Announcing Our New Development Manager

April 14, 2014  |  Posted in: Blog  |  No comments

Libertas Institute continues to grow—earlier this year we hired our policy analyst, and I’m excited to announce that beginning today, we have a new development manager: Holly Jensen!

Holly grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, where she learned to love politics and American history. She studied political science at Brigham Young University, focusing on political philosophy and international relations. Holly participated in BYU’s Washington Seminar program where she had direct interaction with government and industry leaders on national issues and current political events. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2013, just three years after she started her undergraduate studies.

Holly has internship and employment experience within the federal government, political campaigns, and Utah business. Her work with Libertas Institute will focus on donor relations, events, fundraising, marketing, and communication. Holly’s passion for freedom, combined with her educational background and talents, will be an effective and exciting combination for our work.

Curious to know more? Send Holly an email at


It’s “Stupid” to Rely on Judges to Protect Our Rights

March 25, 2014  |  Posted in: Blog  |  One comment

During a recent public event, Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court was asked about the NSA’s surveillance programs, made public through the leaks provided by Edward Snowden. 

While conveying concern about judges being asked to decide questions dealing with national security, Scalia replied, ”It’s truly stupid that [the Supreme] court is going to be the last word on [the constitutionality of NSA surveillance].”

We agree that it’s stupid. Lawyers in black robes, in their unelected positions as judges, have steadily weakened the constitutional protections originally intended under the 4th amendment. And the reliance by the citizenry upon the opinions of these lawyers as the last best hope of protecting our rights has been proven, time and time again, to be misplaced and naïve.

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The End Goal of the Common Core

March 21, 2014  |  Posted in: Blog  |  3 comments

Whether you love or hate the Common Core, it’s important to understand the end goal its architects have been striving for. Once Utahns realize what that goal is, we suspect few will be willing to support its use in this state.

In 1995, the National Governor’s Association invited Louis Gerstner to speak at the their annual meeting. Gerstner was CEO of IBM, and a longtime advocate of education reform. “You are the CEOs of the organizations that fund and oversee the country’s public schools,” he told the assembled governors. “That means you are responsible for their health. They are very sick at the moment.”

The following year, Gerstner held his own education summit for governors, telling them that ”if they come, he would pair them with a major corporate executive from their state… to back them with strong support” for the reforms he advocated. Attendees at this summit pledged to support these reforms, and afterwards a group of CEOs and governors founded Achieve, Inc. to drive the reform movement.

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Why Do We Care About Common Core?

February 19, 2014  |  Posted in: Blog  |  No comments

The following is a transcript of the remarks shared by Connor Boyack at this week’s anti-Common Core rally at the Utah Capitol.

We care because we support parental stewardship in education — the ultimate local control.

Michael Novak, a prolific cultural commentator, once wrote: “Between the omnipotent state and the naked individual looms the first line of resistance against totalitarianism: the economically and politically independent family, protecting the space within which free and independent individuals may receive the necessary years of nurture.”

Our organization fights for life, liberty, and property in Utah. Because we are concerned about liberty, we are concerned about preserving the ability for families to raise free and independent individuals. Education, of course, is central to this process. Dictators throughout history have recognized this and used compulsory education to propagandize the rising generation. One of the more popular of these dictators once said, “He… who owns the youth, gains the future.”


The 2014 Real State of the State

January 30, 2014  |  Posted in: Blog  |  One comment

Last night, Governor Herbert delivered his “State of the State” speech for 2014. Key themes included economic development, clean air, education, population growth, and state sovereignty.

Towards the end, the Governor encouraged government officials to “renew our commitment to the principles of good governance, of fiscal prudence and of individual responsibility”—a call to action that we can readily stand behind. Unfortunately, mere commitment is not enough; Utah needs to see consistent application of these principles to effect any noticeable change in the size and scope of government, and more importantly, the freedom of each Utah resident.

In a similar article last year, we outlined a lengthy and foundational snapshot of the state of affairs in Utah. Of course, nothing has changed in the past 12 months, and therefore that snapshot remains an accurate depiction of how things stand in 2014. This year’s article will therefore highlight key developments of interest that have occurred over the last year.

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Don’t Forget Those Pesky Fundamental Principles

January 27, 2014  |  Posted in: Blog  |  2 comments

Another year, another legislative session.

It’s true that Utah’s part-time, limited-salary legislature has its benefits. I mean, just look at California (my home state, which I’m not so fond of admitting these days).

But packing a year’s worth of political activity into 45 calendar days has its downsides, too. The sheer chaos that results from considering 7-800 bill proposals—some brief and easy to understand, others lengthy and insanely complex—leads to bad decisions and dangerous deference.

A prime example of this is the asset forfeiture bill that ran last year which gutted private property protections. Every single legislator voted for it. Why? It was 51 pages of “new” text that nobody had time to read, so they relied on assurances from the bill’s sponsors that it was innocuous and a good thing.

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Announcing our New Policy Analyst

December 2, 2013  |  Posted in: Blog  |  One comment

We’re excited to announce the selection of our new policy analyst here at Libertas Institute: Josh Daniels!

In looking to hire for this position, we sought out candidates with educational backgrounds in economics, political science, or law. Josh’s broad educational experience is in all three! Needless to say, we were immediately impressed.

Josh began his studies at BYU in pursuit of an economics degree. As he proceeded through the technical upper-level coursework his interest became more focused on economic theory and policy. He decided to switch to political science where he took courses in American politics and statistical research. During that time he served on the student team for the Utah Colleges Exit Poll where he participated in a large-scale statewide study of voter opinion and analyzed large data sets to prepare a major policy research paper. For another of his papers, he argued that the colonial-era emphasis on property rights was due to the belief that individual liberty was inextricably linked to private property, and that liberty could not exist in a government that did not respect the primacy of property rights.

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An Update on Yesterday’s Poll

November 26, 2013  |  Posted in: Blog  |  No comments

Yesterday’s public opinion poll (and by extension, all of the ones we’ve done) has met with some professional criticism, to which I feel it’s important to respond. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, the only ones I’ve seen spiking political touchdowns with the response have been those who support the proposed anti-discrimination law.)

First, it was claimed that the questions we used were “unbalanced and inaccurate.” Specifically, the objection was made that we referenced “jail time” in our questions about anti-discrimination law, and that this punishment is “non-existent” in regards to anti-discrimination law. The purpose of this question was not to gauge reaction to any specific proposal or bill language, but to test the degree to which voters would be willing to use the violence of the state against a peaceful business owner. Further, a business owner who would be fined under the proposed law, and who objected to paying that fine, could easily find himself in a legal battle that escalates to the point of jail time. Thus, we felt it was not inaccurate to raise this as a possibility when discussing the state’s prohibition on peaceful behavior.

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What Exactly is “Public Service?”

November 25, 2013  |  Posted in: Blog  |  No comments

Service is one of those ubiquitous, loosely defined words used to describe all sorts of exchanges. It can involve delivery of a material good for money, such as in restaurants, or it can represent the value of labor expended on behalf of another with no remuneration, such as spending time at a rest home caring for the elderly. At its core though, all service involves a giver and receiver.

On a daily basis we come across dozens of examples of service. On a regular basis, I attend a church meeting, or service, where a sacrament is served to a congregation, followed by a sermon delivered by a speaker, followed by a lesson given by an instructor. When I get home, my wife and I serve our children a meal. These are common everyday examples of service.

The etymological roots of the word service stretch back to antiquity and refer to servus, the Latin word for slave. A slave provides service to a master at the threat of his life. He is the purported property of the master and as such has no legal recourse for improper treatment. Over time, slavery became indentured servitude with a preset term of service in exchange for expenses paid up front for debts uncollected. Thankfully, slavery in the developed world has dwindled to a minute, illegal, underground industry with no general public support (although Tax Freedom Day might be considered an annual celebration of the end of annual indentured servitude).

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Guns and Booze: Another Comparison

November 15, 2013  |  Posted in: Blog  |  7 comments

Derek Monson, Director of Public Policy at Sutherland Institute, recently had an op-ed published in which he advocated for a policy proposal his organization will be pushing in Utah’s next legislative session, which begins in January 2014. Sutherland is hoping to reduce the legal blood alcohol content level from 0.08% to 0.05%.

Back in May, I wrote an article comparing the proposal to that of gun control—that if the sole quest to “save lives” then we must, to be consistent, support other restrictions on personal property and behavior. Derek commented on that article, indicating that the comparison was in his view invalid, since, “Alcohol, by its chemical nature, impairs human reasoning and judgment, slows reaction time, etc. in ways that guns do not.”

Despite clear differences between the two, I believe that the comparison remains apt, as you’ll see below.

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