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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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On October 15, 2016 102 students from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, and the United States attended the third annual Ruta De Libertad: Retomando Las Raices, hosted by Estudiente Por La Libertad Guatemala. The conference was located bout 220 miles north west of the nation’s capital in Xela, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. This was the first conference located outside the capital, representing he burgeoning effort to spread ideas in a decentralized way. What drew students hundreds of miles away, from all across Latin America? Liberty.

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ESFL Promotion on Television.

The conference was organized by Mariana Cordon, an International Relations student at Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Local Coordiantor Rey Rodriguez, an architecture student at Universidad de Occidente, and other members of the EsLibertad team . Their efforts prove libertarianism is as popular in Central and South America as it is in North America. Eager students got the opportunity to listen to ten speakers on topics ranging from a poetry and freedom of expression to the knowledge and planning problems of socialism to successful student activism. No stone was left unturned.

The day before the conference, Rey appeared on local TV and radio, and went from classroom to classroom at his university to promote the event. When asked why this event warranted so much effort, Rey Rodriguez said, “going to the roots was the event that all liberals in the country needed to understand the current lack of freedom, take on new challenges, set new goals and grow as individuals.” EsLibertad members Keila Yuwono, Byron Hernández, Geovanny Cannel, Oscar MuñozNo further advertised the conference through radio.

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Student activism panel.

Guatemala’s economic freedom has suffered and the country is going through turbulent times. Like many Latin American countries, Guatemala struggles with narcotics trafficking, poorly defined property rights, political corruption, and lagging private investment. All of the country’s problems stem from an overall lack of rule of law.

In August 2016 protesters were out in Constitution Square with signs that read “NO MORE TAXES!” in response to tax hikes on cement and gasoline. All this amid heightened tensions after Former President Otto Pérez Molina, an ex-Army general, and his Vice President Roxana Baldetti were arrested on charges of corruption in 2015.

Estudiente Por La Libertad recognizes the rent seeking behavior in their government and want to move toward an economically freer future. They want more foreign investment, more global trade, and more prosperity for everyone. Status quo politics will not bring about a free, prosperous Guatemala, however. That requires libertarian public policy.

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Pep Barcacel

But liberty is about more than just economic freedom. “Liberty is the most natural quality for human beings and it should not be taken away from anyone. More important than political freedom, we must have social freedom,” says director for Estudiantes por la Libertad in El Salvador, Sarah Arevalo Rodriguez.

Pep Barcacel, a Universidad Francisco Marroquin graduate, poet, and author, spoke about freedom of speech, Hunter S. Thompson’s influence, and his work for Nomada. In keeping with the theme of art’s effect on social change, which Sarah Arevalo Rodriguez knows all too well, ESFL is trying to break the old world mentality that keeps sex and marijuana taboo, with efforts to End The Drug War and promote sexual freedom. Nude photographs could be seen hanging all over the hotel which hosted the conferences after-party, courtesy of Ricardo Arroyo, a Guatemalan photographer and student.

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Chris Lingle accepting the Jamale’l.

EsLibertad Guatemala also presented, for the first time, the “Jamale’l” award, (which means “Freedom” in Kaqchikel). With this annual award, ESFL seeks to give recognition to the work of those who have dedicated their lives to spreading the ideas of liberty. This year, Christopher Lingle, a Visiting Professor of Economics at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala, received the honor.

In the words of Regional Director Mariana Cordón, “this award represents exactly what we focused on doing for the Conference. Remember the importance of the roots of liberty, in order to understand our present, and thus, understand the path we shall take to work for that freedom every person needs to prosper and go in the pursuit of their personal sense of happiness”.

Some of the other experiences offered by the conference was a historic walking tour of Quetzaltenango, Belly Dancers, poetry readings, and live music. The event only cost 35q and the fee covered lunch, a room at the hostel, and a round trip bus ride from Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango.

The Regional Conference in Quetzaltenango exceeded everyone’s expectations, and for good reason. The liberty movement in Guatemala and Latin America is growing stronger with every passing semester because the students are making the future of their countries a personal matter.


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

One of the greatest anxieties students studying abroad suffer is the humbling feeling of being forced to interact with someone who does not speak your language. There are certain scenarios in which not knowing the local language has confounded my efforts to go about daily life during my time in Japan, a far cry from Ohio University. While train tickets and drinks are simple and often automated transactions, finding food and other commodities is a different situation entirely. I am often greeted by a polite cashier at a convenient store with several sentences from which I can only glean a few words.Tokyo_780x520px

Nonetheless, we do not see a pandemic of starving Americans in Japan, which is very good for someone who enjoys Japanese food as much as I do. Nor is the destitution and hunger often experienced by migrant communities the sole result of a language barrier. Societies around the world, even those historically isolated like Japan, accommodate foreigners well. What makes it possible, then, for me to walk in and out of a convenient store with a satisfying rice ball and go about my day? Money.

Unless otherwise communicated, any place of business assumes that someone walking through the door is looking to buy something. Both the consumer and the cashier, without requiring extensive intelligence or education, knows going in that you can’t walk out with a product from the store without paying for it. The beautiful thing about this schema is that in a world where often the most problematic situations are caused by a lack of the ability to communicate, the use of currency and a fair market system allows individuals from vastly different cultures to benefit from each other’s time. I contributed to the cashier by giving the store money which pays her wage, while the cashier contributed to my day by selling me the cure to an empty stomach.

Money is a universal language in the sense that I can pick out something in a store, pay for it, and walk out without having to know the language of anyone I interact with. The mere act of voluntary exchange communicates just enough so the cashier and I can reap the gains from trade.

Upon landing in Tokyo after an eighteen-hour flight, the back pain I had assumed was temporary became worse and worse. Barely a week in, I was obliged to visit a clinic, taking with me a well-regarded staff member from the university. Without going into too much detail, I received treatment and a medicine which cleared up much of the pain. The doctor’s diagnosis from the x-rays was a herniated disc; a problem with my spine causing painful inflammation. The doctor stated that with treatment, I should be able to forgo surgery until my return to America.

His next words, however, went above and beyond my expectations. My translator informed me that the doctor wished to express his care for international students in Tokyo, and so agreed to perform each subsequent treatment pro bono if I would help teach the staff English after each visit. The language of money plays a role even without an exchange of currency.

These gains from trade do not accrue to me alone, of course. They are mutual. In I, Pencil Leonard Reed celebrates the marvelous fact that disparate people from around the globe are able to work together through the price system, which effectively communicates the subjective value of each person’s comparative advantages (the doctor’s medical expertise, my knowledge of English, etc.) so others can make more economical trade-offs. Even in a situation where I was so new to the culture that I couldn’t even engage in a basic conversation, the language of money, an affirmation of my individual value, enabled me to benefit from what somebody else had to give and vice versa.


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

Sep
29
2016

“Good afternoon. Welcome to Red Robin. My name is Nick and I’ll be helping you today,” has become so routine that it doesn’t require effort any longer. What keeps the monotony at bay, however, is the endless diversity of guests that come through the doors, including a self-proclaimed “unionist” who refused to use the Robin (small computers for ordering items) so I can “keep my job.” I did what any good waiter would do. I smiled, suppressed my inner economist, and said, “thank you.”maxresdefault-300x169

While I appreciate the well-meaning intentions of the luddite, I detest is her means to a falsely perceived end i.e., opposing technology because machines supposedly steal jobs and make people poorer. “A curse on machines! Every year, their increasing power relegates millions of workmen to pauperism, by depriving them of work, and therefore of wages and bread. A curse on machines!” is how the French liberal economist Claude-Frédéric Bastiat, known for his charming wit, described the luddite view 150 years ago. In the same essay, That Which is Seen, and That which is Not SeenBastiat leveled a critique of this perspective: (more…)

csebookIf you’ve always wanted to learn more about economics, but didn’t know where to start, this is a learning experience you don’t want to miss. Based on Certell’s Common Sense Economics course, the series is broken up into four parts. The first three constitute the basic course, focusing on foundational economic ideas, the sources of economic prosperity, and the intersection of economics and politics. The fourth part incorporates the lessons of the first three into four additional modules on practical personal finance.

Since it’s self-driven, you can learn on your time and choose what to focus on. Even more experienced students of the dismal science will find the course to be a thorough refresher on the most important ideas in the economic discipline.

Just click below to register and, once you’ve confirmed your account, select the course “Students For Liberty – Econ 101″ and use enrollment key SFLECON101 to get started.

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