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40


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 40, July 9, 1998

Untitled Essay

First Place Winner, Young Adult Category

Jason Mahoney (age 21)
don-tiggre@utah-inter.net

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         The youth of America are the least politically powerful demographic in the nation. Since the majority of it does not have the vote, it cannot easily influence state policy. Therefore, it should surprise no one that the government restricts the liberty of its most defenseless citizens, the young, the most.
         Once one realizes this problem, one must find a solution. In the past, and at the present moment, many crusaders for the liberty of the young have argued that the young must make their voices heard to representatives. While the authors of such intentions argue in good faith, such a course of action is not the most productive. Simply put, representatives do not care about the opinions of those who can't vote, for they hold no direct power in elections. Thus, in order to preserve the liberty of the young, the young must convince the voters of their communities to elect those candidates who will draft policy accordingly.
         One of the best ways for the young to defend their rights is through the market. While minors may not hold much electoral power, they wield great economic authority. Most minors have high levels of disposable money: most have an income, yet their parents pay for almost all of their necessities. With this reserve of spending money, the young hold the power to indirectly influence the law.
         For example, imagine an owner of a local pizza shop who donates funds to an organization that lobbies the city to create a curfew on minors. Once one minor discovers this connection, he or she should publicize this information through as many means as possible: the media, conversation, etc. As more minors discover this, more individuals will frequent other pizza establishments. In addition to information dissemination, vocal economic boycotts should be organized against the hypothetical shop until the owner ceases to donate to such causes. Further, the converse should hold; minors should conduct business with those merchants known to support liberty.
         However, the fight for liberty should entail more than financial transactions. The young can attempt to win over as many of their elders as possible through argumentation. For example, whenever a governing body considers implementing legislation that would further restrict the liberty of the young, minors are not powerless just because they cannot vote. In response to such state action, the young should remind their neighbors that if the state were to contemplate such action against another segment of society, e.g. the elderly, ethnic minorities, or women, the proposal would never even make it to a vote. When presenting arguments, the defenders of equality before the law should make their beliefs as widely publicized as possible. Thus, regional papers are superior mediums than high school papers.
         Too many young libertarians are too idealistic in their proposed methods of shaping legislation. When a high school student writes a letter to a representative and demonstrates a firm knowledge of Hayek and Jefferson, the representative may not care. What wins the attention of representatives is votes. Thus, were young libertarians to remain pragmatic and focus all of their efforts on getting voters to vote for liberty, representatives would start to care.


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