Last weekend I flew to Washington, D.C. for the first time for the 10th anniversary of the International Students for Liberty Conference.
I met up with other Mannkal scholars who are also in the final weeks of their internships in the US and Canada, from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan to the Institute of Liberal Studies and the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation in Ottowa.
The Mannkal contingent became stronger still with the inclusion of scholars from organisations in Washington itelf.
It was a wonderful weekend with no shortage of inspiring speakers and, quite surprisingly, some controversy.
Not controversy in the way of speakers advocating for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) or increased taxes at a libertarian conference, but in a heated discussion (argument) between FEE’s own Jeffrey Tucker and ‘Alt-Right’ leader Richard Spencer over his tendency to deny, not promote, every individual the freedom that he enjoys to therefore be at odds with the principles of ISFLC.
It eventuated with Spencer being removed from the venue. I didn’t expect that at a conference! You can read more and watch footage of it here.
On a brighter note, it was great to catch up with friends from home and we reflected on our internship experiences so far.
I managed to see a thought-provoking talk on how one can be both Christian and libertarian, while also listen to Mannkal’s friend at Indianapolis’ Liberty Fund, David Hart, speak about the significant influence of economist Frédéric Bastiat.
I attended a panel discussion about how to be the best libertarian writer you can be, while also seeing a debate on whether a Universal Basic Income could work. You can probably guess who won the debate, but there were some solid points that had me thinking if there’s a better way than the status-quo.
I wasn’t convinced, but the welfare bill in America is out of control and certainly needs reform.
For example, if a UBI was implemented for citizens who earn under $20,000 per year, for every dollar over $20,000 the payment would decrease – as you’d expect. The figure put forth was $5000.
It would replace Social Security and only apply to people who earn under the threshold, which is significant because currently there are loopholes that people jump through to access welfare when they don’t need it. Same in Australia.
It could cut administrative costs and shrink the size of the crazy governmental regulatory bodies as well. That said, libertarian principles are fundamentally against such a socialist method of wealth redistribution, so I’ll need much further persuasion before I can support it.
This is my last week at FEE, and while it feels like I’ve been away from home for 6 months it also feels like I only arrived yesterday. I’ve had a great time and made some incredible friends in the office.
I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Ron Manners and the team at Mannkal for granting me this wonderful opportunity and I urge anyone considering to apply for an internship to do it. It’s enormously satisfying reaching the end of an international internship knowing you’ve successfully lived alone in a foreign city for the first time and that you’ve given it everything.
I’d like to also express my deepest gratitude to the staff at FEE who made me feel welcome and for giving me such a brilliant work environment. Lawrence Reed, the President of FEE, will be visiting Perth in early March and I look forward to seeing him again.
It’s now time to pack my bags and get ready to fly to the other side of the world!