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A recent article in the Washington Post highlights an issue that the iconic Gadsden flag is currently facing. In brief, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is looking to make it a punishable offense for employees to wear attire with the Gadsden flag or similar insignia on it. The reasoning behind the decision is that the flag can be interpreted as racially insensitive. gadsden-profile1

Emblazoned on the flag are the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” We here at SFL have tweaked that message a little bit. Anyone who has a certain amount of familiarity with SFL will remember our 2014 campaign “Don’t Tread on Anyone.” You probably still have the shirt!

The fact is, the Gadsden flag and similar symbols, have long had a place in the liberty movement. Rather than a symbol of racial animus, for us it’s a reminder that every human life is valuable and worthy of self-direction without excessive interference from the government or anyone else.

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Enmired in a civil war, the federal government of the United States was wanting for funds. The answer the government arrived at was to impose an income tax. Before this happened though, President Lincoln actually met with his cabinet to determine whether or not such a tax was constitutional. Lincoln’s hesitation should speak volumes.taxes scrabb

The first income tax was 3% and was only imposed on those who had incomes over $800, or around $20,000 in today’s money. This actually worked out to the income tax only applying to about 3% of the population in the north.

Things were not to last. The first income tax was repealed and  replaced with another one. All in all, the United States had an income tax for a period of ten years. From our modern-day perspective, we know that this is not the last of the income tax. There was a 2% income tax issued during peacetime in 1894, but it was struck down as being an unapportioned direct tax the following year by the Supreme Court in Pollock v. Farmer’s Loan & Trust Co. However, In 1913, the 16th Amendment was ratified and income tax has been a fixture of America’s tax system ever since.

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Are you a student in the Middle East or Northern Africa interested in the philosophy of individual liberty? Students For Liberty supports students all over the world and that includes you! We are hosting an open invitation webinar on the student movement for liberty in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The webinar will take place on August 24th at 10:00am EDT (14:00 UTC).

Register TODAY for free https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2431044774537126660

We will answer any questions you have about Students For Liberty and connect you with other students in the region. Any student from the Middle East or Northern Africa can join this webinar, it is open to all youths & current students.

Since our first roundtable discussion for students just a few years ago, SFL’s global community now spans the globe and includes over 1,500 student leaders. The future of liberty rests in the hands of student leaders like you. An hour of your day is a worthwhile investment in your future and the future of liberty.

Please consider sharing this webinar on your social media networks & telling your families, friends, neighbors, teachers and anyone across the Middle East and Northern Africa to sign up. If you have any questions please email Riya Basnet at [email protected]

What are you waiting for? Register TODAY for free https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2431044774537126660

Who benefits from welfare programs in the United States? You might think this would be easy to answer. But as Phil Harvey and Lisa Conyers show in their recent book The Human Cost of Welfare, it’s actually quite complicated.

humancostcover-2In their detailed yet accessible exploration of America’s welfare system, Harvey and Conyers aim to show how well-meaning programs hurt the very people they’re designed to help.

After talking to welfare recipients living in tent cities in Seattle, on native reservations, and everywhere in between, the authors come to a worrying conclusion. People receiving benefits feel they lack control in their lives, miss working and the fulfillment it brings, and find the welfare system to be impersonal, confusing, and often insulting to their dignity.

The book is broken down into four parts, which lay out the argument for the importance of work in the following way.

Part I sets up the premise. Welfare and work are at odds in this country. While many programs were created or reformed with the aim of encouraging work, it’s still the case that many people stay on welfare for large parts of their life. Chapter Two begins this way: “As long as there have been economists, they have told us that when you pay for something, you get more of it. Today we are, in effect, paying people to stay poor and we should not be surprised that the number of poor people keeps creeping up.”

One point of particular note is the way in which companies like Walmart have colluded with government actors to provide workfare programs to welfare recipients. These programs have little intention of helping the recipients find full-time work long-term. Rather, they’re a great way for Walmart to get labor at a much cheaper cost than paying the going market wage. (more…)

ReasonTV’s newly-released overview of the vibrant Brazilian liberty movement highlights the positive impact of Estudantes Pela Liberdade (EPL), SFL’s regional affiliate in Brazil.

Students For Liberty is an avowedly international organization. As ReasonTV points out, we’re now in over 100 countries around the world. But Brazil is unique. In this region, more than any other, we have been able to inspire significant social change towards a freer and more prosperous society.

The video explores how and why libertarian ideas have become so popular amongst the Brazilian population — and especially young people — in recent years. It covers the role of the libertarian Free Brazil Movement in bringing about the impeachment trial of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff for corruption, mismanagement, and fiscal irresponsibility. Other organizations that  laid the groundwork for liberty in the country (such as Mises Brazil) are also discussed.

A key theme throughout the video is the culture of freedom on which the Brazilian liberty movement is built. Whilst the insights of F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and many other libertarian thinkers are popular in Brazil, activists interviewed in the video also highlighted the importance of promoting their movement as counter-cultural.

Innovative marketing techniques, including this attention-grabbing promotional video for São Paulo state legislature candidate Paulo Batista, have helped the Brazilian liberty movement position itself as an accessible anti-authoritarian alternative to socialist politics. In other words, they’ve been able to make liberty cool!

Although EPL maintains separate nonprofit status in Brazil, they remain closely connected to Students For Liberty and employ SFL’s model of social change. EPL contributes to the success of Brazil’s libertarian movement by educating, developing, and empowering student leaders interested in the ideas of liberty. This year alone, we saw over 1,000 people sign up for the Local Coordinator program in Brazil!

Keep up with our fight for liberty in Brazil by visiting the EPL website and learning more.

Thanks to ReasonTV!