I had such a blast last week, but I was glad nonetheless to be back in Ottawa. It has been such a fantastic experience so far, and I could not be more grateful to Mannkal for giving me this opportunity.
We got a measure of the outcomes of Freedom Week in Vancouver in the form of survey results. The ILS surveys participants before and after Freedom Week to understand how their views change during the program. I was not particularly surprised to see the results taken before the program: the students were socially progressive, but generally more unsure or illiberal on economic issues. At the end of the program, the average response to each question had become more liberal. The standout changes were on war, privatisation and views on ‘capitalism’. Students came out of the program more averse to overseas military intervention, more in favour of privatising postal services, and more favourable to capitalism as a means to improve the lot of poor people. The biggest, and arguably most important, change was that the students became more opinionated! Rather than responding ‘unsure’ to many questions, the students were more likely to take a stance on the issues. I take this as the outcome of a week of hearing both liberal perspectives and arguments against these.
I (finally) finished Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom this week. I find it surprising it took me so long to get hold of some Milton Friedman, given how influential he has been on the economics of the past decades. He remains one of the best communicators of economic ideas available today. The ILS have provided me with so many attractive books I cannot wait to read. Just this week, Matt provided me with a copy of Jane Jacobs’ The Economy of Cities, and Pierre Desrochers’ The Locavore’s Dilemma (In Praise of the 10,000-Mile Diet).
This weekend I went rural! Sort of. I camped at the 2016 Liberty Summer Seminar, held at an Ontarian ranch. This was the sixteenth LSS, a tradition that was inherited by the ILS a few years ago. It was at the 2006 seminar that the founding of the Institute for Liberal Studies was announced in public. The speakers were fantastic, including Wendy McElroy, who has been an anarchist for the past five decades and was friends with Murray Rothbard, and Pierre Desrochers, who co-authored the book The Locavore’s Dilemma I mentioned above. A later addition was Joanna Szurmak, who argued (with Pierre) that patent regimes can often hinder innovation and creativity.
It’s hard to think I only have two weeks left in Canada. I will be so sad to leave, but how am I going to get through all the new books I have other than with the 30-hour trip home!
P.S. We were joined at Liberty Summer Seminar by two special guests. See the photo above.