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Z.A. Silverman is a senior financial management major at Clemson University dedicated to understanding the world and attempting to make it a place where each individual can maximize his or her potential by allowing equal opportunity for all.

article-2166611-13DAD952000005DC-225_634x389When you think of someone calling to repeal the minimum wage, the first image that comes to mind may be of a greedy Wal-Mart or McDonald’s CEO who aims to oppress the working class by keeping wages as low as possible. However, when you look at who the minimum wage hurts the most, the answer is not corporations; its small businesses and younger workers. Whereas Walmart and McDonald’s may still resist paying workers a higher minimum wage, they have access to vast resources and capital, which gives them the ability to either increase worker wages or buy expensive automated machinery that negates the cost of paying low-skill workers. Small businesses, on the other hand, often don’t have the capital to invest in automated machinery or to pay the higher wages required by State regulations, limiting their options for growth and workforce expansion.

As a result, on the workers’ side, an absence of training-level jobs means that the jobs which used to be available for entry-level workers looking to work their way up would  now either be automated or blocked by legislation that  claims a “living wage” is necessary for all jobs. Almost every high school or college graduate has asked this question before— “If every job requires experience, and I don’t have any experience, how can I get a job?”

The answer is that the minimum wage has changed the nature of the workforce. Low-wage jobs that were used to build skills and/or break into new fields in the past now face excessive demand due to unnaturally high wages, blocking out those with the most to gain. Who’s to say that inexperienced workers looking to add to their skillset and resume wouldn’t accept low-wage work? Even flipping burgers or working a cash register teaches much more than a motion of the wrist or how to press buttons; punctuality, customer service, responsibility, teamwork, and communication are all valuable skills that translate into the advanced job market, even if they’re learned through experience at an entry-level position. (more…)

Imagine you’re on campus in an enclosed, public space, perhaps a movie theater or school library, when a stranger whips out a gun and threatens to shoot. What do you do? In this moment, you face very few options. You could dial 911, but the potential shooter might notice. If you have a gun, you may be able to bargain with or injure the attacker at an opportune moment — if your campus allows concealed carry. Maybe you don’t have a gun with you, but someone else in the same room does and is prepared to help. However, what if you’re on a campus that has banned concealed carry? These campuses instead advise students to “gather weapons” such as “desks, keys, shoes, belts, (and) books” and then “mentally prepare” an offensive attack.

This ludicrous advice performs two functions: It represents an admission by university officials that security guards and police officers cannot always protect students from violence, thereby placing the burden of self-defense on the individual. And it expects the individual to protect him- or herself without an effective weapon. In reality, allowing citizens (including college students) to own and carry firearms would increase public safety and decrease deaths due to gun violence.

An overwhelming body of statistical evidence suggests that policies supporting gun ownership produce positive results. For instance, as of 2000, the 31 states with laws that allow citizens to request concealed carry concealed-carry-encouraged-sign_0permits have, on average, 24% less violent crime than states without such laws. Furthermore, Switzerland, with some of the most lenient gun regulations in the world, suffers far less violent crime than the U.S. and almost no gun crime. Moreover, children are 14.5 times more likely to die in a car crash than from a gun accident. Finally, the National Crime Victimization Study revealed that firearms are used defensively 108,000 times per year—a conservative estimate.

However, statistics mean little without theory to explain them. When considering the role of substitutes, gun control laws are ineffective and even counter-productive. Substitutes are goods that can replace each other; alternate means to the same end. For example, I can drink either coffee or tea in the morning to achieve the same caffeinated boost. One is an alternate good to the other. Similarly, an individual who desires to commit violence may choose from a variety of means (strangling, shooting, stabbing, bombing, and so forth). Eliminating some means does not prohibit the killer from accomplishing his or her end goal (for example, in 2008 a Japanese man killed seven in a stabbing rampage). Thus, if a nation-wide gun ban were implemented tomorrow, would-be school shooters would likely improvise with different weapons. Alternatively, they might turn to the black market to procure illegally one of the 280 million firearms already circulating within the underground channels. (more…)

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Earlier in this series, I argued that punishmentprisons, and criminal law are inherently unjust, and that a purely restitution-focused system of tort law would be a suitable replacement. Even those who end up agreeing may still wonder what practical impact this theoretical framework has on how we actually think about law and politics in the real world. Addressing that question will be the focus of this final installment.

A Shift in Focus

The first answer is that keeping goals like prison abolition in mind structures the way we evaluate other policies and arguments. For instance, libertarian opposition to gun control and the drug war becomes even more important when we remember that these policies shuffle more and more people into a condition of slavery. More substantial shifts in argument come when we remember that every additional person in prison means an additional injustice. For example, this means we should reject claims that one benefit of drug legalization is that overcrowded prisons no longer have to give early release to more serious offenders. Instead, we should celebrate those early releases, and focus the case against prohibition on freedom for those who buy, sell, possess, or use drugs[1].

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Focusing on the fact that each additional person in prison is an additional injustice also gives us new and unexpected angles from which to criticize those laws that we already oppose. Consider the critique of hate crime laws that has emerged from the most radical sections of the queer and transgender liberation movements, due to their ties with prison abolition. While hate crime laws point to very serious and grave problems, it is unclear that they actually do anything to curtail those problems. These laws seem to be valued primarily for their symbolic power in condemning especially egregious acts of violence that target marginalized populations. Yet, in actual effect, these laws significantly harm those same populations. This is because hate crime laws serve as a justification for expanding the criminal justice system, which in turn results in casting a larger net against those same people it already is most likely to target: marginalized populations.

(more…)

The deadline to apply to SFL’s Summer Internship Program is Wednesday, April 1! We are currently in the process of reviewing and interviewing applicants, so be sure to get your application in soon.

CC intern 2We are seeking competent and motivated individuals for full-time summer internships in our DC office. SFL has been growing rapidly since its inception, and students who join our internship program will have the opportunity to work in an innovative and team-driven environment. SFL interns will be given a large degree of autonomy and support, allowing them to achieve meaningful professional growth.

 

Interested in becoming an intern in SFL’s DC office this summer? Participants will:

  • Receive a $2,000 stipend
  • Be awarded a scholarship to FreedomFest in Las Vegas that will cover registration, a room at the Planet Hollywood, and a $100 travel stipend
  • Ongoing professional training sessions with SFL staff and other movement leaders

If this sounds good to you, I hope to see you apply! You can learn more about the available positions and submit an application here.

The following was written by Senior Campus Coordinator Angel Lauver from The University of Florida.

Angel 1When I was in high school, I was one of only 2 or 3 libertarians at my school. Like many of you probably have, I accepted that I was part of a very small group of people, and I never bothered pursuing libertarianism any further. But when I started college, I was shocked and excited to find there was a libertarian club on campus. Immediately I wanted to get involved as much as possible. I wanted to learn more, I wanted to read more, and I wanted to fight for freedom.
Serendipitously, the group I joined at my school was closely tied to Students For Liberty. Even more fortunately for me, the friends I made in the group were Campus Coordinators with SFL, and they encouraged me to apply to the Campus Coordinator Program. So there I was, my freshman year, accepted to a program that would unknowingly change my life. SFL gave me high quality leadership and professional training. I learned the best ways to spread the ideas of liberty, how to run a successful event, how to speak to donors, and so much more. I even learned professional details which are often overlooked such as where to wear a name tag and how to confidently give someone your business card. I have had the opportunity to host leadership forums, run the Florida regional conference, and meet dozens of students from across the world who are dedicated to liberty.

Being part of Students For Liberty is more than just a way to get leadership training or Angel 2resources for your club. Being part of SFL means becoming part of a family and a support system. No matter where you are in the world, there will be a SFLer there with open arms. As a CC I have learned how to be a professional leader but I have also learned how to be a part of a community. I went from never having considered going into the liberty movement to wanting to dedicate my career to fighting for liberty. I’ve been with SFL for two years now and I’ve never looked back. I can’t wait to continue on with SFL next year.

If you’re interested in joining SFL’s Campus Coordinator Program, learn more about it and apply here! You can also tune into the informational webinar taking place this Thursday, March 26 at 8:00 PM EST.