Students for Liberty

Meet Yeon-Mi Park, North Korean Refugee and Lady of Liberty

YeonMi SFL

One of the most inspiring headliners for the upcoming 2015 International Students For Liberty Conference on February 13th-15th is Yeon-mi Park, a 21-year-old woman who escaped North Korea seven years ago and this year has been able to tell her story on a grand scale.

Yeon-mi Park enjoyed a rich lifestyle by North Korean standards for much of her life, but after her father was imprisoned for selling items to China, Yeon-mi was forced to move out of Pyongyang. She escaped to China with her family after her father’s release and was under constant threat of persecution until she made her way to the capitol of Mongolia, carrying only a compass and a razor blade in case her case for asylum didn’t work out. The small group she traveled with knew that they would not be able to return to North Korea.

Yeon-mi is part of a generation in North Korea that can’t remember a time when the government provided for its people. This generation has very little, if any, loyalty to the Kim regime. At the Students for Liberty International Summit, she will speak on this “Black Market Generation,” including their views on North Korea and the outside world, and their increasing consumption of foreign media.

In Memoriam: Andrew Kaluza, 1987 - 2014

Andrew Kaluza and Ron Paul

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

— John Donne, “Meditation XVII”

The “liberty movement” lost one of its own over the weekend with the untimely death of Andrew Kaluza, 27, in a tragic car accident.

Friends and acquaintances took to Facebook and Twitter to sing his praises.

Lucas L., who attended the University of Texas at San Antonio with Kaluza and joined the Young Americans for Liberty chapter Kaluza founded, remembered:

I met Andrew Kaluza during my first semester of college at UTSA. I remember I was just an awkward, shy kid when I walked into my first YAL meeting. At first I was so intimidated by the group because they were all much smarter than me and more well-versed in liberty. I remember how Andrew immediately made me feel welcomed. He would stand at the front of the room and lead the discussion. He encouraged debate and wanted everyone to feel like their opinion mattered. Andrew is very much responsible for inspiring me to continue learning about liberty. The truth is that he inspired a lot of people. I will deeply miss him and his relentless optimism and kindness. I will never forget how he and the rest of UTSA’s YAL made me feel like family. Here’s to you Andrew, may you rest in peace.

Ashton J., who served alongside Kaluza in Students for Liberty in Texas, fondly remembered:

#IAmUnitedLiberty: James Maier’s dedication to liberty has forged lifetime friendships

James Maier

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.

I was raised in the stereotypical conservative household with two parents who worked stable jobs and who were voracious talk radio listeners. My dad worked in television and my mom worked for the local school district as a payroll clerk. Ever since I can remember, my dad always had Rush Limbaugh on in the car or in the house and I distinctly remember my parents always complaining about the Clinton administration from a very young age.

In grade school, I was the odd one. While other students in elementary school were reading fiction books, I read history; generally, about the War Between the States and later, the Second World War. My interests in history that started out at the age of seven later developed into an interest in politics. I read Newsweek and The Week, eagerly awaiting the next issue to be delivered by the mailman.

As far as politics was concerned, I took after my parents’ views on the world, adopting the conservative Republican mindset and in middle school, reading books by Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage — commentators whose radio shows I also listened to religiously when I could. I also had teachers who encouraged me to stay strong to those beliefs, even when the majority of the other students who even cared about politics in middle school tended to be liberals.

Today in Liberty: Join Amash’s Rebel Alliance, Celebrate Human Achievement

“Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it.” — Will Rogers

— Why buy coverage when you don’t have to?: Serious question. Obamacare’s individual mandate is meaningless, at least for the first two years. So meaningless in fact that Americans can escape it by claiming virtually any hardship. “Filed for bankruptcy in the past six months? Had medical bills you couldn’t pay in the past two years? Been a victim of domestic violence? Received a shut-off notice from a utility company? If you don’t want to buy insurance under Obamacare, you don’t have to. No penalty,” Politico explains. “The individual mandate may be the most despised part of Obamacare, but the reality is that it’s much smaller than people think. It’s riddled with exemptions, hardships and other loopholes that allow millions of people off the hook for enrollment by March 31.”

— Keep Calm and Join the Rebellion: Rep. Justin Amash’s (R-MI) end of quarter money bomb began this morning. As of 7:15 am, he’s already raised $6,021.14. Amash is facing an establishment-backed primary challenger. “We’ll fight their army of starched collars and pinstripe suits with a different type of army — the grassroots,” the campaign says via Facebook. “The great news is that we far outnumber them. For every $1,000 check a lobbyist can cut to Brian Ellis, I’m confident there are 100 grassroots supporters who can send Justin $35 at

Today in Liberty: Club for Growth spends big for Amash, Paul to give SOTU response, ISFL Conference

“Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” — Frédéric Bastiat

— HAPPY SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK!: There are more than 5,500 events taking place around the country this week to celebrate and promote school choice and educational freedom. Head over to and find one in your area.

— Club for Growth goes big in Michigan’s Third District: reported on Friday that Club for Growth PAC has dropped $108,547 in ads to protect Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who is facing a primary challenger, Brian Ellis, backed by big business. The ads — which knock Ellis for his support of tax hikes, wasteful spending, and budget deficits — began airing in mid-January.

— Speaking of Amash: On Thursday, Amash joined other Republicans in calling for the resignation of Dave Agema, a RNC member from Michigan under fire for anti-gay, anti-Muslim comments. In his rebuke of Agema, Amash said that he is “trying to grow a new generation of Republicans that includes more gays and lesbians, racial-ethnic minorities, women, and young people.”

The Liberty Movement Will Keep Growing — But Only If We Let It

During the recent International Students for Liberty Conference (ISFLC), Alexander McCobin, Executive Director of Students for Liberty, weighed in on Glenn Beck’s recent shift toward libertarianism.

“I admit, it is difficult to counter this when staunch conservatives like Glenn Beck decide to start calling themselves libertarian,” McCobin said during his opening remarks. “But, if Glenn wants to call himself a libertarian, I am happy to accept him as one… on the condition…that he comes here, to our community, and proclaim ‘mea culpa’ for his past defenses of social and neo-conservatism in public policy and then take serious, public measures to undo the damage done by his offenses to liberty.”

Uniting the liberty movement is our namesake so we’re very much inclined to accept anyone who wishes to join us — and are ready to call them out on issues when they are wrong.

Beck recently responded to McCobin on air. “Whatever sins I have, do you not want someone who is honestly saying ‘I’m trying to learn?’” Beck asked, noting that Penn Jillette, for example, is teaching him about libertarianism.

Drew Martin gave his thoughts on this discussion today over at IVN, highlighting a very profound point that Beck made.

Beck said, “Libertarians, I’m begging you please, see the opportunity you have with about thirty percent of this nation; maybe sixty percent of this nation.”

Hey Ann, the War on (Some) Drugs IS a Welfare Program

Ann Coulter

According to Ann Coulter, libertarians are “pussies” for wanting to end the war on (some) drugs and for agreeing with the Left on certain social issues such as gay marriage. Coulter was a guest on Stossel at the Students for Liberty Conference.

Coulter elaborated:

We’re living in a country that is 70-percent socailist, the government takes 60 percent of your money. They are taking care of your health care, of your pensions. They’re telling you who you can hire, what the regulations will be. And you want to suck up to your little liberal friends and say, ‘Oh, but we want to legalize pot.’ You know, if you were a little more manly you would tell the liberals what your position on employment discrimination is. How about that? But it’s always ‘We want to legalize pot.’


Liberals want to destroy the family so that you will have one loyalty and that is to the government.

After The Welfare State: The Book We Need

You have to hand it to Students For Liberty. Every day I look around and grow despondent, seeing the tyranny that is promoted endlessly, the ever increasing burden of regulations and dominion, the corruption, the wars, and most importantly the bald-faced stupidity of the public, and I think we’re doomed as a country. But then I take a wild gander at SFL’s website, and realize that there are thousands of young people—both in the United States and around the globe—who have recognized the real problems that are facing us as a society and are working towards fixing them.

Not only, then, are we growing as a movement, but we’re also growing in the youth area, meaning we’ll have long-term and sustainable growth. Perhaps their greatest product has been their book series, edited by Tom G. Palmer, beginning with the knockout The Economics of Freedom and continuing withThe Morality of Capitalism. Now, SFL and Palmer are tackling a subject that I think libertarians have really failed to address adequately so far, in the latest book, After The Welfare State.

It’s not ready yet, but I really look forward to reading it. The first two books were substantive and informative, though simple and relatively lightweight (though considering this movement, I’m pretty much comparing it to Hayek, Friedman, and Mises, so there is a low bar there.) But the reason I really want to peruse this volume is because welfarism is one of our most pernicious foes.afterwelfare

Alexander McCobin to Introduce Sen. Rand Paul at CPAC

Students for Liberty have announced that their president, Alexander McCobin, will be introducing Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this Thursday evening at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). You may recall McCobin as the young man who praised the American Conservative Union for including the LGBT conservative group GOProud at CPAC 2010. He was followed on stage by Ryan Sorba, then chairman of the California Young Americans for Freedom, who made a total fool of himself speaking out against GOProud’s inclusion. Let’s go to the video:

“Don’t Pick Sides!”

Clark Ruper, who is the VP of Students for Liberty, has a very good point to make vis-a-vis the Occupy Wall Street movement (for once, the bolding is not mine!):


A lot of the discussion lately has focused on whether Occupy Wall Street  (OWS) is good or bad for liberty, whether they favor more or less government, and similar questions.  While these are valid questions to ask, it is important to consider how we insert ourselves into the conversation.  The protesters have already framed the debate; it is them versus the corporate/political elite (99% vs 1%).  We have to move within that framework and in doing so find the most useful way to get a libertarian message across.

When the topic is government and corporations abusing power, neither of the two institutions are righteous. Rather, all parties are wrong for various reasons. Don’t pick sides! Too often we libertarians find ourselves defending corporations in our attempts to defend free market capitalism. These are the vary same corporations that often fight for and benefit from eminent domain abuse, bailouts, special tax code loopholes, protective tariff and import quotas, licensing laws to keep out market competition, and a whole host of corporate welfare programs. The analysis of corporations being moral is overly simplistic. While there are many corporations that play fair, there are clearly many that abuse their power.

That last line is officially the understatement of the week.

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