Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Birthday Wish: Support Liberty!

So my birthday is coming up in a couple of days. This Friday, May 1st, I'll be turning 23, which is sort of a depressing number, but as good of an excuse to call upon everyone to support Students For Liberty. After all, what's a better present than "A Free Academy, A Free Society"? I've set up a Facebook Birthday Cause that you can donate on to show everyone your support:


I didn't expect people to spend money for my birthday, but you all know me: I eat, sleep, and breathe liberty. And you know how much I care about Students For Liberty. Students For Liberty takes so much priority in my life actually that I'm spending the night before my birthday at a fundraising dinner in New Jersey to help build Students For Liberty! So if my birthday gives you the excuse to donate to Students For Liberty and invest in a free future, then I'll take it!

If you have thought about giving to Students For Liberty before, but were unsure, this is your excuse. All I'm asking is that you give $10... a pizza for you, but the shipment of 5 pro-liberty books to a campus group or registration to a pro-liberty conference for someone who may be the next Milton Friedman, Ed Crane, or Ayn Rand.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ron Paul on Campus!

Young Americans for Liberty at Wake Forest University successfully planned and hosted Dr. Ron Paul at their campus on, ironically enough, April 20th 2009. Without a shadow of doubt, the event was a tremendous success with over 1,300 in attendance and news media coverage galore.



Check out the YAL behind the scenes coverage of the event below if you want to learn a little more on how to host an event of this magnitude; it's not easy work, but with a little forward planning, it can be done with a huge impact!



If you want to watch the entire event online, you can do so here.

Nevertheless, this event embodies what students can do in the liberty movement. The Wake chapter of YAL was only officially chartered a couple months back and in this short time Wake YAL was able to host the biggest event at their campus this year. Sitting around and talking amongst ourselves is never enough; let's keep on pushing forward in getting out the message of liberty to anyone and everyone. We owe it to our philosophy to outreach and we really can't blame anyone for not being libertarian if they've never looked into it! So, if nothing else, I hope this event will further motivate you to become further engaged on your campus to spread the philosophy of liberty.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Are Republicans Going Back to Goldwater?

Nate Silver at political blog FiveThirtyEight.com had an interesting post about the recent tack toward libertarianism coming from the Republican Party. As most analysts making the claim have asserted, this is rooted in the recent tea parties (note that despite the bad spelling, Silver is a respected commentator):

We can argue about the significance of the tea paries [sic] and we can argue about whether they represent the way forward for Republicans. But they are just one manifesation [sic] of what seems like an increasing drift toward libertariansim [sic] within the party.

Following a failed experiment in nation-building abroad, massive growth of government under a "compassionate" conservative Administration, and now accrual of an ever-expanding debt, the government has become the target of much of the blame of Republicans. Silver cites an interesting Gallup poll tracking "the biggest threat" to America by those who identify by each party:



Most interesting is that Republicans identify government as the greatest threat even compared to another perennial object of conservative criticism: Big Labor. Considering the recent salience of the Employee Free Choice Act, I would expect this to be much higher as a relative proportion.

Nevertheless, I'm skeptical of Silver's conclusion that this represents a shift toward libertarianism. Rather, the increase in relative importance of economic issues (combined with a Democratic administration) has simply magnified the fiscal conservatism of self-identified Republicans as compared to social conservatism; moreover, many tea party attendees were not self-identified Republicans, and so we would be wise not to conflate the views of such activists with a prevailing, or even prominent, voice among such partisans. Republicans have always considered "big government" the greatest threat to America (even if their actions sometimes said otherwise), and the Republican softening on issues such as gay marriage is likely a continuation of a steady trend rather than a sudden and seismic structural ideological change (though if anyone has data on this, please send it my way!). I would welcome a more libertarian Republican Party, but whether we are (or will be) getting one is far from certain.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Second Amendment Victory!

From the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today:
"We are therefore persuaded that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment and applies it against the states and local governments."

Check out the full opinion here.

While it's kind of depressing that I have to be excited about what should be a straight-forward interpretation of the Constitution, I am nonetheless elated.

Obama's Cosmetic Cuts

In a recent press release, the White House has announced that "As part of his commitment to go line by line through the budget to cut spending and reform government, he will challenge his Cabinet to cut a collective 100 million dollars in the next 90 days."

The proposed $100 million, if you compare it to the $3,500 billion federal budget this year, is only a miniscule 0.00002% cut.

If the median US household, making approximately $50,000 a year, were to make the same budget cut, it would be about $1.40--or less than the typical Starbucks coffee cup. So, if you've resisted the urge to go to Starbucks once this year, congratulations--you've shown more fiscal scrutiny than this cut.

SFL Goes on Warped Tour

That's right! Thanks to some great connections and awesome organizations, SFL will have a booth at every stop of Warped Tour this summer! We're going to be traveling the country to spread the message of liberty to concert-goers all over.

Even better, we're calling upon members of SFL to help man the booth and advance the cause of freedom! If you want free tickets to Warped Tour, we've got them for you! All we need is for you to advertise SFL, talk to people about liberty, and make our presence known at the stop. There are over 45 stops this summer, which you can find here. Check out the bands that will be perfoming this year here.

If you want to be a SFL volunteer at one or more Warped Tour stops this summer, shoot me an email at amccobin@studentsforliberty.org with the dates/locations you want to help out at. We will be giving free tickets to students in SFL Affiliated Organizations first, so if your group has not affiliated yet, fill out the form ASAP! We expect spots to fill up quickly, so be sure to contact us and affiliate before others get on board.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"First, Do No Harm" Video Contest!

President Obama has made clear that he has plans for a massive overhaul of health care, a goal to which he devoted over $600 billion of funding in the FY2010 budget. Despite Administration attempts to frame the proposed reforms as improvements on the current system, the net result is greater government involvement in the health sector. The Galen Institute, "a non-profit research organization devoted exclusively to health policy," is looking for your help in stopping it.

The "First, Do No Harm" video contest challenges entrants to submit a brief film highlighting some of the myths of misperceptions that abound in the current health care debate. First prize is $3,000! Entries are due by May 15, so get to work. Lights, camera, action!

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Cato Deferred Law Firm Associate Program

Use Your Deferment to Work for Liberty!

Many law firms are asking their incoming first-year associates to defer their start dates (from a few months to a full year) and are offering stipends to these deferred associates to work at public interest organizations.

The Cato Institute invites third-year law students and others facing firm deferrals to apply to work at our Center for Constitutional Studies. This is an opportunity to assist projects ranging from Supreme Court amicus briefs to policy papers to the Cato Supreme Court Review. Interested students and graduates should email a cover letter, resume, transcript, and writing sample, along with any specific details of their deferment (timing, stipend availability, etc.), to Jonathan Blanks at jblanks@cato.org.

Please feel free to pass the above information to your friends and colleagues. For information on Cato's programs for non-graduating students, contact Joey Coon at jcoon@cato.org.

Philadelphia Tax Day Tea Party.

coldweb

What a cold, rainy and windy day in Philadelphia! Despite the weather, over 300 people showed up in LOVE Park to protest excessive government spending at the April 15th Tax Day Tea Party, from noon to 2PM. I arrived with a few members of the Student Liberty Front, armed with signs, flags and liberty oriented propaganda.

The crowd consisted of Republicans and Libertarians, as well as some outraged Democrats, upset with recent government spending and the spike in national debt that has accompanied it.

The Philadelphia tea party was lead by Diana and Don Reimer of Landale, PA. There were numerous speakers who took time out of their day to deliver intense speeches to really rile up the crowd. Of the most memorable, a speech given by 16 year old Jesse Civello, who aspires to be a future senator.

The tea parties were promoted by FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group. The parties were led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas.

I was a little angry at the fact that Barack Obama began a speech at noon on reforming the tax code -- the same time that the Philadelphia tea party began -- stealing the news spotlight. Even so, Fox News was there covering the story. But then, there's this:



We still have so much work to do, I realized, after leaving the rally, freezing cold and sopping. With biased news networks, the average, brainwashed citizen thinking of us as a mockery, and even to those who think we don't mean business . . . We've got to keep going!

I am so proud of everyone who bore the terrible weather to stand up for their rights as citizens of the United States of America -- nothing more, nothing less!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In the Academy after Tax Day

It was raining in Washington, DC all day yesterday – and presumably, Mother Nature gave the Capital exactly what it deserved on April 15. Needless to say, lovers of liberty marched right through the murky weather without a second thought in defense of the America they saw quickly slipping from their hands. But of course, Americans have been marching steadily through the murky storms of Bush and now Obama – A little rain on the lawn of the White House was a piece of cake. And luckily for us, we had tea to go along with it during this grand (but certainly not old) party.

It was a party of people – I was almost shamefully shocked by the fact that this world is not, after all, made of bureaucrats, stealthy smiling Rahm Emanuels stuffing poor justifications into journalists’ eager pads, and the raging tales of new canine playmates at the President’s house. Surprise, surprise. There are individuals in this world who live their lives and love their families and absolutely hate fairy tales, especially because their own living room carpets are now school reading rugs and the man on top of the hill down PA Avenue is reading us deceptions. Unfortunately, most of the country hasn’t outgrown this kind of authority, and I think yesterday we saw two things: the beauty of individual checks on government (“STOP! STOP!” we cried at the White House. My bones shook from adrenaline) and the lurking danger of this executive branch. What did we get out of this beautifully democratic, murky, rainy, proud, scared, and excited protest?

We got a president who came out to the people with a joke about Bo the dog (why, why do I even know its name?) who ate his economics speech. Well, at least he recognized that there wasn’t a morsel of economic justification for his actions – I only wish I could get off as easily when I make mistakes in school. But once the ironically un-funny joke dissipated, he smiled his comfortable smile and told us that of course, we are tired of dealing with taxes. In fact, he has decided that there must be an overhaul of the system to ameliorate our cries. He would (drum roll….) hire his economic recovery team to make the tax form less complicated by next year! And as if that wasn’t comforting enough, he went on to praise himself on the largest tax cuts in American history – of course, the small business owners would now begin prospering, the students see the light of day, and the parents buy themselves that little extra something – all because the president had given us back the money we have earned. It sounds like a fairy tale on our TV, and America falls deeper in love with the man who’s got it all under control. He gave us the impression that our cries from the front lawn and the tea parties all over the country were now addressed. Wipe your hands, pack your signs, and go home. Everything is fixed.

But did he ever move the curtain in his office and see the flashes of signs outside? He broke America’s heart, really. But like a child in denial of a tragic death, he continued to hide and joke and talk about the stimulus, the tax cuts, the brilliant little business owners and real people out there struggling. “STOP!” we screamed on April 15. Because the brilliant little business owners and real people out there struggling were on the lawn trying to defend the scraps of their dignity – their wallets, their decisions about their future, their children. They were not crying because they needed help filling out a tax form (but surely, the president probably found it easier to assume we were angry simply because we’re a little stupid). They were crying because behind these grandiose tax cuts are seeds of greater collapse. What will happen when the trillions of dollars of spending drag our dollar down? What will happen to the brilliant little business owner when fiat currency loses its worth and the products on his shelf collect dust? What will happen when we the people lose our own self-worth in the midst of a smiling hero?

I am a student. I am always taught to be open-minded, to question my surroundings. I can’t help but notice an overpowering sense of helpless stagnation on campus. What if our authority figures tell us the wrong things? Where do we go when we’re easily tricked and manipulated into believing something grand will happen? What happens when an entire generation is swallowed by one man’s promise?

Yesterday was rainy and beautiful and I had never before felt the assurance and peace of these people. I had never felt more patriotic, not even when I took an oath at 13 to defend this nation when I became a citizen. And here I was defending it in every sense of the word. But it was ephemeral brilliance. What’s left? More cozy promises and avoidance tactics. I think our struggle over ideas – especially in my generation, especially on campus – is only just beginning. Our party is over now, and we need to work again. “Stop, stop, stop,” we’d like to say. And so, how do we get the adrenaline going in our universities?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

UNC Students Silence Opposition

Supporters of liberty are accustomed to having their freedoms abridged by professors and administrators, whether it be in the form of biased course offerings and curricula, speech codes, or a variety of other, more subtly suppressive measures. But when it's students who seek to impose ideological homogeneity, the affront cuts that much deeper.

Students at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill did just that when Tom Tancredo, a former Congressman who ran for president on an anti-immigration platform, was invited to speak at the university on the issue of the eligibility of illegal immigrants for in-state tuition benefits. As the local news outlet reports:
Protesters interrupted his speech, stretching out a banner in front of him that read, "No one is illegal." Tancredo grabbed the banner and confronted one of the people holding it.

Then there was the sound of glass shattering. A window was broken by more opponents outside. As the situation escalated, Tancredo left.

While there is certainly much to find distasteful about Mr. Tancredo's views, it provides no justification for hindering his freedom to express them. Indeed, this story illuminates the importance of libertarian and conservative students engaged in campus activism being civil and respectful in debate, and engaging opposition on an intellectual, rather than an emotional, plane. As Voltaire so eloquently put it, "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Atlas Highlight

One of SFL's friends, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, has just launched a new series called "Ask Atlas" to answer pro-liberty organization's questions on how to effectively manage their organizations and promote liberty. I was thrilled to see that their first episode was on "Student Groups" and highlighted two of SFL's publications as examples for organizations around the world to utilize in supporting students:

Ask Atlas: Episode 1- Student Groups from Atlas Network on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

YAF's Tax Day Tea Party Protest


The Young America's Foundation is looking for students on campuses across the country to help in their Tax Day (TOMORROW!) Tea Party protests, fighting against the massive government spending we've seen over these past months. In addition to seeking signatures to a petition, YAF is sponsoring a video contest, first prize for which is a scholarship to their 2009 National Conservative Student Conference in Washington, DC. Videos are due by April 18, and can be viewed here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Patri Friedman at Temple University!


On Thursday, April 9th, Patri Friedman of the Seasteading Institute and grandson of Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize winning economist, spoke at Temple University.

The event was hosted by the Temple Libertarians, but many members showed up from the Philadelphia Forum for Freedom.

Friedman presented a power point presentation, addressing seasteading, creating private dwellings on the ocean, creating a new frontier for new civilization and government.

The point of seasteading is to easily create a country hosting an experimental form of government, without the needs of voting, war or revolution. With seasteading, individuals do not need the sympathies of their entire country, and they their actions are relatively harmless. Also, countries created by seasteading are completely "shufflable," meaning if you do not like your location due to bad relations with another country or you're just looking for change, you are free to move around, unlike on dry land. It is even possible to move your
house from one country to another using seasteading.

There are many kinds of of seasteads, including:

Coaststeads:
Located along the cost to provide services for a much lower cost, especially medical.
Single Family Seasteads: Best for use of vacationing until finding a full-time job that is possible while seasteading.
Cohousing Seasteads: Condominium seasteading.
Ephermerisles: A "free to party" seastead, best to be used for an experience similar to Burning Man.

Friedman concluded by giving his views of Libertarianism, claiming that the odds are against its success in America and the only way to obtain freedom is to create a new country. He advocated the Free State Project, however, claiming that they will hopefully obtain most freedoms desired.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Freedom and Its Enemies" Event at Drexel University

Greetings!

My name is Stacy Litz and I am going to be blogging for Students for Liberty involving the liberty movement in Philadelphia. I am a sophomore political science major at Drexel University and I am an active member of the Student Liberty Front. My resume can be found on my personal blog.

On Tuesday, April 7th, Drexel University's Student Liberty Front and the Philadelphia Forum for Freedom held the event "Freedom and Its Enemies," featuring two guest speakers -- Cato Institute's executive vice president David Boaz and 20/20's co-anchor John Stossel.

The event had a great turn out, with over 200 students from colleges in the area, along with members of the Philadelphia Libertarian Party, the Commonwealth Foundation, and other freedom related meet up groups in the area. Tables lined the walls with representative organizations from the pro-liberty movement where students could learn more about opportunities to promote liberty: Students For Liberty, Cato on Campus, the Commonwealth Foundation, and Bureaucrash,.

In the introduction, Aaron Moyer, member of both S.L.F. and P.F.F., explained the definition of freedom compared to that of other countries, past leaders, and even the current United States president, Barack Obama.

David Boaz spoke first, giving a power point presentation depicting much of the news in the media to show the current lack of freedom in our country, especially targeting the current economic crisis and the recently passed stimulus bill using graphs to illustrate the increase in Federal Reserve spending. Boaz spoke very thoroughly and even those who were not part of the freedom movement were able to grasp his hard hitting facts, quotes and statistics.

John Stossel began with his classic "give me a break" act -- listing one "common sense" statement after another to explain why too much government is detrimental to our country. Bringing in a power point, he showed the audience a beach house the he built near the water, which that we (as taxpayers) ended up paying for when the whole house got destroyed – all due to his purchase of inexpensive, “government funded” flood insurance. Closing, he played a clip from his latest 20/20 special, “Bailouts and Bull,” illustrating that you canmake it” in America beginning with nothing.

The speeches were followed by Q & A, including questions that involved the decline of newspapers, healthcare, poverty, and history. David Boaz held a book signing for his newest book, The Politics of Freedom.

As a student from Drexel, I can give my biased opinion that it was a terrific event. Seeing every member of the Philadelphia Forum for Freedom attend (Drexel Student Liberty Front, Penn Libertarian Association, and the Temple Libertarians) was an uplifting experience. While the speeches focused on the threats to liberty today, it's hard to leave an event like this one without thinking that the future of liberty is a bright one.

The Capitalist Cure: Physician, Deregulate Thyself


By: Adina Cappell
I’m a medical student in Southern California, and am honored to write my first post for the SFL blog. Through my series, "The Capitalist Cure," I hope to address the intersection between liberty and health care, regarding issues such as medical marijuana, physician-assisted suicide, and the fight against socialized medicine. Today, I’d like to discuss government licensure of health professionals.

The Nevada State Senate is currently considering a bill that would “tighten” standards for a doctor to practice medicine. New Mexico is now the first state to require official licensure of medical sonographers, due to a new law signed by Governor Bill Richardson. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Dental Association is vigorously fighting against a bill that would allow “Oral Health Practitioners” to perform cleanings and fill cavities, without dentist oversight. Even as health care becomes increasingly expensive, patient advocacy groups, professional organizations, and government bureaucrats push for less freedom to perform medical procedures. It sounds reasonable to protect people from unqualified, or even dangerous health care providers. But, overall, do all of these restrictions and regulations help patients?

Milton Friedman didn’t think so. In his 1962 book, Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman wrote, “I am myself persuaded that licensure has reduced both the quantity and quality of medical practice; that is has reduced the opportunities available to people who would like to be physicians, forcing them to pursue occupations they regard as less attractive; that it has forced the public to pay more for less satisfactory medical service, and that it has retarded technological development both in medicine itself and in the organization of medical practice.”

Many medical protectionists lobby against Wal-Mart clinics, where kids can get vaccinations from nurse practitioners, at a fraction of the cost of a visit to the doctor's office. While physicians are certainly most qualified to perform particular health-related tasks, such expertise provides little comfort to uninsured Americans who are ineligible for Medicare, and who would benefit most from visiting a health care provider who is “somewhat less qualified.” Additionally, the medical tasks that nurse practitioners perform are often relatively routine and basic; It is most efficient for physicians to direct their time and expertise to the most complex cases and procedures, rather than to health-related needs that others could address competently. Indeed, in the absence of medical licensing, there would still be many ways for a layperson to ensure that a health practitioner is skilled and knowledgeable, whether by heeding the recommendations of private licensing institutions, poring over respected consumer review agencies, or finding out by simple word of mouth.

We’ve all heard of the pre-med sabotage stories- some real, some apocryphal. Tearing out pages from the library’s organic chemistry book. Messing up the roommate’s drosophila experiment. Students take desperate and immoral measures to ensure admission into one of the precious few spots available in U.S. medical schools. But why must things be this way? Why can’t any old ambitious and dedicated creature become a successful pre-med? Like many situations involving the heavy hand of government, the artificial cap on medical students leads to the yearly disappointment of almost 60% of applicants to allopathic schools, as well as the corrosive pre-medical cultural norm. The tragic thing is, however, that none of the barricades that we place before aspiring physicians does anything to help the many Americans who half-heartedly consume their vitamins, hoping to stave off a potentially unaffordable visit to the hospital.

Adina Cappell blogs at http://healspiel.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Harvard Student Takes on House Finance Committee Chairman



Above is an excerpt from the Q&A following a speech given by Barney Frank at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, in which a persistent student presses the Massachusetts Democrat and House Financial Services Committee Chairman on the amount of responsibility he takes for the current financial situation. It gets a bit ugly at times, but the fact that this made it onto the news (and subsequently onto some major internet outlets) speaks to the credibility the public lends to college students with something bold and intelligent to say.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fox News Takes On "Textbook Trash"



The presence of a left-leaning academia is fairly accepted both from those inside and outside the university setting; the importance and relevance of this, of course, being a different issue. And while there is a fair degree of criticism leveled at professors who take their politics a bit too far (even if protected as citizens under the First Amendment), the fact that these same people are the ones writing the textbooks is rarely extrapolated to suspicion of the textbook industry.

Fox News Network has undertaken a series exploring bias in school textbooks, with a segment airing yesterday focusing on treatment of the War on Terror. I'm skeptical of allegations of bias in general -- for example, Cindy Sheehan does symbolize a very important aspect of the war debate, regardless of your view of her -- and when the charges include biases of omission, such as the failure to cover this or that war hero, the argument becomes even more tenuous.

In this specific case, I'll let you be the judge. Regardless of your conclusions on this specific issue, the segment certainly sheds light on an issue that has avoided scrutiny for far too long.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lenin statue's rear end is blown up...

An anonymous bomber blew a hole in the rear end of the infamous statue of Lenin in St. Petersburg this morning, the BBC reports. Rumors state that it may have just been hot air, however.

[HT: Reason]