Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog

Eva Christensen – Washington DC | Week 12

Eva Christensen, 27 February 2017

This blog post will be my last, as I am wrapping of my final week at the Atlas Network. It has been a great adventure, and my time here is really ending on a high note.

Last weekend was the 10th annual International Students for Liberty Conference which brings together more than 1,000 students and professionals from all over the world. I helped Atlas in organising our booth for the exhibition hall.

There were so many great organisations represented (Cato, Mises Institute, FEE, the list goes on!) and it was fantastic meeting so many young libertarians. It gave me great hope for the future.

Friday and Saturday were full of presentations, discussion panels and break-out sessions. One of my favourite presentations was by psychologist Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind – Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.

He talked about the progressive agenda that has become so entrenched in most US college campuses (and which is no doubt making its way to Australia), and how political correctness has lead us down a very dangerous path. Afterwards, I talked to some of the fellow Mannkal scholars who attended the conference, and we made plans to combat Curtin’s student guild and their political agenda.

I was fortunate enough to attend the ISFLC Awards Dinner on the Saturday night. It was great to see Atlas’s own Dr Tom Palmer, who has for decades worked for advancing liberty the world over, receive the award for Alumnus of the Year.

Wolf von Laer, the new CEO of SFL, also gave an inspiring speech highlighting the great work of the different SFL chapters in all corners of the world.

I also spent some time at the Cato Institute perusing their library again and attending a great discussion on the Declaration of Independence and Lockean property rights, again led by Tom Palmer.

As the weather has warmed up significantly over the last weeks (reaching an all time high of 24 degrees today), Kristina offered to take us interns out to the Mt. Vernon estate, which was the house of American’s first president, the legendary George Washington. The buildings and grounds are well kept and it was interesting to get a guided tour.

The house still contains the original bed that the president died in after succumbing to a severe throat infection.

Tomorrow will be my last day at the office and there will be a small party in the conference room, in conjunction with quite a few of the staff who all have their birthdays this week. I am sad to leave, but I am also looking forward to returning home to Perth with all the invaluable lessons that Atlas has taught me.

Thank you to Ron Manners and the Mannkal Foundation for making this possible.

Bayley Novakovic – The policies of self determination and the Lion Rock spirit! | Week 8

Bayley Novakovic, 27 February 2017

At my last day interning at the Lion Rock Institute, looking back it is hard to believe two months have already passed! My final week was spent preparing a document that compares the Chief Executive Candidates policies on economy, housing and tax, with that of former Financial Secretary Sir John Cowperthwaite.

Grateful to have worked with Laurence Pak - Final day in the LRI office!

Financial Secretary from 1961 to 1971, Cowperthwaite’s hands-off free market policies are credited with lifting post-WWII Hong Kong out of poverty. Cowperwaithe’s policies speak for themselves with Hong Kong becoming rich while other countries became poor pursuing socialist policies.

It was the positive non-intervention policies of Sir John Cowperthwaite that allowed Hong Kong’s self-determinism and the “Lion Rock spirit”  to flourish.

With all of today’s Chief Executive candidates proposing further interventions, including “diversifying” the economy (putting so called innovators on the gravy train), they could all learn a thing or two from Cowperthwaite’s leadership.

Hong Kong's Lion Rock spirit - thank you Sir John Cowperthwaite!

Over the past week I spent much time catching up with many of the great friends I have made during my time here in Hong Kong.

From Executives to student freedom fighters to art movers and shakers, I really have met a diverse range of people here; all thanks to Mannkal’s scholarship affording me the opportunity to expand my network and make many meaningful connections!

With bad policies constantly knocking on the door all over the world, the work of libertarian and free market think tanks has never been more important! Many thanks go to Ron Manners and all at Mannkal for affording me the opportunity to contribute to this important work at the Lion Rock Institute.

Also a special thanks to Laurence Pak and the Lion Rock Institute for hosting me. The experience has been life changing and truly expanded my horizons. I look forwards to further engaging in and working with the freedom movement both at home in Australia and abroad!

Until next time, adios Hong Kong!

Glad to have experienced this amazing city!

Amy Thomasson – Talkin’ ‘Bout Our Education l Week 7

Amy Thomasson, 27 February 2017

My last week in Wellington was bittersweet. While I’m looking forward to coming home and sharing my experiences with everyone, I’ll definitely miss everyone at The Initiative, and Wellington itself. I’ll be counting down the days until my return in July, although I’m, hoping to soak up some sun in the meantime.

Photo with Molly, my colleague/favourite comedian

The second report of three in The Initiative’s education series was launched on Monday and received a barrage of media coverage.

The Initiative typically conducts its research projects in three parts – the first report identifies domestic issues, the second looks at how other countries have tackled similar problems, and the third provides policy recommendations.

I wrote about the report launch in my first piece for The Initiative’s weekly newsletter, Insights. You can find the article here. I really enjoy the writing process, and it has been incredibly useful to get feedback on my work from people with experience.

I’m looking forward to developing these skills further when I start working at The Initiative in July.

Selfie before Molly's show

While much of the response to the report was positive, a few people took issue with taking pointers from countries with imperfect education systems. The places the report’s author visited when she was researching were the UK, New York, Boston, Washington DC and Houston.

While the schools in those places undoubtedly have issues, this critique misses a crucial point –  The Initiative chose the countries included in the report not in spite of their problems, but because of them.

Or rather, because they have implemented innovative ways of identifying and reforming their failing schools.Taking into account the successes and failures of other countries is important part of policy development.

New Zealand’s education system is far from perfect. Some schools have been chronically failing for over a decade. This is largely due to a lack of follow up after interventions and a failure to put students at the centre of such interventions.

The third and final report in the series will provide recommendations for addressing these and other issues, building on lessons learned from overseas.

Leaving drinks with my colleagues

One of my colleagues does stand up, so we went to see her Fringe show, Hangry Americans, as a workplace on Thursday night. Needless to say, she was hilarious and it was a brilliant night – I was even invited on stage to make a S’more of sadness. Wellington finally came through with summer on my last weekend here, so I made the most of the good weather by spending Saturday at the Rotary Fair in Petone (getting Mr Whippy was the highlight) and Sunday on the beach.

It’s been a pleasure to share my experiences in these blogs, and I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I have writing them.

Goodbye icecream with my flatmates

Jake Fraser – The end of the line | Week 12

Jake Fraser, 27 February 2017

Hello from Melbourne!

Today marks the last day in the office at the IPA, it’s definitely one of mixed emotions. Over the course of the last three months I have been welcomed into the IPA family, and had the privilege of contributing work for a new deregulation agenda in Australia. Couple this with working on various legal rights and freedom of speech projects, and my expectations of what I was going to take away from this experience have been far exceeded!

A night at the MCG for a t20 with friends

This week my focus has been continuing my research, in collaboration with Morgan Begg, on the accumulation of environmental legislation since the early 1970s. However, I have also been doing research for Daniel Wild on the downward trend of private investment in Australia compared to competing economies since 2012.

Our research found that despite the government’s claim that non-mining investment would take the lead in boosting business growth, it has actually remained relatively stagnant whilst mining related investment has plummeted. Therefore, Australia is enduring a period of an overall decline in private sector investment.

This is one of the core issues facing the Australian economy, and is being inhibited by a obstructive structure and disincentive measures. These include excessive red tape strangling business owners, and a reluctance by politicians to cut the company tax rate to a competitive international level.

In order for Australia to encourage growth into the future, we must be more proactive in improving investment incentives with less red tape and lower tax rates.

Doing what needs to be done - CUT RED TAPE

Tonight after work will be my last social club and Friday drinks with the team, which will involve dinner and plenty of laughs. Not a bad way to end an unforgettable three months.

Signing off for the final time,

Jake

Gavin Rogers – Fraser Institute | Week 12

Gavin Rogers, 27 February 2017

It’s hard to believe that this amazing trip has already come to an end. Only three short months ago I was arriving in Vancouver, ready to tackle the adventure that lay ahead. I can’t thank Ron enough for providing me with a once in a lifetime opportunity, and everyone at Mannkal and the Fraser Institute that have made it happen.

I have learnt a huge amount and developed even more, much of which will be permanently ingrained in my character as well as many other pieces of knowledge that I hope to bring back with me to Australia.

Last Friday was my last day at Fraser Institute and many sad farewells were had. I’ve made an astounding number of great friends and professional networks in my time here. I have also wrapped up my final project, collecting statistics on oil transportation safety in the form of both tanker and pipeline, and delivered the results to my supervisor Taylor Jackson.

He has never faltered in keeping me busy with many interesting and valuable things to work on. I made a supply drop of Tim Tams in the lunchroom as a parting gift, and received a lovely goodbye card that had been signed by much of the staff at Fraser. I can honestly say that this has been one of the best and friendliest environments I’ve been fortunate enough to experience, work or otherwise.

This week I flew to the other side of the country to meet up with the other Canadian interns in Ottawa, where we are completing the enrichment program.

Already this week we have managed to squeeze in a myriad of interesting things. There was a debrief of our internship experiences as well as an outlook of Canada’s future direction and relations with Australia at the Australian High Commission. We had lunch and a foreign policy discussion with MP Tom Kmiec, a discussion about Canada’s fiscal timeline and policy with Macdonald-Laurier Institute Senior Fellow Sean Speer, and finally, a Chinese energy roundtable at the Department of Finance with Mannkal Director Andrew Pickford. There has been a plethora of discussions to absorb and it has been fantastic, I couldn’t ask for a more involved week.

Starting tonight and running over the next few days will be the Manning Centre Conference, our last hurrah before making our separate ways back to Perth.

I’m looking forward to meeting plenty more interesting people, and hearing the Conservative party’s leadership debate. For any prospective scholars that may be reading this, I strongly encourage you to get involved with Mannkal’s seminars and events in Perth. Apply for a conference or internship, you won’t regret it! Signing out for the last time, Gavin.

Chris Hendrickson | The Final Countdown | Week 8

Chris Hendrickson, 27 February 2017

It may not be snow covered, but it's still quite a view

It seems a week can’t pass without disruptions to the public sector. Many public transport employees went on strike on Thursday with little cause, although from what I could find out there were two reasons made very clear. The first was protesting to the addition of commercial and retail stores within train and metro stations.

I’m not sure if this is a legitimate reason, or simply something to whinge about. Although it seems as if these public servants abhor increased economic output. The second reason was to turn a long weekend into a potential 5 day weekend, by striking Thursday and having “other issues” on the Friday, or so I was told.

The Liberty Forum hosted an interesting event this week presented by Professor Hatzis, discussing Liberalism and Economic Inequality. I didn’t have a chance to understand everything that was said since it was all in Greek, but I certainly noticed when Australia got an honourable mention for having ‘the most efficient welfare system in the world’.

It was also pleasant to see many other university students in attendance at this event. I hope in the future there will be events dedicated to educating Greek students on liberty, the free market and how beneficial they are to society.

I could see my apartment, I think

Sadly, I didn’t get the opportunity to spend my final free weekend atop the snow covered mountains at Parnassus. The bus company I booked transport with decided to cancel the bus, last minute and it wasn’t until later that morning I found out.

I awoke at 4 am, ready to catch the bus and waited until 6.30 am before giving up waiting. It was quite disappointing not going, so instead I climbed another mountain, much closer to Athens, Mount Lycabettus.

Amphitheatre at Lycabettus

I nearly managed to hitchhike a ride up to Parnassus; on the way back to my apartment, I came across another gentleman in full ski gear, carrying his ski’s on his shoulder. I stopped him to ask if he was going to Parnassus by bus; he was going by car with others and promptly called them, without me asking, to ask if there was space for me in the car.

His gesture of kindness was very unexpected and one I won’t ever forget.

Preparing to leave has been difficult. I’ve made many good friendships with the people I’ve met and worked with, and saying farewell is always difficult. I will definitely return to Greece in the near future, especially to enjoy ouzo and souvlaki again with my new lifelong friends.

"Save Water, Drink Raki"

Sally Hatter – Final Days | Week 6

Sally Hatter, 27 February 2017

On the weekend I made a quick trip to Auckland to stay with my cousin. Despite the Wellington weather delaying my flight, I eventually arrived in Auckland on Friday night.

On Saturday I caught the ferry from Auckland City to Bayswater and then travelled to Takapuna. Takapuna is a coastal suburb with a trendy foodie vibe. There are also many clothing boutiques, of which I took full advantage. I walked from Takapuna to Milford beach, the track is a rocky path along the water’s edge, separating the ocean from the lawns of waterfront houses.

I happened to be at Takapuna while a dragon boat regatta was taking place, dragon boat racing can be best described as a hybrid between surf boats and kayaking. One of the most remarkable things about Auckland are the dormant volcanoes dotted around the city. One of these is Rangitoto Island and can be seen from Takapuna Beach.

On Monday night I attended an informal drinks evening of under-30s with an interest in public policy debate and a vision for a free and prosperous society, hosted by David Seymour. David is a Member of Parliament for the ACT party.

The ACT party holds one seat in parliament and is in coalition with the current National Government. The ACT party has a vision for free trade, free speech, small government, low taxes, stronger property rights and other social freedoms. It was a great pleasure to talk to David about my time with Mannkal and discuss his views on a solution to the Auckland housing crisis. David knew of Mannkal and expressed great admiration for Ron Manners.

Each morning I leave the front gate of my house I find myself more and more nostalgic for the view that presents itself. From my street in Kelburn, you can see both Wellington Harbour and Scorching Bay across green hills. On a still day, the entire bay is glassy as far as the eye can see. Combine this 180-degree view with a light tangerine horizon at dawn/dusk, and it is hardly a sight I can pull myself away from.

I will certainly miss the liveability of Wellington and the friendly easy-going nature of the people I have met during my time in New Zealand.

Sally

Ferry from Auckland to Bayswater

Takapuna to Milford Beach Walk

Visiting Family in Auckland

The Last Supper

Foluso Tade – Tschüss! | Week 8

Foluso Tade, 27 February 2017

Somehow it is already the last week of my internship! I have spent it polishing off all my projects and to ensure the pieces I have written are of good use to my colleagues. It is a fantastic feeling to print off finalised documents and look back through what I have learnt. I also spent some time reviewing English translations of my colleagues’ work.

Usually an external company works on translations for FNF’s major reports, however, from time to time some small grammatical or structural issues are missed, so it was nice to be the final judge in the process.

On Thursday evening, I attended another seminar at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). This week’s topic was presented by a professor of agricultural economics from Mississippi State University and offered a well-rounded explanation of agricultural index insurance.

Such forms of insurance are gaining traction in some developing economies as a means to insure against abnormal weather events and reduce the financial burden of lost crops or livestock.

One take away from the discussion, was the idea that reducing donor funding in current schemes or at least redirecting its objectives may in fact spur increased investment from re-insurance companies by allowing the market to accurately price products, without being forced to cater to donor prerogatives.

Whilst the fear is that this may reduce the benefits felt by the extremely poor, the upside is that it may become a much more widely used product and provide other benefits to effected communities in the longer term.

By Friday afternoon, we had gone a little stir crazy in the office. Several colleagues were either out of town for Karneval, a regional holiday, or had meetings elsewhere. So, I got out some Freiheit promo gear and took a few snaps around the office. As you will see, some turned out better than others.

It really has gone by so fast. I have spent eight great weeks; getting to know new colleagues, learning useful skills and techniques, discovering new ideas and perspectives, exploring an amazing city, and building my professional experience and business acumen.

Although this is my final official week, I will be staying on until next Tuesday finish out the month. On my final day we have planned to go to Böse Buben Bar after work for a final farewell. I must take this opportunity to thank everyone at Friedrich Naumann Foundation for their valuable insights throughout my internship, as well as everyone at the Mannkal office for their constant support throughout this amazing experience. Tschüss!!

Freiheit (Freedom)

Fun snaps

James Ledger – Foundation for Economic Education | Week 8

James Ledger, 27 February 2017

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.

Washington DC Suburbs

Washington DC Suburbs

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.

Fellow Mannkal scholar, Jackie & I at ISFLC

Fellow Mannkal scholar, Jackie & I at ISFLC

Taxation is Theft at ISFLC

Taxation is Theft at ISFLC

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.

ISFLC Debate on a UBI

ISFLC Debate on a UBI

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!

James

Liz Powley – My Social Media Obsession Being Put to Use | Week 8

Liz Powley, 27 February 2017

This week IDEAS released their latest policy paper; “A Critical Review into the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010”.

Currently in Malaysia there are basic protections for those who wish to report corruption but unfortunately it is not enough. Only approximately 0.3% of cases seen by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission are reported by whistle-blowing, which is well below international standards as the United States was above 46%.

IDEAS has released this paper in the hope that, with their suggestions of reforming the Act of better protecting whistleblowers, the number of reported cases will increase and help fight against corruption in Malaysia.

Working on this release, I’ve been in charge of social media release. The site ‘hootsuite’ has become my new best friend as I use the site to schedule posts across all our social media platforms up to a month in advance. Being fond of social media use, it’s great to finally put this habit to good use in a working environment.

According to Shaza, my current line manager, I have become the new office pro at the site. So much so that on my final day in the office I did a mini-tutorial to everyone at IDEAS on how to use the greatest site that has ever happened for social media managers.

It was not the only presentation I did on my final day, as all interns are required to do a speech about their time at IDEAS. It was a great way to give feedback to the organisation and for them to do so in return. The presentation ended with TimTams and parting gifts of small Koala soft toys, which everyone seemed to love.

In my spare time I said goodbye to the city and everyone I’ve met throughout my stay. Saying goodbye to Iced Milos has been especially hard as I developed quite a taste for them. Apparently Milo in South-East Asia is different to the one produced in Australia, so I’m not sure how I will cope returning to the Australian brand (which I never thought I’d say).

These eight weeks at IDEAS have flown by and I would recommend to anyone considering a Mannkal scholarship to consider this amazing organisation.

Last group photo

At my internship presentation

Another photo from my internship presentation