Monday, May 23, 2011

Caramel Anarchiato

Summer doesn't mean that liberty has to go on hold!
So, I'm sure if you're reading this you already have plans for the summer pretty set up. And if not, at least  you've already been ambushed repeatedly by opportunities to continue fighting for liberty throughout the summer (IHS seminars, Freedom Fest, PorcFest, SFL Symposium, Webinars to mention a few). But regardless of whether you're doing anything official or not, I hope you're making the fight for liberty part of your summer. I know I'll be catching up on lots of reading and hopefully finding time to post here and on my personal blog. I'll also be slipping the customers at the Ballston Metro Starbucks a "Caramel Anarchiato" every once in awhile. As you've probably noticed, this post has no real point. Just wanted to say "keep fighting the good fight." And if you want to get involved with more liberty-themed fun over the summer don't hesitate to contact other SFL people and ask what they're up to. I know I'll be bugging people whenever I get a free moment. Hope you're all having a great summer so far. Oh and also this:

Not that I'm suggesting you do illegal things...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thursday Thinker: Sir Antony Fisher


Each Thursday the AUSFL Blog will post a new short summary of an important figure in liberty, focusing on ones applicable to students at AU. For the final installment of the year: Sir Antony Fisher



Bio
Sir Antony Fisher was a true jack of all trades. In his youth he became an RAF fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain, learning first-hand what terrible governments can unleash on the world.  After the war, seeing the pro-socialist path Britain had chosen he became acquainted with F.A. Hayek, and that started him on a path that would lead to his later work. He became an entrepreneur, and then used his accrued wealth to found the Institute for Economic Affairs, one of Britain’s most important think tanks. He helped advise a number of think tanks, and to aid this created the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. And to top it all off he got knighted.

So why should you care?
Simply put, if Palmer is the modern face of the international liberty movement, Fisher was its forefather. Without Antony Fisher the international liberty think tank movement would be years behind, if not non-existent. I’d argue that no single person has done more to advance liberty than him, and many people’s lives would either be much worse or not exist had he not devoted so much time and money to the cause. Here’s hoping that one of you is the next Antony Fisher.

If you read only one thing…
Check out the IEA paper "Waging the War of Ideas" by John Blundell, or check out his profile on the Atlas website (http://atlasnetwork.org/blog/2010/01/founders-story/) for the full story. While you’re there, look at how far it’s come by checking out the directory (http://atlasnetwork.org/global-network-directory/) of think tanks across the world.

Extra Credit
Because I didn’t have a chance to do a profile on him, take a look at the work of Manuel Ayau, whom Fisher would have had great pride for. This article describes him well.

Next week:
Summer, where you’ll hopefully be applying to one of the many conferences and activities posted on the Students For Liberty website!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sequel to Hayek vs Keynes Rap!

Thought the Hayek vs Keynes rap was awesome? The sequel is going to blow your mind! 

Haven't seen the first one? Fix that! 
 
The "Fight of the Century" delves deeply into the economic theories of Keynes and Hayek. The catchy song explains Hayek’s knowledge-based argument against central planning and cuts Keynesian arguments down with sound and easy-to-understand logic.

After you're done geeking out over this and memorizing the lyrics, remember to share with your friends! Hayek said the second-hand dealers of ideas change public opinion, and boy do we have a long way to go when it comes to changing public opinion against Keynesian ideas and for the ideas of liberty!

PS: listen through the credit roll to hear a shout out out to Malthus & Mises! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday Thinker: Frederic Bastiat

Each Thursday the AUSFL Blog will post a new short summary of an important figure in liberty, focusing on ones applicable to students at AU. Next up, Frederic Bastiat:

 Don't let the stuffy cravat fool you, Bastiat was the original snarky economist



Bio
Frederic Bastiat was a French classical liberal economist, writer, and thinker. His greatest work is titled What is Seen and What is Not Seen. That book was one of the first real origins of the idea of unintended consequences. 

So why should you care?
He popularized the fallacy of the broken broken window fallacy and is one of the liberty movement’s great forefathers.  Bastiat’s pieces like The Negative Railroad and the Candlemaker’s Petition are great works of satire, especially thinking that he was writing entirely before 1850. The idea of making change through satire and popular analogies can be seen to this day, and can be traced as far back as his writing.

On untended consequences, the idea is one of the most important concepts of economic thought, and was further expanded by Henry Hazlitt in Economics in One Lesson. On top of that, it’s highly applicable to the poli sci, IR, or  other social science field you’re probably studying. For poli sci, you have to look at whether a law will do more than what it is intended once enacted. In IR, and especially development, it’s important to make sure what you’re doing isn’t hurting those you’re trying to help.

If you read only one thing…
The Economics of Freedom: What Your Professor Won't Tell You, produced by Students For Liberty and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. It’s a great collection of his most important writings, condensed into a convenient book. Can't wait for the book? Check out free, easy to read, and online version of The Bastiat Collection

Extra Credit
For some definite laughs, write a satirical op-ed in the same vain as he did and submit it to a newspaper. It’s a fun way to spread the ideas of good economic thinking. 

Next week
Tom Palmer

It's 4/20! This means....Free Pot Brownies from AUSFL!

Ayn Rand once stated that she hated libertarians because of they were simply "hippies of the right". Well Ayn, you may have been a literary genius but I take your jab as a compliment! Lovers of liberty without hyphens, the real libertarians, support legalization of marijuana based purely on principle, no matter what their personal desire to partake in reefer madness may be. The best litmus test for grading any policy is the simple "You can swing your fist as long as it does not hit my nose" mantra, and smoking marijuana most certainly clings to the non harm principle. Weed is not only safer than alcohol, but the failed Drug War has created a terrible black market that has resulted in countless lives ruined and many lives lost ( for the law enforcement officers, civilians caught in crossfire, and those tangled with the drug cartels). If the simple principle argument does not appeal to you, consider this: legalizing marijuana and taxing it would yield $14 billion every year, the drug cartels would lose a significant amount of power, law enforcement would get to go back and concentrate on the job they are actually supposed to do--protecting people who are unjustly harmed by other people, and children would not have easy access to it as they do now.

But that was a tangent. Check out what AUSFL did for 4/20:

Treasurer of AUSFL, tabled in MGC for 3 hours, giving away Pot Brownies to students walking by:
Pre packaged Little Debbie brownies in pots...."pot brownies," get it???

In the back of each brownie was a super awesome fact about why the drug war is failing and why marijuana should be legalized. We only stated facts and statistics pulled from official studies, such as the one done by Harvard's Jeffrey Miron.

If you would like to learn more, check out the following short and awesome videos:

Who actually benefits from the Drug War?
What do former Law Enforcement officers who were in the front lines of the Drug War have to say?
The real reason why pot is still illegal: corporatism & rent seeking sucks.



Hope you enjoyed your 4/20! And remember: no matter what your personal decision is about marijuana, you can always stand behind it by teleological principles and deontological reasons!

Freedom Fair: Do AU Students Care About Free Speech & Individual Rights?

Yesterday, AU Students for Liberty hosted Freedom Fair, a large outdoor event created to get students to examine their opinions and feelings about individual rights & free speech. Of course, they were incentivized by cotton candy, snow cones, and a moon bounce! A 14 foot free speech wall, a water balloon tossing game called "Douse the Douchy Dictator," and a giant Nolan Chart tracking the results of students taking the World's Smallest Political Quiz were the main attractions. AUSFL co-sponsored the event with seven other organizations on campus and AU Student Government, Community Service Coalition, Queers & Allies, and Military Affairs also showed up to table. Despite pouring rain for the first hour, the event turned out to be a great success. We ran out of cotton candy, got to hear lots of opinions from students we generally don't hear from, and read lots of interesting things on the Free Speech Wall. But don't take my word for it, check out this short video!


Also, a few stills:


 World's Smallest Political Quiz cards were supplied for free by the Advocates for Self Government, who give free Operation Politically Homeless kits to college organizations. The giant and incredibly well made Nolan Chart to track all the results were lent to us by the awesome people at Young American for Liberty.

 Professor Dan Lin prioritizes his anger with Mao's destructive policies over being on time for his class.
 "Douse the Douchy Dictator": Because throwing water balloons at douchy dictators is satisfying
 And nothing says liberty like a moon bounce
 ...and Cotton Candy
 Ok, the cotton candy is a big incentive. Note: get more pink sugar for next year.

 Our wonderful Free Speech wall! Check out the "Destroy Capitalism", "Ron Paul Will Never Win a Primary, Give it up it's PATHETIC," and "Freedom to be a Marxist" quotes. The beauty of liberty lies in the fact that it is a philosophy that leaves room for all dissenting opinions and philosophies in society, even the ones we disagree with! But it is rather sad when people think libertarianism is all about Ron Paul :(


 And Paul!

 And Marcelo!
 And Christian (I promise he was smiling for most of the event)
And Barrett, who was an awesome trooper about administering the quiz
And Emily, who brought tons of friends!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Deadline for getting AUSFL Tee Shirt!

Please turn in your money for our club shirts asap. 

If you can't make it to the meeting tonight in Ward 102 at 8 pm, contact Emily at es6192a@student.american.edu to arrange another time.

Meeting Tonight!

Join us in the Ward Lobby at 7:30 pm help plan Freedom Fair.
Join us in Ward 102 at 8 pm to discuss your views on private philanthropy and redistributive policies!

AUSFL National Debt Sign is up!

Have you seen the AUSFL National Debt Sign on the Quad? 
Swing by in front of the library and check out our 48 foot long masterpiece! 
It will stay up between now and Friday, April 15th. 
Does the National Debt Figure matter? Is it merely a symbol of out of control big government spending or will elderly people suffer when they can no longer rely on their retirement savings that are backed by the US treasury?



Advertise our meeting to your friends!
This sign took 6 hours to make (Major Hat tip to Michael Marsocci, Alexander Zeymo, Alex McHugh, Paul Bencivenga, and Karina Zannat for making it. A big thank you to Clark Ruper, AUSFL Alums Kyle Hartz & Ian Hosking for letting us use their backyard).

It also took almost 2 hours to set up. Thank you Alexander Zeymo, Alex McHugh, Emily Schofield, Daniel Sanbeg, and Karina Zannat for working on the set up from 11 pm to 1 am on a Monday night! 

***We could really use your help breaking it down on Friday afternoon, please email austudentsforliberty@gmail.com to volunteer***

Monday, April 11, 2011

Exploitation!


(Click here for bigger version)

So, I see this poster every day when I leave my room. I got kind of angry at it, and took out my anger by making a "counter-poster." Considering posting it next to the original, thoughts?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Liberty Music?

So, one of the things being put together for Freedom Fair right now is a "Liberty Playlist" that will be playing for most of the two hours between 12-2pm that we can blast music. We will be blasting it. Some feedback would be great because we want to have all different kinds of music and we want it to mean something to you, the AU students who care about liberty. So far I've come up with a few things that really hit a chord for me. For example, the Qemists' "Renegade" I like a lot. But I know not everyone is into Dubstep. So, what makes you feel free? What do you want to hear blasted across the quad? Answer in the comments and let us know what songs you think best express our "freedoms to!"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

AUSFL Response to AU Elections: Free and Fair?

On March 21, 2011 the South Asia Student Association (SASA) issued an apology to candidate for secretary Eric Reath. Earlier that week, SASA had made formal endorsements to candidates running for student government that the club had decided would serve the best interests of SASA. There was a complaint filed that SASA did not follow the proper course of action to endorse SG candidates and the Board of Elections decided to revoke SASA’s ability to be a part of this year’s elections.
What exactly did SASA do according to the Board of Elections? In order to endorse candidates for SG, there is a regulation that any club who wishes to voice their opinion on the school political process must take the responsibility of reaching out to every single candidate on the ballot. SASA President Ritanch Hans mistakenly missed a candidate in their email, and were therefore revoked of voicing a formal opinion in SG politics. As the SASA executive board pointed out in their apology: “when you have to copy and paste fifty emails you accidentally miss one, it happens.”

The Board of Elections procedure for endorsement is absolutely nonsensical. The very idea that a student club or organization does not have the right to freely express their opinion without oversight is blatantly unfair censorship. If a student club wishes to endorse a candidate, they should be able to do so without the burden of reaching out to every candidate. Compare this to endorsements in real elections where any group is able to endorse whomever they choose regardless of whether they reach out to other candidates. Why does an organization need to reach out to a candidate they know they will not support? This is a waste of everyone’s time. More importantly Board of Elections shouldn't have the power to say what is fair and unfair speech. The assumption is that this rule was created to make candidates feel better about themselves. However, it is the responsibility of the candidates to reach out to the student clubs and organizations to garner support, that’s what campaigning is.

But the infringements on free speech don’t stop there. You will remember that candidate Jessica Darmawan was sanctioned for sending out emails (remember that thing called campaigning that candidates are supposed to do?) without going through the Election Board’s regulated process. This is an even more blatant abuse of free speech. Pre-publication censorship (what this process amounts to) allows the Election Board to control who candidates reach out to and even what their campaign materials say. I ask you, how is this a fair process for candidates? The idea behind it is to give every candidate equal chances. But this is ridiculous, because it assumes candidates don’t have equal ability to draft up and email and send it to the organizations they’d like to be endorsed by. Personally I think anyone running for an SG position can handle drafting an email without the Board of Elections babysitting them. This sort of over- egulation not only dampens political participation, it makes a mockery of AU. If we want to claim fair and open elections, let’s have fair and open elections. It’s time for AU’s election regulations to change and in order for that to happen students need to speak out about the abuses of this system. If you’re interested in making this opinion heard, Elections Board meetings are Sundays at 12:30 in MGC 262 and open to the public. You can also contact them on the AUSG website.

-Co-authored by Marketeer. This was also submitted to the Eagle as an op-ed, so look out for it there!

The DC Two-Step


Now, I’m not one to get easily concerned and I generally think people can handle themselves and should be left to their own devices. However, there is an epidemic of truly rash behavior sweeping through Washington that last week nearly took the life of at least three of my friends. For an action that is seen by many as commonplace and of little concern, I think this an issue we should be paying a lot more attention to. But probably not for the reasons you’d think.

Jaywalking is one of those societal ills that just won’t go away. Like a stubborn case of the sniffles, it’s mildly annoying at worst but still awful because no matter how much Nyquil you chug you just can’t get rid of it. Legislators have tried lots of tricks to get rid of jaywalking: from fines, to pretty little crosswalk designs that they hope will entice you to stay in the lines. Here in DC we have an especially good collection of gimmicky walk signals created to catch your attention and keep you on the sidewalk. For instance, the Mass Ave walk signal that sounds like a fighter pilot relaying commands: Walk sign is on to cross, walk sign is on to cross. Roger, roger, Mass Ave walk signal, you’re coming in loud and clear. Or at least you would be if I wasn’t halfway across campus by the time you’re ridiculously loud speakers reached me. You see, like many of the things we would like to discourage, jaywalking is one of those things that will still continue to happen as long as you have streets. What bothers me most about jay-walking is not that everyone does it or even that it’s technically pretty dangerous. What bothers me most is that the people I see most doing it are those most involved in making laws against it. This is one thing I learned from working near Capitol Hill. I think it must be a matter of pride for legislators and their aides to see who can most boldly and nonchalantly place themselves in front of honking, speeding cars. I have actually been audibly scoffed at for waiting for a crosswalk signal. But there is more to the issue than the obvious problem of trying to legislate something so ubiquitous out of existence.

So what’s my problem? Of course I think they should be allowed to risk their lives like this since they obviously find it to be a very worthwhile sport. My problem is that the politically powerful tend to be insulated from the laws they pass to deal with problems like this. You will never see a legislator get a jaywalking ticket. I have, however, seen friends of mine get jay-walking tickets simply because the police in quiet suburbs tend to be very bored. A number of the laws our legislators make do not influence them directly. This is sometimes because they are literally seen differently in the eyes of our laws. For example, many workplace laws do not apply to congressmen’s offices and staff, allowing them to reap the benefits of cheaper labor that they deny to businesses on grounds of ethicality. Another big shocker for most people is the fact that congressmen don’t always have to abide by insider-trading laws that exist for the average citizen. And most think corruption on this scale is something that only happens in faraway countries with hard to pronounce names. ($5 if you can guess which country this flag represents without looking it up.Click for the answer.)

Other times it is because they are treated differently by law enforcement officials. Ex-Federal Marshall Matthew Fogg spoke at AU a while ago about the harmful effect the drug war has had on America. One of the major things that he stressed was the practice within law enforcement, especially in drug policy, of intentionally going after lower-level dealers and poor users who could not retaliate or sue. He recalled asking his superiors why they don’t go after the wealthy kingpins and politically powerful known drug users. But this makes things messy for law enforcement, and so the politically powerful get away with more. Legislators tend to live outside the realm of reality in a lot of ways and I think it goes without saying that when lawmakers are this far removed from the impacts of the laws they pass, we should really consider whether they are good judges of what policy works and how it affects the average citizen. So, while I support the congressman’s right to jaywalk (and take drugs, and play extremely dangerous sports, and eat twelve Big Macs a day if he so pleases) I just wish he would stop making it impossible for me to share in the sport he so adores.


-Reposted from my personal blog at http://kierkegaurd.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thursday Thinker: F.A. Hayek

Each Thursday the AUSFL Blog will post a new short summary of an important figure in liberty, focusing on ones applicable to students at AU. First, F. A. Hayek. Thanks to AU junior Nick Zaiac, who is currently studying abroad in the London School of Economics and working as a Students for Liberty Campus Coordinator in the UK!

Who ?

Friedrich August von Hayek was an economist from Vienna and one of the forefathers of the Austrian School of economics. As a student, he studied under Austrian School forefathers Carl Menger and Friedrich von Wieser, and was later worked with Ludwig von Mises. He worked at the London School of Economics from 1931 to 1950, before working at the University of Chicago for the next 12 years. He won the Nobel Prize in 1974, and wrote a best-selling book, The Road to Serfdom. He did other important work on how prices reflect societal knowledge and also explained the idea of “spontaneous order”. He also wrote on business cycles and how the boom and bust arise. On top of all of this, his work was written in a lighter tone, meaning it was much easier for a general audience to understand than most economics books.

So why should you care?

Hayek’s ideas matter today. The current bust of the economy can in part be explained by his theories of the business cycle. His ideas about knowledge are an important way to understand the impact of regulations on the economy. The concept of spontaneous order can be used to explain how institutions emerge without the help of government.

If you read only one thing…

The Road to Serfdom is an excellent book and aimed at a more popular audience than most books on economics. It’s definitely worthwhile.

Extra Credit

To understand some of the differences between Hayekian and Keynesian theory check out this music video by Russ Roberts and John Papola. 

Next week: William Easterly

Sunday, March 20, 2011

False Dichotomies and the Other Extreme


After spending some time in Istanbul this spring break I think I started to understand a little better one of the major problems with the attempts to spread liberty here, as well as throughout what I will vaguely call Europe and a good part of the world. The political scene here is set up in an incredibly unique way. You don’t have “liberal” and “conservative” as I’m used to. Rather, you have the incredibly statist but very modern/secular CHP party (this is the one that follows the legacy of the Kemalists and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk) and the traditionally conservative and more religious but currently liberalizing opposition party: the AK Partei. This group identifies more with the hinterland and the more conservative religious population there. Finally, you have a loose network of the academics and subversives who tend to be from what I’ve seen unremittingly socialist. This is the group that takes the stronger stance against the CHP. My experience with all of this is quite fleeting, and of the three groups I only really got to talk to socialists. One of my professor’s friends we met is a socialist and an academic in Turkey. We met him at the Baklahorani festival, which is the Greek-Orthodox version of Mardi Gras or Carnival. He’d come out to support the stand the Greek community here was taking for the first time in about 70 years against the anti-minority policies of the Kemalists and their descendants throughout the past hundred years. He spoke harrowingly of his family’s own experience at the hands of the earlier Kemalists during massacres against Circassians. This history had influenced his decision to stand with the socialist opposition. The second socialist I got the opportunity to talk with briefly about politics (this wasn’t exactly something we were supposed to talk about because of the tensions still present) was a Greek-American writer for Time Out Istanbul who is working and living in the city. She is writing a novel about the anti-Greek pogroms that occurred in Turkey and identifies as most of the Greek community she works with does, as a socialist with a strong pro-feminist stand.

Graffiti was super-prevalent as well, a lot of it was political. I have no idea if this was?
        Both the CHP and the conservative opposition pose huge problems for these groups for reasons that I think are readily apparent. Joost Lagendijk, a senior analyst for the EU seemed to think so too. He gave us a lecture on Turkey’s attempt to join the EU and in his view the pro-business, bourgeois AKP supporters had stopped progress toward EU membership by abandoning some of the women’s’-rights and GLBT reforms that the EU demands of its member states. They have dropped some of these important reforms and can truly and accurately be called a conservative movement in this sense despite giving concessions recently (these are mostly thought to be a tool to avoid opposition from those who would call them pro-theocracy). It is interesting to note that this seems to be assumption among a good amount of students as well. We sat in on a lecture at Istanbul’s Bilgi University and everyone seemed to be on the same page as far as the connection here as well as that between imperialism and capitalism. I found it kind of strange that this was accepted as a given, that the two go hand in hand and aren’t much different. This Marxist assumption went over quite well with a good number of the students from American University I was with (big surprise there) but I saw a few problems with this framework.

The professor giving the lecture had asked us to try and see what the difference was between European funding of US railroads and European (and American) funding of railroads during the Ottoman empire. During the Ottoman Empire this is largely seen as an Imperialist ploy to gain control of the region, including the vast oil fields rapidly becoming important in the south of the empire. His goal, it seemed, was simply to point out that not all investment, even that commonly accepted as imperialism, was necessarily imperialism. He wanted his students to look at what they are taught to see as imperialism very closely and critique whether this actually is imperialism or not. This seemed like part of the general higher educational goal now developing that seeks to undermine the Kemalists arguments for “Turkification” which includes anti-minority rhetoric and the like. However, one of my colleagues from AU seems to have mis-interpreted the question (or perhaps he simply took advantage of the opening to say something he wanted to say) and said that it was imperialism in the US as well because of the role the railroads played in keeping the native Americans down. He then went on to talk about the imperialist “robber-barons” of the railroad development era in American history and how the US government was so wonderful for stopping these robber barons and nationalizing the railroads. The other students in the class seemed to be in quite easy agreement with this analysis, and drew parallels to the use of railroads to abuse the poor and minorities in Turkey as well. The class turned pretty much into a bashing session of capitalism in general and its big brother –imperialism.

Personally I don’t see the building of railroads as such a terrible thing. I think the professor had a good point initially that maybe this wasn’t truly imperialism; indeed it helped the Ottomans immensely at the time and was chosen because it was seen as beneficial to them. I see investment in things like railroads, or any technology and innovation for that matter, as a beneficial process, creating wealth and aiding economic growth. I see the problem very differently from my colleague. Rather than being an issue of big business abusing the little guy, foreign investments only truly become imperialist when the governments of the imperialists get involved. Investment to railroads is no problem unless the government of an imperialist incentivizes those railroads in order to use them for an ulterior motive. The British incentivized railroad building in the Ottoman Empire in hopes of commandeering some railroad use in order to pump oil away from Mosul. The US government sold huge swathes of land far under price to railroad companies to force the railroads into areas that needed to be “settled.” It should be duly noted that removal of native populations was a government policy at the time, and the railroads were used as a tool of the state to force native populations of their land. Even in Turkey the use of railroads to aid the government in mass deportations of Kurds (brought up during the class) did not spring up simply because the railroads existed, but because the government demanded free use of them and used them as a tool for this policy. This is the key to the question initially asked: German investment to US railroad companies was not imperialist precisely because the German government wasn’t involved. German companies invested hoping to gain profits and did, helping the development of US rail in the process. What made this different from the Ottoman example was the lack of an imperialist government pushing behind the investment, waiting to scoop up whatever resources could be found. But rather than recognizing capitalism as a solution to the problems of imperialism it is commonly accepted as being beholden to the same interests. The only solution considered to imperialism as well as authoritarianism is socialism, and that is what makes the spread of liberty so difficult.

This limited view of possibilities causes the role of the government to be seen as a two-sided issue not only here, but from what I have heard and seen, throughout Europe (if I can say one thing with some confidence now it is that Turkey, or at least Istanbul has quite a legitimate claim to EU status, the place seemed incredibly European to me). The assumption is that the state either actively represses or actively tries to promote society. The idea of a passive state is just something completely off the radar. Just like we deal with the issue of left and right here in the US, the false dichotomies of politics limit how receptive people are to the message of liberty worldwide. Some of the glimmers of liberty that I did see here were the protests that seemed very common and prevalent. The willingness of a people to stand up for things that matter to them and express themselves is an important foundation for liberty and I greatly respect the people there for being willing to stand up for things and risk retaliation, if only more Americans had that kind of courage.

            That said, the oppression that still exists there was not incredibly apparent in the streets and the city was comfortable to live in without feeling like you were under too much surveillance. The one thing that I did see was that the police were everywhere. And while I never really witnessed them doing much, the potential for them to act quickly and decisively was readily apparent. Their presence was almost definitely felt. The only truly creepy statist thing I saw, as the Bank Museum. A museum (shrine?) to the Kemalists’ “Iş” Bank the building was very clean and well organized, however, unlike any other museum we’d seen, it was empty. Looking through the exhibits and garnering what I could from the Turkish info plaques the bank was mostly seen as a wonderful and amazing modern feat. This is, notably, the same state bank whose policies were partially responsible for the hyperinflation and the rapid devaluing experienced by the Turkish lira earlier in the century. The creepiest part of all was the running of old bank advertisements which had the eerie air of delusion about them. You know the feeling, when an ad cheerily tells you that everything is just fine and beautiful while the world crashes and burns around you. Kind of like the feel of the old 1950s stuff that studs the landscape of Fallout. (They go for a different feeling now). Later that day I felt better when I found a copy of Atlas Shrugged in Turkish as the book bazaar. I considered buying it, but figured it would do much more good by staying there than coming back to the US with me (not that we don’t have work to do here too). All said the problem of 2-sided politics is just as prevalent outside the US as it is here; it’s just that the sides are different. I for one am fed up with Libertarianism getting lumped in the middle as a sort of “moderate” standpoint, because it really isn’t. As a friend of mine once put it, “you don’t want compromise; you just want the third extreme.” Yes, as a matter of fact, that third extreme is the one for me.
A glimmer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Get Excited About: Thursday Thinker Series

For the rest of the Spring semester, Nick Zaiac will be doing a blog post every Thursday. He will focus on a libertarian political theorist, economist, or philosopher and give you a general run down of what this particular thinker focused on and why their thoughts are relevant to our modern society. The objective is to introduce you to libertarian thinkers you may not be familiar with. After all, it doesn't stop at Hayek or Bastiat! 

Nick Zaiac was a co-founder of AU Students for Liberty in 2008 and is currently studying abroad in England at the London School of Economics.  He is also a campus coordinator for Students for Liberty and serves as a liaison between SFL and liberty groups on UK campuses.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How AUSFL is blowing your mind

If you are interested in getting more involved in organizing an event or have questions, please email austudentsforliberty@gmail.com. We are always looking for your ideas and help!

Ongoing Events

Every Tuesday
AUSFL Tables on the first floor of MGC 11 am - 2 pm
AUSFL Weekly Meetings 8 pm, Ward 102

Every Wednesday:
AUSFL hosts weekly speaker 7 pm (locations vary, check Facebook event page)
We are hosting speakers on a wide range of topics, spanning from public choice theory to immigration to foreign aid to student speech codes

Every Friday
AUSFL hosts a movie night 8 pm  -10 pm

Events

March 22 
Speaker: Isaac Morehouse of IHS
"Can you Change the Government by Working Within?" 
7 pm
Ward 2

March 23
Speaker: Nigel Ashford
"What kind of a Libertarian are you?"
7 pm
MGC 245

March 30
Speaker: Bryan Caplan
"Immigration & Border Control"
7 pm
EQB Lounge

April 6
Speaker: Ian Vasquez
"Does Foreign Aid Hurt Developing Countries?"
7 pm
Ward 1

April 13
Speaker: Adam Kissel
"Student Speech Codes: Why does AU have a red light rating from FIRE?"
7 pm
EQB Lounge

April 15 (Friday)
Special Tabling Event on the Quad
Tax Day Protest
Objective: talk to students about why taxation can be a drain on the economy
11 am - 2 pm
Why you should attend: 
We aim to smash giant watermelons with various ridiculous/harmful taxes written on them

April 19th 
Freedom Fair
[tentative, plans in progress]
All Day on the Quad
Objective: get as many student organizations as possible to come out and celebrate various individual rights
We aim to have student bands play live!

April 20
Special Tabling Event
"End the Drug War"
Objective: explain to students why the drug war is really ineffective and harmful
11 am - 2 pm
Why you should attend: we will sell "pot brownies," or brownies out of a plant pot