned by subprime mortgages...

[...]

President Obama's team, unlike Bush's team, demonstrates a thinness of skin that shocks me. When I somewhat obviously and empirically judged that the populist Obama administration is exacerbating the crisis with its budget and policies, as evidenced by the incredible decline in the averages since his inauguration, I was met immediately with condescension and ridicule rather than constructive debate or even just benign dismissal...
A fairly accurate, albeit solipsistic, assessment, in my opinion.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bureaucrash Offers Revolution In A Box

Bureaucrash is offering a "Revolution in a Box" to the first 1,000 people to complete a short survey on the Bureaucrash Social website. The kit, which includes literature and assorted liberty swag, could make for a great table display at your organization's events and help initiate people into the movement for freedom. Although entry requires that you be a member of Bureaucrash Social, this is the least of many reasons to sign up!

Gillespie's Keynote Speech

For those of you who were unable to make the Second Annual International Students For Liberty Conference, and those of you who did make it, but want to hear some of the speeches again, we are going to be posting speeches and panels that were filmed throughout the upcoming weeks. The first video we are able to post is Nick Gillespie's Keynote Speech on "Why You're Living in the Libertarian Moment: and what you can do to keep and expand your freedom". Thanks to Reason.TV that filmed the speech at the Cato Institute and posted it here.


Some Morning Inspiration

Here's a good libertarian pep talk to start off your day. My favorite part: Howard Roark doesn't even take his oath on a Bible. He's like the Chuck Norris of self-interest!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Stem of the Problem

On August 9, 2001, President Bush cut off federal funds to any new embryonic stem cell research.  Many people were furious that the government was stopping research and argued that this combination of a religious disdain for human embryonic stem cell research with politics had no place in America.  Science, it was argued, should be above these mundane concerns.  About a month after that I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (my pancreas kills its own insulin-producing cells), and I joined the ranks of those up in arms against this prohibition.

Six years later, I wrote a letter to the editor of USA Today arguing that the government has no place in medical research at all.  If we simply encouraged private research to get the job done or allowed universities greater flexibility in their research, a myriad of projects would be pursued sans political influence.  People still tell me when I espouse this opinion that I'm sacrificing my health for my politics, but I believe that my politics will make me healthier.  I don't trust the government to regulate my behavior, I don't trust it to dictate my education, and I don't trust it to cover my media, so why should I trust it to research a cure for my worst disease?

The reason this is all germane is that today President Obama repealed Bush's act and let the fund gates flow.  This is ostensibly to separate politics from science, but what it really does is couch government intervention as a pursuit of public health.  Once again, an executive has decided to allocate funds in a way independent of congressional approval, let alone individual choice.  Once again, our president has decided which research he thinks deserves money.  My response is simply to ask why.  Why is this more pressing or more correct than you letting me spend my own money, sir?  Give taxpayers back their money to pay for research, education, health care, the market, or a car.  Let us decide where our money goes, and that is the only way to isolate science from politics.  

Successes for Liberty in the Mother Country

Congratulations go out to our liberty-loving compatriots across the pond! As TheYoungConservative reports, activists at the University College of London have helped to overturn a ban on military recruitment on campus. Writes Edward Hallam, alumnus of the 2nd Annual International Students For Liberty Conference:

But most of all it’s a triumph for freedom in the Academy. Students are adults, they deserve to be treated as such. It isn’t for Unions to censor free speech, expression and opportunities on campus, just because they personally happen not to agree with them. Students have the absolute right to have the military on campus, and be involved with groups such as the OTC if they wish, just as the have the right to see and hear from anyone else. Freedom is indivisible, it doesn’t require permission or sanction, and it shall not be proscribed by Unions.

This victory at UCL has emboldened activists at other universities in the UK, as well. Late last week students at Kingston University moved to overturn a similar prohibition on their campus. Best of luck to our British allies in their fight for a free academy!

Proof That God Loves Us...And Wants Us To Be Capitalists



Reason.tv has a great new video up chronicling the development of the beer industry over the years since Prohibition, highlighting how that industry has acted as a microcosm of the broader economy. Especially since the 1980s, when microbrews came onto the scene en masse, consumer choice has increased exponentially. No more tough barstool choices between Coors, Miller, and Bud; instead, there are now literally thousands of brews for the discerning tongue to choose from, with more entering the marketplace every year. Assuming, that is, that we all don't go the way of Oregon.

In a brief aside, Don Boudreaux published an incredibly interesting article a while back on how the introduction of the income tax made Prohibition a real possibility. Boudreaux is an economist at George Mason University and co-author of the blog Cafe Hayek.

Shock Doctrine becomes Barack Doctrine

In Naomi Klein's book, "The Shock Doctrine," she claims that the Milton Friedman philosophy of free markets and limited government is always applied by right-wing leaders to radically shrink the state in times of crisis and desperation (as if). Ariana Huffington called it "brilliant," "powerful and prophetic."

As we have covered before, yet another Obama Administration official has come forward to say that we should use the current crisis to advance further state control of the economy. Hillary Clinton, while addressing the EU on Friday, stated that we should "never waste a good crisis," while implementing a "New Green Deal."

Perhaps a more realistic view would be Robert Higg's "Ratchet Effect" theory, which states that for every crisis, the government ratchets up its own power, only to recede slightly before the next opportunity to seize power.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Students For Liberty Conference Covered by Michigan Daily

Patrick Zabawa, who attended the 2nd Annual International Students For Liberty Conference, published his thoughts on the conference in the University of Michigan newspaper The Michigan Daily. With particularly glowing reviews going to Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine, who delivered the Saturday night keynote address, Zabawa left the Conference with a great deal of optimism for the future of liberty:

Yes, government is gaining more control of our lives at an alarming rate, but there are many factors working against that control. And as anti-government student groups rise and innovations continue to develop, government will have many forces to reckon with in its quest to limit our freedoms.

Thanks go out to Patrick for his great article!

Time Will Change the Blame Game Playing Field


The folks over at FiveThirtyEight.com, a great site that combines revealing political polls with valuable insight, have constructed an interesting projection of where Americans will place blame for the economic situation (political blame, that is -- don't get too excited, bankers).

Starting from an NBC/WSJ poll showing that only 8% of Americans blame Obama for the increasingly-perilous economic situation, they project that over 50% of voters will consider the current president responsible for it in September 2010. Importantly, this is only two short months prior to the mid-term elections, when Republicans will be fighting to claw back from their past two humiliating defeats and Democrats will be hoping to increase their majorities, especially in the Senate, where they will likely be just one vote away from a 60 vote, filibuster-proof majority.

But this might mean less than we think:

Perhaps not coincidentally, 18 months is also about the point at which a majority of voters expect the recession to have ended. By comparison, of the several dozen economists polled in the Wall Street Journal's monthly forecasting survey, 65 percent expect the recession to have ended by the third quarter of 2009, and 100 percent anticipate its conclusion by the end of 2010.

If the economists are right, it's good news for Obama. But could such a strong correlation between Obama-blaming and expectations about the recession's end mean that, if people push back their expectations of when they expect the recession to end (say, to 24 months?), their tolerance for Obama-style policies will persist longer, as well? It looks like we have a good bit of time before we find out.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Concealed Carry Advocate Interrogated for Supporting Concealed Carry

When Central Connecticut State University communications Professor Paula Anderson assigned her class to give an oral presentation on a "relevant issue in the media" last October, John Wahlberg and two other students decided to discuss the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy, asserting the possibility that it could have been avoided had students and professors been permitted to carry firearms on campus.

That evening, police called Wahlberg into the station and interrogated him on the whereabouts of the firearms he had registered in his name. Professor Anderson, concerned about the nature of Wahlberg's speech, had reported him to the police.

As the article continues:

Robert Shibley, vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said Anderson's actions appeared to be out of line.

“If all he did was discuss reasons for allowing guns on campus, it seems a bit much to call the police and grill him about it,” Shibley said. “If you go after students for just discussing an idea, that goes against everything a university is supposed to stand for.”

This, of course, isn't the first incident of Administrative attempts to suppress 2nd Amendment rights leading to a suppression of 1st Amendment rights as well:

In 2007, Shibley noted, a student at Hamline University in Minnesota was suspended after writing a letter to an administrator arguing that carrying concealed weapons on campus may help prevent tragedies like the one at Virginia Tech. The student was allowed to return only after undergoing a psychological evaluation, he said.

Shibley also cited an incident at Colorado College last year in which campus administrators denounced a flyer as "threatening and demeaning content" because it mentioned guns. He said the students who produced the flyer were found guilty of violating the school’s violence policy, which was added to their school records.

For information on your state's concealed carry laws, visit Students for Concealed Carry's website, which also includes resources for campus leaders to promote 2nd Amendment rights at college. To report a violation of free speech at your university, visit FIRE's website.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

News from Nepal

Krishna Neupane, a student from Nepal, just emailed this to me:
Maoists are proposing a new constitution and in the fundamental rights they propose to ban organizations or political organizations that support imperialist (for them Capitalists and also free marketers), if this constitution is passed in Nepal, I think the country is plunging into severe crisis of freedom.
Providing more information on the issue he explained:
I read it in the draft constitution proposed by Maoist, Its available in http://baburambhattarai.com/ - a website maintained by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai current finance minister and second in rank of Maoist Party. Its clause 3 (c) under article 10- Right to Freedom.

The constitution is not yet available in English, as soon as I get it I will circulate it. However, the media that has not delved into the details of the constitution and has reported that this constitution proposes for a liberal set of fundamental rights.

Job Markets Tightening for College Graduates

This shouldn't be news for readers of this blog, but with the economy contracting and unemployment on the rise, the job market is becoming increasingly-perilous for college graduates. According to an article published today in Time:

The companies surveyed in [the National Association for Colleges and Employers'] spring update are planning to hire 22% fewer grads from the Class of 2009 than they hired from the Class of 2008, a big letdown from the group's projections in October that hiring would hold steady. Some 44% of companies in the survey conducted last month said they plan to hire fewer new grads, and another 22% said they do not plan to hire at all this spring, more than double last year's figure.

Discouraging though this may be, the current recession provides a great opportunity to consider a career in the liberty movement. There are several great resources for liberty-minded individuals looking for a job, most notably the America's Future Foundation's Career Center and the LibertyGuide Job Bank. Both provide advice and tips for getting on a career track for liberty, as well as job postings from various organizations in the movement. Also, keep an eye out for an upcoming How-To Book from Students For Liberty on finding jobs or internships in the libertarian/conservative arena.

And to indulge in some brief shameless self-promotion, I'd also recommend you check out Students For Liberty's Jobs/Internship page, and consider applying for the position of Program Manager with SFL!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Students for Liberty on Television!


As I posted last week, Students for Liberty participated in CPAC this past weekend, sharing a table with the Libertarian Party and finding a great number of libertarian student groups galvanized in their mission to promote liberty in the wake of the 2008 presidential campaign, in which both main parties offered candidates and platforms very discomfiting to proponents of freedom.

As the picture above shows, we had the opportunity to meet Ron Paul following a speech to a packed auditorium on Day 2 of the conference (Friday). As always, his speech was replete with common-sense economic wisdom and an unbendable adherence to the Constitution all too seldomly seen among politicians these days.

Only a few moments before Dr. Paul took the stage, Students for Liberty Executive Director Alexander McCobin participated in a panel entitled "Two-Minute Activist: Conservative Victories Across the Nation," in which he represented Students for Liberty and its mission to several hundred attendees at the conference.

Both Alexander McCobin and Dr. Paul can be seen on CSPAN's video coverage of CPAC here. The student panel begins at 1:34:50 (Alexander speaks first), and Ron Paul takes the stage at 3:11:15.

Monday, March 2, 2009

SFL Conference Covered by Oregon Catalyst

Kurt Weber of the State Policy Network had some good things to say about the 2nd Annual International Students for Liberty Conference, at which he spoke on the Social Change Panel. As he writes in the blog Oregon Catalyst:

Last weekend, 200 of these college revolutionaries gathered in Washington, D.C. to talk first principles, solutions, how to effect social change and the Constitution. They did not speak of partisan politics. I spoke as a panelist there and, a life-long activist myself, was so impressed by their professionalism, energy, optimism and politeness that upon returning home I sent them a contribution. Oregon students interested in turning the tide should contact them to organize local chapters.

If you'd like to support Students for Liberty as well, you can do so here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Grade-A Entitlement

One of the most disillusioning aspects of my AmeriCorps/City Year service is the entitled attitude of my students.  They expect to always have good grades, extra paper/pencils/chances, and candy even when they've done nothing to earn it.  The expression "I didn't do nothing" may be the most frequent outburst heard.  

 This article argues that an entitled attitude amongst college-age students is pervasive and increasingly drastic.  I know I've often wished that my hard work would earn an "A", but I would never argue that to a professor.  I know that sometimes I think my essays were way better at 3am than the professor reading it at a reasonable hour later.  I also know, however, that attending class is no substitute for hard work and extra studying.  In education, entitlement is disastrous because it distracts students from learning the actual material.  In life, it distracts individuals from actually maximizing productivity. 

At the base of our fight for liberty is changing the attitude of Americans to understand that we must fight for individual responsibility along with individual privileges, and people who just expect the establishment to give them what they want because they want it will also not understand why responsibility is a good thing - a necessary thing.

I hope the next time we plead for better marks we think about whether we've earned them...at least, I hope I do.

International Conference Pictures