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

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!