A little review of 2015

As a new year dawns shortly upon us, I’d like to take a little time to reflect on what was for myself a fruitful year.

It all began in the nation’s capital — Washington, DC. I had the great fortune of living from January through May as a Policy Intern for FreedomWorks, a conservative/libertarian grassroots political organization. (Note: You can see some of the work I produced HERE.)

I truly cannot say enough about this most fortunate of opportunities I’ve had. First, you can’t find better people than the staff of FreedomWorks. My immediate superior, Joshua Withrow, is one of the most intelligent and well-read people I’ve ever met. In addition to his erudition, he radiates with generosity, captivates with humor (especially impressions!), and, most importantly, is a fellow New England Patriots fanatic.

Logan Albright (if I remember correctly) may not be a Patriots fan, but he is equally well-read as Josh. He, too, is terribly funny and kind. Whereas Josh identifies as a minarchist, Logan is a full-blown Rothbardian anarchist. Furthermore, he writes and has published fictional novels, which you can potentially enjoy if you click this beautiful orange text. 

I also met Julie Borowski and Matt Kibbe, two “celebrities” within the libertarian movement. They also were fantastic people, and great role models for those of us involved in the political realm.

As an intern, FreedomWorks gave me access to a lot of interesting events, like International Students for Liberty Conferencea three day event to which all of liberties brightest stars and future leaders convene and have a great time; or CPAC (where I met Gary Johnson); and plenty of smaller events around the DC area, at places like CATO, the Heritage Foundation, and various colleges.

I could go on for pages about my experience at FreedomWorks, so just suffice it to say that the entire thing was nothing short of fantastic.

After the internship was over, my family and me were able to see some sites in the area, like Monticello, Mount Vernon, and obviously everything in DC. We had a whole lot of fun together.

During the summer I worked long hours to save for school, and since September I’ve been back at school (Western Michigan University). I’m technically president of a Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter, but unfortunately things just haven’t been rolling.

Looking forward, though, I’d love to start podcasting. Ever since high school I’ve thought about going into broadcasting. So keep a look out for that this year, because I’m probably going to try it out. I probably won’t have much time for blogging this semester though because school and work will keep me busy, but I’ll try as hard as I can to consistently get some product out there.

Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read some of my stuff. I wish all of you a very pleasant and fruitful 2016!

A quick rant on “Free College”

1. Don’t call it “free.” Educating millions of students each year requires maintaining plenty of scarce resources, each of which must be paid for somehow. I therefore reject the premise of the popular question: “Should college be free?” I recommend asking, instead: “Who should pay College X for rendering educational services upon Student Y?”

2. “Education is a right.” But then how do you define “education”? I’ve educated myself by reading Thomas Sowell and Frederic Bastiat in my own time, but I wouldn’t dare suggest that I have a right to take money by force from somebody else (top X percent included) to fund my own enjoyment of reading! That being said, it is an “educational” pursuit, and if this rationale justifies a college to expropriate money from private citizens, then who is to deny my “right” to educational products from Amazon?

3. “Education is a right.” But then how do you define a “right”? Is it anything beneficial to an individual? to society? That reasoning can surely be reduced to absurdity. Good health, for example, is an individual’s building-block to success, and therefore critical to society. So where’s the movement for subsidized gym memberships and free salad bars? Studies also constantly confirm the value to society of strong property rights, meaning my right to my income would trump your right to taxpayer funded college.

4. “I like to pay taxes for schools because I don’t want to live with a bunch of idiots.” Well, do you call upon the state to bake your bread or to build you an automobile? No, and yet Americans aren’t starving (quite the opposite) nor are they still travelling by foot (just five percent of American households don’t own a car). The Lesson: Free minds will always find creative ways to improve living conditions, even without herds of politicians.

 

Markets Make a Lot of Politicians Expendable

Hillary Clinton at the most recent Democratic debate squeezed out a quick apology after she was apparently held up a bit too long in the restroom during a commercial break.

But return Clinton did, and in her closing remarks she let her paternalism fly:

I became a grandmother 15 months ago. And so I spent a lot of time thinking about my granddaughter’s future. But as president, I will spend even more time thinking about the futures of all the kids and the grandchildren in this country. Because I want to make sure every single child has a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. If you will join me in this campaign we will make that a mission.

First, anybody looking to advance a case against the public school system should start by acknowledging the millions of educated Americans who fall for this sappy nonsense every four years. There’s no way any BS Meter, without years of indoctrination, would fail to detect this gargantuan load dropped in a remarkably short period of time.

Second, and more importantly, this passage illustrates precisely why Hillary Clinton is not worthy of my vote. In fact, if somebody happened to ask me why I’m not “Ready for Hillary,” I’d probably show them this passage.

That’s because  Clinton, with a most sanctimonious tone, displayed her capacious yet unsurprising ignorance of the role markets play in improving the future. Consider, for example, the following:

  • Was the airplane born from the Wright Brothers, who experimented incessantly with the problem of flight (with their own time, resources, and often their own lives at stake), or was it produced and perfected by a Presidential administration that spent a lot of time thinking about the youth who might never see an aerial view of New York City?
  • Did Henry Ford revolutionize (with his own time, resources, and profits at stake) the way in which automobiles were manufactured, extending automobiles from the luxury of the rich to the enjoyment of the masses, or should we thank the countless hours spent by American presidents thinking about the children?
  • Can two-thirds of American households now enjoy a cool home during the hottest months because profit-seeking firms have driven down the cost of air conditioners through competition, or did American presidents enact initiatives to spread the joy of AC?
  • Should thoughtful American presidents be congratulated for giving access to 296 million Americans to television, the medium in which Clinton professes her mission? Or, again, is it to be attributed to the impressive evolution of markets?

The list could go on and on. Every day profit hungry firms and individuals are competing with each other to bring us consumers “the next big thing.” It is markets–through the quest for profit–which ultimately improve the future and give everyone the chance to live up to their potential. It is markets which ultimately make politicians who, like Clinton, are supposedly eager to improve the lives of countless individuals, expendable.

So, Hillary, and those of your breed, I urge you to think more about your granddaughter. Do her a service. Retire from politics. Simply allow markets to do the job which you explicitly announce as your mission. You may be surprised to discover how much more they do for humanity, and for your granddaughter, than your mangling interventions, both foreign and domestic, ever have, or ever will do.

 

 

The College Bonanza

I’m putting together some research to figure out the exact reasons why college costs an arm and a leg these days. I’m assuming a lot of it has to do with this:

grants.png

That’s a 153% increase in grant disbursements and a 280% increase in loan disbursements by the federal government in just a decade. 

If you know of some first-rate research done on the topic I’d love for you to point me in the direction. Thanks a lot!

BOOK REVIEW: Chicagonomics

In his new book, Chicagonomics: The Evolution of Chicago Free Market Economics, Lanny Ebenstein follows the development of classical liberal thought at the University of Chicago from its founding in 1891 by John D. Rockefeller. The University was the first in North America to boast of a separate department of economics. Twenty-eight of its students, researches, and faculty have won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences since the prize was first given in 1969.

But Ebenstein didn’t concentrate primarily on the University’s accomplishments per se, nor on the unique brand of Chicago economics after World War Two. Instead, Chicagonomics was a book addressed by Ebenstein “To Contemporary Libertarians,” purportedly to separate the view of a true classical liberal from today’s libertarians, particularly regarding egalitarianism and progressive taxation.

Classical Liberalism is not Contemporary Libertarianism

Continue reading

Sneak Peek at Chicagonomics

A full review of Chicagonomics will be posted here at midnight tonight. But I wanted to give you a preview of the book’s content and the author’s perspectives. Here’s a list of his policy proposals from page 206:

IMG_0483

As you can see, it’s a mixed bag of great ideas and not-so-great ideas. More on the book later, at midnight tonight.

[UPDATE: I’m not pleased with the quality of my review for this book, so I’m going to delay the post for a little while.]

Quote of the day

With today’s quote, the legend Thomas Sowell will help us to better understand politics and the (often) mysterious decisions made by politicians:

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems– of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.

Source: Townhall, Solving Whose Problem?, by Thomas Sowell

 

Be careful what you ask for.

Jon Stewart recently appeared on the Daily Show and went after Congress (Mitch McConnell in particular) for failing to pass legislation meant to help the first responders from 9/11. According to HuffPo (emphasis added):

“Sen. Mitch McConnell doesn’t give a shit about anything but politics,” Stewart said during a lengthy, scathing segment about the act on Monday’s show. “He is the key to getting this done, and so far he has been an enormous obstacle — unwilling to move the bill forward for purely political reasons.”

“For purely political reasons.” In just four words Stewart unintentionally summarized the edifice of public choice theory. Essentially, it’s much easier to understand politics if you approach it from the standpoint that politicians act in their own self-interest (just as the rest of us do), even at times that it’d be nice if they made decisions based on some sort of “common good.”

Almost to illustrate the concept of public choice theory after summarizing it, HuffPo goes on (emphasis added):

The former “Daily Show” host notes the bill has the support to pass in both the House and the Senate, but is running out of time due to maneuvers by the leaders of both chambers. Stewart alleges McConnell removed the Zadroga renewal from a transportation bill it was attached to “when he didn’t get concessions about loosening oil export regulations.”

Would it have been the right thing to do to pass the bill to help out the responders? Yep. Should McConnell be seen as a monstrous creep as a result of this? Yep. But those aren’t the proper questions to be asking. The most important question to ask is: Why did McConnell act in this way? To which Stewart already answered: “Mitch McConnell doesn’t give a shit about anything but politics.”

And here is an opportunity for a moment of clarity among Stewart and his leftist followers. Understand that these decisions made based on nothing but political reasons will only increase as an industry is taken over by government (politicians and bureaucrats). In endorsing a single payer healthcare system, for example, you are handing control of a vital industry over to these very people whose self-interest commands them to make unfavorable political decisions.

The only way to save ourselves from suffering at the hands of politically self-interested Congressmen is to keep each industry as free as possible from the tentacles of government.