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New Year, New Opportunity

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

New Year, New Opportunity

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Since the Christmas holiday, the phrase I have heard over and over again is “New Year, New You.”

Today, I’m going to talk about the new new year, and the new opportunity that 2017 presents. It is a new year. In a few days, we’re going to have a new president. That means a new administration with new priorities, a lot of new projects, a new Congress, and we’re going to see our opportunity as libertarians.

2016 opened a lot of hearts and minds to the possibilities of libertarianism. 2017 means that it’s time to meet them with our solutions.

At the end of last year, I talked about learning more, so that we are better prepared to speak on libertarian issues and the ideals of liberty. When it comes to the conversations that we lead, we’ll be better informed, better equipped, and better prepared to talk about what it means to be a libertarian, and how we focus on the issues as we see them.

We’re also going to be listening more. That will allow us to be better prepared to answer the questions that are brought to us. The questions will arise in the conversations we lead, but also in everyday, casual conversation. We are going to be asked, “What is the libertarian view on this?” when we make it known that we are a libertarian authority.

We’re also going to need to take advantage of this new opportunity by welcoming inquiry to nurture those who are new to libertarianism, or who just found out about us in the last year or eighteen months. They’ll still have plenty of questions. At the beginning of last year, I wrote More Fit Than Fat, talking about how we tend to push away new libertarians, by showing them that they are not “libertarian enough.”

Will you take advantage of 2017? This new year? This new opportunity?

I know that I am.

Be Effective More Than Efficient

in Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Be Effective More Than Efficient

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

I love efficiency. I like to see people work to make things better, faster, and more appealing.

Innovation is exciting!

Where I get lost is when their fascination with making something easier paralyzes them to the point of stagnation. They will spend more time working to find a better, faster, or easier solution than it would take to just do the work of the existing options.

We are most effective when we work to persuade at the one-on-one level. When having individual conversations, we:

  • Are able to see body language and interpret those cues
  • Get to hear non-verbal auditory cues, like tone, as we listen attentively
  • Display a passion for Liberty 
  • Get immediate feedback on our efforts

While these conversations are not particularly easy, especially at first, they are effective.

efficientAs someone who is rather technologically adept, while also appreciating innovation, I understand the desire to automate and digitize things. The key for us is to balance the “old” and “new,” as we reach different audiences, who have different preferences.

Many “old ways” involve a bit of a personalized attention, like hand-written letters and notes, a telephone call, or following up with a thank you. While we may find e-mail blasts, mass texting, and smartphone apps more efficient for us to broadcast a message, keep in mind that those methods aren’t as effective as actual person-to-person interaction. They also will not reach everyone, even those you target with your message. We all find a reason to archive or delete an e-mail, ignore a text, and turn off the notifications for an app.

As those looking to persuade work to develop the “next big thing,” keep in mind that the time you spend on innovation is time not spent being a shining example of libertarianism, living a libertarian lifestyle, or having those conversations. By seeking to “reinvent the wheel,” many forsake the tried and true methods, rather than working on getting their message out and lose valuable time.

This compounds when we assume one “touch” carries the same weight as another. An in-person conversation holds more value than receiving an e-mail blast. A personal phone call outweighs a direct mail piece. A handwritten thank you note shows you care more than an automated response e-mail.

None of that should be taken to mean that we shouldn’t utilize some of the more innovative, efficient methods of communicating Liberty. Rather, we should incorporate them as part of a comprehensive strategy to be as effective as possible, rather than focusing on just the most efficient, and often less effective, modes.

What’s Stopping the Private Sector from Offering Better and Cheaper Education than the Government?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Communicating Liberty, Education, Liberator Online, Libertarian Answers on Issues by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Dr. Mary Ruwart is a leading expert in libertarian communication. In this column she offers short answers to real questions about libertarianism. To submit questions to Dr. Ruwart, see end of column.

The Old SchoolhouseQUESTION: If the private sector can provide education better and cheaper than the government, why aren’t they doing it? Nothing is stopping private industry from providing better service than government schools to poor children. They can do this right now and it is 100% legal. So why don’t they?

MY SHORT ANSWER: Actually, providing education to poor or even middle-class children is NOT 100% legal. Parents who send their children to school are required by law to utilize schools that meet specific requirements, such as certified teachers, accreditation, and specific types of curricula.

Even home-schoolers must abide by regulations, which differ from state to state. If parents don’t follow these regulations, their children can be taken from them by Social Services, even if the children can ace every standardized test.

In spite of these hurdles, the private sector already does provides better education for many poor and disadvantaged. The typical Catholic inner-city school takes 88% of all applicants, many of whom are not even Catholic. About 20% of Catholic schools accept students expelled from public schools. Even after adjusting for race, family background, and social class, the average Catholic high school student gained three years of learning above that of the average public school student. The educational gap between minorities and whites narrows for minorities in Catholic schools.

Ombudsman Educational Services, specializing in drop-outs, boasts an 85% graduation rate. Students advance one grade level for each 20 hours in this program, while spending half as much as the public schools. A quarter of the students at the renowned Marva Collins Preparatory School in Chicago (recently closed) had learning disabilities, yet almost all students read one level above their grade. Tuition was less than a third of what public schools in the area received per pupil.

Of course, pre-schoolers are unaffected by educational regulations. Consequently, the private sector can provide advertiser-sponsored Sesame Street and other educational programs that are essentially free for the user. Likewise, the Internet provides educational resources for just about anyone, for low or no cost, including virtually everything taught in K-12. However, even if a child had the equivalent of a college degree from such a learning experience, they still would be required by law to attend a government-regulated school or regulated home school.

There is hope. The innovative private sector may eventually overcome all of these government-created obstacles. Today many experts say we are on the verge of a revolution in cheap or free online education. One explosive new example of this is Khan Academy, which describes itself as “a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.”

References:
Catholic Schools and the Common Good by A.S. Bryk, V.E. Lee, and P.B. Holland (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), pp. 246-247; 262-263; 286.

Educational Choice for Michigan by L. Reed and H. Hutchinson, (Midland, MI: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 1991), p. 49.

J.G. Cibulka, T.J. O’Brien, and D. Zewe, Inner-City Private Elementary Schools: A Study (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1982), p. 137.

Do Private Schools Serve Difficult-to-Educate Students?” by J.R. Beales and T.F. Bertonneau, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, October 1997.

C. Lochhead, “A Lesson from Private Practitioners,” Insight, December 24, 1990, pp. 34-36;

Choice, Charters, and Privatizations” by D.W. Kirkpatrick, schoolreport.com, September 1996.

“A Canadian’s Perspective on Milwaukee’s Choice Program,” School Reform News, June 1999, p. 7.

T. Hetland, “Learning Thrives at Westside Prep,” Heartland Perspective, January 15, 1993, p. 2.

LEARN MORE: Suggestions by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris for further reading and viewing on this topic:

* “The Education Visionary: Khan Academy founder Salman Khan on the future of learning,” interview by Nick Gillespie, Reason magazine, February 2013 issue

Excerpt: “[T]he nonprofit Khan Academy [offers] free online lectures and tutorials that are now used by more than 6 million students each month. More than 3,000 individual videos, covering mathematics, physics, history, economics, and other subjects, have drawn more than 200 million views, generating significant funding from both the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google. Khan Academy is one of the best-known names in online education and has grown to include not just tutorials but complete course syllabi and a platform to track student progress.”

VIDEO: “Khan Academy Founder Talks Radical Education Reform and The One World Schoolhouse,” interview by Nick Gillespie & Joshua Swain, Reason TV, November 9, 2012. Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie talks with Khan about how to radically transform American education, why technology is never the solution reformers expect, and how massive amounts of money go missing every day in conventional public schools. About 14 minutes.

The Alliance for the Separation of School & State: This website offers a wealth of information and arguments concerning private alternatives to government education, and how this will especially benefit the poor and disadvantaged. The organization was formed by Marshall Fritz, a pioneer in the field of freedom in education (and also founder of the Advocates for Self-Government).

* * * * * * * * * *
Got questions?  Dr. Ruwart has answers! If you’d like answers to YOUR “tough questions” on libertarian issues, email Dr. Ruwart

Due to volume, Dr. Ruwart can’t personally acknowledge all emails. But we’ll run the best questions and answers in upcoming issues.

Dr. Ruwart’s previous Liberator Online answers are archived in searchable form.

Dr. Ruwart’s brand new book Short Answers to the Tough Questions, Expanded Edition is available from the Advocates, as is her acclaimed classic Healing Our World.