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Do you aspire to be a young professional? One step on this path is an opportunity presented by our friends at the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) in London.adamsmith

ASI hosts an annual ‘Young Writer on Liberty’ competition centered around a certain theme and this year’s theme is the opportunities, challenges, and obstacles that come with new technologies.

Think of how modern technology will change the world and what policy implications will come along with genetic engineering, driverless cars, augmented reality, or anything else which will fit the essay theme. Essays focusing on the principles of free markets and individual liberty will get special consideration. (more…)

Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with Chubbies shorts at all. I’m simply using the shorts as an analogy.

As a law student, most of my experience with the intellectual property regime has been fairly removed and abstract. But I also happen to have an awesome big brother who is a genius of a businessman. His new business was doing stunningly well, although, he recently got sued. Why? Another company is alleging he has infringed upon their intellectual property.

Chubbies_short_shorts_for_menI was never certain where I stood in the whole IP debate, and I am still not certain where I stand now. But, with one phone call, my brother made me realize that there are serious problems with our current approach to IP. Indeed, there are some forms of “intellectual property” that cause a hell of a lot more harm than good.

Struggling to find something to compare my brother’s situation to, I landed on Chubbies shorts as being a pretty great analogy. Chubbies, the frattiest thing known to mankind, are in pretty hot demand. Now, let’s say my brother — who we can imagine as the model of a frat boy — saw an opportunity in creating his own brand of short shorts.

Since he has pretty good business sense, he made sure to roll out his own brand of shorts in time for Christmas sales. Turns out Chubbies, the brand everyone wanted to put under the tree, couldn’t meet demand, so my brother’s shorts were right there to pick up the slack and he did pretty well for himself throughout the holiday season. Fear not, for he made everyone’s Christmas wish for short shorts come true… and better yet, for half the price. After all, it is always fun to imagine your favorite frat boy donning a pair of Chubbies on christmas morning… (more…)

Guest Author Baleigh Scott wrote this article to convince people that, principally, “government is the disease for which it claims to be the cure.” In order to inform her blogged opinions (The Indisputable Dirt), this Public Policy Analyst reads political editorials and classical literature. Her background is in Economics and Creative Non-fiction, so her writing is directed to an interest in Money and Story-telling. The welfare state is her perfect subject. Enjoy.

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If the wall is strong enough to restrict big businesses within, it is most certainly strong enough to keep smaller, not-yet-in-existence businesses out.

When I mention the dangers of regulating business (as I do incessantly)— of giving a panel of flawed human beings the power to create and enforce arbitrary rules and standards within an industry— people tend to assume that I’m going to focus, not on “proper” regulation, but on its evidently corrupted human manifestation.

The expected argument goes something like this:

We can’t expect people, including regulators, not to act in their own self-interest. If we grant government agencies the special power to regulate businesses, the biggest and most powerful businesses will inevitably find ways to use their wealth to influence those regulatory agencies. In one way or another, the given regulatory agency will become no more than a puppet for the industry’s big wigs. As a result, the very agencies designed to prevent huge companies from using their size and influence— at others’ expense— will end up granting the wealthiest companies more power and freedom than the free market ever could. Thus, if our goal is to curb the power of big businesses, we’d be better off without the regulatory agencies in the first place.”

There is a lot of truth to this.

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unnamedOn January 1st, 1994, 21 years ago, Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America formed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and President Ronald Reagan had already implemented the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement in 1988, so the extension of this agreement with Mexico became NAFTA. Despite controversial– and sometimes conflicting– studies, the agreement has been quite beneficial to the economies of North America.

NAFTA’s reduced protectionism has undeniably increased trade and investment across North America, not to mention lowered consumer prices. American export growth to Canada and Mexico has skyrocketed since ’94. Indeed, NAFTA has brought together these three countries to make the biggest “free trade area” on Earth, weighing in with a combined GDP of $20 trillion annually, which trumps the European Union’s output.

Furthermore, increased trade between the countries may point to better civil diplomatic relations. For skeptical fodder, NAFTA critics point to an initial job loss that correlated to the shuffle in North America’s labor market. In spite of the drop, each North American country has experienced improved employment opportunities and increased wages since NAFTA’s inception.

That being said, the 2,000-page NAFTA outline does need re-forming. Most of the document consists of varying tariff rates and trade barriers. It has certainly reduced protectionism across North America, but free trade is not just about reducing and managing protectionist policies; also, abolishing them. NAFTA has created an intergovernmental bureaucracy to manage this agreement, but bureaucracy breeds the same by nature, so… plain and simple, NAFTA should protect the voluntary exchange of goods and services.

Contradictory bureaucratic absurdities abound, including many provisions that allow the NAFTA governments to arbitrarily return to pre-NAFTA tariff rates, something that jeopardizes the progress made so far. A different provision reduces trade barriers for agreement partners, undermining other international goods; the document calls this “rules of origin,” wherein US-M-C goods receive “preferential tariff treatment.” Thus, commerce has fallen into political tyranny yet again.

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The following post was written by John Breeden, an SFL Campus Coordinator at West Virginia University. 

WVU Students For Liberty’s vehement defense of street vendors has been covered in The Daily Athenaeum, WVU’s campus publication Click here to read the full article. 

On September 17, the Morgantown City Council passed an ordinance restricting street vendors’ areas of operation throughout the city. The city claims its primary concern is for the public safety. By removing street vendors from the sidewalks on the main street of the city, they believe this will help to reduce some of the violence that is known to occur in an area with many late-night clubs and bars by reducing the size of crowds outside. The city also restricts the vendors from operating during the day, and regulated that they must remain at least 50ft away from other brick and mortar businesses, significantly limiting their areas of availability. Morgantown, West Virginia is not a busy city with a vast array of food trucks and vendors. There are two men who operate hotdog carts and a couple who own a taco truck. That comes to a grand total of three regular street vendors that the city believes is causing a safety hazard for the late-night bar patrons who make up their customer base.

WVU Students For Liberty tables with Joe Stone, affectionately known as “Hot Dog Man.” Morgantown city regulations would restrict Mr. Stone to selling hot dogs away from the main street of the city, severely cutting down on foot traffic and his business profits.

When I first heard about what the city was doing, I was upset by the clear anti-competitiveness of the ordinance and the absurdity of the city believing these people were causing any harm. I first talked to Joseph Byrd who has been operating his hot dog cart in the same spot for the past 7 years. Before selling hot dogs he had worked as a janitor at the local clubs. Prior to that he lived in New York City, doing whatever he could to get by. The other vendor is Joe Stone, known affectionately as Hot Dog Man. He has been selling hot dogs on the same street for 17 years. In that time he’s been able to support his family and even put two kids through college. In the past, Joe ran his business with his wife, who sadly passed away just two months ago from cancer. These men were both distraught about what the new ordinance was going to do to their business. Being relocated away from the busiest areas would greatly impact the relatively small margins they already make.

On October 1st the WVU Students For Liberty and WVU College Libertarians coordinated efforts to raise awareness and protest what the city was doing to these men. We obtained an official city petition to repeal to local ordinance and invited Hot Dog Man to come out with us and do what he does best: sell hot dogs. We got more than 500 signatures in just a few hours, and helped raise money to support Mr. Stone and his business in this difficult time for his family.

Being a part of this process significantly changed the way I viewed the situation. The city government’s intentions are irrelevant when their actions can have such a harmful impact on people’s lives. This is what the fight for liberty is truly about; standing up for innocent people and defending them from the harmful hand of government intrusion.

Do you have photos or video of your student activism on campus? Were you featured in a local newspaper or magazine? Be sure to email Students For Liberty’s Media Team of Megan Roberts or Keara Vickers and let us know. We’d love to spread the word, feature you on our website, and help you garner more media attention!