Earlier this week, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced that the federal government will be halting its use of private prisons. Although very few federal prisoners are held in private prisons compared to at the state level, this is still an important symbolic decision in response to a recent Office of Inspector General (OIG) report that found less safety and weaker security in privately run prisons than public ones.
Although the libertarian instinct might be to criticize this decision—why should the federal government have a prison monopoly?—it’s worth recognizing that private incarceration facilities have long been mismanaged and fraught with problems, with disastrous consequences for inmate quality of life. This is a step in the right direction: towards the proper and humane treatment of inmates, and away from punitive experiences and over-incarceration.
Private prisons began in the 1980s, largely as a response to the War on Drugs and subsequent overcrowding. Since private prisons are profit-motivated, their operators (in theory) have incentives to run them well while keeping costs as low as possible.
Continue reading at Rare.
Young Voices Announces Op-ed Program for Current Students
WASHINGTON, DC — College newspapers are hungry for opinion content. But, too often, libertarian students are too afraid to speak up. No more!
Young Voices is proud to announce our Campus Pundit Program. This fall, any current undergraduate or graduate student in the United States can be rewarded $50 for publishing a pro-liberty op-ed in his or her student newspaper.
Young Voices provides media outlets around the world with access to the best aspiring libertarian journalists and policy analysts under 30. By connecting pro-liberty students and young professionals with producers and journalists, we give the Millennial generation a voice for liberty and provide in-depth editorial training. Founded by Students For Liberty in 2013, Young Voices now operates independently as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Any student currently pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies in the United States can apply for Young Voices’ Campus Pundit Program at youngvoicesadvocates.com/campuspundit. If an applicant’s op-ed meets Young Voices’ quality standards, it will be copyedited by Young Voices’ team of professional editors in collaboration with its author.
After completion, the author will then be given instructions on how to pitch to his or her student newspaper. If accepted for publication, the author will be rewarded with a $50 commission from Young Voices. This opportunity is limit to one article per applicant.
For more information and to apply, visit youngvoicesadvocates.com/campuspundit.
In a recent interview about his new film on Edward Snowden, director Oliver Stone warned about the potential for data-mining on the part of major companies to lead to “totalitarianism.” Partly speaking about the data collected by the popular app Pokémon GO, he said, “What’s happening is a new level of invasion… They’ve invested a huge amount of money in data mining – what you are buying, what you like, your behavior. It’s what some people call surveillance capitalism.”
False equivalence is a deep disease in American thought.The implication here is nuanced, but important: while speaking about a movie which depicts a whistle-blower for unconstitutional government surveillance, Stone drew a parallel between “surveillance” by tech companies and the horrifying contents of Snowden’s leaked documents.
This notion is mistaken and dangerous, but symptomatic of a much deeper disease in American thought: the false equivalence between power leveraged by “Big Government” and “Big Business.”
This microcosm of conceptual chaos is what Ayn Rand called a “package-deal”: a fallacy in which one uses one word or phrase to group conceptually opposed or dissimilar things. Under the umbrella of “power,” for instance, our culture has paired both political and economic power – or, in other words, we consider as identical both massive economic influence and the government’s legal monopoly on the use of force.
Continue reading at FEE.
In the wake of yet another heartbreaking ISIS-led attack in Turkey, the refrain from the right has again become near-universal: if we do not call this attack what it is – Islamic terrorism – then we cannot properly respond to it.
Ted Cruz made this reasoning the focal point of a hearing late this month, where he declared that “[w]e cannot combat and defeat radical Islamic terrorism without acknowledging it exists and directing our resources to stopping it.”
As PolitiFact noted last year, President Obama has been repeatedly hesitant to connect the radical ISIS ideology to Islam. He even avoids saying “Islamic State,” instead defaulting to “ISIL” (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and characterizing the organization’s agents as “thugs” and “killers.”
Yet the president has acknowledged the group’s Islamic roots, saying that “we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.” It would be silly to insist otherwise, of course, when the group is openly and overtly pan-Islamic and scholars have explored thoroughly its Wahhabi theological roots.
From the right: If we do not acknowledge that this is Islamic, we cannot stop it. From the left: This isn’t Islam – most Muslims are good people – it is a perversion of Islam. They speak as if these two views are diametrically opposed.
And, as usual, the bickering misses the point. Continue
Stacy Ndlovu recently graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in Government and French. She has previously interned for the Human Rights and Democracy Program at the McCain Institute for International Leadership. Originally from Zimbabwe, Stacy is interested in the place of libertarian theory in international relations, specifically regarding international law, rethinking the “just war” tradition and African development. As Managing Editor, Stacy will be Young Voices’ primary programs officer, editing and pitching our Advocates’ commentary to media outlets around the world.