Why libertarians are not good at organizing

I’m a passionate libertarian organizer who works for at least three liberty non-profits, and sometimes I get frustrated at how difficult it is to help libertarian movements. Part of the problem is that libertarians are highly independent and intelligent, so it’s a bit like herding cats at times. But another part of the problem is that many libertarians have an old socialist idea rattling around inside, especially when it comes to changing the world. Socialists thought that one day, a “socialist man” would evolve. That man would be completely altruistic, sacrificing his entire life doing back breaking work simply to better the world for others. Of course, now we know that this is a fairy tale. Human beings are self-interested. In general, people care more about their own lives first before they care about the lives of others. But what about libertarian movements? Plucky libertarian organizations across the world are often run by one person doing all the work and everybody else chipping in occasionally. Many libertarians wait for the world to, “wake up”, and suddenly become enlightened. Perhaps they think that a new “libertarian man” will evolve to lead everyone on the road to freedom. Many Libertarian political parties are run by an all volunteer staff, usually of one or two people carrying the brunt of the weight fueled by their passion for liberty. Granted, libertarians like voluntary action, but does that mean their organizations have to be run by an all volunteer staff? Libertarian non-profit think tanks are often run through a donation model, which also assumes that people will be altruistic enough to chip in some money. But few people ever want to pay for the cost of the staff — most people would rather have their money going towards a project instead of payroll. This leaves little …

How Land Use Restrictions Make Housing Unaffordable with Emily Hamilton

The following is an edited transcript from Economics Detective Radio, by Garrett Petersen. Listen to the full interview at economicsdetective.com.   Petersen: My guest today is Emily Hamilton. She is a researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Emily, thanks for being on Economics Detective Radio. Hamilton: Thanks a lot for having me. Petersen: So, Emily recently wrote a paper titled “How Land Use Regulation Undermines Affordable Housing” along with her co-author Sanford Ikeda. The paper is a review of many studies looking at land use restrictions and it identifies four of the most common types of land use restrictions. Those are: minimum lots sizes, minimum parking requirements, inclusionary zoning, and urban growth boundaries. So Emily, could you tell us what each of those restrictions entail? Hamilton: Sure. So, starting off with the first, minimum lots sizes. This is probably what people most commonly associate with zoning. It’s the type of Euclidian zoning that separates residential areas from businesses and then within residential areas limits the number of units that can be on any certain size of land. And this is the most common tool that makes up what is sometimes referred to as Snob Zoning, where residents lobby for larger minimum lots sizes and larger house sizes to ensure that their neighbors are people who can afford only that minimum size of housing. Petersen: So it keeps the poor away, effectively. Hamilton: Exactly. And then parking requirements are often used as a tool to ensure that street parking doesn’t get too congested. So when cars first became common, parking was really crazy where people would just leave their car on the street, maybe double parked, or in an inconvenient situation near their destination. And obviously as driving became more and more common and that was just an …

Animation – How Government Solved the Health Care Crisis

The following animation was made by Tomasz Kaye. Consider donating to his Patreon account here. Message from the author: Roderick T. Long’s essay, on which it’s based, tells a story very few know. I appreciate its challenge to the idea that government is the protector of the poor, guardian of their well-being. One of my motivations for making an animated adaptation of this narrative was that since making Edgar the Exploiter – in one respect a defence of the ‘greedy capitalist’ – I was looking forward to illustrating an example of how a historically greater measure of liberty enabled the working class to empower themselves and help one another. Roderick kindly gave his blessing to the project by email before I began in earnest. I very much hope he enjoys the result. Scroll down for a few remarks about the process of making it and what’s next. The team My biggest thanks to my patient Patrons and to the Moving Picture Institute who jointly funded the project. Working with @stephaniemurphy providing the narration (http://www.smvoice.info/) was great. We scheduled a Skype appointment for the recording day so that I could listen in remotely and give direction while she did the takes. While she was recording it became clear that there were some small problems in the script that (despite the many revisions) hadn’t been apparent before. Stephanie gave some great suggestions for fixes that made it into the final recording. Her personal knowledge about, and involvement with mutual aid was apt and helpful. Matthew Zipkin provided music and sound effects. As ever his versatility and turnaround speed were so helpful. Time tracking Checking the creation date of the script document I can see it’s been in production for about one and a half years. Though much of that duration was part-time …

Announcing the Inaugural South East Asia Students For Liberty Conference!

Having had tremendous success across the globe, Students For Liberty first dropped anchor in South East Asia in 2015. After a year of inspiring, motivating, and educating students, the time and opportunity is now here for our first South East Asia Conference. This is a huge opportunity for SFL Indonesia in the current phase of their movement. They started small (with less than three Charter Team members) and now have over 20 students working to put this conference together. Sessions aim to give attendees a deeper understanding of the ideas of liberty. They are also focused on training attendees to be more effective advocates of liberty. We have put together a distinguished roster of speakers who have, in various ways, helped advance the vision of a free and prosperous society. These role models will inspire you, influence your ideas, and potentially become your mentors moving forward. The goal of this conference is to bring students from all over South East Asia to exchange their experiences, learn the ideas of liberty and energize their leadership of the pro-liberty movement in South East Asia. This event will be a massive celebration of freedom.   Featured Speakers Tom G. Palmer Tom Palmer is the executive vice president for international programs at the Atlas Network and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and director of Cato University. He received his doctorate in politics from Oxford University. He frequently lectures in North America, Europe, Eurasia, Africa, Latin America, India, Asia, and the Middle East on political science, public choice, civil society, and the moral, legal, and historical foundations of individual rights. He has published reviews and articles on politics and morality in scholarly journals such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, as well as in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and …

Entrepreneurial Communities

Is a mall a community? Yes, argues Spencer H. MacCullum, an American anthropologist, business consultant and author. “The first, what you might call entrepreneurial community, was the hotel,” said Spencer. He gave the example of the Tremont House in Boston in the 1830s as the first modern hotel. After this came the development of apartment buildings, office buildings, industrial parks, and the first shopping centers. Spencer estimated that some shopping centers, for example in Las Vegas, Nevada, have populations greater than the population of some cities. “They are communities,” said Spencer, “If you look at a hotel, it has its streets and alleys, its corridors. The lobby is the city square and perhaps park, and so on. You have a prevision of utilities and you have a security office there that works very nicely, very quietly. If you misbehave, you may find yourself very quietly outside the hotel.” “It has a transportation system,” Spencer added, “which happens to operate vertically instead of horizontally.” According to Spencer H. MacCullum, this model may be better in many ways, because the public services are provided by the entrepreneurial interest of the property owner, as opposed to when property is subdivided and sold off. When property is subdivided and sold off, the owners do not have the experience to provide their own public services, “so they tend to form a political organization of some kind to finance through taxes and regulations and to enforce rules,” said Spencer. Watch the full interview below: Produced by New Media | UFM 2013 http://www.newmedia.ufm.edu http://www.ufm.edu

2015 Activity Report

2015 Activity Report International Society for Individual Liberty President Ken Schoolland The Asia Liberty Forum: Advancing Liberty & Markets in Asia, was attended by more than 200 members of Students for Liberty and a multitude of Asian think tanks. It was hosted by the Asia Centre for Enterprise (ACE), the Samriddhi Prosperity Foundation, the Centre for Civil Society, the Atlas Foundation for Economic Research, & the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. I presented on the topic of “Open Borders & Free trade: Migration & Trade Policies in Asia” in Kathmandu, Nepal. And I was pleased to learn of the radio production in Nepali of my book, The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey. While there, I was also invited to speak to the MBA students and faculty at several universities on “Entrepreneurship, Migration and Economic Growth”: Tribhuvan University; Ace Institute of Management; and Kings College. I was also asked to participate in a media policy forum at the Hotel Everest, presentation on “Property Rights and Economic Growth” to the Society of Economic Journalists of Nepal (SEJON). Before departing Nepal, I was able to work with Riya Basnet in preparing the publication of the Braille edition of Jonathan Gullible. Riya and Nisha Niraula have been working with Students for Liberty in using the book in local schools and in founding Women in Liberty, to help women with identity and rights for entrepreneurship. The Braille edition was publicly released at the Bali World Conference in June. Barun Mitra, Founder and President of the Liberty Institute of Delhi, introduced me to the schools of Kesroli where we distributed Hindi editions of Jonathan Gullible to both public and private schools. Ekta Sodha, featured on the cover of Education World (in red) in India, has adopted the English and Hindi editions for 5 of her …

20 Years of NAFTA: Has Trade Been Made Any Freer?

Twenty years ago today the North American Free Trade Agreement was put in to action. Ideally “the world’s largest free trade area” should be reason to celebrate——finally a large scale example of free trade in the real world!——but unfortunately there’s less to celebrate than one might hope. From the photo of the North American Free Trade Agreement binder one can see that it was not a simple deal. Thousands of pages and sections by battling lawyers filled this tome spelling out all the details and conditions of controlled trade opening. Each paragraph, sentence, and word was worth thousands, if not millions, of dollars of lobbying to shape this agreement. Time and again libertarians need to stress that free trade is something to be declared, not negotiated. Hong Kong derived success by simply declaring unilateral free trade. It didn’t matter whether other nations reciprocated or not. Consider Frederic Bastiat’s great scenario, the city downstream versus the city upstream. If one way trade barriers were some kind of advantage, then cities upstream and on mountaintops would have prospered and the nations downstream nearest the ocean would have languished because of all that “easy access.” The reality of life is just the opposite. The natural flow of a river gives ease of commerce for those downstream and “protective” obstacles upstream and on mountaintops that cripple their enterprise. Nations of the world would be better off by declaring unilateral free trade, but the powerful special interest lobbies of politicians stand in the way. NAFTA was filled with these obstacles, as boulders on the road, but one has to conclude that the trend of gradual reduction of barriers has been in the direction of more openness. This has been much to the benefit and general prosperity of the people of North America.

A Peek Inside China

  A Peek Inside China by Louis James   Seahorses in my soup . . . I didn’t have the heart to eat them.      Yes, they do eat bugs in China – and just about everything else that grows and is not poisonous. The story there was that, as a guest of honor at one of Majestic’s small gold mines in Shandong province, I was served up a platter of stir-fried silkworms.      This delicacy is very expensive, as for some reason, the silkworms won’t give you silk for making robes and stuff with after you eat them. There was seaweed on the table behind the Silkworms. Never my favorite, I ate a lot of seaweed that day. I don’t even want to know what was in that last dumpling, but it sure wasn’t pork, as I was told.      I managed to pass on (I kid you not) a platter of fried caterpillars by claiming I was full and putting down my chopsticks. Unfortunately, I did fish a rooster head out of a pot of soup, and was told it’s not polite to put something back after you grab it, so it sat on my little crumb-catching plate and stared at me accusingly for the rest of the meal. You’ve already heard about the fancy restaurant in Beijing where I managed to scandalize folks by passing over a $100 bowl of shark-fin soup. Unfortunately they set a bowl full of dead seahorses in front of me before I could refuse – not chopped up, but whole and sad-looking. I didn’t have the heart to eat them.      Among many other strange things I cannot identify, I’ve now eaten ox stomach, duck intestines, and some sort of alcoholic beverage the making of which involved animal guts (I stopped asking when the description got …