Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

James Case – The Beginning | Week 1

James Case, 19 December 2016

Ottawa. What a place, what a city!
After frantically weaving my way through copious crowds at LAX and leaving behind 22 long hours in the air, I am thrilled to be settling into such a beautiful city and a very welcoming organisation.

Earlier this week I had the chance to explore my new home for the next three months and the Canadian Capital surely didn’t disappoint. The architecture is breath taking and the snowy, crystal white landscapes are somewhat magical. The festive spirit is ripe where ever I go, possibly to keep spirits high in this -20c weather. It certainly is a brisk walk to work!

I am now finishing my third day with the Canadian Taxpayer Federation. In the very short time I’ve been at the federation it is evident to see the dedication, commitment and passion from my colleagues. It truly is admirable.  I have been given a crash course in Canada’s political and economic climate and have begun research into Government spending across a vast array of programs. It’s exciting to be involved with such a highly regarded organisation and I know this is going to be a truly rewarding experience. I eagerly await to see what the following weeks have in store.

Outside the Canadian Parliament

The festive walk to work

James Bentley – Week 6: Final Week.

James Bentley, 1 August 2016

“Travel is rich with learning opportunities and the ultimate souvenir is a broader perspective”. – Rick Steves.

I cannot believe that my time at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has come to an end and that I will be saying goodbye to the amazing city of Ottawa which I have become so accustomed to over the past 5 weeks in just a few hours. Where has the time gone? Reflecting upon my time here, it is hard to conceptualise how much I have learnt. From the exciting autonomous tasks assigned to me by the CTF, to the hustle and bustle of FreedomFest, I cannot thank Mannkal enough for their generosity and compassion in providing young people like myself with these life changing experiences and of course the CTF for taking me on as an intern. I have met so many interesting and amazing people and have created memories that will last me a lifetime.

My final week was filled with excitement and adventure. On Tuesday, the whole office (5 of us – it is rare to have everyone in the office at once) went out to lunch together and bonded over a pleasant pub meal. On Wednesday night, a group of like-minded individuals met at a nearby pub to discuss the state of the Canadian government and especially the forever growing Canadian Federal debt. This was a part of the Generation Screwed movement created by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to educate young people about the detrimental effects of the government’s increasing debt load, unsustainable policies and high taxes. It was an enjoyable evening.

Friday was certainly bittersweet. After work, I had a few drinks with the CTF team and said my goodbyes. It was certainly difficult to farewell the people who have made my time in Ottawa so enjoyable over these past few weeks, however, I will never forget the times I spent at the CTF and the amazing work environment. I would highly recommend the CTF to any Mannkal applicants.

I would like to once again thank Mannkal for this life changing opportunity. I would encourage any young people passionate about making a difference to the future prosperity of Australia and the world to apply for Mannkal. You will learn more than you can ever imagine.

James Bentley – Week 5

James Bentley, 25 July 2016

This week was highly exciting. I arrived home from Las Vegas at around 6am on Monday morning, headed home and quickly organised myself for work. It was to be an exciting day which I certainly will not forget. After undertaking an interesting task during the morning, I finally had the pleasure of meeting my other boss, Aaron, who had just arrived in Ottawa for the grand finale of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation’s Federal Debt Clock Tour. Aaron had spent the last six weeks towing a trailer around Canada, which highlighted the Federal Government’s extortionate debt level and the average cost to each individual taxpayer. The total debt level is shocking at $628,388,800,000 which is growing at around $80,547,945 per day even at a period of low interest rates. This burden currently amounts to approximately $17,432 per person. The grand finale attracted media coverage and it was great to be a part of this amazing stunt, which I believe has made a significant impact on getting the message out to Canadian taxpayers, who will unfortunately have to bear this burden. After this exciting experience, the CTF allowed me to go home early for the day to catch up on some sleep, which was much appreciated.

The rest of the week was highly enjoyable. My Birthday fell on Tuesday which I celebrated with Nick. We indulged at the Vegan restaurant once again which was highly satisfying. My 21st Birthday came a few days too late in light of Las Vegas however, I would not have it any other way. We had an amazing time and really made the most of the learning opportunity that was presented to us.

On Friday after work, I ventured off to the Iron Horse Ranch, a 4-hour drive away in rural Ontario for the Liberty Summer Seminar run by The Institute for Liberal Studies. We arrived late evening and it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. We were located next to a large pond and camped out on the large grass area beside it. After getting to know everyone we headed off to bed, ready for an interesting day of learning. We had the privilege of listening to five amazing speakers over the next two days which taught me an awful lot about flaws in regulatory budgeting, the effects of 9/11 on freedom, the cons of patents and the possible future implications of bitcoin. We also went for a refreshing swim in the pond and spent our Saturday night relaxing and listening to Libertarian musician, Lindy Vopnfjoro who was a highly inspiring individual. It was great to relax and build on my learning from FreedomFest. I am grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity by the ILS. What a memorable week!

James Bentley – Week 4: FreedomFest Las Vegas

James Bentley, 18 July 2016

This week was absolutely amazing. After an enjoyable 3 and a half day working week and lots of hard work, it was time to fly once again, this time to the magical city of Las Vegas for FreedomFest.

I left work and headed straight to the airport. After an extremely short stop-over in Montreal, I finally arrived. The hotel was very close to the airport, however in the short taxi ride there we were exposed to the beauty of the bright lights and tall buildings. Ryan and I just so happened to be on the same flight, which we only found out upon arrival. We reunited with the other North American Scholars and went for a brief walk to find food. We stumbled upon Bubba Gumps and ate there, which was a great decision. After that we briefly explored the surrounding areas whilst we waited for Nick to arrive. The city was absolutely packed and it was difficult to comprehend the fact that it was only a Thursday night.

The following day was packed, however I learnt an awful lot and had an amazing time. I woke up nice and early and went down to register for freedom fest. I grabbed a quick complimentary breakfast and proceeded to pack in as many seminars as possible between 8am and 5pm. Most of the seminars I chose, involved the state of the current economy and entrepreneurship. I had the privilege of seeing Kevin Harrington from the Shark Tank and Steve Forbes, the editor in chief of Forbes Magazine.  My highlight of the day had to be the Luncheon with Senator Rand Paul. The food was great and I learnt an awful lot. We managed to get a photo with him and received a signed book. Perhaps one of the most exciting yet disappointing moments of FreedomFest had to be the Trump Pro and Con debate in which an individual from the crowd ignorantly condoned the mass genocide of the worlds Muslim populous. Many Trump supporters in the crowd cheered to this which made me feel unbelievably uncomfortable, however please note that this ignorance is not reflective of Libertarianism. Overall the talk gave me a good insight into the minds of American citizens in regards to the upcoming election.

After a long day, we ate at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant which was amazing. We then ventured off into the night. We walked a long way through many different parts of Vegas. The areas appeared to be vastly different, however one thing remained the same, the amount of casinos and slot machines. We eventually arrived at ‘The Stratosphere,’ the tallest building in Vegas. After waiting a while, we went on a ride which took us away from the safety of the building and spun us around whilst we overlooked the beautiful city. We then went on a free-falling ride which made our stomach turn.

Saturday was just as enjoyable. We ate a buffet Brunch before attending seminars in the afternoon. After that we got changed and attended the farewell dinner which was filled with great entertainment and delicious food. We even managed to get some wine. After that we rode the city rollercoaster and headed home.

FreedomFest was such an amazing experience and I learnt so much about Libertarianism, the global economy and the US Presidential election. I really cherish the opportunity that Mannkal have given to us and would like to thank them for their amazing generosity and support. My experience so far has been life changing and I cannot thank them enough.

James Bentley – Week 3: Ottawa

James Bentley, 11 July 2016

On Monday morning, I awoke to the bright sun shining through my window. It was to be a hot and humid week, reminding me of those good old Perth summers which I am sure many of you are also missing at the moment. I moved to new accommodation on the weekend, to the same building as Nick. The new place is closer to work, air conditioned and has allowed me to get into a gym routine in the mornings. Throughout the week I undertook various activities including eating out at a sushi buffet with Nick, where to our horror, a bargain $22 meal turned into $30 after a service charge and value added tax were sneakily added on. We should have known, however from now on we’ll certainly be more aware of hidden charges. At least we got the opportunity to fill ourselves with some quality food. On another night, Nick also tricked me into eating at a vegan restaurant after asking if we could go out for ‘Vietnamese’ however, this turned out to be the best meal I had eaten in Canada so far.

The working week was filled with some highly interesting work and I had the opportunity to explore in depth, governmental changes to the employment insurance program, which were catering to some states that were in the midst of a spike in the unemployment rate, yet leaving other regions to fend for themselves during tough times. Through this research, I came to realise how inefficient the whole employment insurance system is and certainly agree with the Canadian Taxpayers Federations’ view to allow individuals to contribute to their own savings fund instead of seeing most of their premiums go to waste on other people and of course the high amount of administration costs that come with the program. Many states are contributing large amounts in premiums, yet are unable to receive any benefits at all if they become unemployed just because the government views their state as ‘better off’.

The rest of the week and weekend was enjoyable and I undertook a number of activities, exploring The Ottawa War Museum, The Canadian Museum of History, The National Gallery and walking across the border to explore Quebec. It was very difficult to comprehend that a short walk across the border leads you to a completely different culture, atmosphere and scenery. Most signs around the province were in French, as the majority of people spoke French as their first language. Overall, this week was a lot more relaxed than the last, however I learnt a lot and had an enjoyable time exploring the amazing city of Ottawa and its surroundings.

James Bentley – Week One

James Bentley, 4 July 2016

Monday came around very quickly and although I had not quite settled in, I was unbelievably excited to start my first day of work. Although I was still suffering from jet lag, I woke up early, ready to put in my best efforts. Everyone in the office was very welcoming and there was a really positive energy. I couldn’t have asked for a better work environment. Throughout the week I took on a number of interesting projects and began to learn of the prominence of wasteful government spending and the government’s hunger for increasing taxes.

Some examples included providing subsidies for luxury hybrid cars, (some of which cost millions of dollars) in Ontario and spending large amounts of money on bike racks that needed to fulfill criteria such as ‘cultural fit and promotion of diversity’ during a time of recession in Calgary.

The aftermath of Brexit was still a prominent topic of conversation throughout the week especially as S&P and Fitch both downgraded Britain’s credit rating. There were conflicting views wherever you looked, including amongst my colleagues in the office. The excitement, however, of Obama’s visit on Wednesday and Canada Day on Friday overshadowed the unraveling of events in Europe.

Wednesday was filled with excitement as Obama arrived in Ottawa. There were road closures and security everywhere with large machine guns. It seems bizarre when you compare it to Australian Prime Ministers casually walking into the supermarket and being put in their place by elderly citizens. After work I strolled over to Parliament Hill where I watched Obama’s speech from the comfort of the gates. Unfortunately, as expected, I was unable to get a glimpse of him leaving, however it was exciting to see parliament for the first time.

Thursday was the end of the working week due to Canada Day the next day and Jeff (My boss) took me to a bar for a quick ‘Pitcher’ (large jugs of beer) and poutine (see photos) after work which was great. We then went our separate ways ready for the long weekend.

Friday morning I awoke early for Canada Day and headed off to watch the changeover of the guard. It was a fascinating display of marching and bagpipe playing followed by concerts throughout the rest of the morning and afternoon. I may have even been on TV as I was right at the front of the crowd where the cameras were. After hours in the sun and looking like a lobster, I headed home for a late lunch. The rest of the day I explored markets with Nick and watched a very passionate display of Canadian citizens showing the world how much they love their country. Everyone was wearing red and white and the streets were filled with a vibrant atmosphere. We were certainly in the right place for Canada Day. Nick and I went to a bar and had a quick drink before the heavens opened and we finished the day soaked to death. What an amazing experience.

This week was an unforgettable experience. Nick and I are so lucky to be here at such an eventful time.

James Bentley – Pre-Internship

James Bentley, 27 June 2016

I awoke nice and early on Thursday the 23rd of June, more excited than I have ever been before. With my final exam at 2pm, all I could think about was the sweet sound of taking off later that night and the exciting prospects of a new adventure. The flight was long and treacherous, however, it made arrival in Ottawa even more exciting.

After 26 hours of travel, I finally arrived on Canadian soil. I had a 7 hour stop-over in Toronto and managed to meet up with a friend that lives there. We grabbed food at a nice restaurant named Earl’s in the center of Downtown Toronto. The atmosphere on a Friday night was very much similar to that of Perth however, the booming sound of Canadian accents reminded me that I was far from home. After catching up and reminiscing old times, my friend brought up the topic of inefficiencies and wasteful spending of the Canadian government, with millions of dollars being poured into unnecessary projects, that overrun the budget and the allocated time frame by a large amount. Construction was everywhere you looked. It made me look forward to beginning my work at The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which will allow me to address these issues evident at the governmental level.

After that, we visited the CN tower and caught the luxurious airport train back to the airport. To our astonishment, my flight to Ottawa was cancelled due to poor weather conditions in Calgary. After waiting for 2 hours, the shuttle finally arrived to take me to a hotel which Westjet put me up in for the night. The next day I caught my flight to Ottawa and upon arrival was told that my baggage was left back in Toronto. What a disaster! Despite all of the mishaps of the past 48 hours, I was very excited to eventually arrive at my accommodation and settle into the beautiful green city of Ottawa, plus I could buy a new wardrobe, courtesy of Westjet.
The rest of the weekend was spent resting. In the wise words of Henry Miller, ‘One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things’. I am so excited to challenge myself and  learn and grow over these next 5 weeks. Thank you Mannkal for this amazing opportunity.

Thomas Sweeny – The End or the Beginning

Thomas Sweeny, 29 February 2016

As I write my final contribution about my Mannkal experience, I have suddenly become somber. To think that two months in two foreign countries is all that it took to provide me with unfathomable experiences is a chilling thought. This is the end of my time as a Mannkal scholar and as such it would be improper of me to not mention the many who made this possible. A special thanks to Mannkal and especially Ron Manners as well as family friends and colleagues for all your overwhelming support.

I began my week exploring the sights of Washington being able to spend time around the city taking in all that was on offer. I spent time visiting memorials, statues and museums during the week before attending the International Students for Liberty Conference over the weekend.

During my attendance at many breakout sessions at the ISFLC, I was able to learn more about the nature of the libertarian policy movement. Including sessions on freedom of speech on University campus as well as discussing financial advice for students and information on the Conservative movement and the similarities and differences it holds with the libertarian movement.

I sat yesterday amongst a group of students from all corners of the globe listening to the torturous experiences of an oppressed young female Yeonmi Park. Born in North Korea before defecting and spending time in China and South Korea, Yeonmi’s story is one that can’t go unheard. That is why I recommend anyone to read her recently published text entitled “In Order To Live”. I had the blessed experience of being able to hear first hand of her encounters with North Korean propaganda in her early life. She struggles every day with assimilating to everyday life finding it hard to make individual choices due to being conditioned to having most choices made for her from such a young age. Yeonmi’s story is so important for the libertarian movement because entrenched within is the explanation of the simple liberties that are often taken for granted and are forgotten about in the drive to further advance the  movement. I firmly believe it is these individual liberties that need to have due consideration in the long term implementation of libertarian policies.

It may be the end of my time as a Mannkal scholar but as far as my time as a member of the Mannkal alumni, it is only just the beginning…

The Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Thomas Sweeny – Farewell Canada and Hello America

Thomas Sweeny, 22 February 2016

I spent the beginning of my week taking in the panoramic view of Toronto that the CN tower offered before making my return to Ottawa to endure the snow storm that would soon ensue. Ottawa received 51.5cm of snow on Tuesday, the largest snow fall in a single day in history! It was safe to say that Ottawa had definitely put on the winter weather for my last week in such a blissful city.

The view from the CN Tower

My last week as an intern at the CTF involved working on sunshine lists for the Saskatchewan crown corporation employees and other government bureaucrats whereby I was able to analyse the proportion of crown employees and other bureaucrats that made up the 8,440 of Saskatchewan’s that earnt over $200,000 p.a. I also completed my contribution to the final preparations needed for the Generation Screwed attendance at the Manning conference which will be held later on this week. The CTF’s annual Teddy waste awards are also on this week which are the single largest event that the CTF holds annually and will be sure to make national news, with a list of both nominees and winners that are definitely show stoppers!

Having my last day on Friday brought me to the sudden realisation that what I “had” was about to be “gone”. Making it all the more evident that “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” I have to make a special mention to my colleagues at the CTF whom made my experience what it was. The enthusiasm and dedication of the both of them was contagious and made my experience all the more worthwhile.

Porky (CTF Mascot) and I

I have to extend my sincere endless gratitude to both Mannkal and the CTF for making this opportunity possible thus far. To even have been born into a world where I have a loving family, amazing friends and colleagues I am in the few luckiest people alive, however, to have the opportunity to attend higher education and furthermore experience an adventure of a lifetime such as this one goes to show that hard work really does pay off when there are organisations such as the two aforementioned that are willing to recognise said hard work.

My weekend has been spent touring the sites of Washington D.C before the rest of the Mannkal scholars arrive and have been lucky enough to so far see sights such as The White House, The Lincoln Memorial and The Washington Monument.

Freedom is not free

Thomas’s tip #7 Be grateful for what you have, for one day it might be gone.

Thomas Sweeny – The End is Nigh

Thomas Sweeny, 15 February 2016

With 4 working days left, my “Mannkal” experience is coming to an end. This week’s work has consisted of frantic preparation for both the up and coming Teddy awards as well as preparation for the Manning conference. This week we also said goodbye to our other intern, Thomas, as he moved on to his new position in the Conservative government of Quebec where he will begin this week. I was delighted to be able to share my experience with Thomas as his background brought an element to the office dynamic that I am unlikely to ever experience again.

On Tuesday I attended my second and final “monthly meeting” whereby many representatives from advocacy groups throughout Ottawa meet with each other to touch base and share their experiences in the last month and what they have planned for the upcoming few months. I was able to listen to the views from a diverse range of groups from woman’s rights advocacy groups to opposition government workers. Later on in the week I was able to attend an event organised by my fellow Mannkal scholar, Quentin Wong, at the University of Ottawa on the linkages between legal property rights and the issues of our environment. The speaker, Mr Bruce Pardy spoke about the fact that property rights and non-government intervention were the best way forward in resolving the issue at hand, focusing on the commonly known “tragedy of the commons” and how more definitive ownership will allow an increase in responsible care taking of our environment. The speech turned into an engaging discussion and allowed free flowing thoughts to be shared amongst the group. Congratulations to Quentin on organizing such an engaging event on behalf of the Institute.

I was lucky enough to escape Ottawa’s cold spell of what “felt like”-39 with the wind chill and make my way to Toronto this weekend. However I brought the cold with me with Niagara and Toronto both having their coldest days of the year this weekend. I spent Friday night in Niagara falls soaking up all that one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world had to offer me. Niagara is a small town with a beautiful charm to it. I managed to take in the falls whilst they were illuminated, making for some fantastic snaps! Toronto is a business oriented city with so much to see and do which I still haven’t been able to explore. It being a long weekend in Ontario I am enjoying the Toronto weather and am hoping to spend a day tomorrow filled with many more of the activities that I am yet to tick off my list. Thus far I have been to St Lawrence and Kensington market, Visited old city hall, went skating and even managed to go bowling! Tomorrow’s plan of attack is the CN Tower and the Royal Ontario Museum, of which I’ll be happy to fill you in on next week!

Thomas’s Tip # 6 Escaping the Ottawa weather for a weekend is not possible, it will follow you wherever you go!