Our experience at “The Best Liberty Show on Earth!”

Ruwart Minimum Wage

Mark Skousen’s Freedom Fest is truly the most spectacular gathering of free minds in the world. Spectacular? Of course! Barnum and Bailey had exotic animals, clowns, and acrobats to promote…how hard can that be? But Mark turns intellectuals and academics into a scintillating 3-ring circus with a gala film awards showcase, fiery debates, testy courtroom trials, glorious musical theater, and glitzy Vegas dancing. ISIL speakers made nearly dozen appearances during this 3-day liberty extravaganza, opening on Wednesday, July 9 with eight speakers in three sessions: 1) Ken Schoolland, “School & Land in India: Fighting Poverty, Socialism, & Caste”; Glenn Cripe, “Johnny Appleseed of Liberty: Reaching Hundreds of Youth Leaders Worldwide”; Jan Kuban, “Tigers and Outsiders: Avoiding the Polish Way to Tyranny”. 2) Barbara Kolm, “Looming Crises in Europe”; Mary Ruwart, “How Liberty Can Save the Environment?” 3) Li Zhao Schoolland, “From Mao to Hayek: An Introduction to the Free Market Movement in China,” Leon Louw, “Looming Economic Crises in Africa,” and Katya Akudovich, “Liberty: From Fear or From Courage?” Mary Ruwart’s debate with a university labor professor over the minimum wage was shown nation-wide on C-Span and had a very good impact. Appearing on the big stage, she smashed her opponent who came across as a disconnected academic completely in the clouds. Mary politely cut him down to size and the audience was completely ours. On another forum during concurrent sessions, ISIL filled the house with these respective topics: Doug Casey, “Don’t Cry for Me: Living Dangerously in Argentina”; Mary Ruwart “Do Cry for Me: Living with Big Brother in the Former Land of the Free”. Doug advised people of great ways to find places to live free. Mary’s speech focused on the tragic impact of the FDA. She was the only one on such a hot topic with Obamacare looming on the political horizon. Li Zhao Schoolland made her second appearance and a very positive impact on the grand stage with Steve Forbes, …

The Market for Morality

The first time I took an online taxi cab – I was nervous.  Here I was on a street corner, using an iphone app (Uber or Lyft) to call a random driver.  Who was this mysterious person?  If anyone with a cellphone and a car can turn their vehicle into a cab . . . what is to stop him from driving up next to a cliff and pushing me out the door? The cab pulled up, and the driver immediately got out of the car, greeted me with a big smile, and opened the passenger door. “How are you?” he said, “Long day at work?” It was a long day.  It was a terrible day.  I didn’t feel like being nice to anyone.  In fact, I felt very much like being rude.  My first day on the job, I had two big zits on my face, and the contacts in my eyes were bothering me so much that I could barely even see.  I had to keep one eye closed all day . . . it was torture!  I was not in the mood to be friendly at all. But then I remembered something.  Uber uses a 5 star rating system.  At the end of the ride, the customer rates the driver, and the driver rates the customer. So I thought – “I want those stars!” When I got in the car, my instinct was to slump over and completely ignore the driver.  But because I didn’t want a horrible rating, I said, “Hi, I’m really sorry, but I’ve had a terrible day, and my contacts are hurting my eyes, so if it’s alright with you, I’d just like sit here in silence with my eye closed.  I hope you don’t think I’m being impolite . . .” “Oh …

ISIL at Freedom Fest 2014

From Mark Skousen, producer of FreedomFest: I woke up this morning thinking about “Why We Need to Get Together Once a Year.”  Over the years, I’ve been impressed with the proliferation of free-market think tanks and freedom organizations which are doing their part to make a difference:  publishing websites, special reports and books; holding meetings and conventions; influencing elected officials or using the court system to overturn bad legislation. ISIL is doing a great job reaching out to an international group of hard-core libertarians with your Liberty Camps, China conferences on Austrian economics, publications like JG, and your own annual international conference.  Reason, Cato, Heritage, FEE, ISI, Manhattan Institute, and all the other state think tanks do much the same to make a difference. That’s where FreedomFest comes in. Our mission is simple: to bring together once a year all the freedom groups and provide a place to learn, network, socialize and celebrate liberty.  And we do it in the nation’s most libertarian city, Las Vegas. We are a for-profit organization, so we don’t compete for fundraising with all these good causes. We try not to promote one organization over another. We support them all. In Hayekian terms, it’s a spontaneous order, with every think tank and freedom organization deciding for themselves what to talk about. FreedomFest is not “my” conference, it’s “our” conference. The idea came to me when I was president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the country’s oldest free-market organization. Why not have an annual reunion, I thought, and bring together all the think tanks and freedom organizations from around the world, to talk about philosophy, history, science & technology, healthy living, music & dance, investments, and geo-politics?  We would create an intellectual feast in a fun town, the entertainment capital of the world. And …

Truant in America

Have you ever heard of anybody who never went to school? No, I don’t mean ‘home schooled’. I’m talking about no school at all. No curriculum. No home school course. No online accredited program. Never went to Kindergarten, or any other grade. In America, that is rare, because education is compulsory.  Kids are forced by law to go to school. Christian’s mom learned that lesson well. She said when Christian was six years old, “They came out with a police officer, and wanted to inspect the home environment. We eventually moved out of the state because of it . . . because they wanted him to be tested, and they wanted this, and that . . .” “They were going to get him?” I asked. “Yeah. They were going to reel him into the system. I said, ‘That’s not happening!’” The family fled to Hawaii, where it was easier to hide a kid from the truancy laws. After all, how could anyone distinguish a truant kid from a tourist kid? It was the perfect plan. “My parents were upfront with me,” Christian said, “It’s like, ‘You’re supposed to be in school. But we’re not going to make you do it. So, if you don’t want to school, you should keep your mouth shut about it.’” Christian Regan, now 22 years old, has never gone to school in his life. Yet, you would never know by meeting him. He reads more than most adults. Christian’s dad said, “He basically taught himself how to read. There was no ‘A is Ahh, B is Buhh’. We would just read books to him. He’d watch us reading him books, and before long, he was reading them instead of us.” Christian learned to read and write when he was only five years old. “I remember …

The Mariel Boatlift: Voting With Boats

It is said that freedom always wins when people are allowed to vote with their feet…they move from locations of high tyranny to places of relative freedom—always in very great numbers. 34 years ago today, on April 20, 1980, Fidel Castro announced that any Cubans who wanted to leave could do so without punishment from the port town of Mariel. In the clearest possible expression of their hatred of Castro’s rule, Cubans voted by boat. More than a hundred thousand took to rickety, makeshift vessels in what came to be known as the Mariel Boatlift. Americans in Miami grabbed whatever boats they could find to reunite with friends and relatives across the channel. Braving hurricane winds, exposure at sea, pirates and sharks, desperate refugees crowded aboard anything that floated, regardless of seaworthiness, because freedom seemed so worth it. At first the U.S. government of Jimmy Carter lived up to the ideals of the Statute of Liberty and embraced these refugees. The U.S. Coast Guard didn’t actually go to the port of Mariel to provide safe transportation for those eager to leave, but the U.S. armed services did a commendable job of rescuing many of those who became stranded on the high seas. After all, the U.S. had sanctioned Cuba for 20 years, condemning Castro’s regime for the brutality of his communist dictatorship, for the forced economic squalor and repression of free speech and civil liberties. The U.S. had even attempted to overthrow or assassinate Castro. So why wouldn’t Americans at least welcome those who tried to flee Cuba? Then the mood turned against refugees when it was rumored that Castro’s trick was to release “undesirables” from prisons and mental hospitals, sending them all to America. Jimmy Carter, in an election year, then agreed with Castro that they would both put …

Dallas Buyer’s Club Illustrates How Regulations Kill

Just a few weeks ago, Hollywood honored Matthew McConaughey with the Academy Award for Best Actor in the movie Dallas Buyer’s Club. Matthew plays Ron Woodroof, a real-life Texas electrician and rodeo rider, who discovers that he has contracted AIDS after sex with an infected drug user. The doctors tell him he has only 30 days to live. The year is 1985, and no treatment is available on the US market. Woodroof quickly discovers in a very personal way just how deadly the FDA’s consumer protection regulation can be. His doctor offers him a place in a clinical trial, which was designed to test how effective AZT (zidovudine) is against HIV. AZT will eventually become the first drug available in the US for the treatment of AIDS. However, going into the clinical trial doesn’t guarantee that Woodroof will get AZT. Until the trial is over—and his 30 days is already up—Woodroof won’t know if he is getting placebo (a sugar pill) or AZT. The FDA requires the drug maker to give placebo to half of the patients, so that AZT’s effectiveness can be “proven.” Woodruff is appalled that he and other desperately ill people are being used as guinea pigs in this way. Rather than enter the clinical trial, Woodroof sets out to find himself a cure. First, he bribes an employee to raid the hospital’s supply of the AZT used in the trial. When that source dries up, Woodroof researches what’s available in other countries, starting with Mexico. He finds that other nations with less stringent regulations already have anti-viral drugs in their pharmacies that might work against the AIDS virus. Woodroof finds a doctor who uses clean living and nutrition, along with some of these other options, to stabilize his condition. Like several other HIV positive-individuals across the …

ISIL at the hottest young libertarian event this year!

From Jim Elwood, ISIL Executive Director The seventh annual International Students For Liberty Conference was held over this past weekend in Washington DC. Starting with just 100 students in 2008, this year’s event drew nearly 1,500, with sizeable numbers from Europe, Brazil and Africa. Numerous movement luminaries addressed either general sessions or breakout sessions. There was also a taping of the John Stossel TV show for Fox Business Channel. Several organizations held major evening social events. Three major SFL awards were given out. Event of the Year went to “Restart Balkans” by Students For Liberty Greece; Group of the Year went to Students for Liberty CZ of Masaryk University (Czech Republic); and Student of the Year was awarded to Isack Danford of Tanzanian SFL who recruited 1,100 members in just one year! We found the SFL students to be clean-cut, well-dressed, articulate and friendly. They are the cream of today’s college campuses, and the growth of the organization is astounding. Of course, the government is helping a lot with recruiting. 🙂 There were also many brand-new organizations at the conference. This is the first year ISIL ran an exhibit table, in conjunction with Language of Liberty Institute, which runs most of the Liberty Camps with substantial sponsorship by ISIL. We had a world map showing the locations of our conferences and Liberty Camps on the wall, and three big colorful poster about ISIL activities that were designed by ISIL Director of Development Kenli Schoolland, first displayed at last year’s ISIL conference in Lausanne. From Dr. Jim Lark, Secretary of the ISIL Board of Directors I had the honor of addressing the conference on Friday (Feb. 14); I gave an address entitled “Challenges to Liberty: Substantive Criticisms and Questions Concerning the Libertarian Perspective” to a standing-room only audience. I am delighted …

What’s behind $7 gallons of milk in Hawaii?

ISIL president Ken Schoolland was interviewed by Hawaii News Now this week on what is behind the rising milk prices. The interview was shortened significantly for the TV spot, but the point has still been made. He highlighted the some of the government interventions that result in much higher food prices for consumers in the country, the farm bill in particular. Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL Ken initially wrote his book The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible based on his observations of the terrible incompetency and intervention of the local government in Hawaii, yet people around the world are able to relate, because governments everywhere do the same. A reader from Poland once commented: “I’m simply amazed by your book: The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible. To tell you the truth I’m also a bit scared of your accuracy and sharpness…I couldn’t help but thinking how long you’d been in Poland!” —Monika Lukasiewicz For more from Ken Schoolland, check out the interview conducted by Joe Kent of the Maui Libertarian Show after the 2013 APEE Conference on Maui. They go over a range of Hawaiian issues from a free market perspective, with Ken offering many solutions to Hawaii’s economic challenges. In the interview, some of the questions covered are: – Why is everything so expensive in Hawaii? – Could public transportation work better without the government? – Why are airfares going up? – Why are there no mobile homes in Hawaii? – Public parks are a mess. But is the solution simply to sell the parks off? – Are GMOs a threat to Hawaii? – If there were no public education, how would kids become educated? – Would free market capitalism ruin the beauty of Hawaii?

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.