The Sweet, Animating Contest of Freedom

Guest post by Adam Minson. Catch him on the EVC podcast here.

An important part of the identity of most people is their culture. Where you live in large part determines the type of people with whom you associate, you raise your family, and you interact through mutually beneficial work, trade, business and consumption.

What a very important aspect of your life! Shouldn’t this be something we choose instead of ignorantly accepting the conditioning of the state? “I’m American and we’re the best because… uhh… I was born here.” Most people never actively question that they even ought to have a choice. And if they’re unhappy with their culture they seek to use government to change the culture of everybody to fit their desires!

The destruction of this natural freedom each individual ought to have to choose their culture is one of the greatest evils of government. Why shouldn’t I be able to travel, work and live anywhere in the world? Why shouldn’t I be able to have this very precious freedom?

How often do we hear, “If you don’t like it here then leave!” Who has tried this? I am in the process and trust me, the roadblocks governments put in your way to prevent you from traveling, working and living elsewhere are extreme and outside the capability of most people.

The level of hubris among politicians to force their culture upon everybody is as disgusting as it is angering. But as I sit here waiting on my flight out of the country to investigate another people and place the idea that I even have one additional choice is exciting!

The love for the sweet, animating contest of freedom is something that should be instilled into the souls of children instead of it being conditioned out of them by government schools. Instead of “Do what your told” children should learn “what do you want and how can you achieve it”.

But there is hope for the future because this yearning for freedom is as unquenchable a need for humanity than its need for food. Here’s to an exciting 2018!

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Why I Don’t Want My Kids to be Happy

Written by Mia Von Scha.

It seems obvious that we would want our kids to be happy… always. We go out of our way to protect them from negativity, disappointment, sadness and anger. We try to create peaceful home and school environments. We think up creative ways to cheer our kids up when they’ve been hurt. It seems to be the basis of good parenting. I disagree.

I don’t want my kids to be happy. I want my kids to be real.


And real people have a variety of emotions every single day.

What I want is for my children to feel so comfortable with me that they can scream and shout, cry and lament, moan and complain, and genuinely express whatever it is that they are going through at the moment. I know it will pass. Emotions that are expressed don’t stick around for very long.

Emotions that are repressed can stay for a lifetime.

I want my children to be free to be whoever or whatever they are in the moment and to know that they are loved in all states. I want them to feel safe coming to me with their pain so that we can connect and share stories and feelings and our very humanness.

When we assume that the best thing for our kids is to be happy–and we encourage and work on happiness above all else–we give the unspoken message that if you are not happy then that is going to affect MY happiness and well-being as a parent. We can then put our own guilt, fear and sense of failure onto our children. They cannot be real without worrying about us, and how they are letting us down.

What we’re doing is setting our kids up to focus on a fantasy life where everything is easy and everyone is happy all the time, and if you’re not happy you’re somehow not OK. This is the very basis of depression. It is also the basis of a multi billion dollar industry in anti-depressants.

The message we need to get across is that everyone feels everything at some point, and we all feel a variety of emotions every day. Some of these are really strong and long lasting, some are mild and fleeting, but all of them are part of our human experience. Every emotion has a place and a purpose. Every emotion will pass once you have listened to it and allowed it some breathing space. Every emotion is beautiful; not just happiness.

When we can allow ourselves and our children to experience all emotions, then we open up the possibility of learning and growing from the things that we feel. We are also free to share these with other people without feeling bad about feeling bad. And so we get to explore the depths of what it means to be alive. We don’t need to fear our own experiences. We don’t need to hide from our pain.

This is a beautiful and connected place to be with your children. You will find your relationship with them becomes richer, and you get to see your children for who they are, not who you hoped they would be. Real, raw, beautiful, expressive, amazing beings just waiting for you to love them in all of their complexity.

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Is “Screen Time” Dangerous for Children?

Written by Alison Gopnik.

I was in the garden with Augie, my four-year-old grandson, watching the bees in the lavender. “Bees make honey,” I said, transmitting the wisdom of the ages in good grandmotherly fashion. After a pause, Augie replied, “How do they make the honey?” There is nothing like a child’s question for exposing the limits of a grandmother’s wisdom.

“Actually, Augie, I don’t know,” I said.

“But, Grandmom, you have your phone,” he said. For Augie, a smartphone is as natural and unremarkable as the bees and the lavender, and holding one is almost synonymous with knowing.

I Googled “How do bees make honey?” There were dozens of videos explaining it. As we stood in the garden, shielding the screen against the sunlight, Augie and I learned that worker bees secrete an enzyme called invertase, which converts nectar into dextrose, then flap their wings to thicken the nectar into honey.

“It’s kind of hard to see the bees,” I said, squinting at the screen.

“Why don’t we watch it on the big computer?” Augie said.

For the next hour, we sat inside, bee-surfing. Someone in Sweden had posted a speeded-up video of bees building a hive, months of construction compressed into two minutes. There was a whole subgenre of beekeeper selfie videos. Best of all was a BBC documentary about the “waggle dance,” the remarkable communication system that allows bees to give one another directions to the places where they’ve found nectar.

My own childhood was dominated by a powerful device that used an optical interface to transport the user to an alternate reality. I spent most of my waking hours in its grip, oblivious of the world around me. The device was, of course, the book. Over time, reading hijacked my brain, as large areas once dedicated to processing the “real” world adapted to processing the printed word. As far as I can tell, this early immersion didn’t hamper my development, but it did leave me with some illusions—my idea of romantic love surely came from novels.

English children’s books, in particular, are full of tantalizing food descriptions. At some point in my childhood, I must have read about a honeycomb tea. Augie, enchanted, agreed to accompany me to the grocery store. We returned with a jar of honeycomb, only to find that it was an inedible, waxy mess.

Many parents worry that “screen time” will impair children’s development, but recent research suggests that most of the common fears about children and screens are unfounded. (There is one exception: looking at screens that emit blue light before bed really does disrupt sleep, in people of all ages.) The American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend strict restrictions on screen exposure. Last year, the organization examined the relevant science more thoroughly, and, as a result, changed its recommendations. The new guidelines emphasize that what matters is content and context, what children watch and with whom. Each child, after all, will have some hundred thousand hours of conscious experience before turning sixteen. Those hours can be like the marvelous ones that Augie and I spent together bee-watching, or they can be violent or mindless—and that’s true whether those hours are occupied by apps or TV or books or just by talking.

New tools have always led to panicky speculation. Socrates thought that reading and writing would have disastrous effects on memory; the novel, the telegraph, the telephone, and the television were all declared to be the End of Civilization as We Know It, particularly in the hands of the young. Part of the reason may be that adult brains require a lot of focus and effort to learn something new, while children’s brains are designed to master new environments spontaneously. Innovative technologies always seem distracting and disturbing to the adults attempting to master them, and transparent and obvious—not really technology at all—to those, like Augie, who encounter them as children.

Like the bees, we live by the reports of others. Unlike the bees, we can invent new worlds, constructing them out of sonic vibrations, ink, or pixels. Sometimes those worlds deceive and confuse; at other times, they tell us something revelatory. When Augie’s father got home, Augie rushed to meet him, his words tumbling out in excitement. “Daddy, Daddy, look,” he said, reaching for the phone. “Do you know how bees make honey? I’ll show you. . . .”

Originally published at NewYorker.com.

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Get Outside to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health

Written by Scott Moses.

A typical person in today´s industrial society spends the vast majority of his or her time indoors and in front of some sort of screen. From the time they wake up until the time they go to bed, the only moments that they are outdoors is while they walk from their cars to their offices and vice versa. Children who are somewhat active might be outdoors more often, but much of that time is dedicated to organized sports activities on a manicured lawn.

Very rarely do any of us, neither children or adults, spend quality time in the natural world of forests, rivers, marshes, and the like. Our need to control the natural settings of the world around us has led us into avoiding contact with the natural world that doesn’t have concrete sidewalks and close cut lawns.

In this article, originally written by the outdoor blog LiveOnceLiveWild.com, we dive deep into this topic and explore the price of not engaging with the outdoors.

The Price That Comes with Lack of Contact with the Natural World

Because of the insulated environments that define our everyday life, most of us have absolutely no idea how the natural world sustains us. We may think that water comes from a tap while never having seen the river or spring that feeds the municipal water system. From our consumer mindset, food comes from the shelves of the local grocery store instead of from the complex and intricate relationships of soil organisms that give fertility to our crops.

The lack of contact with the natural world has caused us to forget how our lives are ultimately dependent on the ultimate world. The enclosure of our lives in the world of screens, shopping malls, and infinite comforts and luxuries has also indirectly led to some of the global crises we collectively face. When you don´t come into contact with the natural world, there is very little incentive to protect it.

Physical Health Benefits that Come with Being Outside

Lack of contact with the natural world has also led to a number of serious physical health problems. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes and dozens of other problems are tied to the sedentary, screen-filled lives that define our everyday living. While signing up for a membership at your local gym will certainly help you get the exercise you need, the treadmill simply doesn’t compare to a walk through the woods.

Getting outside into the natural world brings a number of important physical health benefits. For starters, Vitamin D is notoriously missing in the majority of foods that we eat. We should be getting between 80 and 90% percent of the Vitamin D that we need from the sunshine. That, however, requires us to be outside during a part of the day. Your morning walk through the woods doesn’t only give you needed exercise, but it will also get you the vitamin D you need for bone growth, cell growth, inflammation reduction and neuromuscular and immune function.

Furthermore, being outside actually makes exercise easier and more enjoyable. Everyone knows that we need to exercise, however, those early morning visits to the gym can seem like drudgery. One recent study found that being surrounded by the color green actually makes exercise easier as it lessens the sensation of exertion.

Mental Health Benefits that Come with Being Outside

The health benefits of spending time outdoors aren’t just reduced to physical benefits. Rather, there are a number of important mental health benefits of spending time outside. Spending time outdoors helps to increase your brain function and makes it easier to concentrate. It also increases your creativity production, which is essential for young, school-age children.

In our stress-filled society, it can be hard to find a balance between work and rest. Most of us live between deadlines, and the effects of stress on our physical and mental well-being our easily seen in the increasing amount of people suffering from anxiety and panic disorders. Spending time outdoors has been proven to lower stress levels and even lower your heart rate.

Finally, there is something inherent in the human being that responds with happiness to things that are ultimately good for us. Spending time in the natural world is obviously healthy, both physically and mentally. When we take time out of our busy lives to enjoy the natural world, a feeling of deeper and more meaningful happiness becomes a reality.

Get Outside for Happier, Healthier Life

We need to find ways to escape from the bondage of screens, walls and carefully controlled environments in order to take advantage of the physical health and mental health benefits that come with being outside. Even a short walk every morning through the woods will prepare you mentally and physically for a healthier lifestyle.

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Spontaneous Order is Not an Engineered Outcome

Written by Donald Boudreaux.

Commenting on this post, Lanny Ebenstein asks me:

If even the smartest professors aren’t able to engineer a society according to their, or to anyone else’s, designs, and if the belief that it is possible to do this is always futile and often fatal, why do you believe that it would be possible massively to reorganize society in a libertarian direction of vastly less government? Isn’t that a contradiction of what you have just said?

With respect, I see no contradiction.  My libertarianism (which, I think, is a quite common kind of libertarianism) is simply a call for the state to cease and desist from its own social-engineering projects – from projects small (such as protective tariffs) to projects big (such as government-run pension plans).  The patterns of human interactions that will emerge in place of the state’s interventions are unpredictable in their details, but history and theory both teach that such patterns do indeed emerge spontaneously.

To call for an end to social engineering is not itself a call for some different sort of social engineering or ‘reorganization’ of society.  (Lanny has written much about Hayek, so he is familiar with Hayek’s distinction between “order” and “organization.”  I believe that this distinction is both real and important.)

I’m convinced that the kind of laws, customs, and government that reign at any time in a society largely reflect that society’s ideologies.  If I am correct about this matter, then libertarianism – just like “Progressivism,” Nazism, Talibanism, or any other ism – cannot be imposed in a way that lasts for any length of time.  The bulk of people must prefer it to available competing isms.  So, with rare exceptions, when I make my case for a libertarian society, I aim not to change today’s policies but to do my modest part in planting seeds that in the future might, just might, cause hearts and minds to change in a direction that will make people more free.

Republished from Cafe Hayek.

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23 Ways Big Government Is Hurting the Poor

Written by Daren Bakst.

Advocates for big government often equate expanding government with concern for the poor. But reality speaks to the contrary: Expanding government often has very harmful effects on the poor.

This reality is precisely what is addressed in a forthcoming special report from The Heritage Foundation, “Big Government Policies That Hurt the Poor and How to Address Them.”

Rather than looking at welfare policy—a usual focus of analysts when discussing policies that impact the poor—the report focuses on economic policy, including regulation.

The authors identify 23 policies and provide concrete solutions that would allow those struggling financially to have more opportunities and a higher standard of living. As indicated in the report, these policies are just the tip of the iceberg.

The authors found three recurring themes that marked the policies they identified:

1. Cronyism

A significant number of the policies are classic examples of cronyism. It’s quite illuminating how government policies supposedly designed to protect allegedly vulnerable workers or consumers wind up, in reality, helping dominant producers or politically favored special interests.

2. Disproportionate Impact on the Poor Through Artificially High Prices

Many of the policies identified drive up consumer prices, such as for food and energy. This disproportionately hurts the poor because a greater share of their incomes go to meeting basic needs, as compared to households at higher income levels (see the chart below).

3. Obstacles to Opportunity

There are numerous policies that create artificial and unnecessary obstacles for the poor when it comes to obtaining jobs or starting businesses that could lift them out of poverty.

Here are four of the harmful policies detailed in the report:

1. Occupational Licensing

Laws that require official occupational licensing cost millions of jobs nationwide and raise consumer expenses by as much as $203 billion per year. These policies are often just a barrier to entry to help existing individuals in the specific field by limiting competition.

2. Federal Sugar Program

The federal government tries to limit the supply of sugar that is sold in the United States. As a result, the price of American sugar is consistently higher than world prices, sometimes even doubling world prices.

This big government policy may benefit the small number of sugar growers and harvesters in America, but it does so at the expense of sugar-using industries and consumers.

Recent studies have found that the program costs consumers as much as $3.7 billion a year. The program has a disproportionate impact on the poor because a greater share of their income goes to food purchases compared to than for individuals at higher income levels.

3. Energy Efficiency Regulations for Appliances

The Department of Energy regulates a long list of consumer and commercial appliances, including products like refrigerators, air conditioners, furnaces, televisions, shower heads, ovens, toilets, and light bulbs.

These regulations prioritize efficiency over other preferences that customers and businesses might have—such as safety, size, durability, and cost. Customers and businesses might have such preferences even at the loss of some reduced efficiency.

While there are a number of problems with the government mandating energy conservation (such as cronyism and dubious environmental benefits), appliance efficiency regulations are likely to have a bigger negative impact on middle-income and low-income families, and likely to provide more benefits to upper-income families.

4. Ride-Sharing Regulations

For years, states and municipalities have attempted to heavily regulate, and at times ban, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft in an effort to prop up their principal competitors—the traditional taxicab companies.

Government policies that attempt to preserve this system against competition from ride-sharing firms, or which impose costly and burdensome regulations on said firms, do so at the expense of both consumers and drivers, with a particular impact on the poor.

As the report illustrates, government regulation and unwarranted intervention are often the primary barriers to progress for those who are poor. Just getting government out of the way could make a huge difference.

The Big 23

Here is the report’s full list of 23 big government policies currently harming poor Americans:

  1. Climate Change Regulations
  2. Energy Efficiency Regulations for Appliances
  3. Fuel Efficiency Mandates and Tier 3 Gas Regulations
  4. Ozone
  5. Renewable Fuel Standard
  6. Tennessee Valley Authority
  7. Federal Sugar Program
  8. Fruit and Vegetable Marketing Orders
  9. Department of Agriculture’s Catfish Inspection Program
  10. Soda Taxes
  11. International Monetary Fund Bailouts
  12. Import Restraints on Food and Clothing
  13. Jones Act
  14. High Minimum Wages
  15. Occupational Licensure
  16. Economic Development Takings
  17. Home-Sharing Regulations
  18. Rent Control
  19. Smart Growth
  20. Payday Lender Rules From the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  21. Daycare Regulations
  22. Ride-Sharing Regulations
  23. State-Sanctioned Lottery Monopolies

The Bottom Line

All levels of government—local, state, and federal—need to look honestly at how they are contributing to the poverty problem. Then, they can become part of the solution.

Originally published at FEE.org.

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