Joseph Diedrich - University of Wisconsin-Madison

It was a late night in Madison, Wisconsin, a city known for the party-hard nature of its college students. A friend and I were returning to my apartment after partaking in some mild revelry across town.

I live on the fourth floor of an industrial-style building. My apartment is across from a stairwell at the end of a long, L-shaped hallway.

After turning the corner in the hallway, my friend and I saw in the distance what looked like a person lying on the ground. As we continued walking, gradually closing in on our destination, we realized that there was, in fact, a person on the floor. He was unanimated. Something was clearly wrong.

My companion is educated in the health sciences, and she was able to assess the situation much better than I. She knelt down next to the man, who must have been trying to enter stairwell only to literally fall short of his objective. Notwithstanding her tapping on his chest and shouting in his ear, he remained unresponsive. Questioning ever more basic tenets of anatomical existence, she felt his pulse. He was breathing.

That the ground-dweller was a college student was obvious, and he appeared to be roughly twenty years old. On this night, his misfortune was likely the result of a miscalculated affair with Lady Libation.

My friend made a 911 call to summon a medical professional. The dispatcher asked her a long series of questions to determine where she was, what the situation was, how old the man was, how much he weighed, whether or not he was breathing, etc.

Within a few minutes, an ambulance arrived. Because of what my friend revealed over the phone, the ambulance was accompanied by a squad car.

In tandem, paramedics and uniformed police officers revived the man. Ultimately it took some intense shaking and shouting to return him to a state of consciousness. They then proceeded to question him.

All of his responses were muddled in tone and nearly incoherent. They asked him what the date was, to which he replied, “two-thousand-nineteen-ninety-nine.” They asked him where he was and where he needed to go. His answers were as pathetic as they were hilarious.

Eventually it was determined that he lived in one of the dormitories on campus. Since he was clearly underage, they took him into custody and escorted him off the premises.

That’s when the questions started—not questions from the police, but questions of conscience. My friend seemed guilt-ridden and very unsure about what we had just done. Should we have called 911 and therefore the police? What if we ruined the rest of the young man’s life?

While maybe hyperbolic, there is a point there. What if that citation injured his relationship with his parents? What if that contentious relationship snowballed into him dropping out of school? What if he then became an unproductive member of society living in squalor, and so on and so forth?

This ethical conundrum is a symptom of our government as we have come to accept it and of what we have allowed it to become. Medical help for someone in need is, in many cases, unattainable without police involvement.

Clearly, the young man behaved idiotically the evening he became a denizen of my corridor. But his crime had no victims. His biggest offense was his lack of one additional revolution around the sun. Yet the potential negative effects of what happened in that stairwell are much larger than a fine.

What should a libertarian—nay, a decent human being—do in that situation? Should you do everything in your power to avoid intrusion from government? Should you do everything in your power to handle the situation yourself?

In retrospect, I would have looked into the young man’s pocket, pulled out his phone, and accessed his most recent call. I would have made that call again, identified who he was, and figured out where he needed to go. I would have gotten somebody to pick him up or I would have taken him myself. I would not have called an ambulance or the police unless death was imminent.

It is troubling to know that by attempting to help someone, you may inadvertently cause harm. Many consequences—such as unnecessary police involvement—are predictable, and should be avoided. The plausibility of unintended consequences should be constantly considered.

Fix contributor Joseph S. Diedrich is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also Director of Operations of Young Americans for Liberty at UW, and a columnist for Washington Times Communities.

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So many wrongs in the world today are mistakenly linked with capitalism–on both the Left and the Right.

Proponents of free-market economics, and the most feverish detractors thereof, are all too eager to resign to the slogan, “Well, that’s capitalism.”

It must be capitalism that is responsible for the presence of inequality and exploitation, for example. Indeed, nearly everyone seems to believe that capitalism causes adverse side effects; they just differ on how they think those ills ought to be remedied, if at all.

Some favor a dismantling of the entire system, while others propose tinkering around the edges to correct a few “market failures.”

They’re all wrong.

Capitalism does not, in fact, produce the undesirable effects that so many are apt to attribute to it. Rather, deviation from capitalism in the form of government intervention is the true source of the vast majority of social and economic troubles.

Unfortunately, true capitalism has never existed at any point in history. Nonetheless, the current war against capitalism as it operates in America today doesn’t help matters. Capitalism has received a very bad and undeserved rap.

The rich and the poor: A recurring indictment against capitalism is that the drive for profits serves the wealthy at the expense of the “common man.” However, a simple analysis of this claim proves it untrue.

In a completely capitalistic society—that is, one free of special privileges and subsidies and bailouts—entrepreneurs strive to make money in the form of profits. Consumer demand provides a business with the incentive to enter a market because of the opportunity for profit; another business, seeing the profits being made by the first business comes along and competes, driving prices down until demand is met and profit can no longer be made.

Only in the presence of government-enforced price controls or entry restrictions is this process distorted. Thus, capitalism and the drive for profit serve everyone, not one group over another.

Humanity and compassion: Along these lines, another common folly is the sentiment that capitalism—particularly its ostensible focus on money—is inhumane or uncompassionate.

But the real focus of capitalism is not on money itself, but rather on wealth in the form of goods and services.

Capitalism is in fact the most humane and compassionate form of societal organization imaginable. The drive for profit, and consequently the focus on satiating consumer demand, unremittingly lowers prices and turns luxuries into necessities. What was once affordable to only a few becomes commonplace. The wealth of everyone increases more quickly than under any other conceivable form of societal organization. What is more humane than that?

Income inequality: Even if capitalism increases wealth on the whole, what about income inequality? Isn’t that an unavoidable and negative side effect of the free-market system?

This assertion is true to a certain extent: income inequality does and will always exist in a capitalistic society. But we must ask ourselves if income inequality, in and of itself, is in any way negative.

The economist Joseph Schumpeter surely didn’t think so:

Spectacular prizes much greater than would have been necessary to call forth the particular effort are thrown to small minority of winners, thus propelling much more efficaciously than a more equal and more “just” distribution would, the activity of that large majority of businessmen who receive in return very modest compensation or nothing or less than nothing, and yet do their utmost because they have the big prizes before their eyes and overrate their chances of doing equally well.

Pepperdine University economics professor Gary Galles adds: “Whatever level of wealth one starts at, the way to get wealthier in a market economy is not to make other people poorer but to make them better off.”

Idealism: Many assert that unadulterated capitalism is too idealistic. Unfettered markets and unrestricted competition sound good in theory, but those ideas are just too unrealistic; perhaps they were appropriate two centuries ago, but in today’s complex world, they are simply unworkable.

It seems strange, however, that those who claim capitalism is too idealistic also tend to believe that they (or some group of people) have special, nearly omniscient knowledge sufficient for planning an economy.

Capitalism, on the other hand, rests on the realistic presupposition that knowledge—both individual and collective—is severely limited, and that society functions best when individuals make decisions for only themselves.

I say, let freedom ring.

Fix contributor Joseph S. Diedrich is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also Director of Operations of Young Americans for Liberty at UW, and a columnist for Washington Times Communities.

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Most Americans honestly believe they live in a free society. They’re wrong.

That’s the notion behind libertarian leader Jacob Hornberger’s “Civil Liberties, Foreign Policy, and the War on Terrorism” speech, given via Skype to a group of University of Wisconsin students recently.

In his talk, Hornberger – founder and president of the libertarian The Future of Freedom Foundation – criticized the Obama and Bush administrations, accusing the presidents of abusing executive power, violating due process, and conducting warrantless searches.

The crux of his argument was this: since 9/11, the federal government has asserted the right to treat terrorists—domestic and foreign—as either enemy combatants or criminal defendants, which in effect nullifies the protections of the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments. Civil liberties have gradually been diminishing ever since.

“Crises are a dictator’s best friend,” he said.

While not a fan of the National Defense Authorization Act or the PATRIOT Act, Hornberger pointed out that individuals who think that repealing these laws will restore civil liberties are misguided. These laws only codify what the executive branch had already claimed the power to do.

Drawing a medical analogy, Hornberger said that the NDAA was a “cancerous tumor on the body politic, but the big cancer is the national security state itself.”

As a remedy for the erosion of civil liberties precipitated by the War on Terror, Hornberger called for a rejection of interventionist foreign policies and the abolishment of the NSA and the CIA, organizations he considers to be relics of the Cold War.

Hornberger called the lack of concern for civil liberties and a penchant for warfare a “moral crisis.”

While the consciences of older generations have “rusted shut,” said Hornberger, young people need to exercise their consciences immediately and to the fullest extent.

“Conscience can stop a country in its tracks,” he added.

Hornberger founded The Future of Freedom Foundation in 1989. He is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and University of Texas Law School. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics.

After a dozen years practicing law, he began working at the Foundation of Economic Education, a career decision that eventually led to the genesis of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Fix contributor Joseph Diedrich is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also Director of Operations of Young Americans for Liberty at UW, and a columnist for Washington Times Communities.

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While universities are the institutions that research and identify the problems of sexual assault, they are at the same time reluctant and unlikely to develop programs that combat it – partly due to fear of negative publicity.

So says Dr. David Lisak, a renowned clinical psychologist and rape expert who gave a two-hour presentation earlier this month at the University of Wisconsin–Madison during its Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Universities need to reassess their “leadership and commitment” when it comes to preventing sexual assault on campus, Lisak said, while also stressing that “single individuals can force enormous change” on their own.

Lisak, a former professor at the University of Massachusetts–Boston, currently acts as a consultant to law enforcement, an expert witness in death penalty trials, and conducts training and workshops on sexual assault prevention across the country. His research focuses primarily on non-stranger rape and assault.

According to Lisak, those ages 18 to 24 are at maximum vulnerability for sexual assault, and because of that, sexual assault “is a grim reality on college campuses,” he said.

In his own study of 1,882 male U-Mass students, 120 were found to be rapists—near the national average for all men. Of the 120 rapists, 76 were serial offenders, who combined to commit more than 1,000 abusive acts.

The U-Mass stats are common at other college campuses across the nation, Lisak has found.

At one point, Lisak shared a video reenactment of an interview he conducted with a study subject who had admitted to committing rape.

The subject, a Duke student, relayed a story of how he and his fraternity brothers would “target” vulnerable girls and make them feel special by inviting them to a party later in the week.

At these parties, the “targets” would be given drink after drink until they were near or at the point of unconsciousness. The subject went on to describe one particular “target” with whom he forcibly engaged in sexual intercourse.

The story was shared with a patently cavalier tone and narcissistic attitude, something Lisak said is common among repeat offenders.

Among other things, the video served as an illustration that, according to Lisak, alcohol is “not a cause,” but rather “a weapon.” That is, sexual assault is not caused by liquor; rather, predatory individuals strategically use alcohol to manipulate, disorient, and weaken their “targets.”

Fortunately, the public has an especially keen perceptivity when it comes to sexual violence, he said.

“Nothing will bring the CNN trucks faster than sexual assault,” quipped Lisak.

The majority of Lisak’s presentation focused on non-stranger rape—what some refer to as “date rape.”

The psychologist began by dispelling myths about rape and then shared what he described as “realities of offenders” – there is no “profile” of a sex offender; most offenders are serial offenders; most assaults are committed by serial offenders; and serial offenders are predatory, manipulative, and exploitative. Additionally, most rapes are premeditated.

A 2009 study performed by the U.S. Navy yielded similar results.

While perhaps prima facie disheartening, Lisak emphasized the fact that these studies, which are representative of the larger population, highlight the fact that 94 percent or more of men are not rapists, a fact he remains “doggedly optimistic” about.

For the final portion of his presentation, Lisak focused on prevention.

Beyond “aggressively investigating and prosecuting core sex offenders,” Lisak suggested that outliers’ beliefs must be changed. Awareness of the problem must be increased via the implementation of bystander education programs; for example, the Air Force has a bystander-intervention program. Also, as with drunk driving, social norms must change such that sexual assault is more profoundly condemned.

Fix contributor Joseph Diedrich is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also Director of Operations of Young Americans for Liberty at UW, and a columnist for Washington Times Communities.

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Sen. John McCain recently took to the Senate floor and lambasted Sen. Rand Paul for his political “stunt” of a filibuster.

McCain also read extensively from a Wall Street Journal editorial, which opined, “If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms.”

But Mr. McCain misses the point—the libertarian kids are impressionable, and Rand Paul knows that. If those dorm-dwellers are impressed enough, they’ll vote for him in 2016.

Paul will almost assuredly run for president in 2016; it seems almost inevitable now. To win, he’ll have to unite a fractured Republican base for both a dog-eat-dog primary and a face-off with whoever happens to be the Left’s favorite hero at the time.

That’s the thing about the Left—they vote for heroes. Barack Obama had no political clout and no experience whatsoever when he emerged victorious in 2008. What he did have was a heavy dose of charm and a whole lot of impressionable kids in college dorms. Some of them were even libertarians who rejected the Bush-era Republican rhetoric of perpetual war and complete disregard for civil liberties.

Obama turned out to be as bad as or worse than Bush in every way, including on war and civil liberties. That’s what Paul’s filibuster was all about—not a mere “stunt” to prevent an Obama nominee from getting confirmed, but a sincere plea for an honest, non-partisan discussion about battle technology, due process, and the rule of law.

It caught the attention and earned the respect of Republicans of all kinds, from Ted Cruz to Marco Rubio to Rush Limbaugh. It was truly a unifying moment.

It caught the attention of the entire world. #StandWithRand was trending on Twitter for hours upon hours.

And of course, it caught the attention of “impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms.” The youth—perhaps even more so than the Left—embraces a romantic hero come election time. Writing at Mediaite, Noah Rothman proclaimed that Rand Paul shattered the “Democratic monopoly on romance” and captured “the hearts of the young voter.”

Rothman added, “The young conservative, instinctively attracted to the struggle against perceived injustice, must always wrestle with and overcome their heart first in order to join the conservative movement. This is a fundamental impediment to the [R]ight’s ability to speak to the young voter.”

True enough. Conservatism ostensibly tries to be the political ideology of reason and pragmatism, often seeking to divorce emotion from policy. While conservatives often fail miserably at achieving this noble objective, the perception remains. Young people simply aren’t attracted to stuffy curmudgeon-esque conservatism.

Everyone knows the Republican Party needs to draw the youth vote to win an election. To do so, they’ll need a charismatic hero who can harmoniously incorporate the young with the traditional.

“Impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms” certainly aren’t going to vote for anyone like John McCain. But they just might vote for Rand Paul.

Fix contributor Joseph Diedrich is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also Director of Operations of Young Americans for Liberty at UW, and a columnist for Washington Times Communities.

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The usual suspects will speak this week at the Conservative Political Action Committee confab, a.k.a. CPAC, during which thousands of Republicans, conservatives and libertarians converge to brainstorm, network and strategize.

Launched in 1974 with Ronald Reagan as its first featured speaker, the annual March event, organized by the American Conservative Union, has grown ever since.

However, as much as CPAC attempts to rally, galvanize, and unify conservatives, it often ends up exposing serious rifts and disagreements within the movement. This year’s slate of speakers promises to do the same.

The usual suspects will all be present. Mitt Romney’s silver sideburns will be seen in a major public venue for the first time since his defeat in the November election. It will be interesting to see if his tone and rhetoric have undergone any changes; perhaps a more believable and relatable as person will emerge.

Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, will also be there. He’s been relatively quiet and arguably soft lately. He could really use a hard-hitting, passionate speech filled with great ideas to help regain some of the relevance and credibility he once enjoyed.

Then, for entertainment purposes, CPAC has also invited Sarah Palin, whose relevance and credibility are certainly in their twilight hours.

As mentioned above, CPAC is often a microcosm of intraparty battles. There are two emerging factions within the Republican Party; we’ll call them the “conservatives” and the “libertarians.”

Marco Rubio has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the conservative ranks. Elected to the Senate in 2010, he has earned a place of prominence and is widely viewed as one of the top contenders for the 2016 presidential nomination. Earlier this year, he delivered the official Republican response to the State of the Union address, during which he lunged for a now infamous water bottle.

Contrast Rubio with another first-term senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky. Paul, a polished and subdued version of his father, is the face of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. While Rubio’s and Paul’s speeches at CPAC will likely contain a lot of the same messages, Paul will likely differ on issues of war, defense spending, and civil liberties. We’ll most likely also hear him call for an audit of the Pentagon.

One of Paul’s closest allies in the senate is Mike Lee, a quieter and less controversial libertarian, although many might consider him more principled from an ideological perspective. He is one of a few potential surprises that we may see this year at CPAC.

Ted Cruz, only a few months in to his freshman senate term, has already made a name for himself for his boisterous and often blockading views and votes. As an ethnic minority, like Rubio, he could potentially become a Very Important Person as Republicans seek to adapt to modern demographics.

One more senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina, will make his first influential national speech at CPAC. He is well-known in his home state for being exceptionally hawkish on fiscal issues, and it will be interesting to see how well he introduces himself to conservatives across the country.

Finally, Dr. Ben Carson is poised to become the next Herman Cain, hopefully with a few more brain cells. This Johns Hopkins powerhouse will certainly be a favorite of the anti-Washington-insiders crowd.

CPAC 2013 will also feature a number of young political and ideological rising stars.

Jeff Frazee is the founder and Executive Director of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), an organization that boasts a membership of over 125,000 people and possesses a network of over 380 local chapters on college campuses nationwide. Their stated goal is to “identify, educate, train, and mobilize young people on the ideals of liberty and the Constitution.”

A similar organization, Students for Liberty (SfL), which was founded in 2008, is led by Alexander McCobin, who will also speak at CPAC. SfL’s biggest claim to fame is their annual international conference, which draws thousands of youngsters from around the world. Both Frazee and McCobin are expected to deliver speeches with libertarian themes; McCobin’s may prove to be the most libertarianesque of all the speeches at CPAC.

Francesca Chambers is the editor of Red Alert Politics, a popular conservative online news site geared toward college students. Chambers and the two young men represent the future of conservatism in America.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the speaking line-up is who will not be present. The ACU was wise to not include the likes of Donald Trump, to be sure, but many are left scratching their heads at the exclusion of Chris Christie.

Fix contributor Joseph Diedrich is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also Director of Operations of Young Americans for Liberty at UW, and a columnist for Washington Times Communities.

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