FEE

#IAmUnitedLiberty: Carl Oberg saw first-hand how the sausage is made by bureaucrats and that turned him into a libertarian

Carl Oberg

Note: This is one in a series of profiles of UL contributors and friends and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

Carl Oberg has a great story about how he became involved in the liberty movement and, eventually, signed onto work as the executive director of the Foundation for Economic Education. Simply put, he saw first-hand how federal bureaucrats are influenced by special interests to make policy.

“I worked for seven years for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. So, I was a federal bureaucrat,” Oberg told United Liberty over the weekend at FreedomFest. “And seven years of federal bureaucrat work taught me that I needed to be more of a libertarian, basically.”

Oberg says that his work was in trade policy and he traveled around the world to learn how trade policy is put together, or, as he put it, how the sausage is made. “I learned that it’s a messed up process. It’s a process that’s captured by special interests. And it’s a process that really doesn’t make any logical sense,” he explained. “It’s there to serve corporate interests in America.”

In his down time, Oberg said that he began reading the websites of various libertarian-leaning organizations, including the Foundation for Economic Education, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and the Cato Institute.

“I started going to Cato events on my lunch hour in D.C., and started to educate myself. Finally, in December of 2007, I quit my job and I went back to grad school at George Mason University, and got a master’s in economics,” said Oberg. “While I was there, I interned at Cato and interned at a couple other places in D.C.”

Florida restaurant chain charging fee to coverage Obamacare costs

Gator's Dockside

A Florida restaurant chain has been forced to add a surcharge to customers’ bills in order to stay in businesses as owners cope with added compliance and healthcare costs related to Obamacare:

Diners at eight Gator’s Dockside casual eateries are finding a 1% Affordable Care Act surcharge on their tabs, which comes to 15 cents on a typical $15 lunch tab. Signs on the door and at tables alert diners to the fee, which is also listed separately on the bill.

The Gator Group’s full-time hourly employees won’t actually receive health insurance until December. But the company said it implemented the surcharge now because of the compliance costs it’s facing ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate kicking in in 2015.

“The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors,” the sign reads. “Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator’s Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.”

The company employs a total of 500 people, with about half working full-time. Currently only management receives health benefits, but the restaurant will have to offer coverage to all full-timers once the mandate takes effect. The fee will allow the company to continue offering full-time hours to many workers, according to Sandra Clark, the group’s director of operations.

Today in Liberty: Audit the Fed, NSA spying hurts tech firms, earmarks make a comeback

“I think that you can’t start to pick apart anything out of the Bill of Rights without thinking that it’s all going to become undone. If you take one out or change one law, then why wouldn’t they take all your rights away from you?” — Bruce Willis

— Audit the Fed: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is out with a new, short video explaining the need to cut through the “veil of secrecy” surrounding the Federal Reserve. “[W]hen trillions of dollars change hands, wouldn’t you want to know who got the money and did anyone enrich themselves in the process?” asks Paul. “This is money that is being doled out in secret by our central bank.” Paul has introduced legislation — Federal Reserve Transparency Act, also known as “Audit the Fed” — that would expose the central bank’s transaction to much-needed oversight. To this point, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) has refused to bring it for a vote.

— Greg Brannon leads Kay Hagan: Rasmussen released a new poll out of North Carolina yesterday showing House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, leading Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) by 7 points. But Dr. Greg Brannon, a Rand Paul-backed Republican candidate, also holds a lead over the vulnerable Democrat, though by a slightly slimmer margin, at 43/39.

The Truth about the Minimum Wage

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Congress must shoot down the defense authorization bill

A few days ago, I wrote that the compromise is the Senate over the detainee language in the defense authorization bill was a good thing. Well, after reading more about it, it’s clear that Americans are still in danger of being detained indefinitely by their own government without formal charge, as Sheldon Richman of the Foundation for Economic Education explains at Reason:

Permit me to state the obvious: The government shouldn’t be allowed to imprison people indefinitely without charge or trial. It shouldn’t be necessary to say this nearly 800 years after Magna Carta was signed and over 200 years after the Fifth Amendment was ratified.

Yet this uncomplicated principle, which is within the understanding of a child, is apparently lost on a majority in the U.S. Senate. Last week the Senate voted 61-37 in effect to authorize the executive branch to use the military to capture and hold American citizens indefinitely without trial—perhaps at Guantanamo—if they are merely suspected of involvement with a terrorist or related organization—and even if their suspected activity took place on U.S. soil.

The provision, which is included in the National Defense Authorization Act, was drafted without a public hearing by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). Sen. Mark Udall (D- Colo.) sponsored an amendment to remove the power, but the amendment was defeated. A related provision requires that terrorism suspects who are not citizens be held by the military rather than being tried in a civilian criminal court. (The executive branch can waive this requirement after certifying to Congress that the waiver is a matter of national security.)

Eugenics: The progressive movement’s dirty little secret

Many of today’s so-called progressives try to highlight diversity and civil liberties, but not too long ago many following this philosophy were engaged in the eugenics movement. Art Carden and Steven Horwitz remind us in this month’s issue of The Freeman:

According to the received account of the Progressive Era, an enlightened government swept in and regulated markets for goods, labor, and capital, thereby protecting the hapless masses from the vicissitudes of unrestrained laissez-faire capitalism. The Progressives had faith that experts would rise above self-interest and implement wise plans to create a great society. The resulting state-level workplace safety regulations, restrictions on child labor, and minimum wages restored dignity and safety to the trod-upon and exploited workers.

Despite the widespread acceptance of this narrative, there are many reasons to question whether it accurately portrays the motivations and hopes of some Progressive-Era reformers. In a 2005 article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, “Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era,” the economist Thomas C. Leonard offered a completely new historical account of the sources of Progressive-Era labor legislation and the intentions of its supporters. Leonard’s work, including an important 2009 article coauthored with legal scholar David E. Bernstein for Law and Contemporary Problems, “Excluding Unfit Workers: Social Control Versus Social Justice in the Age of Economic Reform,” indicates that lurking behind what many people see as humanitarian reforms was something much uglier.

The Cost of the War on Drugs

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The CATO Institute’s Robert Levy on Big Government

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Last night, Jason and I were able to attend the inaugural “An Evening With FEE” in Atlanta.  The evening’s special guest was Roberty Levy, senior legal scholar in constitutional studies and chairman of the board of directors at Cato Institute, who addressed some of the Supreme Court cases that radically grew the size and scope of government, as well as eroded freedom.

This video is about 40 minutes long, but certainly worth every second.


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