Category Archives: Uncategorized

Energy Policy for the Poor and Middle-Class

Lower oil prices help poor and middle-class families. In June 2014, oil traded at approximately $115 a barrel. Now, the price of a barrel is about $47.76. There were many reasons for the collapse in oil prices. For example, OPEC, a cartel of top oil producing countries, continued drilling for oil even though prices were dropping. But, equally important was the fracking boom. Fracking allowed for oil to flood the market lowering its price.

Drilling for more oil helps poor and middle-class families, and the U.S. must do more of it. Additionally, CNBC reports: “The US holds more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russia, the first time it has surpassed those held by the world’s biggest exporting nations, according to a new study.”

Low oil prices and more oil reserves make U.S. families richer without them receiving an increase in their income. If families spend less on gas, they are able to save or spend more on other goods—making them richer.

Yet, with all its benefits, groups and presidential candidates want to stop fracking. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said: she would regulate it so thoroughly that “I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.” Banning fracking and other methods of extracting oil from the ground will increase the price of energy.

If fracking was banned, supply of natural gas would fall dramatically and prices for gas and electricity would increase. Natural gas makes up 33 percent of energy produced in the U.S making it a top energy source. In 2014, families spend about 20% of their income on energy. Oil prices have remained low even with tensions between oil-states Iran and Saudi Arabia. As the Daily Caller reports: “There remains a lot of excess supply on global markets right now, thanks to increased production from unconventional sources like fracking.” Not drilling means higher gas prices.

Newer renewable energy is unaffordable to poor and middle class families. The rich can absorb energy price increases, but the poor cannot. For example, the new Tesla models cost $70,000.and more. Middle class families usually make that in a year.

Forcing the poor to pay more for energy is unfair and regressive policy. U.S. energy policy should make citizens wealthier—not poorer. Any person or policy aimed at making energy more expensive is taking money from people who need it most.

Brownie Patrol

Political correctness doesn’t have brakes. Its restless claws reach for everyone, including elementary school kids. Last week, police were called to an elementary school in New Jersey. The alleged crime? A third grader said the word “brownie” in class at an end of the school year party. Various news sources report that the brownie remark was in reference to the baked good, not a person.  

After making a comment about the brownies in class, the student was promptly interviewed by police. The mother of the perpetrator, Stacy dos Santos, said that the experience was traumatic for her nine-year-old boy. The child was interviewed by police without anyone by his side. Police are not known for their empathy when interviewing suspects. Now, imagine a child trying to articulate their defense of the word “brownie” to an officer with a gun in his holster.

This situation is not unique. The superintendent of the school estimates there are approximately five calls a day to police in the “district of 1,875 students.”

Over-criminalization has been in the news recently, but this one takes the cake— brownie. Criminalizing a nine-year-old for referring to a dessert brownie is not just a new low but also an indirect effect of school administrators trying to manage freedom of speech. Banning free speech or certain words on college campuses led to this situation. Schools are no longer the place for intellectual discussion — or brownies.

It is not the job of the police, school administrators, or government to police words. “Brownie” is not a bad word, but if you ask the child-suspect, he might now say police and school are bad words. It is easy to see the phrase on cop cars “protect and serve” as ironic. Who was protected? Who was served? Political correctness hangs the most defenseless in society, children, out to dry.

Marijuana Legalization in California

  • As a California resident, when I hear public policy news from my state making the headlines, it’s usually bad. This week was an exception. In November, California residents will vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use. The initiative, Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would let people age 21 and older purchase, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants for recreational use.

Marijuana, to an extent, is legal in California. To buy marijuana, one only needs a medical card which is prescribed by a doctor.  Residents can tell a doctor that they have one of many symptoms, and you can receive a recommendation for a medical marijuana card. The whole process does not take more than a short visit.

Marijuana legalization has many potential benefits. It can save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in spending on prisons and law enforcement. A study by the Tax Foundation found: “If all states legalized and taxed marijuana, states could collectively expect to raise between $5 billion and $18 billion per year. If marijuana is made legal, it will also drive down demand for importing it from Mexico, reducing the crime and violence that comes with the drug war there. There are also unseen benefits. It is difficult to find a job with a drug conviction. If persons are allowed to use marijuana freely without a drug conviction on their record, they may find employment more easily.

The War on Drugs disproportionately affects minority populations. Richard Nixon began the War on Drugs in 1971, calling drugs a major public enemy.Yet, his former domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman said recently, “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.” Not only did the War on Drugs fail, it incarcerated men and women, ripping them from their family, and forcing a cycle of poverty and oppression on everyone it touched.

This marijuana initiative is not perfect. If passed, it is expected to bring $1 billion dollars of revenue to the local and state annually.

It is laudable that California looks to take a step toward legalizing marijuana and embracing all the benefits of legalization. Whether it’s increasing revenues for a state or reducing its nonviolent prison population, marijuana legalization is a win for everyone.

Young Voices Monthly Newsletter — June 2016

This is the first issue of Young Voices’ monthly newsletter. You can subscribe here to receive future issues via email.

Introducing the new Young Voices

Greetings! You are receiving this email because you’ve either signed up for updates from Young Voices on our website or downloaded our e-book, A Future for Millennials. This is the first issue of Young Voices’ monthly newsletter.

Where to begin? There’s been so much happening in the world of Young Voices (YV) recently, it’s a struggle to sum it up in a few paragraphs. Since its founding in 2013, YV has operated as a department of Students For Liberty (SFL) aimed at empowering the next generation of libertarian writers. That changed last month, when SFL offered YV the opportunity to become an independent nonprofit with a little seed funding. Since then, we’ve been in a flurry of activity —tax filings, staffing hires, grant applications, and so much more.

The bottom line is that YV is now a certified nonprofit in the District of Columbia awaiting tax-exempt status from the IRS. That means that we’re legally operating as an independent nonprofit!

Best of all, we’ve been able to maintain our daily operations during the transition, editing and pitching our Advocates’ op-eds to media outlets. Learn more about our activities below, and stay tuned for additional updates next month.

Casey Given
Executive Director
Young Voices

New Podcast Episode
YV’s podcast lives another day! Click below to listen to an interview with yours truly going into more details about YV’s transition.
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Blame the Economics Not the Oil

Venezuela is literally starving. The New York Times reports that food in Venezuela is being transported by armed guards. Soldiers watch over bakeries and shoot rubber bullets at mobs desperate for food. Common explanations for Venezuela’s economic failure focus on falling oil prices. But even if oil prices were high, Venezuela’s profits would only serve to mask the economic problems that plague the country. The root of Venezuela’s economic ills is its lack of economic logic in its policies.   

Venezuela’s problems stem from its economics: currency and price controls, subsidies, minimum wage, and currency manipulation among a host of other policies. For a long time, Venezuelan politicians didn’t believe economic principles applied to them. Venezuelan politicians convinced themselves that they didn’t have use for economics so long as the oil money kept flowing.

From a finance minister who didn’t believed in inflation, to President Nicolas Maduro increasing the minimum wage by 30 percent in the face of Venezuela’s most severe economic depression, the government has been out of touch. During the reign of Hugo Chavez, oil prices were high and times were good. But once the oil money stopped flowing in, the failure of the Venezuelan economy was laid bare. And what was once seeing as a thriving socialist utopia was stripped to its bones: a hell on earth—just with less food.

How is it that a country with the richest oil reserves in the world has a starving population? Economist Thomas Sowell in his book Basic Economics wrote, “Principles of economics apply around the world and have applied over thousands of years of recorded history. They apply in many very different kinds of economies— capitalist, socialist, feudal, or whatever— and among a wide variety of peoples, cultures, and governments.” Simply put: economics matters.

Just because a country has a lot of resources does not mean that it can turn those resources into goods or services for consumption. The higher amount of goods produced, the higher the standard of living for a country’s citizens. Thus, how a country decides to allocate it resources has a dramatic effect on whether a population lives comfortably or without food. Bolivarian socialism has failed, not because of falling oil prices, but because of its economics.