THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 40, July 9, 1998
First Place Winner, Young Adult Category
Jason Mahoney (age 21)
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
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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