Competition is one of the central tenets of our philosophy. As Ludwig von Mises put it, "Competitors aim at excellence and preeminence in accomplishments within a system of mutual cooperation."
That is why with every YAL national activism project, we include an incentive for chapters to compete. For April All-Out Activism, that incentive was:
First Prize: $500
Second Prize: $350
Third Prize: $200
Here are the criteria that we consider when selecting winners:
Most new recruits to join your chapter and the national organization
Best recruitment table/display
Best informational or first meeting
Most creative and effective ways to get out information
Of course, since we can't be there for each and every activism event on campus, your documentation of your event (blog post, pictures, video) plays a huge role in our ability to determine if your chapter is deserving of a prize. You will never win an activism event without good documentation!
So who are the winners of the April All-Out Activism Contest? Drum roll, please...
Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Chicago helped our fellow students see the impact of the Federal Government’s spending addiction with a Visualize the Debt display. Throughout the day on Tuesday, YAL members tabled, explaining both the danger of the national debt and how the cause is spending and not insufficient tax revenue. In addition to talking to students, YAL handed out copies of both the Constitution and Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. As you know, the Constitution is YAL’s "special interest," and Economics in One Lesson is one of the most thorough yet easy to understand treatises on economics. If we followed the lessons of those two books, the National Debt would not be over 100% of GDP.
At the end of the day, the banner with the National Debt and the Total Debt per Taxpayer was taken to the Reynolds Club, the student union at the University of Chicago. There, it was hung up and I declared that the banner will remain hanging until the national debt is eliminated. This will serve as a reminder to students of the consequences of run away spending as they prepare themselves to enter the real world and become taxpayers.
On a bright Thursday morning in April we, the Georgia Southern chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, set out to educate our fellow college students on just how much they DON'T know about their government.
While most students got the pop culture questions right without hesitation, many balked when asked to name three rights protected by the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. They were surprised to learn that the U.S. has troops stationed in 148 countries, and shocked that the country is in multiple trillions of dollars of debt. While we were happy to inform them on multiple subjects, one thing they learned for certain: the price is too high...for big government!!!
On a beautiful day in April, the University of Delaware Young Americans for liberty put on an all out Freedom Fest! With eye catching displays including a giant debt clock, a mock TSA scanner and a fake Guantanamo Bay prisoner, interested students debated their views and were educated on the ideas of liberty for the better part of four hours!
Georgia Tech YAL experienced its busiest month in April. On top of bringing Lawrence Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education, we also did some chalking to raise awareness about the debt. All of this was somehow balanced within the three most mentally racking weeks at Georgia Tech: Hell Week, Dead Week, and of course, finals, which we just finished last week. Considering that most people at Tech hid in the cubicles in the library for the majority of April, we still had a great end to our first semester as a YAL chapter.
Lawrence Reed gave a wonderful lecture on the Great Myths of the Great Depression. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the Great Depression was not caused by free-market capitalism, nor was it solved by government intervention. Mr. Reed eloquently debunked the conventional view and traced the central role that poor government policy, including the inflationary policies of the Fed, tariffs, high taxes, and government programs, played in prolonging this depression for over 12 years.
We also passed out our own custom-made “Join GT YAL” fliers, which include a “violated” Bill of Rights, as well as copies of Reed’s essay version of his lecture. You can download and read the PDF version of his essay here. Or you can watch the video here.
Visualize the Debt is a really fun event and this time was our second year doing it. The fun starts when you go to Home Depot to buy all the materials, and it continues as you spend time with your friends making the sign. The most fun is during the actual event, because you get the opportunity to raise awareness to your fellow students and engage in various discussions.
I already know that us YALers are pretty aware about the dangers of our exploding national debt so I'm not going to take this blog in that direction. Instead, I want to share with you guys a couple of ideas to make this event easy and effective.
First, I would like to share with you guys our method of making the giant sign. I have seen many other pictures from other chapter's signs, and while they look good and get the point across, there is an easier way to do it. I would definitely avoid ply wood. It is heavy and you have to waste a lot of time painting it white before you even paint the numbers on it.
One thing we learned about Madison residents is that they know their pop culture. Who Justin Bieber is dating and the characters of Jersey Shore are common knowledge to the young crowd we approached on Library Mall in downtown Madison. While many people were able to name off these celebrities with ease, they weren't so quick to answer questions like, "When was the Federal Reserve founded?", "What is the national debt?", and "What is the national budget deficit?"
The responses we got were often way off target, but the game show theme gave us a chance to share the message of liberty and fiscal responsibility in an interactive way. We engaged dozens of students and even some tour groups of potential incoming freshman. All in all we opened a lot of eyes to the growing problem that is our debt and the big government policies that cause it.
The greedy 4.0ers on our campus are hogging up all of the GPA. While they advance to prestigious universities, the students with lower GPAs are not offered the same opportunities. Wouldn’t it be fair, in the name of justice and equality, to level the playing field and increase the GPAs of lower ranking students by providing them with the GPA points of the greedy upper class of students?
That's the sort of satirical argument Diablo Valley College YAL made at our recent "Occupy the Honor Roll" activism event. In all honesty, making the strong weaker does not make the weak stronger. And making the rich poorer does not make the poor richer. Margaret Thatcher famously declared that those who favor income redistribution “would rather have the poor poorer, provided that the rich were less rich" -- and we as Young Americans for Liberty believe in equal opportunity and fairness through free markets, which we know will promote equality and increase the standard of living for the poorest sectors of a population.
On April 18, DVC YAL collected a couple of pages worth of petition signatures and student contact information to support GPA Redistribution, causing a stir on campus among the many statist students. A lot of students thought we were serious and not only signed our petition but also emailed us with support for this “movement.” Some students were looking forward to an increase in GPA. One student emailed us and declared that this could “improve the economy” by creating more opportunities for those students with disadvantaged GPAs to attend institutions of higher education. As we'd sarcastically claimed, maybe all that is wrong with our economy is GPA inequality, with the gap between the 4.0ers and the 89%ers constantly increasing?
Young Americans for Liberty at Arkansas State University made our first appearance on campus with a bang! reYALity Check: The Price Is Wrong for Big Government was the first full event after our interest meeting for the newly formed chapter. After becoming an Official Chapter March 23 of this year, we were encouraged to do at least one event before the end of the year and apply for the activism grant. The interest meeting had a lower than expected turnout (seeing how it is the end of the year) but with a few dedicated students, we pushed on. With the $100 Activism grant we bought: an easel, 3 white dry erase boards, a pack of dry erase marker, foam poster boards, and 60 bars of candy.
We secured a table in front of our cafeteria and set up for The Price Is Wrong. As the first show was going on, students passing by were wondering what was going on and were interested in participating to win some candy too. Little did they know, it was a learning experience for all of us.
In the end, we had around 21 people participate. A couple of ROTC students were my favorite contestants. They successfully answered 5 of the 6 pop culture questions, but when it came down to “how many countries do we have troop stationed in?” they were stumped. One of the contestants answered “most places,” the closest answer all day! This summed up the purpose of The Price is Wrong; we are more aware of pop culture, than politics. This must be changed!
The event ended with success, we passed out many palm cards and had the opportunity to give the student body a taste of what Young Americans for Liberty is all about. I would say this is a great beginning and a successful first event for Young Americans for Liberty at Arkansas State.
A few active members in our chapter were so excited about how well The Price Is Wrong event went, that they decided to give the student body one more chance this semester to experience us with Operation Politically Homeless.