We had a great wrap-up to our five-city college tour last Friday evening at North Carolina State in Raleigh. Once again, we had a lively session, especially during the discussion session.
During the first 30 minutes, I got the conversation going with Sheldon by pointing out that libertarians are different from conservatives and liberals because we reject the welfare-warfare state while conservatives and liberal continue to embrace it. Such being the case, we libertarians don’t fixate on reforms or fixes because we know that they inevitably lead to more crises. Instead, we have a higher vision — one that focuses on dismantling, not reforming, both the welfare state and the warfare state.
Sheldon emphasized the importance of moral principles — that it’s morally wrong for people to use government to forcibly take money from some people and give it to others. He also observed the benefits that come in a free society, including both economic prosperity and voluntary charity.
When we opened it up for discussion, a student raised his hand and proposed that the government give $1,000 to every single American. He said that this would help people pay some bills and produce prosperity. He wanted to know how we felt about that idea.
Needless to say, given that many people in the audience were libertarians, the student’s proposal generated all sorts of discussion, debate, and argumentation.
I answered his question with a question: Since government gets its money from taxation, how about taxing each person $1,000 and then sending a free grant of $1,000 to each person?
The student suggested that the money be taken from the millionaires instead.
Sheldon brought up Frederic Bastiat and his great little book The Law, which talks about legalized plunder.
Another student said that what the government would more likely do is simply print up the money to fund the $1000 grants. That led to a discussion of inflation and the Federal Reserve.
Another student brought up the Great Depression and so there was discussion about it, including FDR’s infamous gold-confiscation scheme.
After the program was over, the student who made the $1,000 grant suggestion came up to me and told me how much he appreciates and values the work that FFF does. I found that befuddling, given the socialist nature of his proposal. And then it hit me. I asked him if he was playing devil’s advocate with me. He smiled and said yes—he wanted to see how Sheldon and I handled the question. It was an amusing way to wrap up the week. After the program was over, most of the students stayed another half-hour or so talking and discussing, which is always a good sign that people have enjoyed themselves.
Much thanks for the North Carolina State Young Americans for Liberty for putting the event together, promoting it, and hosting it. Indeed, much thanks again for all the local chapters of YAL we visited this past week—University of North Florida, Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, University of South Carolina, and North Carolina State for make our Libertarian Angle tour such a big success.