This week revealed a noticeable slowdown on the DC think tank scene. Although I’ve immensely enjoyed attending conferences, seminars and briefings all over the city, it was nice to finally settle into my office space and make sense of it all. On Monday I met with Alex Chafuen, the president of Atlas, and we talked about cultural differences between Americans, Australians, Danes (I grew up in Copenhagen) and South Americans (Alex hails from Chile). The impact of culture is something that I am becoming increasingly interested in, as it seems to be the strongest factor in how people behave. As Alex said, people from different cultures will respond very differently to the exact same incentives and laws/regulations. Fascinating stuff!
I have also spent time getting to know the other staff better. I have made plans with Harry, one of the interns, to accompany him to George Mason University, where he is studying a Master of Economics. GMU is probably the leading university for free market and Austrian and Public Choice economics, and it will be very interesting to sit in on a few lectures, as I myself am considering further studies in this area.
I have also recently been asked by the Centre for Independent Studies to research and evaluate the outcomes of various programs that are offered to indigenous communities in Australia by the government and NGOs. As is well known, there is an incredible amount of wastage in welfare spending, so I am looking forward to executing this project.
Today we got a surprise visit from former Mannkal Atlas intern, Daniel Press, who has recently finished an internship at Cato and will start with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (also here in DC) in January.
Atlas will be closed for the holidays next week, so I will have plenty of time to do some more sightseeing. Last weekend I walked along the Potomac River where you will find the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial and the new(ish) Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It was a lovely walk, and the weather was unusually warm (15 degrees!). Although I have been here for almost three weeks, I have barely scratched the surface in terms of what DC has to offer. I am hoping to do a trip to Philadelphia to see some more liberty-sights; most notable Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted.