Mannkal Foundation, 29 July 2013
Time has just flown by and it’s already my final week! I spent most of my week working on an op-ed for Dr. Emmanuel Martin from LibreAfrique.org, Atlas’s online platform for Francophone Africa. For the past few weeks, my fellow interns and I have been in Skype correspondence with Dr. Martin to discuss the free market approach to alleviating poverty. We explored the reasons behind the ineffectiveness of aid and how it all boils down to a lack of incentives and information. Based on our discussions, I decided to write about Property rights and how the existence of a formal property rights system is fundamental to economic growth. My argument was that a property rights system would work to promote free enterprise, make a country more attractive to foreign investors and allow property to generate capital.
On Tuesday I went to book launch for Radley Balko’s new book “The Rise of the Warrior Cops”. His discussion highlighted one of the most worrying trends in US policing, the militarization of police weaponry and methods.
On Friday, Atlas hosted Dr. Nouh El Harmouzi, the editor of minbar alhurriyya منبر الحرية , Atlas’s international program that advances freedom throughout the Arab world. He offered a very insightful analysis of the current situation in Egypt and the work that minbar alhurriyya is doing to work towards stability in the region. The questions that followed triggered a very interesting dialogue about the effect of aid money on domestic matters and Egypt’s looming debt crisis.
Dr. Nouh El Harmouzi’s presentation on freedom in the Arab World
The past 5 weeks have been absolutely phenomenal. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Ron Manners and Andrew Pickford from Mannkal Economic Education Foundation for giving me this opportunity. I would like to thank Dr. Alex Chafuen and Kristina Crane at Atlas for their generous support and warm hospitality during my time here. I would also like to thank the wonderful interns who I had the pleasure of sharing this experience with.
My time at Atlas has added a whole new dimension to my knowledge of how the world works. I have learnt to not accept the dominant discourse and the importance of questioning and listening to others who have opposing views. I have learnt about the underlying role of incentives in influencing choices and decisions. I have also developed a newfound appreciation for the global network of free market think tanks that work tirelessly to promote the ideas of liberty and freedom in their respective countries.
Thank you for joining me on this journey, if you have any questions; please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mannkal Foundation, 29 July 2013
This week has been another eventful one at Atlas, I can’t believe I am already at the end of my 4th week! I started my week with a whole team staff meeting, chaired by Mr. Brad Lips, CEO Atlas Network. We discussed the everything from grants to the Atlas Leadership Academy, to our work with think tanks around the world to the publication of our new book “Why, Liberty”. The Atlas network does amazing work to advance the ideas of liberty and it was really exciting to have a bird’s eye view of all of it!
This week, the Atlas Network had the privilege of hosting Vera Kichanova as part our Liberty Café panel discussion, which explored the risks of being a libertarian in Russia. A 22-year-old member of the Russian Libertarian party, Vera was elected in March 2012 as a municipal deputy in Moscow’s Yuzhoye Tushino district. She is the recipient of the 2013 Democracy Award from the National Endowment of Democracy. It was very inspiring to hear the distinguished panel speak about the youth-led libertarian movement in Russia and the determination and bravery of Russian youth to fight for democracy in their home country.
Vera Kichanova, winner of the 2013 Democracy award
Atlas Liberty Café: The risks of being a Libertarian in Russia
The second Atlas Liberty Café this week was about the Foundation of Economic Education (FEE) and the impact that it has had over the years. To find out more about FEE and the wide range of resources that it offers, please refer to the following link http://www.fee.org/
This week, we had the chance to attend the Americans for Tax Reform’s International Coalition meeting, a meeting of conservative and free-market leaders from countries including France, Italy and US. I also attended two seminars hosted by the Cato Institute, one about global warming, by Patrick Michaels, and the other about the Korean War, which featured the South Korean Ambassador to the US, H.E Ahn Ho- Young. Both events provided thought-provoking insights to the issues discussed and made me think about incentive structures and how some incentive structures can encourage inefficient outcomes.
We also had the opportunity to refine our public speaking skills by presenting a short speech to our fellow interns and Dr. Tom Palmer. Being Executive VP for International Programs at Atlas, Dr. Palmer travels the globe to deliver seminars to spread the ideas of liberty (he was in Perth in April this year!). It was great to receive personal feedback on how to improve on our presentation styles and how to communicate ideas in a more effective way.
During the weekend, I journeyed to Baltimore city for some sightseeing, shopping and some of their famous crab cakes. I feel like my time in the US has been a whirlwind of amazing experiences and I am really looking forward to making the most out of my final week at Atlas!
Mannkal Foundation, 19 July 2013
After a jam-packed week at Atlas, I decided to spend my Saturday in Alexandria; a seaport town that is just a metro ride away from the main city. Founded in 1749, the quaint town is rich with history from colonial times and served as George Washington’s hometown back in the day. The town was also lined with specialty shops that sold goods ranging from precious antiques to gourmet tea and spices.
Sights in Old Town Alexandria, VA
My third week at Atlas has definitely been the most interesting yet. My main focus this week has been in the Grants area. This has helped me appreciate Atlas’s role in fuelling the global free market movement and the fundamental role that think tanks around the world play in spreading ideas and influencing policy reform through advocacy and research. This week, my fellow interns and I have also been in correspondence with Dr. Martin, editor of http://www.libreafrique.org/, one of the think tanks in the Atlas network that works in French-speaking Africa.
On Tuesday, we visited George Mason University to attend a Koch Summer Fellows lecture on “Africa’s Rising Tide”. The lecture was presented by Karol Boudreaux, Director of Investments at the Omidyar Network, a venture philanthropy fund that was established by the founder of E-Bay. The lecture explored cases in developing countries where entrepreneurship and innovation from the private sector yielded more effective solutions than the public sector. It was really exciting to hear from someone that was so passionate about economic development and learning about how we can capitalize on the bottom-up approach to propel the poverty reduction movement.
George Mason University in Arlington, VA
On Wednesday evening, we had the opportunity to attend the annual Libertarianism vs. Conservatism Intern Debate at the Cato Institute. The debate explored several topics including the definition of marriage, immigration, national security, the legalization of drugs and the government’s role in promoting virtue. With over a thousand people tuning in live and virtually, the debate proved to be not just insightful but also lively and entertaining, with the both sides presenting solid arguments in a very engaged manner.
Libertarianism vs. Conservatism Intern debate at Cato Institute
During the week, we also attended a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute on “Is Big Business a big problem for free enterprise?”. The distinguished panel explored the relationship between the government and large corporations including subsidies, tax breaks and regulation and lobbying and how it weakened the dynamic power of free market forces.
I am really enjoying my time at Atlas and every conversation, lecture and project helps me better understand the concert of free-market ideas and the solutions that it offers to the salient challenges facing the world today.
Mannkal Foundation, 12 July 2013
With the Fourth of July long weekend just around the corner, my second week at Atlas was slightly quieter than the first. This week, my fellow interns and I worked on various projects ranging from training and communications to research and events.
Atlas Interns, Summer 2013
(Clockwise from the top right corner) Savannah Tibbetts (USA); Emily Collins (USA); myself (Australia); Derek Carter (USA); Viacheslav Dvornikov (Russia)
I decided to spend my Fourth of July long weekend in the one and only New York City. To kick start Independence Day, I went on a Revolutionary War walking tour that took us around the south of Manhattan Island. It was really interesting to learn about New York in the 18th century and the battle between the British and the Yanks over the Big Apple. During the tour, we visited key Revolutionary War-era sights like the Liberty Pole, the port where the British fleet was stationed and Federal Hall, where George Washington delivered his first inaugural address. I ended the day by joining the sea of people along the Hudson River to enjoy the magnificent Fourth of July fireworks display.
Times Square on the 4th of July
Revolutionary War-era sights
One of my favourite parts of my weekend in New York was catching up with 2009 Mannkal Scholar Luke McGrath. Luke interned at the Lion Rock Institute in Hong Kong and is currently living and working in New York City. Luke and his friends showed me around midtown Manhattan and we satisfied our inner economics geek by trekking to the apartment building where famous Austrian economist Murray Rothbard used to live. We spent the rest of the evening at a Southern restaurant in East Village and enjoyed a lighthearted conversation about economics, philosophy and the concept of start-up societies and how it can be used to advance the freedom movement. Meeting up with Luke really helped me appreciate the extensiveness of the Mannkal network and how we are all bound by our interest in free-market economics and its power to increase the welfare of people around the world.
With former Mannkal Scholar Luke McGrath, in front of the apartment building where famous Austrian economist Murray Rothbard used to live
Next week’s calendar is packed with events and seminars at various think tanks around DC and I am really looking forward to diving into my third week at Atlas!
Mannkal Foundation, 5 July 2013
My first week in Washington DC was everything I could have wanted and lot more! Being the one of the most influential capital cities in the world, this city is a very exciting place to be. The DC summer scene is dotted with eager interns from all over the United States and the world. I am excited to be among them and to be interning at the Atlas Network. The Atlas Network’s mission is to strengthen the global freedom movement by supporting the generation and expansion of organizations around the world that advance the ideas of liberty. The Atlas team consists of warm and friendly individuals from all corners of the globe and I was excited to join an awesome group of Atlas interns, 2 of which were from America and 1 from Russia.
My first week was filled with exciting work at the Atlas office and the opportunity to attend a few lectures at Cato Institute, the world’s largest libertarian think tank, and panel discussions on the role of Russia and China in the economy today.
My work at the office this week revolved around working with fellow interns to conduct research on countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region and in Europe. The work involved consolidating economic, political and social data on the countries and linking it to Economic Freedom and Doing Business ratings of the countries. The data was published by the Fraser Institute and the World Bank respectively. Having a personal interest in international economic development, I found it really interesting to see the link between the libertarian philosophy and economic growth and development. I also learnt about the importance discovering trends in the data and understanding the key factors that influence it.
During the week, we went to a lecture hosted by the Heritage Foundation on the expansion of Russia’s Eurasian Union (EAU) and the potential threat that it could pose to the United States and the countries in the region. The panel explored the issues such as the Russian state identity crisis, the significance of the entry of Ukraine into the EAU and provided a comparison between the EAU and the European Union. The discussion concluded by suggesting policies that the US could implement to promote constructive development and stability in the region. This lecture helped me gain a better understanding of the geopolitical landscape of the region and the potential impact of the expansion of the EAU on economic and political freedom in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region.
One of the steepest learning curves that I experienced this week was developing a working understanding US politics and political history. With the help of the American interns in the office, I think I am slowly but surely getting a hang of it! I managed to consolidate my understanding of American politics during a seminar on “How the Supreme Court subverted the Constitution”, by Robert A. Levy, Chairman of the Cato Institute. He provided an analysis on the 9th and 10th amendment in the Bill of Rights and how it relates to libertarianism, liberal ideas and conservatism. He then followed to discuss current issues including Obamacare, bailouts, campaign finance regulation and asset forfeiture.
Other adventures include hanging out at a Hungarian Heritage Festival on Independence Ave, visiting the Smithsonian American History Museum and having an authentic Asian meal in the Chinatown district.
In all, everyone has been really welcoming and it has been an amazing first week at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and Washington DC. I feel so humbled yet energized by the thirst for knowledge that characterizes this city and I am really looking forward to the rest of my time here.
mannkal, 7 March 2013
I am writing my final blog post from New York, before heading to Los Angeles, and then finally returning home to Perth. In reflection, working at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation has been an incredible experience and the time went by far too quickly!
My time in Washington, D.C. was capped off with the International Students for Liberty Conference. It was a busy weekend assisting the Atlas staff with various events and the stall. One of the highlights was listening to the insights and experiences of young intellectual entrepreneurs fighting for freedom in their regions of Africa, Europe and Latin America. We also had the opportunity to sit in on a filming of ‘Stossel’, a program highlighting current policy issues with a libertarian perspective. The weekend left me inspired, and I am looking forward to completing the Atlas Challenge, a training course which introduces participants to key insights and lessons from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, and how this can be applied to the advancement of the case for liberty.
Looking back on the experiences I have had in Washington, I am so thankful to the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation for organising this incredible learning opportunity. In particular, I would like to thank Ron Manners and Andrew Pickford from Mannkal, and Alejandro Chafuen and Kristina Crane from Atlas. The program has allowed me to not only explore and develop my interest in libertarian ideas, but also learn about key policy challenges and process for economic reform. I look forward to applying the lessons I have learnt back home in Australia.
mannkal, 7 March 2013
This week kicked off to an amazing start. Nigel Ashford, Senior Program Officer at the Institute for Humane Studies, organised a tour of the Institute for Justice in Arlington, Virginia. There, Dan Alban (Staff Attorney), Steven Anderson (Managing Vice President) and Shira Rawlinson (Assistant Director of Communications) introduced me to the concept of libertarian litigation, something particularly relevant to my current legal studies. Mr Ashford then took me on a tour of the IHS’ offices before chatting to me broadly about libertarian theories and my future work with the movement. The day’s experiences exposed me to a whole other side of libertarianism, one which I found incredibly interesting.
On Wednesday night of this week, the Atlas Network hosted one of its Liberty Cafés. This particular event focussed on the current situation in various Latin American countries. With speakers from America, Bolivia, Mexico and Chile, the perspectives and experiences brought to the discussion really offered the audience an informative insight into Latin American politics and economics. This was especially so for me, as someone who knows very little about Latin American politics.
On my final day in the Atlas office, I bought some Vegemite for the staff to try. Though several attempted a brave face, the reactions were overwhelmingly negative! (But I wasn’t very surprised by that)
I am finishing this blog just before I go to bed, prior to flying out to Perth tomorrow morning. The last five weeks with the Atlas Network have been incredible. I have experienced so much in such a short space of time. I have met both amazing students and professionals. I have also worked with some very enthusiastic and hardworking people. I will miss the people and the city dearly, and I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to return.
Though I wish I could thank everyone at Mannkal and everyone I encountered in my travels, I would like to specifically thank Alejandro Chafuen, Brad Lips and Kristina Crane of Atlas, and Ron Manners of Mannkal, for making the last five weeks possible. It has been an inspirational experience that I will never forget.
For anyone who has enjoyed reading my blog and wishes to keep up-to-date with the movement of the Atlas Network, please signup to their Highlights Newsletter through their website. If anyone wishes to contact me in order to chat further about my experiences, my email is email@example.com.
mannkal, 26 February 2013
With President’s Day giving the Atlas Network the Monday off this week and work mounting within the office itself, my week was much less adventurous than previously. Having said that, I still had the opportunity to engage in some great work and discussions with office staff.
President’s Day occurs every year on the third Monday of February to commemorate George Washington and all subsequent presidents of the Unites States. I celebrated the day by heading to a local Italian restaurant by myself to read and the food ended up being about double the size that I was expecting (luckily, they have take-away boxes in the States too!).
On Tuesday, work began. After spending the day completing tasks for various members of the Atlas office, I then headed off to the Powerhouse Building in Georgetown (where I’m actually living) to watch a panel of experts speak on the topic of ‘Social Media for Advocacy’ as part of Washington’s Social Media Week events. The speaker were very good at summarising social media successes of 2012 and predicting social media trends for 2013.
On Saturday night, I had an event run by thingtododc.com, which sent three groups of about 10 people on a scavenger hunt around Washington DC. The hunt, themed as a Cold War Spy Race, saw each group given a list of items and a limousine in order to complete the challenges. The event was a really great way to meet some others travelling to DC for the first time.
Today (Sunday), Paolo Angelini (the Office Manager at Atlas) and I went to the Outback Steakhouse in Virginia, which is part of a chain of Australian-themed America restaurants. The food was really nice, but I did notice a distinct lack of sausages or chops on the menu…
With only one week to go, I have a full-plate of office work and events to keep me busy. As much as I miss Perth, I feel that I am going to have real trouble leaving Washington!
mannkal, 19 February 2013
Weekend getaways to nearby cities can be surprisingly affordable here in the United States. On Sunday, I headed out of Washington to visit Philadelphia, a city steeped in history of the founding of the United States. Getting to Philadelphia takes roughly 3 hours by bus and can cost well under $20! Must do visits to national historical landmarks such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall were made even better with a foodie trip to the Reading Terminal Market for the ‘Best Sandwich in America’ and other delicious tastings.
(Clockwise) Beautiful views of the Schuykill River; Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens on South Street; Benjamin Franklin Craftsman Sculpture at the Municipal Services Building
I returned to Washington to an incredibly busy week, with a few highlights discussed in this week’s blog. Early in the week, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies welcomed Costa Rican Trade Minister Anabel Gonzalez, a leading candidate to succeed Pascal Lamy as Director General of the Word Trade Organisation, who delivered an insightful keynote on the future of the WTO. I also visited the American Enterprise Institute for a book launch on the demographic crisis, titled ‘What to Expect When No One’s Expecting’ by Jonathan Last. It was disturbing to learn about the dire economic, political, and cultural implications of population decline. In particular, the author discussed how challenging policy development in this area can be, with many governments implementing ineffective and costly programs which fail to achieve the desired outcomes, and even intensifying population contractions in their economy.
Alex and I also visited the Cato Institute for a research seminar delivered by Dr Tom Palmer on writing and communication with discussions on selected essays by George Orwell. With the State of the Union address this week, I attended a viewing party hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, and enjoyed some interesting discussions with other guests. This week, I also spent some time at the Georgetown University Law School for a symposium looking at the evolution of economic sanctions.
Lunch in Old Town Alexandria with Gregory Copley and Pamela von Gruber from the International Strategic Studies Association
Later in the week, Alex and I had the privilege of meeting with Gregory Copley and Pamela von Gruber, who lead the International Strategic Studies Association based in Alexandria, Virginia. Visiting their offices was particularly interesting as they have an incredible collection of artefacts from around the world. The week ended with an all-day professional development course at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia where I had the opportunity to learn about effective communication from a distinguished group of speakers.
Preparations for the International Students for Liberty Conference 2013 with Chelsea Albers at the Atlas offices
Over the week, Alex and I have also been assisting the Atlas staff with some of the event logistics for the International Students for Liberty Conference. I am looking forward to spending the weekend learning about liberty with fellow Mannkal Scholars.
mannkal, 19 February 2013
This week was another exciting week in Washington DC. With work in the Atlas office, events throughout the week and the International Students for Liberty Conference on the weekend, I am exhausted!
One of the major topics of discussion amongst the traditional left and right is the legalisation of prohibited drugs. This week, following the recent decriminalisation of marijuana in Washington State and Colorado, the RAND Corporation held an afternoon of discussions on the topic: Developing Pubic Health Regulations for Marijuana: Lessons from Alcohol and Tobacco. The event offered the audience interesting and practical insight into potentially lifting the criminal bans across in other states across America.
Kim and I were lucky enough to attend a class run by Dr Tom Palmer, of the Atlas Network and the Cato Institute, about the use of English in argument. This knowledge really clarified some of the previous tips I have been taught, and introduced me to some rules and examples that will definitely affect the way that I write argumentatively in future.
During the week, I also attended two events loosely based on International Aid. The first was a presentation by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. Though a controversial figure, Mr Warren made some interesting arguments about freedom of religion, especially in the case of aid in Africa and around the world. The second event was a short lecture from Dayna Brown of USAid who spoke about listening to those receiving aid from the US and other first world countries to see if our methods are actually benefitting those in need.
Friday night, Saturday and Sunday morning saw Kim and I joined by Angus Duncan and Genevieve Mitchell, fellow Mannkal Scholars, for the International Students for Liberty Conference at the Grand Hyatt in DC. We each attended several presentations throughout the Conference, with topics ranging from Sound Money and the Welfare State to Social Media Advocacy and Gay Rights. We also sat in on a filming of ‘Stossel’, a libertarian programme host for Fox. The show consisted of interviews from people sitting all over the political scale and was incredibly entertaining to watch. Keep an eye out for it on Youtube!