mannkal, 19 February 2013
After having spent over a month and a half overseas on this fantastic opportunity travelling to Canada and America to expand my understanding of liberty, my trip has come to an end. What an opportunity I have had. I am so fortunate.
Before getting to America, first to my final week in Vancouver. On Tuesday night I invited all the people I had met in Vancouver for $1 taco and karaoke. It was a fabulous night out with the highlight being all of us getting on stage to sing Bohemian Rhapsody. On Wednesday night I went out for drinks with people from Fraser as a last hurrah in Vancouver. I then spent the remainder of the evening packing and preparing myself for my plane ride the next day to Washington DC. And so began my final day in Vancouver. After working for a month and a half in Vancouver it was time to leave. My final time at Fraser was spent finishing off my reports and briefing my supervisor Alana on what I had prepared. Again, my thanks to everyone from Fraser.
And so on Thursday 14 February I said my final good byes to the Fraser Institute and made my way to Vancouver airport. I have been stressing about leaving Vancouver for the past few weeks. Before flying to Washington DC I had a two hour stopover in Los Angles. During the two hours in LA I was expecting to have to go through US customs, collect my luggage, change terminal, check in, go through security and finally board my plane. Knowing that LA is a hellish airport my quick stopover did not excite me. However, none of my concerns came to fruition. It was as simple as going through US customs in Vancouver and then walking 500m to another gate once I arrived in LA. So once on the second plane I made the flight over to DC arriving at 6:50am on 15 February. Yes I had taken the red eye flight. Here I was at last in America’s capital Washington DC! I couldn’t stop laughing as my shuttle made it through the main part of DC past Capitol Hill, the national monument, the Lincoln memorial and the White House. It took me a while to get over the fact I was in DC. I still continue to spend my time trying to understand how I came to be in DC.
That evening began the start of the International Students for Liberty Conference put on by the fantastic students association Students for Liberty. Wow what an opportunity to attend a conference like this. I attended a number of fantastic discussion groups on gun control, civil liberties as well as the filming for John Stossel’s program on Fox. However, the highlight at the conference for me was a speech given by Republican Congressmen Justin Amash. Here was a politician that was very open about his libertarian views, took the time to write down why he would vote a particular way and was very open about what he stood for, a no nonsense type of guy. I also met a number of great people from around the world. We would discuss anything from tax reform, liberal philosophy and gun control. I also caught up with the other interns from Mannkal who were at the conference. It certainly was great to attend a conference to view how alive and well the liberal movement is amongst students globally.
So my blog and my trip has come to an end. I would love to take this moment to thank everyone from Mannkal for giving me this opportunity. In particular I would like to especially thank Mr Ron Manners and Mr Andrew Pickford. Thanks also to all of you for following me by reading my blog. I shall return to Australia on March 1 after spending the remainder of the week in Washington DC seeing the sights and then continuing on for a quick trip to New York.
I would encourage any of you reading this to apply for a Fraser internship offered by Mannkal. It is a fantastic opportunity one that you will not regret, nor will you never forget! If you do have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. My thanks again to Mannkal.
mannkal, 14 February 2013
My weekend at Whistler, what I can say. It was simply amazing! I spent two incredible days skiing until my legs could take no more and were shaking. Imagine skiing down glaciers so big you can quite comprehend their size, skiing down ski runs so long it they take you half hour to complete, skiing from the very top of the mountain down to the village and then taking a gondola back up, skiing through a Forrest with no one around you, shooting down Olympic ski runs trying to break the runs record but failing miserably. Well Whistler has it all. It was just awesome! After the weekend at Whistler I am now well and truly hooked on skiing. My hostel in the Olympic village also worked out well too and for a hostel was actually extremely good. I would have loved to have spent more time there!
And so this will be my last entry from Vancouver. It has been a full on week as I have undertaken a last minute scramble to do all those activities that I have been meaning to. I will admit Monday was my one night in. I do need time to recharge the batteries/recover from my trip to Whistler. Tuesday I went out with a group of friends to a $1 taco and karaoke night. Let me just say that if you ever want a private bar in Vancouver get all the Australians from the audience on stage to sing Land Down Under. The audience clears out pretty quick and thus you have a private bar. On Wednesday I went out with a friend from Perth to see Muse. The tickets were so cheap and seats amazing. We really are ripped off in Perth for tickets. Muse certainly knows how to put on the most amazing light show ever! What made the concert better is that they were supported by one of my favourite bands, Band of Skulls. On the Thursday I went out with another group of friends for our usual Thursday night catch up. It was a really tough event to go to as it was my last Thursday event. The night involved a lot of tough good byes. I have gotten to know a bunch of the people from the group really so good byes in that situation are always really difficult. On Friday I went out with some work people for Friday night drinks followed by an invitation by my work friend Bacchus to go to a house party with him.
So I am coming up to my final week with the Fraser institute. I have felt so privileged, humbled and lucky to have spent so much time with the lovely, extremely intelligent and hardworking people at the Fraser Institute. I would like to post a big thank you to everyone whom I have gotten to meet and spent time with from Fraser. More importantly I would like to thank my supervisor Ms Alana Wilson for being the best supervisor anyone could have asked for. I would also like to thank Mr Bacchus Barua for being that guy in the office with whom I can hang out with. Finally, I would like to thank the President of the Fraser Institute Mr Niels Veldhuis for allowing me to come and have this fabulous work experience with the Fraser Institute. If I was to take away anything from my time here with the Fraser Institute it would be not to assume that just because the government thinks it is best, that it is best. If it matters measure it! Facts are more powerful then spin.
And so ends my final entry from Vancouver. What a trip here it has been. Vancouver, it is going to be a tough final week of goodbyes.
mannkal, 4 February 2013
The Fraser Insitute is an independent, non-partisan research and educational organisation based in Vancouver, Canada. Since the think-tank’s 1974 inception, the Fraser Institute has been providing an extensive catalogue of publications which analyse and critique public policy, with an emphasis on choice, markets and responsibility.
In 2013, Mannkal Scholar Angus Duncan was selected to embark on this internship for two months over January and February. To read more about Angus’ experiences, please see below.
mannkal, 4 February 2013
Vancouver has come alive this week! The Canucks, Vancouver’s ice-hockey team, after three soul crushing defeats have at last struck victory against the Calgary Flames in their first win of the season. The game went into overtime and then penalty shoot-outs. It was nail biting stuff! Seeing the passion, enthusiasm and dedication of the fans who sat on the edge of their seats watching these skilled masters of the ice was just an absolute pleasure to sit back and watch over a beer. To think one can witness all this just in a local bar around the corner. The reaction throughout the city to the win was electrifying. There was partying and horns being honked all around downtown. The city was truly in party mode. Even I have jumped on the hockey bandwagon and got on board with the Canucks, but to be honest one doesn’t really have a choice. I can’t wait to actually be at the game next week when the Canucks take on the Colorado Avalanches.
Prior to the Canucks win I could understand why two years ago the Prime Minister of Canada during the Winter Olympics said he would declare a national day of mourning should the Canadian hockey team lose the gold medal match. The city was in a slump after three defeats. Everything has now changed.
This week at in Vancouver I have found a bit tough and there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, whilst skiing in the Swiss Alps my younger sister was involved in an accident and had to be taken off to hospital. She had done some serious damaged her knee. With only a week until her school ball and still a few days left of her travels in Paris I found it really hard to see her so upset knowing that I couldn’t be there to comfort her and give her a big brotherly hug. Secondly, I am missing my girlfriend. Finally, I have missed relaxing with my friends on Australia Day listening to Triple J hottest 100 countdown! The countdown is one of the highlights of the year for me. As I have been traveling for the last month and a half, it has been a while since I have seen anyone.
Nonetheless, there is no time to be depressed as there is serious work to be done and so many things to keep me occupied. At Fraser I have now settled into the two big projects assigned to me. One is the report on mining which I haven’t been able to say much about and the other project is reviewing and writing web pages for Fraser’s miningfacts.org website. For this week I have managed to make some big inroads on both projects. Not only have I continued with these projects, but as I have gotten to know people from around the office better I find myself engaging in debates on a whole range of topics from health care to civil liberties and economic philosophy. It is these moments that I have really come to enjoy as not only do they test my knowledge, but also my belief system against other more experienced and knowledgeable people.
In addition to these projects I have also been asked to produce a report on a topic of my choice for Fraser’s student publication. Although my attention at Fraser is on mining, there have been a number of news reports here in Canada regarding freedom of speech. In addition I have been following the reports in Australia on the new anti-discrimination laws proposed by the Australian Labor Government and the likely negative impacts these proposed laws will have on freedom of speech. Based on this context I have begun a report comparing Canadian and Australian regulatory regimes for freedom of speech. This report is in the very early planning stages so there is not much more I can say, but what I can say is both countries have strict regulations that appear to limit rather than guarantee a person’s freedom of speech. This finding I think is a worrying trend that one can see emerging in every developed country. Anyway maybe something can be learnt by comparing both nations.
Apart from work I continue to go skiing every week and catch up with a local group of people. With 3 weeks left in Vancouver there is still so much I have planned and I can’t wait to blog about them to you.
Vancouver, I am getting hooked to you and I’m worried!
mannkal, 4 February 2013
If you had told me that this Friday I would have myself in the middle of a sweaty, smelly and sometimes violent death pit listening to the polka paced punk rock sounds of D.O.A in a small venue in the dodgy part of Vancouver, I would have laughed at you. But there I was. I went to this concert for a number of reasons and I think it is worth pointing them out. First of all D.O.A are one of the cult classic punk bands. Many believe they are the founders of hardcore punk in North America, a point of contention depending on who you ask. Thus they are considered a must see if you get the chance. However, and secondly, last night was there last concert ever. After 35 years they are hanging up their demine jackets and leather pants. Finally, their lead singer Joey Sh**head is running for politics in the upcoming election. Now you might say well with a background and a name like that he has go no hope of even coming close. You might be wrong. This election will be the third time he has run. The first time he narrowly lost, while the second time he ran he won, but was disqualified because of some political bureaucratic mix up. So who knows what will happen this time. At 56 years old this guy can still rock out as good as any young leather covered lover of punk. It was a great concert and I was glad to have seen them. Rock on!
Earlier in the week I went to my first hockey game, the Vancouver Giants taking on the Tri-Americans. Although this was only the WHL (one below the NHL), what a game. The pace and skill involved was just amazing. I had got front row seats behind the goal and I couldn’t have picked a better spot. The amount of massive hits into the wall and the bare knuckles fights right front of was just mind blowing. It was so much fun. Although the Giants lost I am hooked on hockey.
I have also been skiing each Sunday up on the local slopes. There is no greater thrill then racing down a mountain side at what feels like a 100 mile an hour. It certainly wakes you up in the morning.
The week was a really big week for Fraser as they had the release of their Provincial Health Care Index. This report measured the provision of healthcare in each Canadian province and ranked each province accordingly best to worst. This paper received a lot of media attention and was raised a number of times in provincial parliaments. I work across from and have become good friends with the author of the report, Bacchus Barua. What a stressful week it has been for him with phone calls, interviews and a lot of criticisms from the media. In saying it has been stressful we have both had a good chuckle over some of the articles that have come out in response and have been critical of the report.
It is the release of this health care report that has made me realize that when Fraser produces, people listen. With this knowledge in the back of my mind I have actually found producing papers for Fraser to be really unnerving knowing that what I write, research and produce will be read over, scrutinized, criticized and could very well influence policy. But you know what, I love the thrill! The opportunity to potentially influence policy is just an opportunity you don’t get every day. It is maybe the first time in a career that I have gone this is something I could do. In addition I have continued to work on that which I still cannot yet speak about. I’ve also begun writing, amending and updating pages for the website miningfacts.org. Doing the website has been great as I have learnt a lot of interesting facts about mining. I just can’t get over the similarities between Canada and Australia in terms of issues they face and similar regulations.
Anyway, week two has been amazing. Vancouver, I hope this relationship can continue.
mannkal, 31 January 2013
Well after of a month of traveling around the globe from Dubai to Istanbul, Edinburgh, Paris, London, various English country towns and a snow covered Toronto I have at last arrived at my destination for the next 40 days, Vancouver. I have to admit straight away that it feels nice to have arrived in a city for a while after having spent the last month lingering in a city for no longer than a week.
I am staying the in lovely area of Kitsilano. The view from the house is truly spectacular. Close your eyes and picture this, snowcapped mountains with ski fields easing down into the main part of Vancouver flowing down to the beach. That is the view I get to wake up to every day. Personally I still can’t get over seeing the mountains. The Perth hills truly are hills by comparison.
And so began my first day at the Fraser Institute, only a 10 minute ride from where I am staying. Yep, I’ve already organized myself a bike! After entering through the supercar dealership on the ground floor of the building where I have the pleasure of working for the next month I made my way up to the top floor where I found the Fraser Institute. I was first introduced to my supervisor for my internship, Alana. She is great and an extremely knowledgeable person who I feel lucky to have as my supervisor.
One thing I had to get used to very quickly around the officer is the passion everyone has for hockey. At the moment this passion is funneled into anger as the players have been on strike over a pay dispute for the past month. The gist of the dispute is that players are being paid millions, but they want more millions. The result was only resolved a few days ago. Hockey is more a religion than something you just switch on and have on in the background. With this in mind I have booked myself a front row seat to the Vancouver Giants game next Wednesday. Can’t wait.
The Fraser Institute
So what is it I am doing here at Fraser? Well the unfortunate thing is I have signed various confidentially agreements regarding what I am doing here so I can’t tell you much, but I will say that the research I am doing is tremendously exciting. Hopefully I will be able to tell you more as the weeks go by, but for now I have been told not to. However, one thing that has happened this week around the office is the release of Fraser’s publication Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom (a download can be found here (http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/news/display.aspx?id=19171). This is a book which examines the characteristics of “freedom” and how it can best be measured and compared between different nations. Good news everyone Australian ranks fourth behind New Zealand, Netherlands and Hong Kong. Doesn’t it feel good to be free, well as free as you can in 4th. The publication received a fair amount of media attention in Canada.
Anyway, Vancouver you are a great city. With my ski trips planned, a Lady Gaga concert to party at, great food, passionate sports fans, good work colleges and a good research topic. This is going to be one great internship! I am very fortunate to be have been selected for this opportunity.