Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog

FEE

Max Formato – Week Two

Max Formato, 11 July 2016

This week began with the United States’ favourite celebration; the 4th of July! I spent the day in lush Piedmont Park where runners from all over the state of Georgia congregated for the annual Peachtree Road Race. The city’s excitement and patriotism reached a boiling point in the evening at Lenox Square Mall, which hosted the largest (and most deafening) fireworks display in the Southeast!

The Peachtree Road Race's finish line at Piedmont Park!

4th of July celebrations at Lenox Square Mall

The elation of the night’s spectacle carried well into the week with all members of staff being in high spirits following the long weekend. I spent much of this week delving into FEE’s vast archives, having the chance to dig deep into the philosophical underpinnings and roots of the think tank. Particularly interesting was uncovering several personal files and journal entries of Leonard E. Read, in conjunction with correspondence between FEE and other libertarian-associated organisations such as the Mises Institute.

Also notable this week was office discussion surrounding the monopoly of law enforcement and the subsequent racial warfare that has flooded the media as of late. Being in the midst of America’s political climate at a time where protesters have taken to Atlanta’s streets has markedly opened my eyes to the tangibility of issues involving police brutality.

With the week coming to a close, I chose to spend the weekend visiting the High Museum of Art and Atlanta’s eclectic district in Little Five Points. The neighbourhood featured musicians playing on every corner and people from all walks of life visiting thrift shops, record stores, and beer gardens. A vibrant sight indeed!

Exploring Little Five Points.

After such a refreshing weekend, I am eager to return to the office on Monday before attending Freedom Fest later in the week. Watch this space!

Max Formato – Week One

Max Formato, 4 July 2016

Boy oh boy it’s been an extravagant week! Only hours after putting pen to my final exam for the semester, I found myself awakening to the gorgeous Atlanta, Georgia.

Departing Perth!

Thanks to Mannkal, I have been fortunate enough to intern at the prestigious Foundation for Economic Education. “FEE” is the oldest free market think-tank in the United States and is considered to be one of the institutions on the vanguard of libertarian thought worldwide.
On my first day, I was immediately welcomed by all members of staff and had a multiplicity of interesting discussions. Amongst dissecting the dissimilarities between Australia and the USA (particularly on the topic of politics and food!), it was fantastic to jump straight into a range of tasks with the team.
At the beginning of the week I aided in reformatting sections of FEE’s website and articles, before moving off and working with the archives of the Freeman Magazine. Being exposed to such interesting pieces of work spanning all the way back to 1952 has already expanded my horizons regarding social and economic thought, and I am sure this will continue as the weeks pass! It’s sure not every day that you have the chance to directly deal with the work of illustrious libertarians such as Leonard E. Read and Henry Hazlitt!

Checking in at FEE's headquarters.

After a productive week in the office, I managed to explore much of the city and to my surprise, have found significant pleasure in travelling forlorn. The National Centre for Civil and Human Rights stood out for me as a highlight, along with sampling Coca-Cola products from every continent at the World of Coca-Cola! On the weekend I was also able to attend a baseball game between the local Atlanta Braves (of whom were victorious!) and the Miami Marlins. Amongst the peanuts and cracker jacks, it was fantastic to speak to some of the local Atlanteans about their beloved team and city.

Atlanta Braves vs. Miami Marlins at Turner Field!

All in all it’s been a rapturous first week in Atlanta and I am enthused to get back into the office for what I’m sure will be another bustling week at FEE headquarters.

Michael Heydon – Week 12

Michael Heydon, 16 February 2016

At the conclusion of my penultimate week in Atlanta, I’m finding it hard to believe that in a few short days I will be boarding my flight home, but despite my impending departure the pace of progress at FEE is unrelenting. This past week we have watched in disbelief as website traffic on FEE.org has absolutely exploded. In the short time I have been at FEE, we have almost doubled our daily web traffic which is an amazing outcome for FEE and a credit to everyone in the digital team. Website traffic is very important to FEE, as it is hoped that FEE.org will one day come to be a mainstream source of news and opinion in the classical liberal world. In addition to this the website has proven to be an invaluable resource in expanding FEE’s reach and promoting our educational programs and seminars.

For my final weekend in Atlanta I decided to visit an Atlanta icon, the World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta. This museum provides an amazing insight into the fascinating history of the worlds most popular soft drink, as well as being a true monument to capitalism, with Coca-Cola having found a way to get people to pay to visit what is essentially a giant interactive infomercial for Coke.

To celebrate my final weekend in Atlanta, some of my colleagues from work took me to have an authentic southern experience, something I couldn’t in good conscience leave the United States without doing. This was, of course, heading down to a local shooting range to exercise our Second Amendment right to obliterate a target with an M4 assault rifle. While this can be described as a largely pointless endeavour, it was nonetheless a great thrill to switch the rifle into full auto mode and experience a rifle ordinarily reserved for use by military special forces units. Even under America’s comparatively relaxed firearms laws, all automatic weapons such as this have been illegal for personal ownership since 1986.  Visiting an American shooting range was a fascinating experience, very different to visiting a range in Australia, where every aspect of the experience is tightly controlled – a stark contrast to here where the vast majority of shooters ambled into the store with a gun on their hip or slung over their shoulder.  This particular gun range however was more of a firearms department store with the range almost an afterthought, it was like nothing I had ever seen before, with a vast showroom of handguns, rifles and shotguns stretching from wall to wall. This was an amazing and eye-opening first hand experience of American culture and something I would strongly recommend for any Australian visiting the United States.

Michael Heydon – Week 11

Michael Heydon, 8 February 2016

My time in Atlanta so far has absolutely flown by, it’s hard to believe that in two weeks time I will be stepping off an aeroplane in Perth ready to begin another semester. However, my impending departure has done nothing to slow the relentless pace of progress at FEE with this week being a truly monumental week for FEE.org. As I write this on Sunday morning, we have just finished launching a completely restructured version of the website, with a new streamlined system for organising content. While no one was thrilled to be coming into the office early on Super Bowl Sunday, our spirits were significantly lifted by the champagne breakfast prepared by Jeffrey Tucker which was awaiting us in the office when we arrived. Happily I can report that thanks to everyone’s hard work over the past week in preparation for this transition, everything went off without a hitch, with the site only going down for about twenty minutes.

Aside from being flat out in the office with the website, I also spent some time this week doing some sight-seeing in downtown Atlanta. On Saturday I visited the World Headquarters of CNN and did a tour of their studios, a really interesting experience giving great insight into what goes on behind the scenes of one of the world’s largest news outlets. Whilst today the filming of CNN’s broadcast is divided between Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., Atlanta remains the heart of their news operations with the main newsroom (pictured) accommodating up to 250 staff who are responsible for coordinating with affiliates worldwide to report news as soon as it happens.

CNN Newsroom, Atlanta

The CNN building is definitely worth a visit, even if you give the paid tour a miss, it’s definitely a great photo opportunity and a very cool building. Pictured below is the heart of the CNN complex with the world’s longest freestanding escalator on the right.

CNN World Headquarters, Atlanta

I also took the time to visit Centennial Park, the centerpiece of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, this is a beautiful park, and it’s great to see how the City of Atlanta has made a real effort to maintain this area as a vibrant precinct with many attractions in the surrounding area.

Centennial Park, Atlanta

Michael Heydon – Week 10

Michael Heydon, 1 February 2016

My tenth week in North America has been incredibly busy and full of amazing new places and experiences, the FEE offices were in a a hive of activity this week with all hands on deck, including staff from interstate flying in to assist with the preparations for FEE’s annual retreat. The retreat is held in an exclusive resort in Florida, providing FEE a great opportunity to interact with its supporter base who take a keen interest in the amazing work FEE does for high school and university students around the United States. Much of this week was spent with all the interns and staff members doing their bit to ensure all the necessary preparations were made to ensure the weekend ran smoothly. I was also featured in another of Jeffrey Tucker’s live online broadcasts this week, interviewing me about the significance of Australia Day and some of the differences between Australia and the United States. Whilst I was unfortunately unable to attend the retreat, with all of my colleagues in the web department working remotely from Florida, I decided to take the opportunity to work remotely from Calgary, Canada.

Thanks to the discovery of some bargain flights, I flew up to Calgary on Thursday evening to visit fellow Mannkal Scholars Dean Wicken and John Hugo who are interns at the Manning Centre in Calgary. On Friday I was given a tour of the Manning Centre, and learnt a great deal about the work done by the Manning Centre in forwarding the cause of conservatism in Canada. I am also very grateful to the good people at the Manning Centre for graciously allowing me to work remotely from their offices for the day.

One of my first experiences of Calgary was the great tentacle of big government strangling innovation in the transport industry through the City’s continuing ban on Uber. In what was the first taxi ride I have taken since the launch of Uber in Perth, it was pretty disappointing to see that the taxi industry in Calgary has done little to innovate or improve service in the face of technological advances in the sector, instead continuing to rely on legislative protections from the realities of the market and to delay the inevitable collapse of their business model.

I also spent some time seeing the sights of Calgary and experiencing some traditional Canadian cuisine, Tim Horton’s bakery, and of course poutine. We also visited some local Calgarian favourites including Clive Burger and Modern Jelly Donuts which had an awesome selection of pastries including Canadian Bacon doughnuts!

We had a very early morning on Saturday in order to be on time for our bus to Sunshine Village near Banff for a great day of skiing. The snow conditions were perfect with heaps of fresh snow on the ground, with snow throughout the day ensuring that even into the afternoon there were fresh tracks to be made. Despite the cold weather and the deterioration of visibility later in the afternoon it was a really enjoyable day, and a place I will definitely be returning to in the future.

After a crazy week, it’s almost time for me to board my flight back to Atlanta for another week in the FEE office, and something I have been looking forward to since before I left Australia – experiencing Super Bowl Sunday in the Deep South.

Michael Heydon – Week 8

Michael Heydon, 27 January 2016

Despite Atlanta grinding to a halt at the end of this week in the lead-up to the so-called “Snowzilla” storm, it was a very busy and very interesting week in the office at FEE. On Tuesday morning we had a staff breakfast with John Chisholm, a veteran of Silicon Valley and the founder of a number of successful tech startups. He spoke to us about the book he has just released, Unleash Your Inner Company, and shared with us a number of pearls of wisdom about being a good manager and succeeding in the business world. He also shared a number of very interesting anecdotes about his experience as the CEO and founder of a tech startup through the dark days of the Dot-Com Collapse and how he kept his team together and his company afloat in the face of extreme adversity. His company, Decisive Technologies, a business specialising in online surveys, was one of the relative few tech companies to make it through the Dot-Com collapse and was ultimately acquired by Google.

Things are just getting better and better for the web team at FEE, with internet traffic seeing phenomenal growth in the wake of the launch of the new homepage and an abundance of excellent content being published for us. I have been working to locate previously unpublished works from various scholars, and working to release digital versions of these works on the FEE site where they can finally be available for the public to access. To celebrate the great start to the New Year, FEE’s Digital Director, Jeffrey Tucker took us out for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, El Azteca where we were not only treated to a delicious meal but ended up featuring in one of Jeff’s impromptu live Facebook broadcasts, which resulted in our quiet lunch suddenly being broadcast to his 50,000 Facebook fans.

The weather this week was frigid, with it getting down to -7°C one day whilst I was walking to work, however it was on Friday with the spectre of Snowzilla looming that things got really interesting. Everyone at FEE was sent home at lunch time on Friday to prepare for the storm and get off the roads before they got icey. For Atlanta however, the storm was somewhat anti-climactic, with 1-2 inches of snow falling, and thankfully no real issues on the roads.

Michael Heydon – Week 7

Michael Heydon, 18 January 2016

Another flat out week has been and gone in Atlanta, with everyone in the FEE office working hard to make sure we build on the successes of last year and continue growth in every department. After the successful launch of our new homepage on the website we have seen a substantial increase in web traffic to the site which we are hoping to maintain moving forward. I have had a busy week working on digitising and publishing a number of interesting items from the FEE archives and getting them onto the website in an easy to digest format, including some fascinating transcripts of lectures delivered in the 1950s by Ludwig von Mises to audiences at FEE’s previous headquarters, a mansion in New York State (home to FEE from the 1940s-2014). As well as this, I am working through a number of archives of filled with long lost treasures accumulated by FEE over the years including manuscripts by the likes of Ludwig von Mises and Leonard Read, a number of which will be made available on the FEE website in the future.

On top of all this work busyness, football fever is sweeping the city in the lead up to the Superbowl in a couple of weeks time, and I have been spending a great deal of time watching the NFL finals series and have at last developed a grasp on the rules and gameplay of a sport that I had previously found all but unintelligible. I have also been doing some more exploring around Atlanta, visiting Buckhead, and the Atlantic Station precinct which is a really cool retail and cultural area which has numerous cool shops, cafes and attractions to see, including an ice skating rink during the winter.

Michael Heydon – Week 6

Michael Heydon, 11 January 2016

My first week back in Atlanta since the Christmas break has been something of a blur with so much happening in the office this week as we launch into the new year. At the beginning of the week, we welcomed two new interns to FEE who will be working in the Programs department. It’s great to see FEE continue its commitment to providing opportunities to young people wherever it can.

It was a very busy week for the digital team as we prepare to roll out our new website, starting with stage one – our new homepage. Much of this week was spent in preparation for this release, with the new homepage requiring extensive testing to ensure that it was bug free and ready to go live. The launch of the new page was very successful, and it’s great to see how much progress is being made with FEE’s digital presence.

On Thursday I was fortunate enough to have been invited by the president of FEE, Larry Reed, along with the rest of the web team to have lunch with David Vargas, a special guest from Costa Rica who has been an active political campaigner for liberty in Costa Rica for a number of years and worked closely on two presidential campaigns. David, who also runs his own IT business in Costa Rica, provided many valuable insights into Central American politics and the political status quo in Costa Rica.

Time is absolutely flying here in Atlanta, and despite the steadily declining temperature, I’m loving the experience and gaining a great deal from it.

Michael Heydon Weeks 4 & 5

Michael Heydon, 5 January 2016

I write this blog post as I sit on a flight from Los Angeles back to Atlanta after a great Christmas and New Year in California. It was a shortened working week at FEE in the lead up to Christmas to allow everyone time to make it home for Christmas, with staff dispersing across United States for a well-earned rest. The inevitable disruption caused by this period meant a particularly busy few days in the office to ensure everything was ready to go for the chaotic Christmas break.

The closing of the FEE office over the Christmas/New Year period provided an opportunity for me travel to San Francisco and spend Christmas with family in California. Having spent the best part of my  Christmas Eve in the airport terminal in Atlanta faced with a string of weather and mechanical delays and having missed two connecting flights, I eventually arrived at my uncle’s house in San Francisco at midnight on Christmas eve tired but relieved to have avoided spending the night the airport in Phoenix, Arizona.

After a quiet Christmas spent with family in San Rafael just outside of San Francisco, I headed  down the coast to Monterey, home to spectacular scenery and the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. I spent two days exploring the amazing coastline of northern California, as well as the historic towns of Monterey and Carmel before returning to San Francisco for a day of sight-seeing and a flight to Los Angeles.

I spent four days in LA with fellow Mannkal Scholar Phil Hancock who is an intern at Los Angeles-based Taliesen Nexus. LA is an amazing city with so much to see, with the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Hollywood Boulevard, and the Getty Museum definitely being highlights.

Having had a great week in California, it’s back to the FEE office tomorrow for another busy week.

Michael Heydon – Week 3

Michael Heydon, 21 December 2015

Another busy week in the FEE office in the lead-up to Christmas, but festive spirit was not enough to slow FEE down as we had another sensational week in the office, with everyone working hard to meet goals by the end of the calendar year. It was a big week for the digital team as we adopted new social media and content strategies which have seen our web traffic increase dramatically and motivated us all to maintain this over the Christmas holidays.

This week we also spent a large amount of time uploading and cataloging archival issues of FEE’s monthly journal, The Freeman which has been published continuously since the early 1950s. I found that the online archive was incomplete in a number of years – especially in the early days of FEE, but most of these missing issues have now been located and uploaded. This was very rewarding, as The Freeman provides such an invaluable insight into the history of the American libertarian movment and how far it has come in the past sixty years. During my digging, I even found an old issue from the early ’70s featuring a man who had emigrated to Australia in pursuit of liberty and the Australian dream.

The office will be closed over the Christmas period, so after a three day work week this week I will be heading off to San Francisco to enjoy Christmas with family which is sure to be great!