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The following was written by Omar Benmegdoul.

Donald Trump has already made good on one campaign promise: getting Carrier to keep in Indiana roughly a third of the 2,100 jobs it was going to ship to Mexico. Chief executive of United Technologies Corp. Greg Hayes walked out of his meeting with Mike Pence on Monday with $7 million in tax breaks over ten years in exchange for this.

Hey, I didn’t say it was a good campaign promise. Sounds like standard crony capitalism, right? Well, mises.org writer Tho Bishop disagrees. To explain why, he enlists the help of Matthew McCaffrey, who argued the same point regarding tax breaks for video game companies in a previous mises.org article:

Simply put, being permitted to keep your income is not the same as taking it from competitors. Exemptions and loopholes do not forcibly redistribute wealth; taxes and subsidies do, thereby benefiting some producers at the expense of others.

Yes, entrepreneurs who take advantage of tax breaks will incur fewer costs than entrepreneurs who don’t. But this doesn’t show that exemptions or loopholes provide unfair advantages; in fact, just the opposite — it shows that taxes penalize entrepreneurs unlucky enough to be left holding the bill.

Tax breaks are beneficial to those who claim them, but they are not subsidies. Rather, exemptions and loopholes are life jackets in a sea of wealth redistribution. Mises said it perfectly: “capitalism breathes through those loopholes.”

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Donald Trump

“Donald J. Trump’s win upset many college students across the nation.” (Courtesy of Ninian Reid via Flickr Creative Commons)

Donald J. Trump’s win upset many college students across the nation, leading to classes being called off, students walking out of their classes in protest and colleges creating more safe spaces. Fortunately, College of Charleston did not follow the trend of coddling students or intolerance towards differing views. Despite that the college would be rated by FIRE as “red light” based on their policy review, which means the school has at least one policy that is not in line with the First Amendment, the College maintained itself as a place of higher learning, where students freely exchange their ideas regardless of how controversial they may be.

No incidents of suppressed speech took place on campus until November 15th, when Glenn F. McConnell, the President of the College, emailed students and faculty members reminding them that in the aftermath of the elections, “it is our duty as Americans and members of the College of Charleston to treat each other with kindness and empathy. No matter the political divide, we must always be tolerant of each other’s views.” However, he added, “Hateful speech and actions will not be tolerated at the College.” The issue here is how vague the term “hateful speech” is, since it holds a subjective meaning. Further, much of what people consider “hateful speech” is generally protected.

FIRE

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a non-profit group founded in 1999 that focuses on civil liberties in academia in the United States. (Courtesy of FIRE)

Public universities, which includes the College of Charleston, must abide by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects free speech that includes, “certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages, according to Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971). For example, messages like “Trump 2016″ that were written in chalk on Emory University’s campus were viewed as “hateful speech” by some students, but regardless of how they feel about it, the chalk message is protected under the First Amendment. Universities should only intervene when speech is a form of harassment, or “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so undermines and detracts from the victims’ educational experience, that the victim-students are effectively denied equal access to an institution’s resources and opportunities.”

"The College has always maintained a culture that invites ideas from all spectrums." (Courtesy of Mogollon via Flickr Creative Commons)

“The College has always maintained a culture that invites ideas from all spectrums.” (Courtesy of Mogollon via Flickr Creative Commons)

Although I commend President McConnell for reminding students “to treat each other with kindness and empathy” and “always be tolerant of each other’s views,” he had it wrong when he said “hateful speech” should not be tolerated, especially when the term is too broad and can easily label an expression that is not “hateful” in nature. To advance free speech on campus, we must embrace all ideas and viewpoints, even those that are controversial. It is the diversity in thought that will mold students to become mature intellectuals that are well prepared for the real world after graduation.

Even at the height of the political unrest that stems from the elections, the College has always maintained a culture that invites ideas from all spectrums and allows students to engage in free expression through classroom discussions and civil discourse with fellow peers. Let us replace our notion of “hateful speech,” which is too subjective and broad, with a principled commitment to “freedom of expression.”


This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page

The way we talk to each other matters. Approaching political discussions with charity for the other side is difficult, especially when we think we are on the right side of an argument against evil. We think denying that evil, exposing its ugliness, is enough to make our actions worthwhile. There is, however, a real danger in communicating with anger.

When we talk in a way that respects each other and ourselves, we grow. We exchange ideas and evaluate ourselves. Engaging another person in conversation lets us bring them to see the world as we do. But when we talk past each other, or when we talk in ways that do not engage each other, we cannot make our lives better.

Many on the left are reeling from the election of a man whom they detest. Many have resorted to angry rants and name calling. I understand that impulse. I respect the underlying rejection of values that I too find horrifying. The trouble is not that anger is wrong. The trouble is in the method of its expression.

I wish that calling a spade a spade were enough. I wish that by saying “drug prohibition is racist,” or “immigration restrictions are xenophobic” I could convince everyone to agree and decide to eliminate these policies. But I also understand that angry declarations are never enough. Much of the reason Trump supporters liked a supposed “government outsider” whose unfiltered remarks so horrified the rest of us was that they had been the recipients of untold amounts of elitist sneers. Even though many Trump supporters are unashamed white supremacists, simply calling them racist will never convince them to stop supporting Trump (let alone to abandon their implicit racism). If anything, these accusations, which they find absurd, will only serve to strengthen their resolve.

Consider how you would feel if your ideological opposites started a conversation by calling you names, none of which you agreed applied to you. For a libertarian, this might look like being called a “fascist apologist for the rich.” The conversation would almost surely result in two angry people, both more convinced than ever that the opposite ideology was pure moral corruption and stupidity. No one grew, no one learned, no one experienced the world through new eyes.

Now, imagine your ideological opponent approached you by saying “You seem to believe X, but I believe Y, and I worry that people who believe X are guilty of moral/intellectual error Z. Can you explain X to me?” In this scenario, they may not come to see any value in X, but you have the opportunity to learn both what others think of your views and how to communicate them more convincingly. In this scenario, there is some possibility that you convince your opposite that they should be more like you, and they might convince you to modify your own views in some way.

The way we talk about controversial topics can either vent our anger or make lives better. It cannot do both. In every effort to convince others we may either meet them where they are and sweet talk them into following us down our chain of reasoning, or we may call them names, blame them for problems, and deepen the divide. The latter feels good. I have done a lot of it. Sadly, it does not make the problems we are angry about go away. Swallowing our pride, loving those we “should” hate, and building bridges is the only way we can change minds. If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain.

So which of these two ways of approaching conversation should we adopt? To me, the choice seems clear, if hard.

Anger drives us to action. Anger makes us want to destroy the evil we see in the world. Anger is often a good, important, even necessary emotion, but we have to direct it. We cannot simply let it rule our actions. Everyone is entitled to their anger, but I intend to use mine to make the world a better place, not to drive my ideological opponents further into their trenches. People are not irredeemable. No one is entirely incapable of learning and changing. If we talk to them like they are, we deserve the hate they return.  I plan to talk to people whose opinions I find deplorable with dignity and respect, because the way we talk to each other matters.


This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page

As you watch the election results roll in tonight, there will be a lot of angry posturing, name-calling, and frustration. But this is not the America we know, and it’s not the America that matters. Here are a few reasons to stay positive tonight! 

Join Students For Liberty in a conversation about moving forward, regardless of who takes the White House tomorrow morning. And if you need a break from checking the polls, take a minute to go register for #ISFLC17! Early bird prices end tonight at midnight.

#1: Americans are increasingly disillusioned by politics and power – and that’s a good thing.

The rise of Bernie Sanders made two things clear: socialism is pretty popular (at least theoretically) among millennials, and many people distrust those in charge.

Why isn't she on the ballot?

Why isn’t she on the ballot?

Corruption, whether due to corporate or political greed, is increasingly important to reform-minded young people. That’s not all bad. As Hillary’s paid speeches come to light, and as her use of a private server has been questioned, it’s caused a lot of former-Bernie supporters and the like to question the role power plays in politics.

Though it may not influence their choices this time around, more people are considering what sort of people should be in charge and how the political system shapes an individual’s character and motives. Seeing their guy lose makes libertarian arguments about the growing power of the presidency more convincing.

Libertarians tend to be skeptical of the way power is used and abused in government, and this is often a justification we give for reducing the size of the state. Now, we’re seeing proposals for criminal justice reform and scaling back the drug war from more corners than ours alone. As non-libertarians see the issues play out, they’re beginning to realize something key: power corrupts and changes people. Politicians don’t focus on doing what is right, but rather what is popular. Realizing this  — and seeing the connection to the size of government — can make a big change in the way we vote and make policy.

#2: Many people don’t feel represented by elites in Washington (and this doesn’t make them evil).

This Cracked article explains it perfectly: the Trump phenomenon shows a battle between elites and average Americans, who feel largely ignored. This doesn’t make them evil (though some might have horrible stances on issues related to gender and racial equality), and this doesn’t mean that they’ll go away after election day. If anything, this election is a reminder that acting like we’re in ivory towers of enlightenment often alienates people and makes them feel unrepresented in our political process. (more…)

A common theme in this year’s election is danger posed by a man like Donald Trump having control of a nuclear arsenal. Trump advocated further nuclear proliferation, failed to identify the three components of the nuclear triad, and  reportedly asked an adviser why the United States has nukes if it can’t use them. Hillary Clinton raises similar concerns since staking out out an aggressive stance toward Putin and his attempts at projecting Russian power. Some, including Trump, worry about a possible confrontation between Russia and the United States if Clinton is elected. People are rightfully scared by both candidates’ rhetoric and the prospect that one of them could soon have the power to end life on Earth as we know it. But that just raises the question: why aren’t we more worried about the fact that we have a nuclear arsenal that could possibly be used to destroy the world?

It’s not as if nobody is aware of the threat the existence of nuclear weapons poses. Nuclear war is almost universally recognized as one of the most likely sources of a potential doomsday. Throughout the Cold War, the threat of nuclear war was almost omnipresent; one looks at the popular culture of America in the late twentieth century and is almost in awe of how casually most Americans accepted the fact that they could, probably for reasons they don’t entirely understand, be vaporized some time in the near future. At several points, the United States came within inches of nuclear war — the Cuban Missile Crisis being only the most famous example.

We know all of this. So why are so many people perfectly fine with letting it continue? How has the fact that human civilization could be totally destroyed at any minute become so normalized? What are the arguments in favor of allowing this constant, existential threat to continue to hover over us?402px-Nagasakibomb

The United States’, and other countries’, hesitance to disarm can be explained, in part, by their continued commitment to a doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD), the idea of nuclear weapons as a deterrent against attack, incentivizing peaceful cooperation between nuclear states in order to avoid global death and destruction. Though the U.S. military has never officially, openly accepted this doctrine, its influence on the public view of nuclear weapons and its near universal acceptance by America’s politicians has clearly had a tremendous effect on policy.

Here’s what’s wrong with MAD: as those who clamor for war with Iran and North Korea (supposedly to stop nuclear proliferation) have pointed out, MAD assumes that the people holding nuclear weapons are sane, rational actors who know and care that the use of those weapons would lead to armageddon. What those voices usually haven’t pointed out is that the same principle applies to the leaders of the United States — if the President is someone who doesn’t care that using nuclear weapons could end up killing everyone, MAD goes out the window, and so, potentially, does the entire human race. As this election proves, the chance of someone like that being elected is not small. 

The second problem with this doctrine is that it is literal terrorism. To accept MAD as a policy is to communicate to the entire world that, under the right circumstances, your administration would prosecute a war that would destroy civilization, and furthermore, to leverage that knowledge as a tool for international decision-making. As long as a country holds a nuclear stockpile large enough for MAD to be a viable strategy, it holds the entire world hostage.

Contrary to mainstream political discourse, nuclear disarmament is not nearly as far off a goal as it might seem. The Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation actually calls on its signatory parties to negotiate a plan for “general and complete disarmament” as quickly as possible, and the International Court of Justice has unanimously interpreted it as obligating signatories to “pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament.” Prior to his election and throughout his administration, Barack Obama has paid lip service to the idea of disarmament, calling several times for aworld without nuclear weapons.”

Yet the United States is still no closer to dismantling its thousands of nuclear warheads than it was the day Obama was sworn in. At the beginning of the Obama administration, the United States government held a stockpile of 5,113 nuclear warheads. The most recent estimates put the current number around 4,670, demonstrating almost no progress in the disarmament process. In fact, the United States government has recently worked against attempts to hasten disarmament. Foreign Policy calls their current opposition to a recent United Nations proposal to ban nuclear weapons entirely an “aggressive campaign.”

This policy reversal is not only shocking, it’s dangerous. As long as the United States continues stockpiling weapons that can be used as tools of mass murder at best and instruments of total human annihilation at worst, it threatens us all. Regardless of who the next president is, the United States government owes it to humanity to dismantle its nuclear weapons as quickly as possible. If they won’t do it themselves, then maybe we ought to make them.


This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page