On Wednesday, March 25, Bill Nye "The Science Guy" spoke at the State University of New York at Albany promoting his new book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. The speech began well, with Nye speaking about his debate on evolution recently with Ken Ham but quickly transitioned to preaching for a Carbon Tax in order to "redistribute wealth".
Thankfully, some students for the SUNY Albany Young Americans for Liberty chapter were in the audience and knew exactly what to do in such a circumstance, they began to film. After the event, the YAL members submitted a tip along with the video to Campus Reform and the next day Campus Reform picked up the story and it has since received viral attention.
What turned out to be a politically charged event was funded and sponsored by the Student Association at the University, the student government which is funded by a $100 per semester fee on all undergraduate students. Thankfully, YAL was on the watch.
When Raphie called in to Freedomain Radio to argue for an end to the market economy, he didn't do so as a sociology student whose only exposure to economics came from a required reading by Marx.
Instead, at the time he called, Raphie had been a Canadian businessman with 21 years of experience running his Montreal-based shoe repair service. He charged money prices, pursued profit, charged interest, and paid hourly wages, just as his competitors did, without a second thought, before one day in his mind "it just clicked." Raphie found himself looking in the mirror, questioning what worth to society these activities had:
"What bothered me most in this traditional way of doing business was the lack of connection I had with the customers. Then I went deeper into the philosophy of my way of thinking and asked 'why don't I charge...my daughter to fix her boots? Why is it free for her? Why is it free for friends, family, loved ones? Why do I charge to strangers, to customers?"
Raphie arrived at the answer which seems intuitive to the contemplative layman: man is a selfish creature, who does not make great sacrifices for others unless he stands something to gain. Profit exists solely as a motivator for some to do good for others. But man willingly makes sacrifices for loved ones out of compassion.
Why then is it not possible to regard everyone on Earth as your "loved one," and make sacrifices for the neediest among them, without expecting anything in return? Without a meaningful answer, Raphie concluded that money, interest, wages, private ownership, and profit could be done away with, without a tear shed, if only we humans weren't so greedy.
To see why the invisible hand wags its finger at Raphie's conclusion, let us first consider one model that economist Ludwig von Mises uses in Human Action, called the "Evenly Rotating Economy" model. In this purely hypothetical construction of the economy, all needs are continually being satisfied, and these needs do not change from one "rotation" to the next. Thus, there is perfect certainty about which goods need to be produced, in what quantities, and which people will consume them.
Let us contrast this with a real economy. We live in a world of unlimited desires but limited resources. There is no formal distinction between "want" and "need," and everyone prefers more goods to fewer. To produce goods, we need to expend time and energy—time and energy that could be spent doing other things.
Given all these facts of reality, we need some convenient way both to discover and to communicate among our seven billion brethren whose desires are most worthwhile trying to satisfy. Without this information, worldwide cooperation is impractical to impossible.
This is the role of the price system. It allows us to communicate in standardized terms (money) which desires are most urgent to satisfy. Because we live in a world of uncertainty where desires change based on circumstance, we need to make educated guesses about what to produce. The entrepreneur assumes this task.
If an entrepreneur's predictions about what, how much, and for whom to produce are correct, that information is recorded in terms of profit. If his predictions are incorrect, the corresponding loss is noted. Financial markets exist to make this information known quickly, for all to see, so its participants can direct money resources into the lines of production that are most profitable (satisfy the most desires).
In the linked video, Stefan Molyneux makes this point, albeit vaguely, with the example of a banana producer. His point is that no matter how altruistic the banana producer may be, no matter how motivated by compassion he is to produce, he cannot serve his fellow man effectively without the sort of information that the price system provides.
Today, Raphie does not charge a standard price to his customers. For a year, he has allowed his patrons to offer whatever price they can afford. He has not given up money for barter however, and he still buys from his suppliers at prices determined by supply and demand. Like a good father should, he continues to fix his daughter's shoes for free. He is able to provide for her because of the prosperity he inherited from a system where worldwide cooperation becomes ever more possible—the system we call capitalism.
After a few weeks of waiting, YAL at George Washington University is finally starting to take off. Today we received word that our application to gain official recognition by the university and become a listed student organization was accepted! We're all so excited to get things started and host our Incarceration Nation event, which is tentatively scheduled for Tax Day 2015!
Aside from all of this great news we received today, I also participated in our first event on campus today. It was pretty informal, and I was joined by John Nagle of the AU chapter of YAL and Emily Larsen of the Leadership Institute. Thank you guys so much for your help today, all of us here at GW are looking forward to working closely with both of you in the future. Stay posted as we continue to grow as an organization on campus!
In Gainesville, Florida, the YAL chapter at Santa Fe College continued their quest to spread the ideas of liberty on campus with two successful events.
Last Wednesday, March 18, the Santa Fe YAL chapter started off the day by tabling at Santa Fe Student Life's event, where president Joey Bradfield and member Matt Pearson engaged many students in the ideas of liberty.
While initially skeptical, many of the students were won over by their arguments for liberty, free markets, and individualism. While the audience they spoke to was diverse, ranging from 18 year old dual-enrolled students to older students in their mid-fifties, with different backgrounds and ideologies, all of them found common ground with Joey and Matt. All students were encouraged to attend YAL's event with FFF later on that day, where FFF president Jacob Hornberger was to speak.
The FFF event had a good turn out, with 11 interested individuals making an appearance. Jacob spoke for 45 minutes on the dangers of the welfare/warfare state, how libertarianism has grown as an ideology in the last 30 years, and the future of the movement. After his speech, there was a very engaging discussion period where attendees were encouraged to ask questions about how different issues in a free society would work.
All in all, YAL's event with FFF was a success, and we are very grateful for FFF and Jacob Hornberger for coming to campus to speak.
On Thursday, Santa Fe's Office of Diversity put on an international diversity day to showcase different cultures and lifestyles of Santa Fe's international student body. Clubs were encouraged to represent different nations, such as the World Travelers representing Brazil, and the school's Model UN team representing Egypt.
In order for YAL @ SFC to table at the event, they were required to represent a culture as well. So who would the Santa Fe YAL, an organization devoted to spreading the ideas and philosophy of free markets, liberty, and individualism represent? Why, the small alpine state of Liechtenstein!
For those who don't know: the Principality Liechtenstein is a very small country nestled between Switzerland and Austria. Coming in at 61sq. miles, Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest country in the world with only 35,000 citizens, but one of the richest. They have the second highest GDP per person, and a low unemployment rate of 1.5%.
The Prince of Liechtenstein himself, Hans-Adam II, holds many libertarian view points, and has written a political treatise on what the role of the state should be in the 21st Century watch an interview with him here where he speaks about his book. Liechtenstein is also one of the only nations with the constitutionally defined right of secession.
On to Santa Fe's activism for the day: despite being the farthest table to the back, our table received a lot of attention and plaudits for our simplicity and knowledge on the subject matter. Chapter president, Joey, lured in passerby's with his repertoire of knowledge on Liechtenstein, talking about their history, governance, and laissez-faire economic system.
After speaking on Liechtenstein, the conversation would then shift into why YAL was representing the country, how YAL stands for personal and economic freedom, how less state influence and allowing individuals to flourish creates a prosperous society, and how Liechtenstein is a proper case study for people to examine Libertarianism in action.
The case for Liberty was heard by many interested students, many of whom already identifying as libertarian/libertarian leaning, but had never heard of Liechtenstein and its libertarian society.
Bradfield would then shift into what YAL does on campus, our semester plans, and how YAL offers opportunities to their members that they wouldn't find in other clubs on campus. Overall, the Young Americans for Liberty/Liechtenstein table was a rousing success, and people who came to our table left with the seed of liberty planted in their mind.
Now the focus for Santa Fe's YAL chapter shifts to this week's tabling/meeting session on Wednesday. We are preparing ourselves for the Incarceration Nation event.
Last week, Grand Valley State University students were fortunate enough to have former Michigan legislator, Leon Drolet, come to share his experience working in the Michigan State Capitol.
Drolet served as a state representative from 2001 to 2006 and has since founded the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, which he Chairs. Many Grand Valley students were shocked by what Leon had to say about our political system.
Leon mentioned, “It takes a certain kind of person to run for office”. He went on to say, “There is a specific set of characteristics that people who run for office tend to exhibit. If you are working towards becoming a doctor, you are probably a kind and compassionate individual, dedicated to helping others.” Leon stated, “A politician’s job is to convince people to vote for them. Someone who wants the power to make decisions for others, without accountability, typically express sociopathic traits."
Leon was not suggesting that all politicians are sociopaths, but instead that in his experience, these are the people best equipped for the job of running for and maintaining office. It became clear that the mission for politicians is not to “win on principle”, but rather to “win reelection”. Winning reelection is determined on one’s ability to earn the most funding from companies and various organizations. This, more times than not, is dependent on the way one votes in the house.
Politicians are incentivized to vote a certain way and when they need to collect more votes for a bill, will go ahead and trade votes with congressmen from different regions. This vicious cycle of corruption within our political system goes further and further and Leon wasted no time exposing the many inconvenient truths of congress.
In conclusion, Leon suggests that the best way to change the system is not through voting or running for office, but rather through shifting something referred to as the “Overton Window”. This refers to what the public allows politicians to get away with. Marijuana legalization would have been unthinkable in the 1940’s, but people have shifted the Overton Window to suggest that this is an acceptable and popular idea.
YAL is dedicated to shifting this window through one-on-one communication, hosting meetings, bringing people to conventions, and executing a wide-range of activism projects each semester. We will continue on our quest of challenging corruption and fighting social injustice on campus. GVSU students are eager to continue shifting the Overton Window.
Wake Forest University is eager and ready to spread the liberty movement!
After handing out several pocket Constitutions and speaking to various potential new members, we kicked off the month of February with two days of tabling.
At the end of fall semester, we appointed our newly elected board consisting of Co-Presidents, a Publicity Chair, Membership Director, Secretary, and Treasurer. We have weekly board meetings in order to have a successful spring semester. After an in-depth discussion regarding our final event that will be held in April, we decided upon a free speech week.
This coming April, our organization will devote three days to spreading the purpose and reasoning behind free speech. While encouraging students, faculty, and staff to sign a free speech ball, we will ignite relationships that will bring on new members and deeper collaboration with other students. On the final day of standing outside our cafeteria, we will present a free speech documentary with pizza and drinks.
I am proud to announce that we will be submitting our own informative article, written by our Membership Director, to our school newspaper, the Old Gold & Black. Additionally, we have begun a conversation with the College Democrats, and will be co-signing another article concerning the Medical Marijuana bill, that was recently introduced in Senate.
This coming fall, we plan on hosting two great speakers, one in late September and one in mid November. Since the Wake Forest University chapter is already recognized by administration, we have applied for a solid budget. We are looking forward to the coming months and are ready to embrace liberty on our college campus.
It is important to incorporate a social aspect into any organization, so members feel comfortable, welcomed, and open. With this in mind, we are going to host a tent at our home football games this fall!
This February, the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Valencia Community College hosted a debate between our advisor, economics professor Jack Chambless, and socialist biology professor Dr. Lindbeck. We had a great turnout and added around 75 people to our e-mail list.
“Allowing people to be free, allowing people to own property, taxing them little, regulating them little: that’s where we see prosperity abound,” Chambless said.
Lindbeck’s opinion of capitalism was equally clear: “Capitalism can become a weapon to be used by those who have, to keep down those who have not.”
The central question of the debate was “Is Capitalism Evil?” Among other things, they discussed the efficiency of the private sector versus the government, crony capitalism, legal plunder, the definition of “exploitation,” and the implications of Australia’s economic freedom ranking. When we offered the opportunity for students to ask questions, we got a lot of participation.
We’re excited about what the future holds for our chapter! We’re hoping for many more successful events in the coming weeks.
So, at Ohio University, our YAL/SFL chapter really wanted to hit the ground running this semester. With a new executive board throwing around a myriad of ideas, we have narrowed our focus on specializing in certain issues every week. Our logic is that by promoting issues that may be more prevalent in people's minds, we will find ourselves in a greater position to engage in a discussion about liberty and encourage people to come to our meetings.
To provide a greater springboard for discussions of liberty, we decided to devote this week to a showing of Citizen Four, the documentary which detailed the groundbreaking story of Edward Snowden. High winds on that Tuesday did cause some difficulty getting all the assorted literature together (the sign advertising the movie itself collapsed several times). But, we are persistent here at OU, and neither rain nor high water deters us from getting our message out.
That week, we were fortunate enough to have added 7 potential members to the email list. That Wednesday night, our showing of Citizen Four went off extremely well, and was attended by a good crowd of 13, 6 of whom were new people. We certainly hope that our showing has raised interest in our group and that our tabling events draw more attention to our club on campus.
Here at OU, our vigorous and intellectually diverse executive board has a lot of great ideas being thrown around, all with a down-to-earth mindset on how to make the ideas a reality. We are grateful for the support of YAL so far and can certainly see our chapter growing and going far.