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Contents June 2011 / Issue 07
The Big Question
What are the two most important steps to balance the federal budget?
Remember to Play the Long Game By Grover Norquist
The “Leave Us Alone” Coalition
Approaching 2012 By John Tate
26 America’s Global Welfare State
Repenting from Imperial Delusions By Jake Diliberto
The Domestic and International Perils of Foreign Aid
By Wes Messamore
Bipartisan Warmongering is Not Affordable
27 Social Networking for Liberty
My Plan to Beat the National Debt By Rand Paul
Visualize The Debt
Compiled By Bonnie Kristian Stories from YAL’s Campus Activism
So You Want to Run for Office Year of Youth Training Feature
By Matt Robbins
The Antidote to Blind Partisanship
Liberty Defined by Ron Paul
Atlas Shrugged Outdoes its Critics
12 Campus Countdown
The State of Liberty in American Politics
Where is the rest of the Republican party?
By Jeff Frazee
Moving Forward with a New Generation The Top 20 Stories of YAL Activism in the Last Year
By Julie Borowski
By Ryan M. Budd Atlas Shrugged: Part One Will Challenge Viewers’ Assumptions about Government
By Andrew Sharp
The Liberty Movement Has Gone Viral
31 My Story of Liberty Activism By Joshua Jackson
And How to Start Yours
33 Profiles in Liberty: Ivan Eland By Trent Hill Through the Looking Glass
37 A Spectacular Failure and Guide to Success By W. James Antle, III
The Struggle to Limit Government: A
Modern Political History by John Samples
39 America’s Greatest Enemy By Elliot Engstrom
Osama bin Laden by Michael Scheuer
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Moving Forward with a New Generation
Publisher Jeff Frazee
Managing Editor Bonnie Kristian
Editorial Director Daniel McCarthy
Deputy Editor Edward King
Art Director Matthew Holdridge
Shane Helm, Anthony Rousseau,
Justin Page Wood Contributing Editors
W. James Antle III, Wes Messamore, George Hawley, Trent Hill, Jack Hunter, Andrew Sharp
Young American Revolution is the official publication of Young Americans for Liberty (www.YALiberty.org). Subscriptions are $50 for one year (4 issues). Checks may be made out to Young Americans for Liberty and sent to PO Box 2751, Arlington, VA 22202. Young American Revolution accepts letters to the editor and freelance submissions. Letters should be between 50 and 300 words. Submissions should be between 700 and 2400 words. Letters and submissions may be edited for length and content. Write to us at email@example.com or PO Box 2751, Arlington, VA 22202. Young Americans for Liberty is the continuation of Students for Ron Paul (SFP). In less than 8 months, SFP established over 500 college and high school chapters in all 50 states and over 26,000 students joined the Ron Paul 2008 campaign. The mission of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is to train, educate, and mobilize youth activists committed to “winning on principle.” Our goal is to cast the leaders of tomorrow and reclaim the policies, candidates, and direction of our government. We welcome limited government conservatives, classical liberals, and libertarians who trust in the creed we set forth. Opinions expressed in Young American Revolution are not necessarily the views of Young Americans for Liberty. Copyright 2011 Young Americans for Liberty
remember attending CPAC in 2007 with just a handful of friends. We found ourselves isolated, only a few liberty activists in a sea of establishment Republicans and neo-conservatives. It was depressing, as were most of the Bush and Cheney years. Fast forward to this year’s CPAC, and the political makeup of this important conference has changed drastically. More than 700 YAL members attended this year—the largest youth contingent of the entire conference. There were overflowing ballrooms at every YAL and C4L event; Ron Paul won the presidential straw poll for the second consecutive year; and the energy within our liberty movement was at its highest point yet! Since those lonely Bush years, our numbers have grown exponentially. If you told me four years ago this is where you and I would be today, I never would have believed you. To come this far this fast is nothing short of an incredible blessing—and a tribute to the hard work and determination of liberty supporters and activists throughout the country. Since our founding two years ago, Young Americans for Liberty has grown by leaps and bounds as well. As I write this, more than 3,000 dues-paying members, 21,000 activists, and 200 chapters on college campuses in 42 states make up YAL’s growing network. Forty-five new chapters started in the last three months alone. In fact, YAL is growing so quickly that by the time you read this, the numbers I’ve cited will be outdated—and the correct ones even bigger. Here at the national office, I’m proud to say we’re experiencing a growth spurt of our own. When I first started YAL in December 2008 with Congressman Paul’s endorsement and $25,000 in seed money, I didn’t earn a salary for the first five months of operations. Every penny went into growing YAL. Today, thanks to our generous donors, YAL’s national staff includes six full-time employees, three or four full-time interns at any given time, six part-time Regional Directors, and a leadership team of 37
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dedicated volunteers. The office we’ve occupied since summer 2009 -- a single, small room with seven crammed cubicles, an extra plastic desk, a refrigerator, and some filing cabinets -- is literally bursting at the seams. Fortunately, our friends at the Leadership Institute invited YAL to move into their new office space right next door to our current headquarters. YAL’s new location will increase to triple the size of our existing space, and it’s located in a brand new building! YAL’s much-needed expansion is a reflection of our growth as an organization and the strength of the liberty movement as a whole. For the first time in decades, a youth movement is building that is committed to winning in the political process with a principled liberty message. There is a national discussion about the fundamental role of government in our daily lives, the Federal Reserve system, the meaning of a non-interventionist foreign policy, and the restoration of constitutional principles. Just as you and I witnessed Rep. Ron Paul and his ideas build respect on the national stage, his son Sen. Rand Paul ascended as a prominent Tea Party leader on Capitol Hill only months into his first term in Congress. We are moving forward and advancing a just cause for freedom. But with that said, we have not won. In fact, you and I have much work to do before we achieve a truly free economy and country. But thanks to your sustained involvement and support, YAL and the liberty movement will continue to grow. I have always believed it will take a new generation of principled leaders to save this country, which is why I have committed myself to lead America’s youth. I pray you and I will one day have a country of citizens who do not ask for a handout, but once again take responsibility for themselves and their liberty. Jeff Frazee, Executive Director Young Americans for Liberty
The Big Question What are the two most important steps to balance the federal budget?
Photo by M. Holdridge
alancing the budget first requires acknowledging what should be in that budget. The political establishment’s current budget parameters stretch far beyond the boundaries of the Constitution or common sense. That said, cutting federal departments (Education, Energy, Homeland Security) would be a good start. A serious reassessment of America’s military role would unquestionably give us another area in which we could literally save trillions. Tackling entitlements might be the hardest obstacle politically, but it must be done and can be done. One need not be a numbers cruncher or a mathematician to recognize these basic, nuts-andbolts remedies to our current economic woes. – Jack Hunter Jack Hunter (aka the “Southern Avenger”) is a columnist with The American Conservative and Charleston City Paper (Charleston, SC), a radio personality for Charleston’s 1250 AM WTMA and Sirius/XM and the co-author of Sen. Rand Paul’s book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington.
irst, abolish every domestic welfare-state and interventionist program, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, education grants, the drug war, and economic regulations. Abolish the taxes and debt that fund all this. Second, dismantle America’s military empire and military-industrial complex, close all foreign military bases, bring all the troops home and discharge them, and end all foreign aid, wars of aggression, and the war on terrorism. Abolish the taxes and debt that fund all this. – Jacob Hornberger Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. A co-editor or contributor to eight books, his editorials have appeared in the Washington Post, Charlotte Observer, and many others, both in the United States and in Latin America.
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Photo by Gage Skidmore
Tom Woods he point of writing my new book, Rollback, was precisely to address the two things I consider most necessary if a systemic collapse is to be averted. First, Americans need to understand the extent of the problem. And it isn’t just debt and deficits, staggering as those are. The unfunded liabilities of the U.S. exceed the GDP of the entire world, yet opinion polls find a majority of Americans supporting an increase in Social Security and Medicare payments. Time to come down from Big Rock Candy Mountain. Second, we need to slay the junior-high propaganda that makes so many people recoil in terror at the very idea of a decrease in government power. Why, without the paternal custodianship of the U.S. president and the rest of the political class, we’d have no art or science, we’d all be ignoramuses, and everyone would be working for a dollar a day under the iron fist of their feudal overlords in the private sector. How can we expect to make headway against an institution everyone believes is staffed by self-sacrificing public servants who have only the people’s best interests at heart, and without whom we’d probably all be dead? -- Tom Woods Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books. A senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and his master’s, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University.
Rep. Justin Amash
ew policies have as much bipartisan support as Washington’s out-of-control spending. Congress after Congress—regardless of the party in control—has committed the American taxpayer to debt now totaling more than $46,000 per person. Washington has proved unwilling to restrain itself, so Americans must impose fiscal restraint on Washington. There are a number of interesting proposals that require the federal government to balance its budget or limit spending to a certain percentage of our GDP. I believe a constitutional amendment is our only hope of putting the federal budget on an enduring, sustainable path. Spending cuts can be painful. Forcing the federal government to live within its means will require difficult choices. The history of Washington’s failed leadership on the budget shows we can’t rely on politicians to take necessary action. That’s why it’s incumbent upon us to educate our local communities about our government’s spending problem. With an informed and engaged public—with leadership from the ground up—we can change Washington’s spendthrift culture. – Rep. Justin Amash Justin Amash is the U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 3rd congressional district. Elected in 2010, he was endorsed for office by Congressman Ron Paul. At the age of 30, Amash was the youngest member of the 2011 freshman class in Congress
Photo by M. Holdridge
e can only balance the budget by privatizing entitlements like Social Security and Medicare and ending foreign wars. The ONLY way we can keep the promises made to our seniors without massive inflation is to increase our rate of wealth creation. One way to do that is by deregulating business. Each regulator destroys about 150 private sector jobs each year, so each one fired is true economic stimulus. Another way to increase wealth creation is to cut the tax rate and end tariffs and other barriers to importation. This drives domestic capital into efficient businesses, stimulating the economy further. Even at lower tax rates, a robust economy means more tax dollars collected to offset the entitlement programs, which should be privatized ASAP so that young people aren’t forced into these Ponzi schemes. – Mary Ruwart Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D. is the author of the award-winning book, Healing Our World, and Short Answers to the Tough Questions, based on her web column at theadvocates.org. She currently serves on the Libertarian National Committee, is Chair of the International Society for Individual Liberty (isil.org), and Secretary of the Foundation for a Free Society (f4fs.org).
ring the troops home. ALL of them. Spiff up the Coast Guard a bit, as a sop to those who call for defense, but are really supporters of imperialism. Get the government entirely out of social security and health care. That ought to put a nice dent in the budget, for starters. – Dr. Walter Block Dr. Block is a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, and a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. His latest book is The Privatization of Roads and Highways.
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he two most important steps to balance the federal budget are, first, end the senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have already cost over $1 trillion and 5,000 American lives; and second, dismantle the empire of hundreds of thousands of troops and over a thousand bases in 150 countries around the world. It costs $1 million per year to keep one soldier in Afghanistan. The U.S. spends more on defense than every other country combined. According to economists who have run the numbers, total spending on war and empire is over $1 trillion a year. Limiting the military to actually defending the country would not only balance the budget, it would allow for a drastic reduction in any balanced but still bloated budget. – Laurence Vance Laurence M. Vance writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The Revolution that Wasn’t, and Rethinking the Good War. His latest book is The Quatercentenary of the King James Bible.
irst, make character a priority. People who are honest, humble, patient, responsible, self-disciplined and future-focused don’t spend money they don’t have, don’t pile up debts they can’t pay, don’t place the bills for their current desires on the backs of the next generation and don’t expect politicians to save them from their own poor judgments with other people’s money. Second, make character a priority. This is not a typo. My #2 is identical to my #1. The reason is this: It’s so critically important that everything else pales in comparison. The deficit in the budget reflects a deficit in our character and until the latter is fixed, the former cannot and will not be solved. – Lawrence Reed Lawrence Reed is the president of the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York. Most recently the author of Striking the Root: Essays on Liberty, Reed previously chaired the Economics Department at Northwood University, and his interests in political and economic affairs have taken him as a freelance journalist to 69 countries on six continents since 1985.
Photo by M. Holdridge
Rep. Ron Paul
ongress’ first priority should be dramatically reducing our military presence overseas. Obviously, this means ending the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya as well as bringing our troops home from around the world. It makes no sense to continue stationing US troops in Germany twenty-one years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In addition, Congress should immediately eliminate corporate welfare programs like the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which uses taxpayer money to help multinational corporations market their products aboard. Congress also must address the Federal Reserve system, which makes deficit spending possible by monetizing U.S. Treasury debt. The resulting inflation punishes all workers, savers, and those on fixed incomes while creating a very real risk of destroying the value of the dollar. Obviously, a good first step in this process is for Congress to require real transparency from the Federal Reserve. Congress should start by passing HR 459 and truly Audit the Fed. The only way to avoid fiscal crises is for the American people to reject the notion that the federal government is capable of running our lives, running the economy, and running the world. Therefore, spreading the philosophy of liberty must remain our top priority. – Congressman Ron Paul Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas. His 2008 presidential campaign’s Students for Ron Paul was the impetus for the founding of Young Americans for Liberty.
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Remember to Play the Long Game The “Leave Us Alone” Coalition
Photo by M. Holdridge
diers and police—tend to support limited hy does the federal government government, for they are part of the “leave spend so much money? Why have us alone coalition;” they work to keep the the size and scope and cost of government Canadians on their side of the border and grown over time? Other “industries” have our neighbors out of our cars and houses. become a smaller part of the economy over That explains why Republican majoritime: Agriculture. Manufacturing. Technolties in Congress will never steal your guns ogy has made other “services” less expenor bash home schooling or religious liberty sive: Computing capacity. Telecommunicaor raise your taxes. Republicans understand tions. that those are organized constituencies for To begin with, it is only recently that one the party that will leave if their issue if beparty was, even rhetorically, committed to trayed (see Bush 41 and 1990 tax hikes leadreducing the size of government. For many ing to the loss in 1992). years after the civil war the two parties were Understanding the structure of the simply regional parties of the North (ReReagan Republican Party—a coalition of publican) and South (Democrat). Only durgroups and individuals who wish to be left ing the political lifetime of Ronald Reagan alone on their primary, vote-moving isdid the Republican Party organize itself in sue—also explains the failure of the Bush the name of limited government. 43 years. Why did spending drift upwards Indeed, the term RINO—Republican even with a GOP House, Senate, and PresiIn Name Only—came into use because too dency? The answer is that Bush could tell many “Republicans” were not committed to gun owners, “I will not regulate guns, but limiting the power of the state. And before I will spend too much.” He could tell taxGoldwater, Reagan and Ron Paul there were payers, “I will not raise your taxes—I will no RINOs because there was no presumed Grover Norquist is the founder and in fact cut your taxes each year…and then worldview demanded of anyone calling president of Americans for Tax Reform spend a little too much. People of faith, I themselves Republican. You simply had to will leave your homeschooling, Christian radio stations, and parolive North of the Mason-Dixon line. chial schools alone and then spend a tad too much.” The Reagan Republican party was national, not regional. The No part of the Reagan coalition demanded more spending, unifying factor was that everyone around the Reagan Republican but there was no faction, no group, no block that was clearly table was there because they shared the issue that motivated their identifiable that would throw something heavy or walk out of the vote: They wanted to be left alone. Taxpayers: Leave my income room when spending grew so long as the government left their and wealth alone. Homeschoolers: Leave me alone to control my primary issue alone. children’s education. Gun owners: Leave my Second Amendment The tea party movement in 2009 and 2010 ended all that. Now rights alone. People of faith: Leave me alone to practice my faith there was a verifiable, visible, tangible voting bloc that focused and transmit it to my children. People in business: Leave my busion overall size of government. America’s preeminent community ness and professional life alone. organizer, Barack Obama, finally created the movement that acted Those Americans employed in the legitimate functions of the in politics on the issue of government overspending. central government (those bits actually mentioned in the ConstiAdding the tea party to the coalition of taxpayers, property tution) such as defense of the nation and the judicial system—sol-
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GOVERNMENT GROWTH & FINANCIAL DECLINE
HOW PERSONAL SPENDING AND THE VALUE OF THE DOLLAR ARE PLUMMETING AS GOVERNMENT SPENDING AND WAR INCREASE $1400 143
$14 TRILLION 8%
CUMULATIVE US NATIONAL DEBT US TROOPS KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN EACH YEAR PRICE OF GOLD IN OUNCES
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MONTHLY NATIONAL HOME FORCLOSURES US DOLLAR INDEX YEARLY CHANGE IN NATIONAL RETAIL SALES
DATA TAKEN FROM BRILLIG NATIONAL DEBT CLOCK, MILITARY DEATHS FROM iCASUALTIES.ORG, PRICE OF GOLD FROMKITCO.COM, US DOLLAR INDEX, RETAIL SALES FROM THE US CENSUS BUREAU.
president and his allies in Congress are not. Free market conserowners, homeschoolers, people focused on religious liberty, busivatives have a collection of pro-growth policies: cut the top tax nessmen and women completed the circle. Now a president or rate from 35% to 25%, abolish the death tax, abolish the capital congress wishing to spend too much—no matter how low taxes gains tax, deregulate, and enact free trade agreements and tort reare kept and gun control is stopped—would be met with steel, not form. The spenders in Washington have no policy proposals that shoulder shrugs. will grow the economy. None. As long as the nation is focused on The tea party movement made the smashing victory of 2010 spending as a percentage of the economy, supporters of the free possible, and the 87 freshmen elected to the House of Represenmarket have all the answers and supporters of the state have none. tatives in 2010 led the fight to ban earmarks. That ban was the But if we are stupid enough to focus not on total spending second turning point in the fight against spending. Earmarks are but on the deficit—the difference between what the government numerically only a small fraction of government spending, some spends this year and what they take by force in taxes this year— estimate $40 billion. But they were the currency of corruption, then the statists have a solution: just raise taxes. the government spending in targeted congressional districts and This is why no advocate of limited government or Reagan Restates that literally bought the votes of Congressmen and Senapublican should ever allow themselves to leave the high ground of tors for bigger budgets and growing government. Congressmen focusing on “spending as a percent of the economy” and move who opposed big spending bills found themselves voting for the to the swampland of “deficit reduction,” where tax hikes are the entire bill because an earmark of theirs was wrapped inside the moral and economic and polegislation. litical equal of spending reA congressman trying to straint. get his earmark in a bill had A second ploy for those no time or interest in lookwho have no interest in cuting at what else went into the ting back on government is overall legislation. A secondto belittle all efforts to make ary effect was that lobbying small cuts while the entitlefirms in Washington would ment system remains unretrade campaign contributions formed. This is actually an for earmarks. This lightly disattempt to stop us from reguised corruption also kept moving the low hanging fruit congressmen in DC holding of small budget cuts. It is fundraising events with lobmaking the perfect the enemy byists rather than back in the of the good. This was the district raising campaign conhypocritical criticism of our tributions from taxpayers and drive to ban earmarks; “Why, businessmen. That is why so earmarks are only $40 billion many politicians can, with a and the deficit is a trillion,” straight face, say “everyone some said. But every step in I speak with demands more Ronald Reagan gives a televised address from the Oval Office, outlining his plan for Tax Reduction Legislation in July 1981. the direction of lower spendgovernment spending.” ing is progress. A very old, very unfunny Phony “budget hawks” also like to demand that the budget joke in Washington is that there are three political parties: Repubmust be balanced in one year or five years or ten years. They make licans, Democrats and Appropriators. Ending earmarks took away the time horizon short enough that meeting that deadline with the ability of appropriators to use earmarks as bribes or hostages spending cuts would be obviously unreasonable. Therefore the to control the rest of Congress as they spent and spent and spent. only “reasonable” position is to raise taxes. These three changes: the tea party movement, the creation of If we can avoid being distracted from our true goal of limitlimiting spending as a vote-moving issue, the ending of earmarks, ing the size of government as a percentage of the economy, take and the weakening of appropriators have created the progress of every spending cut we can get the moment it is politically possible, the past few months, a block by block fight with the Washington and not place imaginary time limits on our progress to liberty, establishment to claw back trillions in additions to the national we can reform entitlements in a politically popular campaign that debt and blatant, intentional ignorance of the unsustainability of will also dramatically reduce spending in the near term and cut the entitlement programs. spending in half within one generation. And with the national Those who wish to continue the government’s profligate debt nearly equal to the GDP, we must eagerly take every spending spending habits have three tricks up their sleeves: refocusing the cut—no matter how small—which we can get. debate away from government spending to the deficit, demanding that cutting discretionary spending should wait until after the entitlements problem is “fixed,” and focusing on this year rather Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, a taxpayer adthan long term trends. vocacy group he founded in 1985 at the request of President Ronald Reagan. When the nation focuses on reducing government spending He serves on the board of directors of the American Conservative Union, the as a percentage of the economy there are only two solutions: 1. National Rifle Association, and The Center for the National Interest. He is Spend less and 2. Grow the economy faster. the author of the book Leave us Alone – Getting the Government’s Free market conservatives are willing to cut spending. The Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives.
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Campus Countdown The Top 20 Stories of YAL Activism in the Last Year
Once it became apparent the unconstitutional PATRIOT Act would be given yet another extension by Congress and President Obama, YAL at UC-San Diego arranged a street theater protest on their campus to help fellow students understand the gravity of the situation. Constructing a fake coffin, YAL members held a mock vigil and funeral procession commemorating the death of American civil liberties. “Young Americans for Liberty is going to be there no matter what, always protesting for what we need to uphold in the Constitution. We can’t sacrifice our Constitution on party lines,” said Peter Tariche, YAL’s California State Chair who participated in the event.
Number 20, UC-San Diego
The YAL chapter at the University of NevadaLas Vegas joined a conservative group on campus to raise awareness about “Che Guevara’s real work as enthusiastic executioner and poster boy for the Castro regime,” said YAL member Dick Clark, adding that many “students stopped by to learn about the real Che and about YAL’s work for individual liberty, free markets, and smaller government.” Commented one student who signed up to learn more about YAL, “I got mad when I saw your picture of Che, but then I realized that the poster said ‘The Victims of Che Guevara’ and I had to check it out.”
18 Number 19, University of Nevada-Las Vegas
At the University of Washington, YAL members joined the school’s College Republicans, Young Democrats, and International Socialist Organization in a debate on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As YAL’s Northwest Regional Director, Mikayla Hall, explained, “YAL has become a constant fixture in UW’s political activities.” She summarized the YAL chapter’s argument on NAFTA in a single line: “Why do we need a 2,000 page document to create free trade?”
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Wrote Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul’s former congressional chief of staff and founder of the Mises Institute, “This afternoon I met with the impressive leaders of the large Auburn University YAL chapter. They want Ron Paul to speak on campus, and I must say I like their style. When the fascist Rudy Giuliani spoke here, receiving $88,000 plus expenses, they wanted to show their opposition, but in a polite, non-disruptive Southern way. So eight of them arranged to get the center seats of the first row, right in front of the podium. After Rudy started speaking, they quietly opened their shirts, revealing eight special t-shirts that spelled out B-L-O-W-B-A-C-K. Guiliani paused and goggled at them, then finished his canned speech. It was a great moment in libertarian passive resistance.” Number 17, Auburn University
As anti-TSA sentiment swelled across the nation in response to the agency’s increasingly invasive and unconstitutional screening techniques, YAL sprung into action. The YAL national staff compiled an activism guide for students to protest the TSA, including several flyer templates which chapters could download and customize. When the YAL chapter at the University of Virginia used a template featuring the internet character Pedobear dressed as a TSA agent to post around campus for their protest, they snapped a picture of one of their flyers and put it on Reddit. The image made it to the front page of this hightraffic website, garnering more than 550,000 views and over 400 comments! From there, it was picked up by the Huffington Post and was subsequently posted on several other sites.
Number 15, Colorado State University
“I gave a lecture at Boise State University in late 2010. I don’t think there was an empty seat in that whole auditorium – it was very wellreceived,” said Dr. Tom Woods in a video blog about nullification, the political process, and Nullification, his recent book. In December, he joined the YAL chapter at Colorado State University to discuss “How Economic Illiteracy Is Dismantling Your Life.”
YAL at Baruch College was met with mixed reception when the chapter reached out to the campus community with information about free speech and the Constitution. Handing out free pocket Constitutions, the chapter erected a “Free Speech Wall” where students could write whatever they chose. However, one school administrator took the time to make clear that he would never support YAL because of their endorsement from Ron Paul -- but then he took a Constitution anyway.
Number 14, Baruch College
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For Constitution Day, YAL at the University of Texas-San Antonio took to heart the saying that “Everything’s bigger in Texas” and created a replica of the Constitution which stretched a whopping 17 feet. Fellow students liked the idea, adding six feet of signatures to the bottom of the document. Their eye-catching plan was noticed by several local media outlets. Said chapter president Jason Hensley in one report, “Whether you’re left or right, this is one thing most Americans can rally around.”
With signs declaring that “empires don’t care who’s in charge” accompanied by graphics designed to demonstrate the lack of real difference between the foreign policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the St. Cloud State University YAL chapter signed up dozens of new students interested in joining their fight for a humble, non-interventionist foreign policy.
Number 13, University of Texas
Tabling between the College Republicans and Young Democrats, Duquesne YAL found that the many students on their campus were more interested in liberty than left vs. right political infighting. Their organized recruitment effort and friendliness helped them outshine both groups and bring in new members to the cause of liberty.
Reports YAL chapter president Clint Townsend from the University of North Texas, “[our chapter] has had an incredibly successful start to its first semester on campus. At our first recruitment event, UNT-YAL signed up 80+ students and had contact with hundreds more students. At each weekly meeting, we’ve had 25+ students.” In a fast-paced video they made for the YAL National blog, the UNT chapter demonstrated their proactive tabling skills and focus on accessible issues like lowering the drinking age, which is certainly a good hook for any potentially liberty-minded college student!
“One of the main intentions of Young Americans for Liberty is to educate the public on the history and purpose of the Constitution,” begins YAL at Ohio State’s documentary short, “The Day the Constitution Died.” The narrator continues, “We set out to test people’s knowledge on the Constitution, as well as to get a modern view on its importance.” The filmmakers found their fellow students valued our founding document but weren’t exactly familiar with its contents. As one student asked, “How do you live your life not knowing what exactly it says in the Constitution and say that you uphold it? That’s kind of a contradictory statement. So…I guess I don’t care enough.” The short film concludes, “How can anyone defend their rights if they don’t know them?”
Number 12, St. Cloud State University
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“Republican and Democrats are pretty much the same thing as Coca-Cola and Pepsi,” said Ryan Guilliam, a YAL member at Indiana University-Bloomington to a curious reporter at a Tax Day Tea Party protest. Thanks to the IU-B YAL chapter’s constant activity on and off campus, the group was the focus of a feature article on the Tea Party in their campus paper. Guilliam’s perspective was seconded by then-Chapter President Sam Spaiser, who explained his concern that the Tea Party would be “co-opted by some establishment politicians that are trying to ride the wave.”
Not content simply to protest unjust government, several liberty-minded young people took matters into their own hands in 2010 and announced their candidacies for office. One 19-year old already won his race: Inspired by Ron Paul, Romaine Quinn is now mayor of his town of 8,000. Quinn’s successful campaign was entirely self-funded, and his agenda for his time in office is a humble, sustainable program for limited government at the local level.
YAL members at the University of South Carolina protested their college’s choice of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as commencement speaker. Said YAL South Carolina State Chair Matt Kneece, “We figured that with all the economic woes going on today directly as a result of the Federal Reserve’s intervention in the markets and the Keynesian policies of Ben Bernanke, we’d be embarrassed if we sat on our hands while he came and spoke before us on responsibility like he did last year.” Ben Bernanke promoting responsibility – now that’s what you call ironic.
The Wake Forest chapter took advantage of the March anniversary of the War in Iraq to flyer their campus with a list of the American soldiers who had died in the conflict, as well as in the War in Afghanistan, to date. To honor the Iraqis whose lives were also lost, the chapter created a field of flags on a campus lawn, each flag representing 2,278 Iraqi lives. The unforgettable displays stayed up for one week, catching the attention of thousands on the Wake Forest campus.
Free popsicles! YAL at the University of Central Florida took advantage of their warm weather to entice politically independent students to take a political philosophy quiz with free frozen treats. Their ploy worked, as more than 100 students participated, many surprised to learn just how libertarian their political leanings actually were. UCF’s Joshua Parrish said the group had a second clever idea to follow up with interested students: “In order to capitalize on this recruitment opportunity, we asked everyone who participated in the quiz if they would be willing to let us take a photograph of them plotting their results on the Nolan Chart. If they agreed, we encouraged them to join our Facebook group in order to see their picture.”
YAL member Greg Kerr made the campus paper at Northeastern University when he drew attention to the school’s bureaucratic eight-step process for a club to receive official school recognition. The newspaper reported that Kerr’s frustration was sparked by the impossibly circular structure of the club approval process, which required groups to recruit members before actually allowing them to do so. The problematic complexity of the process, which Kerr hopes to change, is evident in the lack of meaningful student activity at Northeastern. Said Kerr, “[we] need to rewrite the rules. I don’t see how student life can flourish.”
YAL of Western Illinois University covered their campus with flyers explaining the lack of real difference between the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The flyers caused a stir on campus and confused students not accustom to thinking outside of the standard left-right paradigm. Wrote one WIU student on the YAL chapter’s Facebook page, “I’m very confused about your organization…what political party do you even stand for? It doesn’t make any sense to me. If you’re conservatives, why would you try to push for the legalization of marijuana? And if you’re liberals, why would you try to make the whole campus hate Obama?” Congratulations to YAL at WIU: Your message of principle over party seems to be getting through.
The new YAL chapter at Clayton State won a “Best New Student Organization” from their school – and YAL’s activism contest for the Spring 2011 Recruitment Drive! Their hard work at hosting a number of events in the spring semester attracted no less than 50 new students to the chapter at a school of only 6,500. Freedom is popular at Clayton State. Number 1, Western Illinois University
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Approaching 2012 The State of Liberty in American Politics John Tate
Photo by M. Holdridge
s Campaign for Liberty and Sometimes, this takes the form of Young Americans for Liberty a large initiative like Audit the Fed, stand on the verge of an historic elecwhere, in addition to mobilizing extion year, I am convinced our organiisting members, we recruit additional zations have an excellent opportunity supporters through direct mail, email, to advance liberty—and the fundaphones, and media blitzes to support mental principles that made this naa piece of federal legislation (or to detion great—further than ever before. feat bills, as exemplified by the DISConsider Young American Revolution CLOSE Act and Cap and Tax). itself, which, while showcasing the Often, it consists of our members work of seasoned veterans, also highvoicing their concerns at townhalls, lights the talent of a new generation writing letters to the editor, calling in of Americans who are tired of an out to talk radio, passing out fliers, gatherof control government that threatens ing petitions, and knocking on doors. every aspect of their future. At the center of it all, however, I find this encouraging because, as C4L President John Tate speaks to activists in Minneis equipping grassroots activists with YAR demonstrates, this up and com- apolis, Minnesota. the knowledge and tools they need ing generation does not stop at simto take the actions listed above while ply reading about political philosophy. Along with issue educaalso growing their local organizations, getting involved in the potion, YAR brings you firsthand accounts of how passion is being litical party leadership, raising funds for their efforts, and learning turned into action across the country. how to deal with both the legislative process and the legislators Just three short years ago, Ron Paul’s Presidential Campaign themselves. rekindled the flame of liberty in the hearts of many who thought YAL has done an excellent job of spreading the word about change was impossible. As he traveled across the country, Dr. Paul the power of our ideas and the excitement among America’s was consistently greeted by people who had given up on the politiyouth for liberty while also providing specific steps to form or cal process entirely. I know how proud he is of those who overjoin chapters on your own campus, expand your numbers, and came their disillusionment to rejoin the fight for their country. make the maximum possible impact. Uniting under a banner of freedom, peace, and prosperity, the Since 2008, Campaign for Liberty has expanded to over campaign’s supporters shattered fundraising records and guaran600,000 members nationwide. YAL is currently represented on teed that the naysayers would no longer be able to dismiss either more than 200 college campuses. Together, our organizations Ron Paul or his ideas. have trained thousands of people through conferences and local The real test for the reenergized liberty movement, however, events. You and I are not preaching to the choir about the need came at the campaign’s close, when the conventional “wisdom” for change. Every day, we are mobilizing and expanding a grassof the establishment’s talking heads demanded you and I subdue roots army to make change happen. our passion, surrender our cause, and submit to their plans to run I’m excited about the liberty movement in 2012 and beyond our lives. because I am privileged to personally witness a rising generation In the same way Congressman Paul has repeatedly refused to joining forces with those who worry for their children and grandplay by the statists’ rules, the liberty movement turned down the children’s future and those who have been engaged in this battle chance to fade into the background. for years. With the establishment of Campaign for Liberty and Young Far from solely refusing to grant the state any more ground, we Americans for Liberty, you and I expressed our intention to not are reclaiming what has been stolen from us - one neighborhood only reject their tired, old playbook, but also to rewrite it entirely. and campus at a time. C4L and YAL are leading a resurgence of freedom-centered For years, the Federal Reserve was considered untouchable. thinking and activism nationwide based on the idea that challengShrouded in secrecy and controlling our nation’s economic future, ing the system once every two to four years will never permathe Fed created trillions of dollars out of thin air, crippled our nently restore and protect our liberties. Whether originating from money’s value, and helped guarantee our indebtedness to other Capitol Hill, state houses, or the local governments in our own countries for years to come. Ron Paul’s legislation to thoroughly backyards, the statists’ plans must be confronted every day. examine the Fed’s books failed to gain more than 50 cosponsors,
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and his sound money philosophy was dismissed by the elitists and unheard of by most of the country. Undaunted, C4L and YAL took the momentum generated by 2008 and turned it into a nationwide groundswell of opposition to the reckless Fed. In less than six months in 2009, every Republican and a majority of the U.S. House had signed on to cosponsor Audit the Fed. It would even pass the House before being defeated by compromise in the Senate. During his reconfirmation hearings in January 2010, Ben Bernanke received the most opposition of any Federal Reserve Chairman in history. A December 2010 Rasmussen survey revealed that 74% of Americans supported Audit the Fed, and the limited audit Congress eventually passed required significant information on the Fed’s operations during the financial crisis to be revealed that same month. This release, though far from adequate, armed us with even more ammunition, as it illustrated the Fed’s loose standards and divulged hundreds of billions of dollars in loans to foreign central banks, regardless of their need for the money. Once again, C4L has refused to settle for the scraps thrown to us from the establishment’s table. Ron Paul has reintroduced his audit legislation, and our members are already taking action. In less than two months since H.R. 459’s introduction, it has received more than 100 cosponsors. The Senate companion, S. 202, has been introduced by another of the liberty movement’s successes since 2008, Senator Rand Paul. Written off almost as soon as his candidacy was announced, Rand Paul persevered through Republican Party opposition and ran the full gauntlet of attacks to prove the strength of his message with overwhelming victories in the primary and general elections. Rand has taken the Washington scene by storm. His tenacity to advance freedom has already been demonstrated with legislation like his introduction of billions of dollars in budget cuts and a five-year fully balanced budget, as well as his opposition to the PATRIOT Act, which has so far single-handedly prevented the Senate from passing a long-term extension of many of its provisions. C4L and YAL are conducting our efforts at a time when millions of Americans are searching for answers. The federal government’s disregard for the Constitution has left an economy in shambles, perpetuated a foreign policy that weakens America and loses respect throughout the world, and created trillions of dollars in commitments it will never be able to pay. The government’s answer to these crises is more of the same—more debt and more coercion that will certainly result in more failure. As we head into 2012, the liberty movement has the answers to restore our nation’s prosperity, secure its defense, and preserve freedom for future generations. But the fight to spread those answers throughout the country will not be easy. Nonetheless, advances for liberty have recently been made in the area of health care. A federal mandate on insurance is not only unconstitutional, but also a tyrannical denial of man’s basic right to decide how to take care of himself and his family. Virginia is just one of several states where Campaign for Liberty groups have been successful in enacting legislation to protect citizens from this federal power grab. Despite two federal judges having ruled the mandate uncon-
stitutional, the Obama administration is undeterred in its plans to implement its legislation. The liberty movement must respond by not only promoting legislation to overturn the mandate (which Ron Paul has introduced) and the full ObamaCare plan, but also by striving to enact legitimate reforms. These include eliminating restrictions on purchasing insurance across state lines, strengthening health savings accounts, providing tax deductions for medical expenses, and, most important, taking government out of health care. It’s time to return to a real single-payer system—where a patient pays a physician directly for affordable care. On civil liberties, President Obama has continued the assault launched by the previous administration with his support for renewing the PATRIOT Act. With the attention the presidential election will bring to his actions, it is critical the liberty movement spread the word about the government’s abuses and continue its efforts to repeal the PATRIOT Act. But the PATRIOT Act is far from the only battleground. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has resorted to porno scanners and groping kids and grandmothers in the name of so-called “security,” and we must not allow this outrage to stand. Reports have been released revealing this is only the beginning of the TSA’s plans, and it will seek to expand its scanners and invasive procedures significantly in 2012 and beyond. It should be our goal to rid the country of these scanners (and the wasteful bureaucracy that is the TSA) well before the curtain closes on 2012. Security should be returned to the private sector (and the law changed to make sure it’s not forced to use the TSA’s tactics), where it is in the airlines’ best interest to ensure their passengers are safe without sexually assaulting them before each flight. These are just some of the issues the liberty movement will have to address in 2012. Big government never rests, and its appetite for power is insatiable. 2012 will offer many challenges, but it will also present a greater amount of opportunities. The freedom movement has already accomplished far more than anyone could have dreamed possible. Those achievements are only the beginning for a growing, dedicated, passionate group of concerned Americans who will not rest until we reclaim the Republic and restore the Constitution. John Tate is the president of Campaign for Liberty. Under his guidance, C4L has grown to nearly 600,000 members and has become the premier grassroots lobbying organization in the liberty movement. He is also the founder and president of JFT Consulting, a political and fundraising consulting company.
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Repenting of Imperial Delusions Bipartisan Warmongering is Not Affordable
n the aftermath of the revolutionary war, Thomas Jefferson said, “I love peace, and I am anxious that we should give the world another useful lesson, by showing alternatives to war.” More than 200 years later, Jefferson’s words reverberate as hollow jingles inside President Barack Obama’s oval office. The supposed “peace” candidate has shown he is as committed to military intervention and expenditure as his hawkish predecessor. Apart from his domestic spending circus, Obama is spending abroad at unprecedented rates. The Afghanistan surge, the bungling “end” of the War in Iraq, and now the quiet war—or rather, kinetic military action—in Libya all prove Obama as disingenuous about his foreign policy principles as the first President Bush was in his “no new taxes” fibs. Currently, the United States is engaged in the longest war in its history. What started in 2001 as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan has turned into “Operation Enduring Obligation.” This US-directed conflict comes at a pinnacle moment in American history. Nesting with a cozy $14 trillion national debt and an additional trillion dollars of red ink in this fiscal year alone, the American political experiment is on the brink of collapse. Iraq and Afghanistan churn at a cheap rate of $10 billion a month, or a paltry $18,000 per second. Do not forget that government spending on this Enduring Obligation does not come from the current taxpayer: The financing of today’s foreign adventures yields loans foreign and domestic and new money running off the digital printing presses at the Federal Reserve. It’s a bill which will have to be paid eventually, likely by today’s young generation.
The Conservative Non-Critique Newly revitalized with Tea Party fervor, conservatives are back on the wagon of reduction in government spending, but trillion dollar wars, odious Pentagon fraud, and collateral war damage are anathema to their “wasteful” critique. Seemingly oblivious to what strikes their opposition as plainly clear, the Republican Party is almost universally unaware of the hypocrisy of outrage at Obama’s spending but not at its own.
Though Obama’s foreign adventures are hardly a speck, it goes without saying that the right has the proverbial log in its eye. Less than a decade ago in 2003, many of us cheered George W. Bush’s Iraq War as though we were watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Bush’s imperial gamble, the awkwardly titled “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” did not come with jovial, swift success. Unfortunately, it did not even attain a mercifully quick and inexpensive failure. Now, despite the president’s declaration of the end of the war, the US is still as engaged in Iraq as ever, with just over 50,000 troops still operating with the help of an additional 50,000 civilian contractors. And the costs continue to rise. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calculates that the war in “Iraq will exceed a 6 trillion dollar price tag.” Unfortunately, Bush’s decision that the US President would also act as police chief of the world neither began nor ended with his administration. Indeed, conservatives who were complicit with Bush’s warmongering allowed—even encouraged—Obama to carry on the imperial torch. Rather than acting as the “loyal opposition” once Obama took office, many on the right proved that their true loyalty was nonpartisan: They wanted war, the costs be damned.
Bipartisan Interventionism, Generational Resignation Taking the advice of establishment policy makers whose tenure little depended on the party in the White House, Obama transplanted Bush’s surge tactic to Afghanistan and there continued what has now become a decade-long nation-building project. Jointly, these two presidents have guaranteed that fiscal wisdom and balanced budgets would not be seen in Washington for years—and likely years to come. Yet open-ended war is hardly a new cancer seeking to exterminate liberty and limited government. The founders observed Europe’s constant turmoil and sought to avoid it in their new, great experiment. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” wrote, “No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of
18 June 2011
continual warfare” and, “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” Today, his words still ring true, but surely not in the context he envisioned. Rather than preservation of freedom, America—or at least its government—has chosen continual war. So far removed from its foundations by philosophy more than time, the American Republic is now being slaughtered by left-wing Wilsonian interventionists and right-wing neoconservatives alike. Since 9/11, the civil liberties of our citizenry exist only within a loose noose that tightens daily. Neither major party is interested in decreasing the size of government; they merely wish to argue about how it should expand. Congress spends its time debating cuts of million dollars here and there to programs like NPR, ignoring the mastodon in the room: war spending. The national debt increases at a breakneck pace—now more than $14 trillion— but Washington’s warmongers pay little heed. Trillion dollar wars have become the norm for this generation, and historian Andrew Bacevich rightly notes that, “Today, we have a one party system both leftists and conservatives compete to fill the delusions of the imperial presidency.’ The picture, in short, is increasingly bleak. Why is there so little discussion of curbing the imperial appetite? An ABC/Washington Post poll in March indicated that a full two thirds of Americans no longer think the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting. Yet in a recent House vote on H. Con. Res. 28 to remove all American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, fewer than 25% of representatives voted “yes.” Indeed, outside a few outsiders like Ron Paul and the failed resolution’s sponsor, Dennis Kucinich, few in the District have any interest in drawing down our military presence abroad, regardless of public opinion. Warmongers like Max Boot, Liz Cheney and Fred Kagan cheer for more bloodshed while they sit safe inside the ivory towers of academia. Never having served on a battlefield, they possess little perspective on the realities of war. These and other neoconservatives have gained the ear of the Washington mob with remarkable dexterity, but they are little more than the bully of the policy playground, successfully starting wars in which they are too craven to fight. Meanwhile, battlefield-tested conservatives who oppose imperial delusions, such as Bacevich, Doug McGregor, and Lawrence Wilkerson are often pushed off as relics of a bygone era.
Dubious Signs of Progress Nonetheless, a more reasonable and restrained foreign policy is beginning to gain some traction. Lawrence Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense, recently called on Obama to “endorse further reductions in defense spending over the next five years…. For example, even Secretary Gates has questioned the rationale for maintaining 11 U.S. aircraft carriers, when ‘in terms of size and striking power, no other country has even one comparable ship.’” Likewise, conservative tax warrior Grover Norquist has stated, “Being tied up [in Iraq and Afghanistan] does not advance American power.” Norquist has been careful to label extravagant defense spending as what it is: big government. “Some conservatives want to pretend that military spending isn’t government spending,” he said. “The amount of money you spend shows how
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much you care about national defense. But we would be the first people to reject that liberal argument if the issue were education or something else.” These promising signs are perhaps undermined by the recent American-led intervention in Libya. Of course, carefully ignored by those pushing for this new war is the fact that involvement in Libya is not beneficial for or a responsibility of the United States. With our military overstretched in far too many other engagements in the Middle East and around the world, this new project can hardly end well.
An Affordable Change Clearly, the American republic deserves a better foreign policy than the status quo. We desperately need a plan for defense sharply divorced from the expensive, callous warmongering in which our government has specialized for far too long. War must once again be seen as a failure of diplomacy, not a catch-all solution which America must apply to all the world’s problems. Not only is our present course too often immoral and unconstitutional, but we simply cannot afford it. The American imperial delusion must end. True conservatives must come to understand the inherent contradiction in supporting limited government in domestic policy and empire in foreign policy. We must not forget Dwight Eisenhower’s remark that, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” Defense is important, to be sure, but it must be kept in proper perspective,
as government spending which comes at an inevitable cost to the taxpayer. It is also vital that shrewd, realistic policy analysis from a noninterventionist perspective make increasing inroads among the Washington elite. Many—if not most—foreign policy think tanks advocate intervention and war far more often than is appropriate for a free republic. In fine, to continue the current US policy of perpetual military intervention abroad requires fiscal insanity. Domestic policies of small government, low taxes, and responsible spending are incompatible with trillion dollar wars—and defunding programs like NPR (of which the total funding annual federal funding was less than 2% of the 2010 military budget) is little more than grandstanding while defense spending remains off the table in the face of a $14 trillion debt. If real steps are not soon taken to draw down the size of our expensive empire, the American republic will inevitably falter. Those of us who profess support for limited government must lead the way.
Jake Diliberto is a Christian theologian who studied at Fuller Theological Seminary. A specialist in religious conflict and religious guerilla warfare, he served as a US Marine in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Jake is a co-founder of Veterans for Rethinking Afghanistan and a policy adviser and analyst with US-based advocacy organization Rethinking Afghanistan.
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My Plan to Beat the National Debt Where is the rest of the Republican party?
Senator Rand Paul
Photo by M. Holdridge
have often said that our federal govapproach, we would have a $1.55 trillion ernment doesn’t have a revenue probdeficit in one year. Neither one of these lem; it has a spending problem. This is proposals would significantly alter or deundoubtedly true. But merely trying to lay the crisis that’s coming. address our exorbitant spending brings Part of the problem is that no one up another, almost worse problem— is really talking about cutting spending. finding the political will in Washington What both parties have proposed is simto address the problem. ply cutting the rate of increase of spendVirtually everyone now claims to be ing. The base line of spending is going for some sort of spending cuts in the to go up 7.3 % according to the Conname of balancing the budget, yet most gressional Budget Office and we’re talkpoliticians only tend to support such ing about reducing that to only a 6.7% measures in the abstract. When you get increase. We’re talking about cutting the down to specifics that’s where so many rate of increase of government. Once of them—even most Republicans— again, across the board and across the abandon ship. aisle, the problem with what both parties We cannot afford to do this, quite are proposing is that it’s not enough. literally. And in their ongoing refusal to Our deficit is growing astronomically address our spending problems seriously and our national debt is now $14 triland substantively, Washington politicians Senator Rand Paul challenging Republicans and lion. That debt is now equal to our entire must be reminded that they are also conservatives at CPAC 2011 economy and our gross domestic prodabandoning the American people. uct equals our national debt. There is no excuse for this. Recently, both parties in the Senate The president is tone deaf on this. President Obama recently discussed and debated two different alternatives about what we proposed a 10-year budget featuring a 10-year plan for spendshould do regarding the budget deficit. Per their usual, both altering. He proposes that we spend $46 trillion. Spending $46 trillion? natives were inadequate and do not significantly alter or change Washington officials clearly do not understand how profound our our course. problems are. The president’s plan will add $13 trillion to the debt On the Democrat side, we had a proposal to cut about $5 biland the Republicans say “oh, well ours is a lot better”—but their lion to $6 billion for the rest of the year. To put the utter inefplan will add $12 trillion to the debt. fectiveness of this proposal in perspective, the federal governThis is unacceptable. ment borrows about $4 billion a day. So the Democrats proposed In order to get serious reform, we have to come to grips with spending cuts equaled only one day’s borrowing. Obviously this the idea of what government should be doing: What are the conis insignificant and it will not alter the coming and looming debt stitutional functions of government? What are the enumerated crisis that we face. powers of the Constitution? What powers did the Constitution Then there was the Republican proposal. Our proposal to cut give to the federal government? We should ask these questions $57 billion was more significant than the Democrats, but like the and then examine what we’re actually doing today. What are other party it still paled in comparison to the problem. If we were we spending money on that is not constitutional, that perhaps to adopt budget approach of the Democrats we would have $1.65 shouldn’t be done at the federal level or should be left to the states trillion deficit in one year. If we were to adopt the Republicans’ and the people respectively?
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END THE DEFICIT RAND PAUL’S 2011 BUDGET CUTS
Data fom the Washington Examiner. 26 January 2011. A detailed look at the Rand Paul spending bill.
E $9 DU 4 CA B T % 〉 ION $ CU 16 B T
H $1 EA 01 LT H %B &
S $2 TAT 8 E B
$ E CU 4 B T
54 10 BMMER % 〉 C
E $1 PA 1 B
78 14 B ERIO % 〉 R
% $ IV 4 E B C
23 6 B 〉ISLAT
BR A N
27 7 B 〉RPS O
% $ F 5 E CU B NG IN T
% $ B 5 R A C
J $ UD
32 7 B 〉ICIAL
T O N
% 〉$ E FO 3 CU B UN D T AT I
S $7 CIE B NC
F $ CC
22 10 B
B 3 $1 〉
N $1 AS 8 A B
49 24 B ’L AS
〉 SIS $ T
Also Eliminates: Affordable Housing Program, Commission on Fine Arts, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, State Justice Institute. Freeze Federal Employee Pay $2B, Reduce Federal Travel $7B, Repeal Davis-Bacon $6B, TARP Repeal $4.4B, Sell Federal Buildings $19B, Collect Late Taxes from Federal Employees $3B, Prohibit Union Project Labor Agreements $2B.
2011 FEDERAL REVENUE
H $ U
28 32 B TICE
10 53 BD 0 % 〉$0
N $3 D 1 SE B C T
H $5 OM 5 E B LA
T $ RA
49 87 B NSPO
$ RT CU 44 AT B IO T
L $1 AB 40 OR % B CU 〉$ 13 T 7
$7 HU M T 5 B AN
B A $1 GR 41 IC U % B 〉 LTU CU $9 RE 9 T B
$ E 6. 730 FEN 5% B SE 〉 CU $6 83 T
RAND’S PROPOSED BUDGET
[NUMBERS IN BILLIONS]
2011 FEDERAL BUDGET
Once upon a time, Republicans believed that education was a function of the states and the localities. It’s not mentioned in the Constitution that the federal government should have anything to do with education. Does that mean we’re opposed to education? No, we just think it should be managed closer to home. Ronald Reagan was a champion of eliminating the Department of Education. It was part of the Republican Party platform for twenty years. But when Republicans were in charge under President George W. Bush we doubled the size of the Department of Education. If you are serious about balancing the budget, if you are serious about the debt, you have to look at taking departments like the Department of Education and sending it back to the states and the localities. You have to look at programs that have grown astronomically like Medicaid and food stamps, cap them, block-grant them and send them back to the states. The states can manage these things better—which the Founders both understood and intended. The closer such functions are to the people, the better managed they will be. The other compromise that needs to occur—and this is something that Republicans must learn to compromise on—is military spending. Our side has blindly said that the military should get anything it wants, eternally giving the Pentagon blank checks. But we have increased military spending by 120% since 2001, more than doubling it. Like all Americans, I support a strong national defense and of course it is a constitutional function of the federal government to provide for our national defense. I think it is the pre-eminent power, the pre-eminent enumerated power, the thing we should be doing here. But with that said, we cannot double the Defense Department and military spending every eight years. This is a compromise Republicans must learn to accept if we ever expect to substantively tackle our spending, deficit and debt. We also must look at entitlements. Everyone’s afraid to say how we reform entitlements, but there are two inescapable facts on this issue: We’re living longer, and many of those born after World War II are getting ready to retire. These are inescapable demographic facts and we have to address them. If we simply do nothing and do not address the entitlements, within a decade, entitlements will account for the entire budget and interest. There will literally be no money left for anything. It’s going to take both parties grappling with this and admitting that the rules and eligibility will have to change for Social Security, and likely for Medicare. If we do it now, we can do it gradually. If we start now, we can gradually let the age rise for Medicare and Social Security for those 55 and under. If we do it now, young people will be able to acknowledge that this is going to happen in the future. You ask young people anywhere across America, “Do you think you’re going to have Social Security when you retire? Do you think you’re going to get it at 67?” Young Americans acknowledge that the system is broken and broken so badly that the only way we fix it and the only way it can continue is we have to look at the eligibility. But many in Washington say we can’t talk about entitlements. The president still makes this mistake. He will not lead on entitlement reform or anything else concerning our fiscal crisis. But someone must do it. We must stand up and be bold because the longer these problems fester, the longer we allow them to accu-
mulate, the bigger the problems become. Likewise, the more dramatic the answers must be. I have proposed a five-year balanced budget plan that would bring spending near the historical average in its first year, would repeal Obamacare, and reduce spending by nearly $4 trillion relative to the President’s budget. Many have criticized Republicans for not giving specific budget cuts and this criticism is often warranted because too often Republicans are afraid to be specific. Here are the specifics of what my five-year balanced budget plan will accomplish and how:
SPENDING: • • • • • • • • • •
Brings spending near historical average in very first year Reduces spending by nearly $4 trillion relative to the President’s budget Achieves a $19 billion surplus in FY2016 Brings all non-military discretionary spending back to FY2008 levels Requires the process of entitlement reform, including Social Security and Medicare, with final implementation by FY2016 Does not change Social Security or Medicare benefits Block-grants Medicaid, SCHIP, foods stamps, and child nutrition Provides the President’s request for war funding Reduces military spending 6 percent in FY2012 Eliminates four departments: Department of Commerce (transfers certain programs) Department of Education (preserves Pell grants) Department of Housing and Urban Development Department of Energy (transfers nuclear research and weapons to Department of Defense) Repeals Obamacare
DEFICITS/DEBT: • •
Never exceeds $12 trillion in debt held by public Creates $2.6 trillion less in deficit spending relative to the President’s Budget
REVENUE: • • •
Extends all the 2001 and 2003 tax relief Permanently patches the Alternative minimum tax Repeals Obamacare taxes
I have been joined in this plan by Senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah. I now ask “Where is the rest of the Republican Party?” While official Washington is sitting on their hands and ignoring the ever-expanding deficit, I am offering a real plan to rein in spending and address the looming debt crisis. The only way we can balance the budget is if we have real leadership. So many Republicans love to call themselves “Tea Partiers” these days. My five-year balanced budget plan gives them a chance to prove it. Rand Paul is the junior United States Senator from Kentucky and the son of Texas congressman and 2008 presidential candidate Ron Paul.
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Visualize the Debt Compiled by Bonnie Kristian
t the beginning of March, Young Americans for Liberty announced ‘Visualize the Debt,’ an activism event promoted throughout its network of 211 chapters. Each chapter planned to build a 40foot National Debt Clock to display the enormous costs of Washington’s reckless spending habits. In addition, YAL members collected petitions to send to their congressmen, asking for swift, bold action to stop the growth of the national debt. YAL’s dedicated chapters surpassed all expectations! 78 YAL chapters in 32 states mobilized to educate their fellow
students about the dangers posed to our future by the national debt. In fact, Visualize the Debt (VtD) was YAL’s largest single-issue activism event ever!
– by George Specht After a lot of hard work by our small chapter, YAL at Bloomsburg managed to finish our debt sign and get it up on campus. We found that it was a great way to communicate with students and faculty alike! While we did not have the best weather, we did reach a lot of people who engaged in a good conversation with our members. Unfortunately, we were unable to draw the attention of the press, even
after informing them of our event. We see this as motivation towards our new goal: To be persistent until people start really discussing our national debt. While the ‘Visualize the Debt’ week may be over, it is the long term message of fiscal responsibility that we need to continually refresh both on and off campus.
– by Victoria Kim Here at the 19th most liberal campus in the United States, YAL’s dedicated members braved the cold last to set up a giant national debt clock at a busy in-
tersection on campus. It was brisk and snowy, but most people were willing to stop and chat with us. We found common ground with students politically left of us by calling for cuts in military spending as well as domestic programs, and we discovered that most students were receptive to a noninterventionist foreign policy. Overall, our message was well-received by the Clark and Worcester communities. After spending the day raising awareness with our ‘Visualize the Debt’ display, we hosted a civil discussion on the national debt.
Louisiana State University
– by Greg Huete On April 1st, 2011,Young Americans
24 June24 2011 June 2011
for Liberty at Louisiana State University held our version of the Visualize the Debt event. Like many universities, LSU isn’t too great on free speech for students. However, our “free speech zone,” known as “Free Speech Alley,” is at least in front of the impressive LSU Student Union. This is a major thoroughfare for students walking to lunch and classes. We were given “the circle,” which is the main and largest part of Free Speech Alley. However, it isn’t large enough for a 40-foot debt clock, so we had to brainstorm for another idea to visualize the debt. We elected to buy the suggested ply-
wood, and use power tools to cut holes where students could put their faces to pose with a thermometer of the national debt. For our outreach to passing students, YAL at LSU focused not only on the size of the national debt, but also how much each taxpayer owed. Fake bills from the government, which said “Congratulations! You owe the government $128,000,” proved to be effective flyers, and most students were shocked to know that as taxpayers they were liable for around $128,000. As the event drew to a close, a crowd of about 25 members and interested students had begun to gather after classes and discuss current events. The discussion started with the debt, but groups began forming that were talking about
issues such as Social Security, Libya, the war on drugs, the war on terror, and many more. One LSU professor stopped by and told us that we were “doing a very good thing,” and that we “had made quite a splash.” It was almost surreal seeing fellow college students talking about things that really mattered, things that will actually have an impact on all of our lives. I could not have asked for a better event, and I wanted to thank YAL for the idea and assistance in pulling this off.
Ohio State University
– by Dave Grabaskas To participate in YAL’s nationwide ‘Visualize the Debt’ event, the YAL chapter at Ohio State braved the cold to get out and show their fellow students just how large the national debt has become. A 20-foot debt clock banner (which could be read over three blocks
away) helped drive the point home. To help make the debt seem a little more personal, members of the chapter handed out mock IOU’s to the students walking by, to let them know just how much they owe the our government’s lenders. One student from China stopped by and jokingly asked if we had his money now. He was saddened to learn that the only thing available was free candy. The YAL at OSU chapter followed the event with a meeting about solutions to the country’s debt a week later. The presentation explained just how the federal government got into this mess and what are the options to get out. Especially in light of the budget debates in DC at the time, the meeting proved extremely interesting.
University of Kansas
– by William Stewart-Starks Rain or shine, the University of Kan-
Quick Facts 78
YAL chapters participating in VtD
32 States in which VtD protests were held 30+ Times VtD was in the news $14 trillion+ The US national debt $100k+ National debt per taxpayer $45k+ National debt per citizen 445 Number of years it would take to spend $14 trillion at $1/second 200 billion The number of Pabst Blue Ribbon kegs you could buy with the national debt. 25 25 Revolution Young American Young American Revolution
sas’ ‘Visualize the Debt’ display went up in the heart of campus on the Watson Library lawn. Thousands of students passed in the cold weather and rain; some took the time to figure out what this big number was all about and how it related to their future. YAL at KU was excited to speak with local media that also came out in the appropriately dreary weather to talk about our nation’s growing debt crisis. Coverage from the day included a blog post report from the Lawrence Journal World, a video report from SilverSaver.com, and coverage from the local news, Channel 6. In addition to wanting to do this again on a nicer day, we have been solicited to feature our display at the upcoming tax day Tea Party for Kansas State! Bonnie Kristian is the Director of Communications at Young Americans for Liberty and Managing Editor for YAR.
America’s Global Welfare State The Domestic and International Perils of Foreign Aid Wes Messamore
hat welfare programs are In this case, American “defense ineffective and outside the spending” amounts to little more purview of a proper government than making American taxpayers is nearly axiomatic to most selfshoulder the burden for European described conservatives. entitlement programs. It was Ronald Reagan who Any self-described conservarightly said “The ten most dangertive who is serious about cutting ous words in the English language Washington’s out-of-control defiare ‘Hi, I’m from the government, cit must unequivocally oppose this and I’m here to help.’” The danger kind of counterfeit defense spendis found in government’s consising as the welfare spending that it tent record – throughout history really is. It doesn’t make us safe; it and across cultures – of incompeonly makes us poor. Washington’s tence on a scale that truly boggles two extended occupations of Afthe mind. Americans got a clear ghanistan and Iraq should also be look at their own government’s inrecognized for the massive welfare eptitude as they watched in frustra- Former President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, is reported to programs that they have become. tion and horror while government be worth up to $70 billion due to corruption, kickbacks and President Obama’s recent act of authorities tripped all over them- legitimate business activities. Egypt was allotted $1.5 billion war in Libya is another illustrative selves for three days just to deliver in U.S. aid in the budget for the 2011 fiscal year. example. water to the storm refugees in the According to Pentagon figures Louisiana Superdome during the horribly mismanaged federal rereported by ABC News, just one week into the US-led intervensponse to Hurricane Katrina. tion, taxpayers were already on the hook for $600 million. While In addition to their confidence in government’s failure to dethere is a case to be made that a no-fly zone in Libya was a huliver results, true conservatives have always believed that governmanitarian action that prevented needless deaths at the hands of ment should stay out of business of redistributing wealth, for a despotic regime, there is no reason why neighboring Arab nathis violates human liberty. Conservative icon Barry Goldwater tions couldn’t have enforced a no-fly zone themselves with their summed it up well with a common line from his stump speech own well-equipped militaries—except their desire to save money during the 1964 presidential campaign: “The government strong at the expense of US taxpayers, who get stuck with the bill and the enough to give you what you want is strong enough to take it all blame in case anything goes wrong, as things inevitably do with away.” violent conflict in populated areas. Yet while opposing welfare at home, American conservatives Should the US military, paid for with American tax dollars and have been duped by internationalist progressives into supporting staffed with America’s brave sons and daughters, be used to build and paying for a massive global welfare state under the pretense infrastructure and deliver tax-subsidized food and medical supof national security. This has allowed these Wilsonian intervenplies to the people of other countries – all while Americans at tionists to grow government to unprecedented levels and achieve home suffer from unemployment and the national deficit runs their dreams of a worldwide nanny state with uncritical support into the trillions? from conservatives, who now believe that empire abroad keeps us Or does the US military exist for one clear purpose: to defend safe at home. Americans from foreign aggression? But the projection of military power into Europe, for instance, If conservatives today are truly committed to cutting wasteful doesn’t make Americans safer. It makes Europeans safer, but government spending and getting Washington’s suicidal deficits Americans it only makes poorer. Can’t Europe defend itself from under control, they cannot ignore the international welfare state the threat of terrorism or the spectre of resurgent Russian impeof war in the guise of national defense spending. rialism? If not, it’s because the European economy is incapable of A former YAL intern, Wes Messamore, 24, is an independent journalist sustaining sufficient defense spending in addition to the early who blogs at The Humble Libertarian while pursuing his dream of becoming retirements and lavish benefits of the European welfare state. a noted mainstream voice and advocate for liberty.
26 June 2011
Social Networking for Liberty The Liberty Movement Has Gone Viral Andrew Sharp
et’s face facts. The world has gone “social,” and there’s no turning back. Take, for instance, Facebook. What was once a place for college students to share silly pictures and gossip about annoying professors has become a pervasive, all-encompassing fixture of modern life that shades human interactions from personal relationships to national movements. Over half of the country’s entire population is on Facebook, and it ranks behind only Google in web traffic. Other social networking sites like YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn have also become powerhouses of web activity, coming in at 3rd, 7th, and 12th respectively in the traffic rankings. The question for liberty activists is how to harness the awesome power of social media sites for the benefit of our movement—without wasting time or getting distracted by the many, many unproductive options in the cyberverse (I’m looking at you, Farmville). I’ll primarily deal with Facebook strategies here, given its overwhelming dominance of social media, but many of these tactics can be easily adapted to other sites. It’s precisely because so many people use Facebook that it’s necessary to approach it from an activist’s perspective and develop a goal-oriented social media strategy for your YAL Chapter. If you’re using social media without an advance plan, you’re wasting your own time and hurting your group by not taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by social media. Assigning one person to be in charge of the creation and implementation of social media strategy is a crucial first step. Whether your chapter is newly-forming or has been around since YAL began, begin by designating a dedicated, internet-savvy chapter member as “Director of Social Media” (or something of that nature) to manage your group’s profiles on social media sites. This includes making sure the pages are up-to-date with relevant posts and information, deleting spam and irrelevant or offensive posts, and—above all—advancing your YAL chapter’s goal of getting the message of liberty out to your fellow students. The first task of the Social Media Director should be to make sure your group’s profiles are up-to-date. The “info” section on your Facebook fan page should include a short description of your group and your weekly meeting time and location (this level of detail may not be possible on Twitter). You should also include your group’s website (if applicable), a list of your officers (President, Vice President, Secretary, etc.), and a list of links to your other social media pages. You don’t want to annoy your network with too many posts and messages, but you do want to keep them updated consistently. Striking the right balance of updates is a key role of the Social Media Director, who should outline a schedule of the timing
and frequency of posts and messages that will come from your group’s pages. For example, you should send out a mass message to your Facebook group or page at least once a week, giving your members an update on your recent news, next meeting, action items, etc. Scheduling this weekly update on the same day and time will make it much more likely that people will read it. This schedule should also include a plan to post other links of interest to the group, like updates from YAL National’s blog or local news stories. Post at least once a day on Facebook and at least twice a day on Twitter. Of course, don’t worry if you miss a day or need to take the weekend off. Whenever possible, include a “call to action” which asks your members to complete a simple and specific task. This could range from something as simple as liking a post to something more complex such as contacting a member of Congress or printing off flyers to hand out on campus. Another important duty of the Social Media Director is to create Facebook events for each of your chapter’s activism projects. This will help you spread the word while saving time, because Facebook allows you to invite all of the members of your group to the event instantly. It’s also a great way to keep people updated about upcoming events because once they RSVP you’ll be able to message them based on their RSVP choice. You can also discuss the event with other members on the event page’s wall and tag the event in status updates and posts by typing an “@” and then the name of the event. Your chapter’s Social Media Director will also be responsible for replying to people who comment on or tweet to your page. This is, after all, social media, so staying interactive and conversational is an important aspect of keeping supporters engaged with your group online. No one will want to be part of a group if they feel like no one is listening to them. The Social Media Director should check all of the group’s pages at least once a day to reply to comments. In addition, the Social Media Director should work with whoever is in charge of taking pictures and video for your group to get that content edited and posted on your social networking sites in a timely manner. The more media you have on your site, the better. It adds personality to your group and demonstrates that you actually exist offline. Adding media to your sites involves much more than just hitting the “upload” button. For example, YouTube videos should have keyword tags, descriptions, and good titles so that they show up in searches. If you have a lot of footage from an event, it’s better to upload multiple shorter videos than one long one. Make
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your pictures easily searchable and accessible as well by adding keyword tags, and be sure to add photos from the same event into one album to make it easier to share. Aside from the Social Media Director, the rest of the members in your chapter can also help spread your group’s message and activities through their own profiles. Activating your membership to share your content in their personal networks is a good way to increase your impact. Encourage them to invite others to your events, share YouTube videos, and “like” your Facebook page. Announce these action items and concrete social media goals at your chapter meetings, and then follow through online with messages and invitations to groups and events. Finally, here are some Do’s and Don’t’s for executing your strategy effectively:
DON’T: • • • •
DO: • • •
• Use social networks to reinforce what you do offline, including activism, recruitment, and major events. Keep conversations civil and encourage people who have complaints or questions to contact your group via email. Integrate your social media sites (encourage people on Twitter to join your Facebook group, encourage people on Facebook to subscribe to your YouTube channel, etc.). Shorten links on Twitter using bit.ly or ow.ly. You should create an account with one of these sites so that you can track how many people click on your links. Have someone in your group create a graphic for your profiles that has the YAL logo and your university’s name.
If you have a good graphic designer in your group, have them create a background graphic for your YouTube and Twitter pages. Use correct grammar and punctuation at all times.
Ever spend more than 5 minutes debating with someone on Facebook. Make your group “closed.” People won’t want to join your group if they have to be “approved” in order to do so. “Protect” your tweets. Again, people won’t follow you if they need approval to do so. “Connect” your Facebook page to your Twitter feed. Twitter posts should be created on the Twitter.com website and not automatically generated. Use the first person unless you also post your name. (Replace “I think this is a good resource” with “This is a good resource”). Make posts in support of or opposing a candidate for office. This is illegal because of YAL’s tax status.
If you have any questions about social media, YAL National is here to help! Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with your query, and it will be directed to me or someone else on the team who can assist you. Andrew Sharp is a recent graduate of Indiana University with a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Formerly the Communications Director for Kokesh for Congress, he is currently YAL’s Social Networking Intern.
28 June 2011
So You Want to Run for Office Year of Youth Training Feature Matt Robbins
he election of 2010 is now one for the history books. Six new U.S. Senators sit in “the world’s most exclusive club,” including a political neophyte and ophthalmologist from Bowling Green, Kentucky, named Rand Paul. Eighty-seven freshmen representatives were also sworn in, including Michigan’s Justin Amash, who at age 30 was the youngest federal candidate in the country. It was the biggest “wave” election since 1948—and it didn’t stop in Washington, D.C. At the state level, 25 states now have reasonably liberty-friendly majorities in both legislative chambers. It was a swing of nearly 700 seats on Election Day, outperforming even the 628-seat record set in 1974, the 472-seat pickup twenty years later, and more than doubling the recent 322-seat gain of 2006. And here you sit. You sense a true shifting of the political tectonic plates in America, but you’re not sure what it means. You saw the tremendous grassroots uprising of last year: the Tea Party movement and libertarians focusing and mobilizing like never before. Yet you’re still outraged, inspired, frustrated, and afraid. Afraid of the fiscal insanity perpetuated by the Fed. Compelled to try and change things, like the number of true small-government adherents actually in office. Frustrated by an archaic political system that hasn’t adapted to the 21st century’s information age. Inspired by the very real opportunities for new blood willing to work within that same system. And outraged that more people like you aren’t paying more attention to things like an unsustainable national debt, or even local and state tax rates. You’re not alone. Many new activists and groups are fuzzy on exactly how to go about becoming the next crop of liberty-minded leaders. Where and how should you begin considering a run for office? When do you decide it’s YOU that should step forward? Putting your name on the ballot involves enormous sacrifice, followed only in magnitude of difficulty by the actual job of becoming a public servant…that is, if you win a campaign. In the spirit of “stacking the deck” with right-thinking, credible, competent candidates, here are some shortcuts that can allow for a rolling start should you decide to throw your name in the proverbial hat. First get a political “lay of the land.” Look for open seats! If you live in a state where there are term limits at the state legislative level, an open seat is the best opportunity for a new, solid candidate. So do your homework in a term-limited state (compile a list of all seats coming open) and find out which seats are up in 2012. Also, look for seats that could be flipped due to the registered partisan make-up of a district. Where’s the “low-hanging fruit”? Where are the best opportunities for victory (or unexpected wins)? Which incumbents are “asleep at the switch”? Which districts are long overdue for an upset but haven’t had an effective challenger?
Occasionally you can find a congressional seat that falls into this category, but not often. And frankly, far too many idealistic individuals sally forth at this level only to have no real impact. Why not steal the liberals’ mantra? Think global, act local. Many of the best opportunities for newcomers exist at state and local levels. Don’t put your entire focus on Washington—plenty of statist, big-government decisions are made at municipal and county levels. It’s a mistake to ignore the tax-and-spend good ol’ boys at city hall or the state capital when you can de-pollute that very real political ecosystem right under your nose. And it’s quite appropriate to run for school board, city council, or county board/commission (often multi-million, if not billion-dollar budgetary entities, with plenty of civic responsibility) before running for state legislature—much less Congress. Then it’s time to ask yourself what makes you a strong candidate. Do you have the “fire in the belly” to persevere through an entire, tough campaign season? Are you a natural leader? Can you inspire other people? Articulate a positive vision? Zero in on voters and their core values? If you’d rather win the philosophical argument about why your political beliefs are the clearly correct ones than actually go out and meet the people who could become your proud supporters, running for office is probably not for you. However, if rolling up your sleeves and grappling with the real-world (and sometimes small-bore) challenges of governance motivates you, the political process beckons with open arms. Can you solve problems? I don’t mean demagogue—I mean solve. Solutions are rarely easy, or somebody else in office would’ve already found them. In other words, are you willing to listen, learn, help, and then lead? Push forward when you feel that your ideas are right, even if they are unpopular? And, on the flip side, can you admit when you don’t have the answers? Will you be able to break the mold of the politician as performer and sincerely relate to non-political (read: normal) people? “Normal” people don’t spend all their free time thinking about the fact that federal outlays have doubled every 18 years since 1940. “Normal” people think about a few main, important things. Things like making a living. Or raising a family. Things like safety and security. Hours spent stuck in traffic. How they’re going to pay their mortgage. Whatever their most deeply-held, innermost religious convictions are. If you can’t speak to your friends, coworkers, neighbors and fellow citizens about these things your campaign is never even going to get off the ground. Once you’ve answered these essential questions about yourself, it’s time to make a candid, thorough assessment of both the costs and benefits of a political run. You’ll need to put your life in order. That means checking the togetherness of your family or other
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relationships in terms of what a campaign will require of them. It also includes a sober look at your personal financial state and your professional status and reputation. Here’s a good rule of thumb: when decisions to run are announced, it should always be an “of course” moment for those who hear of it. Anyone who knows you should naturally assume that seeking public office was always going to be an extension of your personality and goals in life. You never want there to be a “What? Really? They’re running?!?” moment that takes place when your news gets out. No one should be surprised or shocked that you are daring to run and alter the status quo. But run you will, and yes, some folks’ apple carts will be overturned. Because of this, you’ll have to investigate yourself before formally filing as a candidate for office. This means properly and comprehensively vetting yourself. Believe me, the media will if you won’t! Learn to accept that “if it’s out there, it’s going to come out,” especially in our 24/7, interconnected world of social media, text messages, flip cams and YouTube. Perform a simple Google search of yourself as a starting point—but don’t be afraid to pay for a full background check—just as any opponent would—to see what sort of things (defaults? arrests? divorces? liens?) might be attached to your name. Next, it’s time to move from the internal to the external. To build out the structure of your campaign. You’re going to need volunteers—and tons of them. Where will you find these force multipliers, these armies of extra man-hours? Well the old adage of 20% of the people doing 80% of the work holds true here. Look to those individuals who’ve been active parts of organized groups or successful events to be your core team. Recruit from allies! Second Amendment, anti-tax, or pro-life groups will each have committed passionate people within their ranks. And don’t forget small business owners in your community. Nobody understands or embodies do-it-yourself success like they do. Convincing them that getting you elected is a desirable outcome could lead not only to warm bodies on your race, but also plenty of in-kind donations of goods and services. But don’t lose sight of the bigger battle while you’re fleshing out and then actually running your campaign. You’re the general, not a soldier in this fight. Getting confused about who is the candidate and who is the campaign manager is the number one mis-
take new candidates make (For one of the best pieces on essential roles in a campaign for lower-level office, please see Stephanie Naczelnik’s article “Running Low Budget Campaigns” at http:// hubpages.com/hub/Low-Budget-Campaigns.) Micro-managing (especially tempting today in our real-time data age) day-to-day efforts only keeps a candidate from staying focused on his or her single role: asking for support. Whether it’s volunteers, money or votes, a good candidate will spend almost all of their time asking for more, right up to the finish line. New candidates will always need constant support from trusted advisors, plus that ready-made volunteer base already mentioned. For further, more advanced training on how to most effectively run for office (e.g., fundraising, new media), groups like American Majority can come in with cutting-edge candidate tracks. But the declared candidate has almost all the responsibility for implementation and getting it right. They have to make sure they are continually informed about developing press or blog stories, policy decisions, and social media trends. A strong candidate also always positions himself or herself to be an asset to any and all surrounding local campaigns by “hardwiring” precincts (identifying where and how to harvest votes), conducting voter registration drives, and creating a robust presence online. Think of old-fashioned “slate” cards, build momentum where you can, and remember that a rising tide lifts all boats. Lastly, don’t be daunted! This is one of the most exciting political periods in recent American history. The explosion and growth of civic and liberty-minded individuals within the last two years will continue to yield great results across election cycles yet unseen. With the right preparation, you can smoothly enter the political process and make a direct, personal impact—adding to the quality and caliber of candidates serving the body politic as the Founders intended for years to come.
Matt Robbins is the national Executive Director for American Majority. Previously he was political director for the California Republican Party and the Director of Training at the Leadership Institute. Matt has personally trained thousands of political activists nationwide and in several foreign countries on campaign management, communications and party and candidate development.
30 June 2011
My Story of Liberty Activism And How to Start Yours Joshua Jackson
he founding of any organization can be hectic, but it is surely more so when it involves organizing young college students with classes, significant others, and freshly budding philosophies about the way the world should work. My own experience in starting the Auburn University chapter of Young Americans for Liberty has been incredible, not only for the chance it has given me to experiment with liberty activism and leadership ideas, but also for the enduring friendships and opportunities to learn and grow with some of the leading activists and intellectuals in the movement. The now one-year old Auburn YAL chapter’s story is one which I hope to offer a number of instructive tips to aid other chapters in more firmly grounding their leadership, expanding membership, and ultimately creating a greater impact for liberty. I first became involved in politics during the summer of 2004 as I drove my ‘97 Toyota Camry with both Kerry/Edwards and Bush/Cheney bumper stickers on the back. I claimed to be independent. Mostly I was cynical—deriving amusement from being a contrarian and the confusion that caused. Of course, how much political principle should a recent high-school graduate be expected to hold? As the 2008 campaign season rolled around, I found myself
engrossed by both presidential primaries in early 2007. As is the story of many people, the primary debates first introduced me to Congressman Ron Paul. I was not immediately sold on all of his message—but his warnings about the precarious nature of the United States’ economy aligned with my own suspicions. Shortly thereafter, however, I found myself consumed in graduate studies at Auburn. Fortunately, while I was busy confusing myself with classes in advanced thermodynamics, incredible effort was being invested in the youth liberty movement, first with Students for Ron Paul, and later with Young Americans for Liberty. By my second year of grad school in the fall of 2009, YAL had already formed nearly 150 chapters from coast to coast. Now with some extra time on my hands, I decided to jump into liberty activism. Although there were remnants of Facebook groups called “Auburn University libertarians” and a “Students for Ron Paul at AU,” their activity on campus was nonexistent. I received an alert that there would be an organized meeting of the Auburn University libertarians at a local pizza parlor, but I discovered that these gatherings were merely opportunities for vitriolic rants against the government, abstract discussions regarding the abolition of the state, and consumption of copious quantities of intoxicating beverages.
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While I held nothing against the content of those meetings, I disagreed strongly with the consensus there that “libertarians are afraid of authority,” so they also couldn’t have an organized, effective student group. What a fallacy! If there is one thing that the study of free market principles (which, of course, is easily accessible in Auburn at the nearby Mises Institute) teaches, it is that structure and organization is inherently necessary to effectively compete in the market—in our case, the marketplace of ideas. As long as it’s truly voluntary, there’s absolutely nothing about organization which should dismay the libertarian. The beauty of voluntary association is the plethora of competing ideas it brings for how to best organize, structure, and promote a certain idea and the group behind the idea. The principles of liberty are far too important, especially with the current state of our country, to leave in loose discussion groups and book clubs. They’re also too accessible, as seen through the presidential run of Ron Paul, to not attempt to promote to other young people on college campuses. Fortunately there were several other members of the group I met who agreed with me, and with that, the foundations of the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Auburn University were laid. Through the establishment of the Auburn chapter, I have noticed a few key things that have definitively enabled its success. It is my hope that other newly forming and established chapters can use, build upon, and improve some of these ideas:
1. Social interaction and building community are like cement for a YAL chapter. Near the very
beginning of the formation of the Auburn chapter, I noticed how important working together to build friendships was to our success. One of our first activities was to construct a massive display of the national debt (the inspiration for YAL National’s nationwide “Visualize the Debt” event in March 2011!) to use in raising awareness about the debt. Not only was this project useful in promoting a speaking engagement by Dr. Tom Woods, but it was instrumental in solidifying the friendships of what had been a small gang of strangers. Recognizing that building a “community” within a YAL chapter ultimately encourages commitment to activism, an effective and sustainable chapter will always look for ways to help new people become comfortable in the group setting, facilitating the chapter’s sustainability.
2. Recruiting freshmen is like shooting fish in a barrel. As any college student will recall, first experiences on
campus determine who a new student will befriend and what groups will win their commitment. Recognizing this fact enabled the incredible success of Auburn’s fall 2010 recruitment drive, where 30 new, nationally-registered members raised the total Auburn national membership to 36—currently the highest for any YAL chapter. As expected, the majority of these were newly entering freshmen and transfer students. The plan was to be as visible to new freshmen as possible during those first few weeks leading up to the official student activities fair, where all campus organizations gathered together to recruit new members. We determined that the more active new students saw us being in the days leading up the fair, the more comfortable and curious they would become when the opportunity arrived for
them to explore options for campus involvement. We began by tabling twice each week during the two weeks prior to the fair. On two of these days, we proudly displayed the massive 48-foot debt display which had ticked up another half trillion dollars since the spring. Using these tabling events and the student activities fair, we were able to encourage recruits to attend one of two information meetings. Many subsequently joined as national YAL dues-paying members.
3. You don’t need a bullhorn to be loud. The most effective chapters are always attentive to how approachable they make themselves to their student body. From avoiding polarizing labels (such as “anarch-[anything]” and even “libertarian”) when explaining the liberty philosophy to strangers, to using large visual displays to attract passersby without shouting at them, it’s important to carefully consider your presentation of the ideas of liberty. Effective leaders eliminate all obstacles to the message. This is one area in which everyone already has some experience if they are cognitive adults. For example, never be aggressive. Aggression will automatically collapse your discussion with someone, no matter how subtle you think you’re being. Be attentive and respectful at all times—and resist the urge to interrupt. Learn to listen well and value whoever approaches you for conversation. Always remember to be creative. Students are bombarded with advertisements, fliers, and banners all over campus. Think of unique ways to communicate which set the liberty message apart from competing ideas. 4. The success of a YAL chapter will depend entirely on the effectiveness of its leadership.
This is the rule. There are no exceptions. Most people are followers, looking for other people to take the first steps and pave the path towards an organization’s goals. Some are natural leaders. They have vision, organizational skills, and can relate to others to build trust and facilitate action. While many people have a passion to further the cause of liberty, few have the innate ability to turn their excitement into effective action. Unfortunately, many who oppose liberty have already found the keys to becoming effective leaders. We call these people politicians. As members of the liberty movement, we have an uphill battle. The good news is that the skills of leadership can be learned— and YAL is here to help you do so. There are now numerous opportunities through Young Americans for Liberty and other organizations to be trained as activists, intellectuals, and leaders. So don’t reinvent the wheel! Let YAL help you find the resources you need to advance your own liberty activism. In fact, if you have any questions about how to begin your own journey in liberty activism, don’t hesitate to contact me or anyone else on YAL’s staff or Leadership Team.
While pursuing a Master’s degree in chemical engineering at Auburn University, Josh Jackson led the founding of the Auburn University chapter of Young Americans for Liberty and currently serves as the Southeast Regional Director. Aside from liberty, Josh enjoys black and white photography, bad jokes, his cat Virtue, and feeding ducks with special people.
32 June 2011
Profiles in Liberty
Through the Looking Glass – Dr. Ivan Eland Trent Hill r. Ivan Eland does not mince words in his pursuit of the truth—if only all academics were as forthright with their opinions. He is perhaps most well-known for his book Recarving Rushmore, a book which rates the various Presidents of the United States according to a whole new set of criteria. The book is a must read for any libertarian, classical liberal, or history student with an interest in learning new things about the Presidents and pushing past the angelic glow some of them have attained. Dr. Eland, when asked why he though this particular project was worthwhile, replied, “I wrote the book to try and evaluate the Presidents as the country’s founders would have...” The next logical question, of course, is: how would the country’s founder have evaluated them? According to Eland, they would have done so using “roughly a libertarian outlook emphasizing peace, prosperity, liberty, and limiting executive power to stay within constitutional Dr. Ivan Eland boundaries.” There have been many surveys and studies done by historians which evaluate the popularity, effectiveness, or “greatness” of the various presidents. The top of those rankings generally read like a “Who’s Who” of anti-libertarians: the distant cousins Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Woodrow Wilson are all there—though a couple of founders generally sneak in too, amongst them Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and John Adams. Known for involving America in wars, suspending habeas corpus, creating the income tax, and imprisoning innocent civilians, the more recent presidents which normally top rankings of presidential greatness have track records which would put eve George W. Bush and Barack Obama to shame. Yet they rank highly because of a national myth that doing is better than not-doing. Dr. Eland explained, “I believe that most historians rank presidents based on activism, charisma, and service during a crisis or war (even if they caused that crisis or war or did little to avoid it).” It would be hard to find a more succinct statement on presidential rankings by historians, for we find often that people cannot rank the statesmen who “did nothing” because of a lack of
knowledge concerning their presidency—and that even if they were informed about that president, they would rank him badly for his lack of action, personality, or war record. Dr. Ivan Eland brought a new dynamic to the table by offering up a “roughly libertarian” perspective on evaluating the presidents. The book is well worth a read, for finding out who ranks near the bottom and top will certainly surprise you. But Dr. Eland is, first and foremost, a defense analyst. Issues of foreign policy, sanctions, and war are of major consequence to him and he writes on them extensively. You can—and, I might add, you should—read his writings on a regular basis on a number of websites. He works for the Independent Institute, where he is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty. Eland is an individual who has a unique perspective on the costs of foreign adventures—he has an M.B.A. in Applied Economics and a Ph.D. in National Security from George Washington University. He was the Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute before serving for fifteen years as an investigator and analyst for Congress on defense issues. Despite being, or perhaps because he is, a veteran defense analyst, Dr. Eland does not see bogeymen behind every corner. When asked what one thing the U.S. could do to increase security, he responded without hesitation, “Reducing foreign adventures, especially the U.S. occupation of Muslim countries, would reduce blowback terrorism, one of the few real threats to U.S. citizens and territory.” If only presidential candidates would treat the subject with the same maturity. Many individuals, especially members of the liberty movement, would argue that our current military situation is not as bad as it was during the Cold War, but Eland begs to differ: “Ford and Carter avoided intervention because of the Vietnam Syndrome. As that syndrome wore off, Reagan and subsequent presidents began to increase interventions again. Things really got bad when the only thing constraining U.S. overseas power disintegrated. Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II took intervention to new levels after
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Photo by M. Holdridge
the Cold War ended.” It was only a few short days after Dr. Eland made this statement that President Obama unilaterally took action against Libya, without so much as consulting Congress. In a writing published a few days later, Dr. Eland called this the “buy two wars, get another half price” deal. You know who saves from that deal? No one. It’s costly, in terms of both blood and fortune. Luckily, highly respected academics like Eland are there to warn politicians of their follies—though it seems to do little to stop them from rushing headlong into the hornet’s nest. Dr. Ivan Eland is not just an academic who slaves away in an office and publishes obscure studies. Several of his books have been well-received and his writings have appeared in media outlets ranging from the Los Angeles Times and Washington Times to the Fox News Channel and Bloomberg TV. Eland does not mince words when it comes to terrorism either. He does not believe terrorism can be defeated by means of war, for “terrorism is a technique. Al Queda is an overrated threat. They got lucky on 9/11 and have been on the run ever since.” He also does not believe a worldwide war on all terrorists groups is within the purview of our defense forces, either, because “there are other groups that use terrorism, but most on the U.S. terrorism list don’t focus their attacks on us—for example, Hamas, Hezbollah, the IRA, etc. Why make enemies of these groups?” Dr. Eland is not, of course, suggesting that the United States should cozy up to the IRA, purchase arms for Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or say nice things about Columbia’s FARC. Rather, he is saying that we do not need to make enemies of these groups
who do not now focus their energies on us. It is quite true that the U.S. goes out of its way to attract the attention of unsavory groups who otherwise might be concerned with more local issues. It’s common to come to foreign policy conclusions after adhering to an ideology, but Dr. Eland went about things somewhat upside down. He only became a libertarian after working as a Congressional investigator. Like any sane individual with prolonged exposure to government inefficiency, Eland began to question the perverse incentive systems and the involvement of government in many issues and areas. He was, then, converted by exposure to practical politics rather than the coherence of the political philosophy—though it was the writings of David Boaz and Ed Crane of the Cato Institute that convinced him that he had a political home. Since coming to a pro-liberty position by way of his experiences with Congress, Eland has proved a valuable ally to the liberty movement in his work on issues like Sino-American relations, WMD proliferation, terrorism, U.S. relations with Iran, special operations force, and the National Security Agency. Eland represents the best in a line of libertarian critics of American “defense” policy, his work is in-depth, unbiased, and accurate. If Dr. Eland’s criticisms had been more seriously considered, perhaps the follies of Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya could have been avoided. He could have helped us see through the looking glass of American foreign policy to the tough reality underneath.
Trent Hill is a freelance writer and blogger working in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He recently graduated from Louisiana State University.
34 June 2011
The Antidote to Blind Partisanship and Empire Liberty Defined Ron Paul, Grand Central Publishing, 352 pages Julie Borowski
’ll admit it. I’m a recovered neoconservative. It took years of education, but I grew out of it. I’m just thankful that I saw my flawed logic at the young age of fifteen. I was born at the tail end of the Reagan administration, a meat-eating, flag-waving, and gun-loving little girl. While the other kids in school were giving speeches about puppies and Disney movies, I was giving overly passionate speeches about the insanity of gun control legislation. My parents were Republicans and I thought that party affiliation must have been passed on through the bloodstream. I naturally did no research into the policy positions of the Republicans I cheered: If they had an “R” after their names, that was good enough for me. So it should come as no surprise that I was thrilled when George W. Bush became president in 2000. Finally a Republican in the White House! Things were going to change, right? After September 11th, I remember sitting at lunch with a bunch of 12 and 13-year-old girls trying to figure who attacked us. I never thought that maybe, just maybe, our foreign policy which has killed thousands of innocent civilians in the Middle East over the past few years had something do with it. I had no idea that America had military bases all around the world in countries that were no threat to us and didn’t want us there. The next few years were confusing. I wrongly believed that the 9/11 attacks were somehow connected to Iraq. I uncritically listened to the pundits on the television and thought President Bush was being courageous for starting a bunch of new wars. It showed that we weren’t weak. The terrorists hated us for our “freedoms.” Bush was one of us. I wasn’t supposed to criticize a Republican president ever. But after the passing of the poorly-named PATRIOT Act, which so clearly violated the Fourth Amendment, I began to be concerned. As a devoted Republican, I tried my best to ignore it, but as I saw images of dead civilians and disfigured children online, slowly I began to question our mission in the Middle East. What exactly had been accomplished? Was it worth the deaths of thousands of our men and women and innocent Afghan and Iraqi civilians? As Joseph Sobran said, “War has all the characteristics of socialism most conservatives hate: centralized power, state planning, false rationalism, restricted liberties, foolish optimism about intended results, and blindness to unintended secondary results.” During the 2004 elections, at the age of 15, I first heard the word “libertarian.” I spent hours researching this new philoso-
phy on the internet and became disillusioned with both parties and politics in general. But as I would learn in 2007, there was someone in Washington who agreed with me. Someone who was equally concerned about our foolish, immoral, and costly foreign policy—and yet still a staunch fiscal conservative and Constitutionalist on domestic issues. Someone named Ron Paul. Since then, Dr. Paul has been published several times, but his highly anticipated new book, Liberty Defined, is a must-have for anyone desiring to know the truth about liberty. Condensed into one volume of “50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom,”Liberty Defined is a comprehensive A-Z guide of topics from abortion to Zionism. It’s the book I wish I’d read as a young neocon—it would have saved me a lot of confusion—and it’s a book I can only hope will be read by many equally confused young people today. Following Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential run, an increased numbers of pundits and politicians have paid lip-service to the word “liberty.” It’s now so commonly used as to be almost meaningless, often considered interchangeable with the very different concept of democracy. Liberty Defined is crucial for its exploration of the real definition of the word “liberty” in the spirit of our Founding Fathers. Chapter by chapter, Dr. Paul explains how to restore our constitutional republic. He has the rare ability to translate complex philosophies into the vernacular without employing oversimplified, vapid rhetoric. It’s clear cut and easy to read. The book’s wide scope includes substantive chapters on the major themes of Paul’s legislation and speeches—empire, monetary policy, and taxes, for instance—as well as eye-opening sections on lesser known positions, such as unions, envy, evolution, and campaign finance reform. Even the most devoted Ron Paul supporter is bound to learn something new. It’s clear why Ron Paul has such an adoring fan base: Liberty Defined is timeless. With the exception of the death penalty, none of Ron Paul’s views listed in this book has changed in the past 30 years. This is truly an astounding feat for a man who has been in the halls of Congress for 14 terms. From just a glance at the table of contents, which lists issues such as morality in government, moral hazard, and demagogues, it’s apparent that this isn’t a typical political book. As we all should know, Dr. Paul is far too principled to be your typical politician. The book courageously tackles taboo subjects such as child pornography, flag burning,
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WikiLeaks, the American empire, and the War on Drugs. I can say without reservation that this guide to liberty ought to have a place on every American’s reading list. Its application of the Founding Father’s wisdom to the struggles that our nation faces today cannot fail to be persuasive to those struggling toward liberty from any philosophical background. As Dr. Paul states in the book, neither major party is truly dedicated to the principle of liberty. Most Americans never will hear liberty advocated in the media or taught in government schools—I certainly hadn’t, as I wondered in the aftermath of September 11th why anyone would attack my country. This is why this book is so important.: Whether you agree with Dr. Paul on all 50 issues or not, Liberty Defined is guaranteed to challenge your belief system and encourage independent-minded thought. Paul devotes a great deal of Liberty Defined to criticizing current U.S. foreign policy, explaining how our interventionism makes us less safe. The book sheds some light on the Central Intelligence Agency’s relationship with Egypt and Libya, for Dr. Paul is a fearless writer who does not mince words no matter how politically incorrect his opinion may be. He even includes a chapter on political correctness itself, stating that “it’s driven by cynicism, scoring political points, or trying to prove that the challengers to incorrect speech are morally superior.” Yet on economic issues, too, Liberty Defined does not disappoint. Ron Paul has single-handedly brought the Austrian School of Economics to the forefront of public economic debate; his chapters on business cycle and Austrian economics clearly explain why we’re in this current the fiscal mess and how to get us out. The material is surprisingly easy to understand due to Paul’s engaging and readable writing style. As he simply says, the answer to our current problems lies in liberty. In recent years, we have also seen rise to the word “patriot.” In his chapter labeled “Patriotism,” Ron Paul explains what it actually means to be an American patriot—and it does not mean blind obedience to the state or loyal support of unconstitutional wars. The definition of a true patriot, he says, is “one who is willing to stand up to his or her government when the rights of the people are being abused.” Following Dr. Paul’s logic, Liberty Defined proves him to be the greatest patriot of our lifetime. In all 50 chapters, Ron Paul takes a stand for liberty by denouncing coercive government policies. I’ve learned a lot over the past seven years. The most important lesson is “it’s not the left vs. the right. It’s the state vs. you.” Party labels only make us fight. It’s unfortunate that so many people still have my eight-year old mentality that the enemy is liberals (or conservatives). It only distracts us from the real enemy. The left-right paradigm is false. The message of Liberty Defined is one of liberty, peace, and prosperity. It transcends partisan labels and bickering and has the power to educate and inspire us to fight for the ideas that gave rise to the American Revolution. As Edmund Burke said, “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” A good place to stop doing nothing is reading Liberty Defined. Julie Borowski is a recent graduate of Frostburg State University. She is a staff writer at FreedomWorks, an organization dedicated to lower taxes, less government and more freedom.
36 June 2011
A Spectacular Failure and Guide to Success The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History John Samples, The Cato Institute, 375 pages W. James Antle III
ow serious are the Republicans about limited government? It’s a perennial question posed by lovers of liberty that has usually yielded a disappointing answer. On the campaign trail, Republican “revolutionaries” say all the right things about devolution, shutting down federal agencies, and cutting spending. In power, they customarily create new federal programs, start new government agencies, and increase spending. Increasingly, in even-numbered years Republicans promise balanced budgets and fiscal restraint while in odd-numbered years they deliver deficits and war. This sad history already seems to be repeating itself with the new Republican majority in the House and their allies in the Senate. President Obama proposed a federal budget with a $1.65 trillion deficit. The Republicans countered with an “austerity” budget that runs a $1.55 trillion deficit. The Democrats in the White House are thus proposing to add $13 trillion to the national debt. The Republican plan would add $12 trillion. Talk about the lesser of two evils! In some ways, this is not surprising. Back in the 1990s, Republicans pledged to balance the budget in seven years. Today, the boldest GOP plan for reversing the tide of red ink—one with barely more than a dozen sponsors and without leadership support—balances the budget in a little over 50 years. Yet all is not quite lost. When the first Republican continuing resolution came up for a vote, six GOP House members voted against it because it didn’t go far enough in reducing spending. That number increased to 54 on the second stopgap spending bill. A critical mass of Republican senators clamor for spending cuts. Republicans who care about limited government may be an endangered species, but they are not extinct. The Tea Party may even begin growing their ranks. If such Republicans can overcome the complacency of their leaders, they ought to consult John Samples’ latest book for some handy “do’s” and “don’ts.” Samples, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Responsive Government, has written The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History. So one-sided is this “struggle” that cynics could be forgiven for wondering if future volumes will be titled Custer’s Struggle to Win the Battle of Little Bighorn, The Struggle to Defend the Alamo, and The Struggle of Nice Ugly Guys: A Modern Romantic History. Even on the rare occasions Republicans have seriously tried to cut government spending, they have failed spectacularly. But that’s not to say they never did any good whatsoever or that there isn’t
anything future advocates of limited government could learn from their mistakes. Those are the very lessons Samples imparts. After explaining how the New Deal and the Great Society enshrined the welfare state as the country’s established political order, Samples begins with Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. Although a former Franklin Delano Roosevelt Democrat himself with vestigial attachments to his former liberalism, Reagan had a mandate to mount the first serious challenge to the post-New Deal order. The results were mixed at best. During Reagan’s first year in office, he signed into law reductions in taxes and spending, including an across-the-board 25 percent cut in marginal income tax rates. But as Samples documents, the spending cuts were wee things: overall projected federal spending was reduced by 4.7 percent in 1981. Factor in inflation and the Reagan budget cuts totaled about 5 percent of the total cost of government. Domestic discretionary spending was cut by 14.2 percent in the first year, with some Great Society programs taking major hits: the Community Development Block Grant Service “lost two-thirds of its funding;” mass transit spending was cut by one-third. Samples quotes Sen. Pete Domenici, a Republican from New Mexico, as saying that the 1981 budget represented “the most dramatic reduction in the ongoing programs in the history of the country.” But the Cato scholar also acknowledges that this was partly because federal spending had risen so much in the previous three decades, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the economy. Reagan halted a trend that would have ballooned federal spending to 25 percent of GDP without his spending cuts but hardly reversed it by actually shrinking government. Worse, most of Reagan’s budget cuts were reversed by future Congresses. Reagan lost his bipartisan conservative working majority in the House in the 1982 elections. Republicans lost control of the Senate in 1986. Entitlement spending was largely untouched, with attempts to slow Social Security’s growth thwarted. Defense spending increased. Reagan left office having signed into law the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988, an expansion of entitlement spending so disastrous it was actually repealed a year and half later. Deficits ballooned and the national debt doubled. Reagan had more enduring successes on taxes. He slashed the top marginal income tax rate from a staggering 70 percent in 1981 to 28 percent by the time he left office. The number of tax brack-
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ets was cut from 14 to just two. Income unlike Reagan or Gingrich, they were taxes were finally indexed to inflation, promptly thrown out by the voters in eliminating the “bracket creep” that the next election. Yet it was actually imposed unlegislated tax increases their efforts to limit government that on millions of middle-class families. were most enduring, sometimes for These tax cuts ultimately saved the twenty years or longer. American people $2.5 trillion and kept The difference: While Reagan and taxes at their historic level. Without the Gingrich trimmed some spending, they Reagan tax cuts, the federal tax burden did not totally eliminate any large prowould have reached nearly 25 percent grams. Though the Taft Congress did of GDP. not repeal the New Deal, neither did it Although Reagan remained a net make this mistake. Price controls were tax cutter, even here he was not an abolished. Food stamps? Gone. The unqualified success. His business tax closed shop was banned. Federally supcut was already gone by 1982. Social ported daycare was junked. National Security payroll taxes were boosted in health insurance was a nonstarter. 1983. The capital gains tax was raised Samples also mostly ignores miliin 1986. Reagan’s failures on spending tary spending, which the Taft Republicontained the seeds to undo all his succans also cut. Though he does deserve cesses: Persistent deficits have slowly credit for acknowledging the huge role John Samples of the Cato Institute but surely eroded his tax cuts. And by the Iraq war played in the Republicans’ failing to act decisively against both defeat—and in undermining conservataxes and spending when tax cuts had the biggest supply-side eftive efforts to really limit government. fect on the economy, Reagan set the precedent for future RepubUltimately, Samples contends that it will take a crisis of the old lican borrowing. order to turn the tide in the struggle to limit government. That Republicans held the White House in the 1988, but they didn’t crisis is surely coming in the form of unpaid bills. When it comes, try again to cut spending until after they retook Congress under the conservative clean-up crew should read John Samples -- and Bill Clinton in 1994. Newt Gingrich, the man who became speakemulate Robert Taft. er of the House, promised a “genuine revolution.” “We’re going to rethink every element of the federal government,” Gingrich W. James Antle III is associate editor of The American Spectator. said. “We’re going to shut down several federal departments.” But from the very beginning, these revolutionaries exempted Social Security, defense expenditures, and interest on the national debt from any spending cuts. They did, however, eye $430 billion in cuts to Medicare. Clinton had other ideas. Samples recounts how he entered into a budget stalemate with the Republicans, forcing a government shutdown and accusing them of cutting spending on the poor, elderly, and sick to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. The GOP capitulated, sending Clinton appropriations bills. The president used his veto to curb their biggest spending cuts there too. Eventually, Republicans had some success cutting the capital gains tax, lowering taxes for families with children, rolling back farm subsidies, and reaching a budget agreement with Clinton that began producing surpluses. But the Gingrich revolutionaries failed to limit government. They began outspending Clinton in 1998. Future Republican Congresses eliminated the surpluses and restored the farm subsidies. And George W. Bush was, as Samples acknowledges, a disaster for limited government. Samples’ book would have been improved by including an earlier case study: The Robert Taft-led “Do Nothing” 80th Congress of 1947-48. This Congress did not have the benefit of governing in as conservative a political climate as Reagan or Gingrich. They had to contend with a liberal Democratic president, Harry Truman, and a country accustomed to a wartime economy. And also
38 June 2011
America’s Greatest Enemy: Pious, Brave, Generous, and Intelligent? Osama bin Laden Michael Scheuer, Oxford University Press, 304 pages Elliot Engstrom
irst we obliterate America,” Osama bin Laden told his son Omar in 1996. “By that I don’t mean militarily. We can destroy America from within by making it economically weak, until its markets collapse.” Such personal insights into the life and mindset of one of the most wanted men in American history are what make Michael Scheuer’s new biography, Osama bin Laden, a must-read for any student of foreign policy. While thousands of books, papers, and treatises have been written about the Middle East, Al Qaeda, and bin Laden, few—if any—authors have both Scheuer’s intimate knowledge of bin Laden and his willingness to state the facts exactly as they are. Scheuer’s assessment of the most famous terrorist in America forces the reader to leave behind any preconceived notions about bin Laden, and instead to consider him as he truly is—a human being. Osama bin Laden forces Americans on all points on the political spectrum to come to terms with some uncomfortable facts. On the pro-war right, Americans must take an honest look at American foreign policy and its past blunders. At the same time, the politically correct left must realize that Osama bin Laden is not merely a rogue extremist among tolerant and peaceful Muslims, but rather is substantially revered and supported in at least some portions of the Middle Eastern Muslim community in what is widely seen as a defensive jihad blessed by God. As the chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit from 1996-1999, one would expect Scheuer to have a great wealth of knowledge about the man. However, what jumps out to the reader is the author’s objectivity. Perhaps this is not so much because objectivity is a rare trait, but rather that it is lost on a modern American foreign policy which, according to Scheuer, sees the world that it wishes to see rather than the world as it is. “Washington did not chalk off Lord Howe as a fool and a womanizer,” he writes. “Eisenhower did not think he could defeat Rommel in North Africa by calling him a criminal.” Likewise, Scheuer argues that we should not dismiss Osama bin Laden as a mass-murdering Islamo-Fascist, but rather should consider him as a human being with human motivations in order to bring us closer to understanding how to truly defeat him.
Scheuer specifically states that his goal is not to exalt or praise bin Laden, but rather to give an objective assessment of our enemy in order to better understand and ultimately defeat him. In the fashion of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, the author states that in order to truly defeat an enemy, one must truly know that enemy. However, this objective assessment includes a side of bin Laden not commonly seen in American mass media. “If I had only ten qualities to enumerate in drafting a thumbnail biographical sketch of [bin Laden],” writes Scheuer,” they would be: pious, brave, generous, intelligent, charismatic, patient, visionary, stubborn, egalitarian, and most of all, realistic.” This realistic portrait of bin Laden’s life begins in his early years as a privileged Saudi Arabian youth. Before discussing the infamous terrorist that the world now knows, Scheuer shows the reader a bright, motivated, and admired young man who excelled at both manual labor and academic studies. Scheuer’s story reveals that Osama bin Laden did not one day wake up and decide to be an anti-American terrorist, but rather was influenced throughout the course of his youth by key people and experiences which led him towards a realization that the United States was his natural enemy. However, Scheuer’s assessment does not show only the influences in bin Laden’s life related to his future anti-American jihad, but also the more personal aspects of his life. “Anyone writing about Osama notes the close relationship between him and his mother, Allia, as well as Allia’s stout defense of her eldest son,” writes Scheuer. Among many of the interesting facets of this relationship are the facts that bin Laden’s mother came from a largely secular family, “dressed fashionably,” and was responsible for exposing bin Laden to the world outside of Saudi Arabia’s puritanical form of Islam. While his mother was a huge influence, the story of bin Laden’s father equally exposes a great piece of what made bin Laden the man he is today. Scheuer chronicles bin Laden’s work for his father’s construction company and the son’s later formation of his own such companies. Job-site construction experience would prove crucial in bin
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Laden’s later conflicts with the Soviets and Americans. For example, Scheuer presents oral accounts of a determined and brave Osama bin Laden on the Afghan battlefield fighting the Soviets, driving his bulldozer to the front lines to dig new trenches for his mujahedeen. If there was one aspect to remember from bin Laden’s years working for his father, it was his acquisition of a will to both passionately lead while remaining in and among those who followed him, a quality that would serve him well as a key figure in Al Qaeda. Even when Scheuer leaves bin Laden’s young life to discuss the beginning of his militant years, the picture is not the standard view of an extremist Muslim often put forth. The author illustrates how rather than always being an important figure on the battlefield, one of bin Laden’s most significant roles was ferrying money between the elites with whom he had grown up and the Islamic fighters on the ground. Osama bin Laden’s privileged youth contrasted with his personal drive to be among the average militant make him a unique character in the Middle Eastern landscape, rather than just one more Islamic fighter bent on destroying the United States. If the above cited uniqueness of bin Laden was not already enough, Scheuer goes on to show how the Afghan war made him even more of an individual. Through dozens of first-person accounts and historical recollections, he argues that while bin Laden did not himself have a huge effect on the Afghan war of the 1980s, the war gained for him the respect of Arab mujahedeen fighters and Afghan warriors alike. With such information, the question of why bin Laden chose to lure the United States to Afghanistan in 2001 begins to be answered. Whereas many cite bin Laden’s declaration of war with the United States as itself evidence of how the man hates Americans for what we are, Scheuer makes a compelling case that this declaration was less due to bin Laden’s inherent hate for America and more due to his strategic plan for ridding the Middle East of the influence of Israel, corrupt Islamic dictators, and the West. “No one, whether in the United States, the West, or the Muslim world,” writes Scheuer, “can justifiably profess doubt that U.S. policies motivated bin Laden, and have inspired other Muslims to support that struggle by picking up arms, donating funds, or offering prayers.” In short, Scheuer argues that bin Laden came to realize that the oppression of true Muslims that he saw throughout the Middle East was and is only possible due to American support. Therefore, in his mind the jihad that he declared against America is not offensive as is often thought by some due to events like the 9/11 attacks, but defensive due to the fact that the support for operations against Muslims in Muslim lands comes directly from the United States. Scheuer contends that despite what many argue in the name of political correctness in the United States about Osama bin Laden
being a rare and outcast individual, a great many Muslims believe that what he is doing is blessed by God. In chilling detail, he recounts bin Laden’s carefully laid plan to provoke the United States, lure it to Afghanistan, and then bleed out its financial resources. Anyone who has paid attention to the last ten years must painfully admit—he has certainly accomplished this. Perhaps the most-awaited part of the new biography is Scheuer’s assessment of where bin Laden is today and what he is doing. While he does not claim to know where the man is, the author disagrees with many contemporary scholars by stating that he still considers bin Laden to be an influential player who has a continuing significance in power. In Scheuer’s assessment, Al Qaeda not only is alive and well, but also different than any enemy the United States has ever faced. They have the typical steadfast motivations of any such underdog group, are extremely organized and disciplined, and make remarkable use of a key tool: the internet. Online, Al Qaeda can disseminate orders and make both large and small scale plans. Scheuer’s conclusions will likely leave some readers both stunned and fearful at what is to come. However, Scheuer equally explains what the United States must do if it is ever to defeat Osama bin Laden and men like him: “Live in the world you inhabit,” Scheuer writes, quoting Robert E. Lee. “Look upon things as they are. Take them as you find them. Make the best of them…Do not imagine things are going to happen as you wish. Wish them to happen right. Then strive to make them so.” For anyone who wishes to have an objective, realistic view of our world, Michael Scheuer’s Osama bin Laden is a crucial book to read and understand. The portrait reveals not only how little most of us know of a man we speak about a great deal, but also the amount of misinformation which has been fed to the American public about him.
Elliot Engstrom is a member of the University of Georgia School of Law Class of 2013. He recently graduated from Wake Forest University, where he majored in French with minors in history and journalism.
40 June 2011
Atlas Shrugged Outdoes its Critics Atlas Shrugged: Part One Will Challenge Viewers’ Assumptions about Government Ryan M. Budd
efore beginning this review, I read a number of reviews of Atlas Shrugged: Part One. Most fell into one of two categories: Either they criticized the film for poor cinematography and character development or they praised its delivery of Randian philosophy. These articles left me expecting to write a review explaining how the film version of Rand’s classic novel was not going to help us grow the liberty movement: I expected to find that the bipolar review scene revealed that the film read like Gospel to believers and like Greek to those unaware of its deeper meaning and truth. Happily, though, I was wrong. While this film does require some will to tackle it at a philosophical level, it is by no means uninteresting and will certainly engage the modern movie-goer. According to producer Harmon Kaslow, the central theme of Part One is to build up to a deeper realization of why the world of Atlas Shrugged is falling apart, so the viewer can be led to more essential philosophical points in the next installment. The film depicts a central government intoxicated with its mission to force equality on a society that has unequal members. This government has made private enterprise and individual achievement almost impossible. Men like Hank Rearden, the steel magnate whose total dedication to his work is symbolized by his steel-walled office, have to fight against stagnation to preserve innovation and individualism, the forces which Rand’s philosophy holds up as vital to the success of any community. In the end, it’s revealed that the most productive members of society have gone on strike to protest the stifling of their potential to benefit a misguided notion of the collective good. Rand’s philosophical point is strongest here: Without
producers and innovators, society cannot advance. But then, you already knew that. You’ve read the book, or at least know about its underlying themes, and I can assure you that those who are aware of Rand’s central themes and messages will not be disappointed by this film. Characters like Rearden, Dagny Taggart, and Ellis Wyatt come on scene demonstrating the tenacity, resourcefulness, faith in one another, and essential humanity that comes to us from Rand’s monumental text. Characters like James Taggart would make even a hardened socialist cringe, as they harness their personal short-term desires to a rhetoric of communal improvement in which they don’t. Three scenes stand out to me. First, the opening scene, where a train speeds through a gray, hopeless landscape toward a broken rail and inevitable crash while newsreels interjected between the shots of the speeding and doomed locomotive reveal that the country is falling apart. This is by far the most powerful scene, both philosophically and in drawing a viewer into the story. The world is in crisis and headed at full tilt and without a clue toward a mighty crash, symbolized by that unfortunate train. It is interesting that the forces of stagnation should be represented by a speeding train, but this metaphor depicts the denial around which characters like James Taggart structure their lives. Taggart, tied hand and fist to the political establishment and dependent on its positive regard, is more receptive to public opinion than he is to business sense. He believes this is forward progress and therefore is rushing full speed ahead with his partnership with big government. At one point he tells Dagny that “radical steps” are needed for the survival of his business; what he considers
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“radical” is not the risk-taking embrace of new technology but reliance on government to stifle competition. What he doesn’t realize is that his way of thinking contributes to brain drain. Similar to what occurred in Spain when it evicted the Spanish Jewish population and in France when it revoked the Edict of Nantes and forced Protestants to flee the country, in Atlas polite society has taken a position antagonistic to those people who best promoted its general welfare through innovation and enterprise and forced them out. Because James Taggart is likely aware that he is simply an average Joe who happened to have had a rich father and some friends, he has joined the ranks of the mediocre. His primary antithesis is represented by Hank Rearden, who, like James’ sister Dagny, is hard-working and dedicated. His goal is to help Dagny revolutionize transportation, which would contribute enormously toward the good of the nation. What offends Reardon’s contemporaries is that he has no compunction with profiting from his contribution. Hank’s wife Lillian is James’ match in the same way that Dagny, at least for this part of the story, is Hank’s. Hank and Dagny produce and innovate, while James and Lillian mooch and destroy. They both seem resentful of their partners’ success even as they benefit from it—a very cogent example of what Rand was getting at in the novel. On screen, these personas are flawlessly portrayed, and props are due to the actors and actresses fulfilling these four roles. Hank is party to the second scene which stands out so strongly to me. He is meeting with a government official who informs him his company is too successful and should stop production. Hank, smirking, asks the official whether or not his company is good. The official responds, saying that whether or not the company is good is “irrelevant,” and that it is dangerous regardless. If it is not good, it is a “physical danger,” and if it is good, then it is merely a “social danger.” This official believes profit to be morally wrong and of no use to anybody anywhere. He believes success is bad and “progress” can only be achieved through subordinating the individual to the collective. He asks to buy the company with public funds, and when Hank refuses, the official expresses amazement that Hank would be willing to fight tooth-and-nail for a small profit (his company’s product has been denounced by the State Science Institute, which is in bed with the government interests trying to control the rail industry) when the state is willing to buy his company for “a fortune.” Hank responds simply: “It’s mine.” The third scene which stands out comes after the John Galt Line’s great success, when the forces loyal to James Taggart are regrouping from Rearden’s metal proving the State Science Institute wrong. Hank and Dagny have gone into business together to build their revolutionary rail line, against all opposition, and have succeeded with the funding of financier Ellis Wyatt, who James et al. want to force out of the system, resentful of his prosperity. One of the conspirators suggests that Wyatt’s “own success” will allow them to bring him down. Success, even against such odds and at such personal risk and expense, had become a liability. Contrary to some reviewers’ suggestion, I must conclude that Atlas Shrugged: Part One is indeed a film which will challenge viewers’ assumptions that government control and redistribution
are good—assumptions many Americans have not been required to submit to the test since so much of mainstream society seems to accept them as implicit facts. My fear was that the film would merely preach to the choir, but in fact it makes powerful points that underline the challenge to statist assumptions represented by the thought of Ayn Rand—much of which, of course, so closely resembles the philosophy of the founders of our republic. This long-awaited film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged can succeed in not only delivering a sound free-market philosophy to those who already understand it, but also to the wider audience of Americans the liberty movement seeks to reach.
An Interview with Atlas Producer Harmon Kaslow While reviewing Atlas Shrugged: Part One, I had the privilege of speaking the film’s producer, Harmon Kaslow. He said that “the movie is about the message” at the most fundamental level and compared the film to faith-based movies made outside of Hollywood that generate strong followings within their groups. Asked him whether this intent would alienate outside audiences, he said that it’s “very hard for someone who has read the book to ascertain what someone who hasn’t read the book is going to get out of the movie.” However, the team did make some concessions: We need to set a foundation for people. That was done consciously to make the film accessible to people who aren’t familiar with the book. I think there’s enough for them to pick a cinematic thread to latch onto and have an entertaining night at the movies [while also digesting some philosophy]. Kaslow suggested that women’s groups, in particular, would find the film engaging and satisfying since the heroine, Dagny Taggart, consistently triumphs despite the antagonism and incompetency of the men in her life. While the film does take some liberties with the plot in order to engage those who have not read the book, Haslow said extensive revisions were impossible. “When we deviated from the book,” he said, “we started to run into all sorts of logic and structural problems that would haunt us later in the film and create issues with the underlying philosophical message.” Finally, we discussed the many parallels between the events occurring in the film’s first scene and what is presently happening on the world stage, particularly Middle East chaos. Kaslow maintained that the film “was not tailored at all” toward current affairs since the script was written in the comparatively tranquil April and May of 2010, adding that it was due to “fortuitous writing and creativity on the part of Brian O’Toole and John Aglialoro, the screenwriters, that many of the things we projected might happen then are happening now.” Atlas Shrugged: Part One debuts in theaters nationwide April 15, 2011. Ryan Budd is a senior at Elmira College in New York who will be attending law school in the fall. He can be contacted via his profile on Freedom Connector, or via e-mail at email@example.com.
42 June 2011
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44 June 2011