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This story was originally published on December 19, 2011.

Carlos with John Stossel at the 2012 International SFL Conference.

My introduction to liberty and the principles of a free society was a gradual process. What sets me apart from most students is that I was born and partly raised in a country where the ideas of liberty are not revered. It was in Mexico, a country that suffers from excessive levels of government corruption and control, that I experienced one of the major events in my life that led me to find credibility in the value of limited government and free markets. My stepfather, an American citizen, and my mother opened a successful real estate company in Puerto Vallarta. My family had worked hard for many years and was doing well financially. I still remember the day that federal agents arrived at our house and told my dad that because he was an American citizen, the Mexican government had the authority to take 40 percent of his business profit. If he refused they would deport him to the US. This event would be the first of my experiences that showed me how immoral and corrupt the government becomes as people give up their freedoms and give it more power.

Arriving to the United States gave me a new view of the world. Americans live completely different lives compared to my country’s culture, in almost every aspect. People in America are prosperous and free to live their lives with a sense of no limits. It was a shock for me to see this because in my country, most citizens lived in poverty and asked permission to do even the most private of things, from starting a business to what streets they could walk on. America represented opportunity and freedom for my family.

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One of our speakers for the upcoming 2015 ISFLC February 13th-15th will be Thomas Massie!200px-Thomas_Massie_official_portrait

U.S. Representative Thomas Massie entered Congress in November 2012 after serving as Lewis County Judge Executive. He represents Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District which stretches across Northern Kentucky and 280 miles of the Ohio River.

U.S. Representative Massie attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. During school, he invented a technology that enabled people to interact with computers using their sense of touch, and leveraged that technology to found SensAble Technologies, Inc., which raised over $32 million of venture capital, created 70 jobs, and obtained 24 patents. The hardware and software he developed is now used to design automobiles, jewelry, shoes, dental prosthetics, and even reconstructive implants for wounded soldiers.

In Congress, Thomas serves on three committees: the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

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It was almost two years ago that Edward Snowden began the NSA revelations by giving journalists like Glenn Greenwald a series of documents showing how the US government uses mass data collection to snoop on people everywhere on the internet. Since these documents have been analyzed and the depth of NSA spying has been revealed, businesses and individuals all over the web have started services to help protect your privacy from needless government violation.

While it is definitely in your favor to advocate for a stronger protection of online privacy by whatever means you choose, be it contacting a representative, funding groups like SFL and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or protesting invasive bills, it really doesn’t serve you well to leave your privacy to the whim of others. Thankfully, there is a plethora of services, often free of charge, that help protect your privacy. While most of these services probably can’t stop the NSA from finding everything they want about you if they wanted to, it definitely prevents your data from being swiped up by general overarching government programs or companies with scrupulous business practices.

Below is a mini-guide to different software, private services, and other tools that can help preserve your privacy, conceal your online activities, and protect your fourth amendment rights by taking a stand.

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two cents dayDid you know that, under current law, the U.S. federal debt held by the public will exceed the entire economic output of the nation within 25 years? Or that the government spent $600,000 a day in interest costs on the national debt in 2013, and is projected under current laws to spend more than $5 trillion on interest costs alone over the next ten years?

Are you interested in learning more about the long-term fiscal challenges facing our country? What about being part of a national movement to send a message to policymakers and drive action on these issues? Would you like to stage a momentous event on your campus? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, My Two Cents Day is a great opportunity for you! On February 12, 2015, students from across the nation will get loud and get heard – mobilizing to raising awareness about our nation’s long-term debt and how it could affect our economic opportunities in the future. Here are the top three reasons you should participate.

1. Gain Leadership Experience

Student teams that participate in My Two Cents Day will receive a toolkit, training from the Up to Us staff (this event is part of the Up to Us competition), and funding to organize, promote, and hold an event on campus.

2. Be the Voice of Your Generation

The Millennial generation has the most at stake in confronting our long-term fiscal challenges and securing economic opportunity for the future. My Two Cents Day is all about students sharing their opinions about how we can play an essential role in building a strong fiscal and economic future for the country. After the day is over, participating teams will be encouraged to deliver the input of their student body to the offices of their elected representatives to show them that we care about these issues.

3. Get Connected, Have Fun, and Win Cash Prizes

By joining in a unified mobilization with campuses across the country, we can make a huge impact! My Two Cents Day is an opportunity to make a difference, connect with likeminded student activists on your campus and beyond, and win cash prizes.

My Two Cents Day is open to any interested undergraduate and graduate students at all schools in the U.S. Click here to learn more and please share the link with your friends, colleagues, and faculty who might also be interested in joining the movement!

One of our speakers for the upcoming 2015 ISFLC February 13th-15th will be Justin Amash! 

justin-amashJustin Amash is an American attorney, and Republican member of Congress. He represents Michigan’s Third District in the 113th United States Congress. He was elected to his first term on November 2, 2010.

Justin was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received his bachelor’s degree with High Honors in Economics from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. He worked for his family’s business, as a business lawyer, and as a Michigan state representative before his election to Congress.

Justin has never missed a vote in Congress or in the Michigan Legislature out of more than 4,000 roll call votes. He is leading the incorporation of Facebook and other social media into his work as an elected official by posting an explanation of every vote online, and he has set new standards for transparency and accountability.

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