All posts by Julian Adorney

The Uncomfortable Link Between the War on Drugs and Violent Crime

On May 31, Ross Ulbricht lost his appeal with the Second Circuit appellate court. He will serve out the remainder of his life sentence, a sentence passed down in part due to allegations that he commissioned multiple murders-for-hire. Whether or not Ulbricht ordered these hits, his case illustrates how, by criminalizing drugs, the United States government has created an institution that incentives violence.

Ulbricht did not begin with violent intentions. He was an Eagle Scout who founded The Silk Road as a beacon of freedom. He agonized over the idea of a hit: As Wired reports, “He had talked to Inigo [an employee] about how he just wishes the best for people, and loves them in the libertarian spirit—even Green [Ulbricht’s first alleged target], in flagrante delicto.” But for Ulbricht and others involved in the drug industry, violence was in his self interest…

Read the rest on the Observer

What Brands Can Teach Us About Marketing Liberty

Libertarians excel at making the academic case for freedom. Why, then, are libertarian ideas perpetually dismissed?

Most people––libertarians being the exception––tend to ‘buy’ products, services, and especially ideologies with their heart, and use logic to justify their decision post-hoc. As Jim Camp, author of two bestselling books on negotiation argues, “[solely logical arguments are] doomed to fail…because decision-making isn’t logical, it’s emotional, according to the latest findings in neuroscience.”

As libertarians, we need to make the emotional case for liberty, as well as the intellectual case, if we’re going to take liberty mainstream.

Continue reading at The Libertarian Institute 

How Tuition-Free College Education Hurts Young People

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren recently proposed the College for All Act, which promises to make public universities free for most students. A similar bill just became law in New York, and support is building for tuition-free public universities in other states as well.

Unfortunately, the senators’ proposal would hurt the very Millennials it aims to help, by reducing economic growth. Median wages have stagnated for decades precisely because of the mismatch between the skills workers have and those businesses need. So while wages in some sectors — for example, the IT industry — continue to rise, young people without marketable skills are being left in the lurch.

This includes many college graduates. While defenders of college-for-all proposals point out that a college degree improves a graduate’s lifetime earnings in the aggregate, not all majors are created equal. According to a new paper by Jaison Abel and Richard Deitz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, over half of graduates in many liberal-arts majors work a job they don’t need their degree for. The problem isn’t just that too many students seek a degree in an obscure subject, either; it’s that too many graduates lack the ability to think critically or write clearly. In a recent survey, only 39 percent of managers said that students were ready for the work force.

Read more at National Review 

Can School Choice Save A Stagnating Economy?

In the Huffington Post, Dale Hansen sums up many liberals’ views when he claims, “The recent appointment of Betsy DeVos has proved one thing – conservatives are far more concerned about politics than they are about educating children.” But the competitive education reforms that Devos champions are essential to giving kids the skills to thrive in a global economy.

Median wages in the US have stagnated, but liberals who decry this fact ignore a root cause: a mismatch between the skills that students acquire in school, and the skills that they need to thrive in the workplace. Jobs in many sectors keep commanding higher salaries: IT wages rose 18.4 percent from 2011 to 2015. The problem, as renowned economist Tyler Cowen notes in Average Is Over, is that our economy leaves behind people who lack the skills to compete in these sectors. And traditional public schools are still focused on outdated classes like cursive writing, in lieu of preparing students for the economy of the future.

The U.S. needs an education system that’s as dynamic as the market our kids will enter, where new technologies can spring up overnight and render old ones obsolete. The warehouse model of one teacher lecturing to 20-30 students, which has remained almost unchanged since its importation from Prussia in the 19th century, is no longer working.

Continue reading at Townhall.

Your vote didn’t matter and that’s why we need a smaller government

On Tuesday, 120 million Americans voted, and Donald Trump won. But the link between a vote cast for Trump and his election is correlational: for the average American, nothing we did had an impact on the election.

The fact is that, in a national election, your vote doesn’t matter.

If you live in one of the 39 non-swing states in the United States, your vote had no impact. If you live in Alabama, it doesn’t matter if you voted for Clinton; your electoral votes went to Trump.

Even in swing states, economist Bryan Caplan shows that your vote is unlikely to matter because your single vote only affects the outcome if it’s a tie. Let’s look at Florida, considered the most important state of this election.

Fivethirtyeight.com gave Mr. Trump a 50.3 percent chance of winning Florida. Given this, the average voting Floridian had a less than 1 in 10^69 (that’s 1 followed by 69 0’s) chance of deciding who won Florida. To put that in perspective, it’s much less likely than the odds of getting struck by lightning the very moment one opens a winning Powerball ticket.

For the average American, nothing we do will affect a national election. If we donate $100 to our candidate, it may bring in 1-2 additional votes. If we volunteer 20 hours, we might earn them another 10-15 votes. Neither of these activities is going to shape the election.

Americans tend to trust government because we assume that it’s, “of the people, by the people, for the people.” The quote attributed to Barney Frank sums it up: “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

It’s a lot easier to trust and champion big government if you assume that government is something that we all have a say in. But the fact is that, as an individual, your say is so miniscule that it doesn’t matter. The federal government will pass new laws and regulations regardless of what you want.

Continue reading at The Hill.