An International Perspective on the Refugee Crisis

The Challenges of the Syrian Refugee Crisis

By Karina Kovalcik 

In March 2011, in keeping with the Arab Spring movement sweeping through the Middle East, there were prodemocracy protests in Deraa, Syria. The people were protesting the Assad Regime in a peaceful manner over the arrest and torture of teenagers who painted revolutionary signs on a school wall. The protests became so intense that the security monitoring the protestors opened fire on civilians. This added fuel to the revolutionary fire, and in July 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the street demanding President Assad’s resignation.

The regime used force against its people in an attempt to quell the uprising. This escalation polarized the opposition supporters and in an act of official defiance they took up arms to defend themselves. The country descended into a civil war, and by 2012, fighting had reached Damascus and Aleppo. Sensing vulnerability, many outside players have inserted themselves into the state, increasing instability. Since the government was too busy fighting the rebels to secure its own border, the Kurds, ISIS, Russia and Hezbollah have all invaded the region, hoping to tip the scale in their own best interests. According to BBC, the war is not solely about democracy anymore, but rather it has also manifested itself in a religious front where the Sunni majority (rebel group) is fighting a Shia Alawite sect (Assad regime) and the other actors have inserted themselves to also protect these interests ( Asare). Vox even goes so far as to posit it is possible that Assad, realizing he was losing control of his country, deliberately attacked the Sunnis to intentionally shift the conflict onto religious lines (Fisher). They claim Assad wanted to create a sectarian war to get the religious minorities on his side. He knew this would attract extremists to the rebel side (ISIS, Al Qaeda), which would align Western interests with him and his regime.  Russia supports the Assad regime. The Kurds are interested in establishing their own state, and ISIS wants to establish its own caliphate.

All of these contrasting forces have come together to create an extremely hostile warzone where no one is safe and the winner will be the one who inflicts the most damage to everyone else, regardless of civilian status. The Syrian civilians have been caught in the dangerous crosshairs of this conflict and been brutally targeted by all sides. The Assad regime has ruthlessly attacked civilians with barrel bombs and chemical weapons (Fisher). The US has threatened the Assad regime with intervention if they do not destroy their chemical weapons (Asare). This dangerous environment has been compounded by ISIS’s use of mustard gas against the Kurdish forces (Asare).  Facing this kind of high-risk, dangerous environment where by August 2015, 250,000 had died, it is not surprising that over 4 million Syrians have fled the country and 7.6 million have been internally displaced (Asare). Their very survival depends on their ability to escape Syria and the fighting. Once these refugees escape Syria, the question then becomes, where do they go?

While the majority of refugees have settled in the countries bordering Syria, a massive quantity are making their way to Europe and are camping at the borders of countries, just waiting to be let in. It is up to the countries to decide what to do.

The challenges in formulating a policy that addresses the main struggles in trying to manage the pressures posed by migrants and refugees all depend on each country’s respective end goal.

Germany’s end goal is to provide asylum to as many refugees as possible. Germany has this goal for two reasons. The first reason is because it is the morally correct thing to do. People are being targeted and are asking for help, so the just thing to do is provide assistance. A little less talked about is also the fact that this is an opportunity to improve Germany’s reputation. Given historical events, this is a moment where Germany can prove that it is a leading country full of humane people, willing to help those in need. The second motivating factor is a little more devious. As of May 2015, Germany had the lowest birthrate in the world (“Germany”). It is projected that, if the current rate continues, by 2030, the percentage of working age people in Germany will only be 54%, a number that cannot maintain Germany’s strong economy in the long run (“Germany”). Germany either needs to increase its birthrate, or supplement the economy with migrant workers. Considering the fact that of Syria’s 4 million refugees, almost half of them are children, absorbing the many refugees fleeing from Syria would provide a great buffer to the future of the German economy (“Syria Crisis”).

The main challenges that Germany faces in attempting to formulate policy lie predominantly in logistical aspects. The challenges include, but are not limited to, housing the refugees, paying for their care and education, and determining which refugees to accept, all while still accounting for the preferences and best interests of the German people. The quantity of refugees Germany should accept is a direct function of its economic ability to support these people. Germany will not be able to help refugees if it accepts so many it bankrupts itself and the country collapses.

The first challenge Germany faces is finding a way to house all the refugees. According to a German study translated by Newsweek, 76% of the municipalities in Germany said that the largest struggle in accepting the refugees is finding the space to house them (Ilsley). Germany doesn’t have the capacity for the quantity of refugees it is accepting. It really only has space to house 500,000 refugees, but there are currently 870,000 with expectations of a total of 1 million by the end of the year (Ilsley). Extra space is running out quickly. Many local authorities have stepped up to detail the extent to which the challenge is affecting the community:


…everywhere from aircraft hangars to former offices of the Stasi are commandeered as shelters and even ordinary Germans are being asked to take refugees into their own homes,[sic] Hamburg, Bremen and other cities have said they will seize vacant commercial property from its owners as an emergency measure. (Connolly)


All free activity halls are being utilized as well. It is representative of the true state of the lack of space when government officials start talking about seizing the private property of their citizens. Economically speaking, it seems that there may be a ceiling to the amount of refugees Germany can physically accept, and that she is already approaching that limit. German policy makers must be conscious to balance their demand for refugees with their ability to house them when formulating their refugee and migrant policy.

Policy makers must also be aware of the monetary limitations that the country faces when formulating migration policy. When refugees escape Syria and come to Germany, it is the responsibility of the German government and people to pay for the care and education of the refugees. This does not come at a cheap cost, and if Germany is not careful, she could seriously harm her own economy.

In order to determine how to optimize refugee policy and calculate how much care to provide refugees, Germany first needs to determine the current economic status of the refugees. The government must discover how much money and education the refugees have. In 2014 80% of Syrians lived in poverty, 64.7% of which were categorized as living in extreme poverty, meaning they could not get basic items or food necessary for survival (Syrian). The unemployment rate had shot up from a high 14.9% in 2011 all the way to an astronomical 57.7% by the end of 2014 (Syrian). Policy makers, therefore, need to account for the fact that a large quantity of their refugees are probably very impoverished and will require a lot of assistance. This challenge has hopefully been accurately accounted for in budgeting, seeing as approximately 40% of the German municipalities expect to spend $1.2 billion dollars on refugees, and Germany overall will end up paying $22.5 billion to house, feed and educate the refugees (Ilsley).

The education levels of the younger refugees also seems to be a challenge German policy makers will have to overcome. Approximately 50.8% of all school age children are currently not in school, and almost half of those students have lost more than three years of schooling (Syrian). Although this lack of education is clearly the consequence of growing up in a war zone, it still needs to be accounted for in budgeting because many students will require three extra years of education, effectively delaying the time at which they will be able to enter the workforce. In addition to the basic German education, all refugees will also need to take classes to learn German. This will maximize their ability to contribute to the economy. The massive increase in the population of Germany has stretched the public services very thinly. To account for the increase in population, Germany will need to add many new teaching positions as well as policemen and administrators at the BAMF (“Refugee”).

The next challenge policy makers face in molding policy is figuring out how to pay for these provided services. Angela Merkel has insisted to the German people that there will be no raise in taxes (Fluechtlings-Krise). She has cited that there is no need to raise taxes because Germany is in a good economic situation and has previously implemented a responsible fiscal policy. The Bundestag recently voted on the 2016 budget which accounts for 8 billion euros to be devoted to refugee care (“German”). This 8 billion euros will be coming from a budget surplus, and will not indebt the country, which keeps with a promise Merkel made to German voters 3 years ago upon reelection (“German”). While the costs to the national and local governments are astronomical, Chancellor Merkel obviously believes that it will pay off in the long run. It is projected that 175,000-335,000 additional Syrian workers will be added to the German workforce in 2016, which could be early proof that the refugee labor will support the German economy in the long run (Ulrich). Policy makers need to be wary of the challenge of correctly estimating costs, and the consequences that will occur if they underestimate the costs of caring for refugees.

Another struggle policy makers in Germany face is figuring out which refugees to accept. This must be a cost-benefit analysis of the skills a refugee will add to the economy, the costs he will incur, and which the economy can handle better. In a strictly economic manner, the most beneficial policy for Germany would be to only select the most educated workers. These workers can contribute right away and don’t cost as much. However, this would counter Germany’s goal to improve public image, so she must also accept those who are more vulnerable. However, if Germany only accepts those refugees who are most vulnerable (women, children, widows) then the burden on the economy may be too great. Therefore, German policy makers must find the correct balance of types of individuals to accept.

The last challenge German officials face in drafting refugee policy is accounting for the preference and best interests of German people. German officials have a responsibility first and foremost to the German people. This means prioritizing public safety by conducting thorough screenings of all applicants. There is very little that would hurt the refugee cause more in the public eye, than if the government did not correctly vet a refugee and the refugee attacked the German people. German officials must keep in mind that “Domestic mobilization around radical Islam…[is] a concern that is much more pronounced in European states such as France, Germany, and Great Britain” (Adamson 195). If an attack on German people were to occur, there would be even greater opposition to accepting refugees than already exists. Public sentiment in Europe is that many want to see less immigration.


As seen in the diagram, large amounts of people feel threatened by the immigrant population and fear the change immigrants will bring to their daily lives. Each country’s culture is very distinct and the influx of a massive amount of refugees will bring irreversible change to culture that frightens many. Adamson recognizes the sentiment in European countries and addresses it in terms of national identity:

“International migration processes call into question the cultural basis of a state’s identity… The challenge that migration flows pose to unitary conceptions of national identity has deep historical roots and continues to provoke political debate. (181)


This political debate, if left unaddressed, can manifest itself in violent outbursts. These outbursts have not gotten a lot of media coverage, but are represented by the hundreds of attacks that occur in Germany against refugee camps (Blickle). It is possible that this could lead to an escalation of violence and retribution from the refugees. Therefore, in order to maintain the safety of both the refugees and the German people, “future policy planning in the JHA area will thus not only have to set out realistic goals that take into account European economic constraints, but will have to push harder to connect with citizens, acknowledge their concerns, and weave a shared immigration narrative” (Collett 5). It is imperative to the long-term acceptance and incorporation of refugees into the social system/economy that both sides accept each other. If German policymakers do not account for the preferences of the people, it is possible that a social war will start.

Policy makers must also consider the decreases in quality that occur when the economic pool is flooded. Since German officials have a responsibility to the German people first, they must be wary that the costs do not decrease the quality of care offered to the German people too greatly. The decrease in quality of healthcare and education in Lebanon due to the refugees was very significant. It has projected costs between 1.4 and 1.6 billion dollars, or 3% of their GDP, to restore access to and quality of health and education programs to prewar levels (Cali 38). As seen in the diagram above, job fear exists in larger percentages in Europe. Based on statistics from Lebanon, these fears may, in fact, be legitimate. At the end of 2014, it was projected that 170,000 extra Lebanese people would be pushed into poverty and 220,000-324,000 unskilled Lebanese youths would be cut out of the market, doubling the unemployment rate to 20% (Cali 38). Although it is not too probable that this will happen in Germany (based on decreasing birth rates and therefore increasing availability of jobs in the market), it is a possibility that German policy makers need to keep in mind. It is also important to note that the increase in refugees can lead to an uptick in consumption. In Lebanon, it has been calculated that a 1% increase in the quantity of refugees accepted led to a 1.5% increase in the export industry (Cali 46).

The last question posed in the diagram highlights another serious challenge policy makers could face. What should policy makers do if the various refugee groups are not willing to incorporate themselves into German society or follow German Laws? Sharia law and German law, while they do overlap a bit, they also significantly contradict each other, which could pose serious issues. Overall, policy makers need to be extremely considerate of the wants and needs of the German people when implementing refugee policy because the consequences of implementing the incorrect policy may cause insurmountable problems

While Germany’s end goal is to accept as many refugees as possible, the UK’s end goal is to avoid the problem of managing refugee pressures entirely. The UK hopes to do this in two ways. Firstly, by fixing the problem at the root in Syria, and secondly by removing all pull factors that attract refugees to the UK in the first place. It is ironic, because attempting to avoid the challenges of dealing with refugees inherently poses challenges of its own.

The challenges of this approach include facing backlash from both the rest of the world and within your own country. The UK has been strictly enforcing the Dublin regulation. It has been deporting all individuals who came to the UK through improper channels, including those who have family willing to sponsor them (“Refugee crisis could push Britain out of the EU, Cameron warns”). Britain has agreed to accept 20,000 refugees over the next 5 years, which is almost insignificant compared to Germany (“Refugee crisis could push Britain out of the EU, Cameron warns”). These refugees will be selected by the UN and will only be taken from camps surrounding Syria, not from Europe (“Migrant”). This has met a lot of moral outrage both in Europe and within the UK. In an open letter signed by over 300 government officials, the former UK Supreme Court head, Lord Phillips, publicly condemned David Cameron for a refugee response that is “deeply inadequate” (“Migrant”). Another challenge that arises from the UK’s choice to not accept any Syrian refugees from Europe could be an increase in the instability of the EU. An increase in instability would seem to be detrimental the UK, but the UK has recently been considering leaving the EU anyway. According the Express, 51% of voters in the UK want the UK to quit the EU (Bates). David Cameron has promised the people a referendum by 2017. Therefore, if the instability of the EU becomes too great due to the refugee influx, the UK can just leave the EU and avoid the problem entirely. While this doesn’t seem to be too probable, it is still an option.

While it may seem that the UK does not care about the refugees at all, this is not true. The UK has been taking action to provide aid to the refugees both in the form of money and in the form of military action. The UK has already provided over 1 billion pounds in aid to Syrian  camps and an extra one million pounds in aid to various charities helping those displaced (“Migrant”). Prime Minister Cameron believes that the best route to solving the problem is returning stability to the region (Wintour). He asserts that the problem can’t be fixed by accepting more refugees. The RAF has conducted 2 airstrikes in the last week targeting ISIS airfields, infrastructure, and a truck bomb (“Syria Air”). The increase in British airstrikes in the last couple weeks can be seen as evidence that Prime Minister Cameron is truly attempting to help return stability to the region.

David Cameron is also attempting to avoid the challenges associated with the refugee crisis by removing all pull factors that draw refugees to his country. It is a dangerous trip that refugees take to escape Syria. Cameron has attempted to create reasons for the refugees to stay in the region, instead of risking their lives to come to Europe: “Once a relief response consisting of support structures, facilities, and amenities… that caters for[sic] the needs and welfare of refugees is in place, the refugee route becomes more inviting” (Stark 328). Cameron makes a clear distinction in the difference between helping refugees and openly encouraging them to make a dangerous journey that will only strain everyone involved. In order to minimize the strain on Europe, Cameron is pushing for other countries to provide more aid to camps in countries neighboring Syria, which would hopefully keep the refugees in the region (“David”). He has said Britain will not voluntarily take any of the refugees from Europe, insisting on selecting them from camps in the Middle East (Harding). While it is obvious from looking at the UK’s refugee policy that it does not want to accept many refugees, that does not mean that the UK does not want to help. It believes that the best course of action is fixing the problem at its root, instead of providing palliative care. However, an important factor that must be addressed is if this is even possible. The United States has been attempting this exact plan for the last decade, and it still hasn’t accomplished its goal.

The challenges that European governments face when formulating refugee policy are heavily dependent on each country’s end goal. Germany’s end goal is to accept as many refugees as possible. It therefore faces challenges associated with availability of space, availability of funds, and protection of its people. The UK’s end goal is to avoid these challenges entirely, yet still help solve the problem. It therefore faces challenges of how to help the refugees without accepting them into the UK. These countries differ in their approaches in that one wants to help alleviate the symptoms, while the other wants to fix the problem causing the symptoms. These differences in long run goals help explain the difference in approach each country has taken.





























Works Cited

Asare, Patrick. “Syria: The Story of the Conflict – BBC News.” BBC News. British

Broadcasting Corporation, 9 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.

Bates, Daniel. “David Cameron: Refugee Crisis Causing EU Strain.” Express, 29 Sept.

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Blickle, Paul. “Violence against Refugees: Germany in Flames.” ZEIT ONLINE. Die Zeit,

4 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.


TRADE. Rep. no. 96087. World Bank, Apr. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.

Collett, Elizabeth. Policy Briefs 4 (2014): 1-12. Migration Policy Institute, 28 May 2014.

Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.

Connolly, Kate. “Refugee Crisis: Germany Creaks under Strain of Open Door Policy.”

The Guardian, 8 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.

“David Cameron Urges EU Countries to Follow UK’s Lead on Refugees.” BBC News.

British Broadcasting Corporation, 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.

Fisher, Max. “The Refugee Crisis: 9 Questions You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask.” Vox

World. Vox, 09 Sept. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.


“Fluechtlings-Krise.” Interview by Kai Diekmann. BILD. N.p., 11 Oct. 2015. Web. 14

Dec. 2015. <;.

“German Bundestag Approves Budget for next Fiscal Year.” DW.COM. Deutsche Welle,

27 Nov. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.

“Germany Passes Japan to Have World’s Lowest Birth Rate.” BBC. British Broadcasting

Corporation, 29 May 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.


Harding, Luke. “Refugees Welcome? How UK and Germany Compare on Migration.”

The Guardian, 2 Sept. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.

“Migrant Crisis: UK Response Criticised by Senior Former Judges.” BBC News. British

Broadcasting Corporation, 12 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.


“Refugee Crisis Could Push Britain out of the EU, Cameron Warns.” The Week UK, 10

Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <


“Syria Air Strikes: RAF Jets in Second Wave of Strikes.” BBC News. British

Broadcasting Corporation, 5 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.

“Syria Crisis.” Child Refugee Crisis. UNICEF, n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

<;. Fast Fact that appeared on this page

Syrian Center for Policy Research. Rep. United Nation Relief and Works Agency, Mar.

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Ulrich, Klaus. “What Helping Refugees Costs Germany.” DW. Deutsche Welle, 4 Sept.

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Wintour, Patrick. “Britain Should Not Take More Middle East Refugees.” The Guardian,

3 Sept. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <;.

Reflection on Syrian Refugee Debate

Sophomore Pedro Enamorado’s Reflections on our Event: Syrian Refugees in the US: A Humanitarian Obligation or a National Security Threat?

As a Christian Conservative, I regret to say I hadn’t give the Syrian refugee crisis enough thought. The cause of the refugee and the immigrant is dear to me, especially as I am the son of Honduran immigrants and I feel bound to the command to care for the foreigner among us. Naturally, I was glad to hear Buckley Program’s Firing Line participants present two views of how the government should respond to letting in foreigners. Both speakers made their cases using economic and practical approaches, however, they avoided using moral arguments and appeals to compassion. This is one weakness I found in their arguments as they mostly spoke of “reducing harm” or having an equal obligation to those with poor quality of life among us. I feel that any discussion of taking in the oppressed should appeal to actively pursuing justice and mercy as a society, not just keeping the US out of other nation’s affairs or doing as little damage as possible. What I most appreciated was that both speakers rightly exposed security screening as a useless and ineffective fiction. They conceded that it merely served as a talking point for politicians discussing the crisis today.

Still, I found many of the considerations valid and convincing. Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute proposed encouraging immigration and refugee resettlement with as few barriers as possible for the notable economic benefits it brings to society. He insisted on government promoting a private sponsorship model of refugee resettlement, removing the red tape and (inefficiently spent) taxpayer money going to support resettlement. Considering how few Syrian refugees get in through the currently lottery system (compared to the quota), this approach might free individuals and organizations to do much good. Mark Kirkorian responded with the opposite assertion that barriers to resettlement should be high for the good of the nation. I feel he did little to justify his position, neither countering Alex’ points on the economic benefits of immigration, or showing that Americans are as opposed to it as he is, since he appealed to democratic ideals. But he made a good case that refugee aid would serve refugees who resettle in the Middle East more effectively and allow us to support more refugees that way.

Ultimately, although this Refugee crisis has polarized American public opinion it is important to recognize that all sides of this debate have valid contributions toward finding a solution. I enjoyed hearing the Buckley Program speakers debate the topic and I look forward to refining my view on the subject even more.

Pedro is a Junior in Ezra Stiles College. 


Spring 2016 Essay Contest Winners

Below are the 1st prize submissions for our high school and college Firing Line Essay Contest in response to the question:

“What Is the Greatest Challenge Facing the U.S. Economy?”

Our high school winner was Louisa Bjerke, a 10th grader from Greenwich High School, here are her thoughts

Education 2.0 Learning in the Era of Innovation

By Louisa Bjerke

The greatest challenge to the American economy today is our outdated and stagnant education system that leaves scores of students unprepared for the rapid innovation and incorporation of new technology in the modern workplace.

Our country has gone through three industrial revolutions over the past 250 years and today we are standing on the verge of the fourth. Each revolution has represented a significant shift in skill sets required to make our economy productive and progressive. In the first industrial revolution, competitive manual labor was replaced with mechanized, specialized machinery, which meant sustained economic growth for the first time in American history. Following the Civil War and Reconstruction, the second industrial revolution was hallmarked by mass production and resulted in improved efficiency on an assembly line of focused singular tasks. In response to this technological revolution, our educational system became a skills oriented education with single subjects and focus on single tasks. The “three R’s”, reading, writing and arithmetic were separated into individual subject matters without any interconnectedness. By the third industrial revolution, computer based information technology allowed for manufacturing to become digital and resulted in mass storage of information.  The unparalleled ability of computers to store, sort, retrieve and process information has replaced many jobs that were focused on completing repetitive administrative tasks typically associated with many lower-level office jobs. Despite these significant shifts, the traditional industrial model of education remains unchanged from the basic skills curriculum created nearly 150 years ago.

Now, with the ability to create and produce programmable machinery that can efficiently produce a wide range of products, we are entering a fourth industrial revolution, namely the innovation economy.  In this paradigm, information is ubiquitous and production is moving from single task, mass manufacturing to inexpensive robotics and individually tailored manufacturing.  In line with Adam Smith’s economic theory of the Invisible Hand, the innovation economy will be driven by the free market of ideas and products that aim to capture the consumer’s ever changing demands and tastes.  As new machinery erodes the production cost advantages of mass production assembly lines, the economic compulsion to purchase standardized cheap goods over tailored products will diminish and the innovation economy will take over.  Now the college educated, mid-level jobs that are focused on narrow but finely tuned skill sets are threatened. With that in mind, we have to create an education system that embraces flexible specialization. The real driver of this new economy will be the ability to quickly adapt production to capture new ideas and changing demands. In the innovation economy, success will be defined by the ability to collaborate with many different people across a wide range of specialties and to constantly reconfigure the collaboration network to maximize innovation efficiency.

Our educational framework lags behind this economic reality. Smartphones can now regurgitate facts better than even the brightest student.  Education in the 21st century must be completely transformed and re-imagined to prepare for innovation and entrepreneurship against the backdrop of computers enabling mass storage and easy retrieval of information and robots permitting cheap translation of ideas to finished products. In the past decade, students have slowly moved from passively sitting at individual desks while teachers lectured, to a group learning environment that facilitates critical thinking, open communication and collaboration. Though this more active type of learning encourages students to be creative through collegial communication and constructive feedback, it is still constrained by each group member ultimately being assigned a specific task to produce a defined product.  If we fail to create an education that prepares us for constant innovation, we risk losing our economic leadership position and, even worse, remain stuck in a mass production economy while the world moves on.


Our college essay contest winner was our Former President Zachary Young ’17

Reviving the American Worker:

Structural Gaps in the United States Labor Force

            Today is the age of the so-called “knowledge economy.” Increasingly, workers in developed countries must use knowledge to generate tangible and intangible value in their vocations. Leveraged by technology and global markets, American firms and employees often face winner-take-all business climates. Low-skill jobs in manufacturing have migrated to labor-cheap countries or have been automated by technological innovations. The greatest challenge facing the United States economy is to prepare the American worker to succeed in this environment. This involves identifying structural gaps in the labor force and empowering American workers to solve them.

During the Obama Administration, there has been a disconcerting reversal in labor force trends. Between 1963 and 2000, the civilian labor force participation rate grew steadily from 58 percent to 67 percent. This rate measures people over the age of 16 who are either employed or actively looking for employment. Thus, the United States saw roughly one-tenth of its adult population enter the workforce in the second half of the twentieth century—a momentous economic development. Between 2000 and 2008, labor force participation stalled around 66 percent. Yet since 2009, this rate has been in free fall—reaching 62 percent last month. Suddenly, the productivity gains of half a century have been rolled back considerably.

Meanwhile, those participating in the labor force have struggled to find work. The rate of unemployment—understood expansively to include marginally attached workers—remains 25 percent higher than pre-recession levels. Among the unemployed, the problem of long-term unemployment has risen to historically uncharted levels. Between 1948 and 2008, the long-term unemployed never composed more than 26 percent of the unemployed. In 2010, that figure spiked to 45 percent, and it has since remained above the 1948-2008 range. Such extended lengths of unemployment indicate structural mismatches between the types of jobs that are available and the types of workers looking for them.

Even those workers who have found employment have struggled to keep pace in today’s competitive economic landscape. During the Obama Administration, wage growth has stunted. Since 2009, monthly wage increases have failed to match even the lowest increase seen between 1997 and 2008. This secular stagnation has been especially pronounced for Americans who lack a college degree. Former construction workers, assembly line workers, and coal miners have often been to adjust to new lines of work. Although wage growth has recently been gathering steam, it remains to be seen whether this pattern will sustain itself.

Altogether, fewer Americans are looking for work, fewer Americans are finding work, and fewer Americans are earning more. These trends represent larger problems in the labor market that are unprecedented for a growing economy. As things stand, American workers have not yet contributed their full potential to bull market.

Politically, inequality will continue to be a animated issue so long as the gains of the knowledge economy flow predominantly to a wealthy fraction of the labor force.

To address this labor challenge and take full advantage of its human resources, the United States should lean on the private sector to recruit, train, and empower new scores of American workers. Currently, the federal government spends $15 billion per year on 46 different job training programs with little accountability or demonstrated results. Rather than attempting to create a 47th or 48th program, policymakers should latch onto the growth engine of private employers. In order to accomplish this, the federal government should remove red tape around hiring and firing that prevents firms from taking bets on low-skilled workers. Moreover, the federal government should partially subsidize corporate efforts to transition the long-term unemployed into stable vocations.

There is little time to waste. As of 2013, 15 percent of 16-24 year-olds were not working or in school or college. This represents an annual cost of $94 billion to federal taxpayers. Even worse, this economic failure makes it likely that these young people will never become productive, well-functioning citizens. Failure to involve these young people today will bear long-term consequences for our society.

The American economy has plowed through eight years of global uncertainty without dipping into recession. American stock markets have near-universally recovered from the 2008-09 financial crisis. Inflation has anchored at low rates ever since the Great Recession. Commodities like oil continue to depreciate in value, passing on savings to consumers. To cash in on these opportunities for all Americans, however, policymakers must first address the challenge of creating a labor force for the knowledge age.


Thanks again to all of our essay contestants! 



Full Interview With Robert George

Below is the transcript of the interview conducted by Ugonna Eze ’16 before Robert George spoke at our 2/3 event

U: Thank you Prof. George for agreeing to do this interview.

RG: It’s my pleasure!

U: One of the things I want to do in this interview is to pick your brain on what’s going on right now, especially with all of your experience addressing these issues. There’s been a significant change in how conservatism is approached and presented over the past few decades. With the Goldwater-Reagan revolution, we had a strong reaction to the growth of government and the rise of socialism in the West. Contrast that with conservatism today; on issues of immigration and life, the conservative agenda is more proactive than reactive. Is this a change worth noting and how do you see conservatism evolving going forward?

RG: One of the problems with discussing conservatism is that the term has no standard meaning. Nor does liberalism, for that matter, or socialism or even libertarianism. Someone who, under a certain set of cultural circumstances — let’s say a 19th Century or even 20th Century conservative in Europe would be quite a different critter from an American conservative, then and now. American conservatives, by and large, are what I’d sometimes call old-fashion liberals (though even here, there are different schools of conservatism). That is to say, Madisonian, Tocquevillian liberals — believers in limited government and rule of law. They’re republicans in Lincoln’s sense —- government of the people, which all government is; for the people, which all good government is; but by the people as well. Old-fashioned liberals, or what we today call conservatives, believe in the importance of the mediating structures of civil society, beginning with the marriage-based family. They believe in the institutions of religion, which play a critical role in assisting the family in its critical health, education and welfare functions and the transmission of virtue to new generations. They believe in civic associations, self-help groups and so forth and so on. 

Conservatives, or old-fashioned liberals, believe in all of those things and one of our problems with big government is that it tends to undermine the authority and impede the good functioning of the institutions of civil society. Often it commandeers that in the service of its own agenda. We, of course, think that’s a bad thing — not because of some abstract principles, but because those institutions, when functioning well, are crucial for human wellbeing and flourishing. When government undermines their autonomy and authority, it hurts human beings. Without a flourishing culture of marriage and the institution of the family, and the underlying civil society that supports it, we cannot flourish. 

So we American conservatives, on the whole, are not conservatives in the old, European sense, the throne and altar conservatives. On the contrary, we’re the old-fashioned liberals. We do believe in republican government, not in monarchies. We do believe in the separation of the institution of the church from the institution of the state. Why? Well not because we have an issue with religion. On the contrary, we believe that religion is not only good in itself but is central to the good functioning of civil society. After all, religion is a mediating institution. Rather, we think we need to protect religion against the state. We don’t want religion to play the role that it so often plays in places like Russia — both before communism, during communism and after communism — when it becomes a servant of political powers, whether Czars, or communist premiers, or whatever Putin is today. 

So, there are these different sorts of conservatism. There’s a kind of Burkean element of European conservatism that I think has been usefully integrated into American conservatism. When I think about it, I don’t think it’s an accident that Burke was not, in his own day, considered a conservative but rather a Whig.  I have my friend Yuval Levin to thank for this insight in his recent book on Burke and Paine. Burkeans, rightly I think, remind us that we shouldn’t just jump after whatever seems to be the next good idea. There may be problems, even injustices, with inherited institutions. Where there are injustices, they need to be addressed — but where something is not obviously an injustice, where there  are reasons and arguments to be adduced in its favor, then we should go about the process of reform in a careful, thoughtful and deliberate way. If institutions have served human wellbeing pretty well, you on’t want to just throw them away for a “good sounding theory”. Practice, in a way, probably has more going for it in terms of reliability than theories, no matter how plausible they may sound. So I think that element of European, or should I say British, conservatism has been usefully integrated into the old-fashioned liberalism that we American conservatives today represent. 

There are all sorts of interesting issues arising from the relationship between conservatism and other schools of thought, such as libertarianism. Today, libertarians often do business under the label of conservatism. Sometimes libertarians themselves embrace that, sometimes they resist that, but very often, people who are referring to libertarianism, whether they are themselves conservatives or critics of libertarianism in conservatism, will call libertarianism conservatism. Yet in the academy, when we’re counting up the handful of conservatives that we find in law schools and arts and sciences faculties, often people will count as conservatives, the libertarians. But there is a relationship there. Libertarianism, I think, is distinct from conservatism; both in the old-fashioned throne and altar European sense and in the American sense, we old-fashioned liberals (though libertarians themselves claim, with some justice, to be old-fashioned liberals). Libertarians put the focus more firmly on the individual, and his interest and rights, than on the mediating structures, the institutions of civil society and a fortiori, the inherited understandings, norms, traditions and so forth. 

Now again, we need to avoid drawing this difference too starkly; there are libertarians, I believe, the most astute and thoughtful libertarians (people like Prof. Epstein, the great legal scholar) who do understand the importance for liberty, for the individual, of healthy institutions of civil society that are intermediate between the central state and the individual. And, on the other side, conservatives like me who are not libertarians, still and should appreciate the insight that libertarianism gives us about the importance of protecting the individual and not treating him as a mere cog in the social wheel, someone who’s interest can be sacrificed in the name of the collectivity. It’s this that united – this principle that the individual should not be treated as a mere cog in the wheel — this idea is what united libertarians and conservatives against communism and unites us today against the various forms of socialism, which do, of course, tend to treat the individual as just another cog in the wheel. I appreciate that emphasis of libertarianism, for after all, as a conservative I must remember that the reason we care so much about the health and autonomy and integrity and authority of the institutions of civil society is that they serve the interests of persons and persons come as individuals.

Having said that, I would remind our libertarian friends that although that is true — persons are individuals (we can debate the status of corporations, which is interesting) — we have to remember that we human beings are constituted such that our overall flourishing includes participation and a realization of goods not only that we can achieve as individuals and by cooperating with each other instrumentally, but it also includes inherently valuable social goods. Goods such as friendship, the good of religion (if you regard religion as one, as I do), the good of sociability (as some philosophers call it), the good of the institution of marriage. These are inherently social. The idea here, if you believe, as I do, in the reality of these goods, is that we enter into these relationships, not because of what we as individuals can get out of them individualistically, but because they are inherently fulfilling to us as social beings. 

Look at friendship, for example. No friendship is a true friendship if it’s just two people using each other for mutual advantage — even if there’s no injustice to it, even if it’s rational to do so! True friendship exists only when each friend wills the good of the other for the sake of the other. In what becomes a dialectic, a going back and forth, such that I will your good as my friend for your own sake, for you because of my love for you and you will my good for my sake because of your love for me. Once that dialectic gets going, you as my friend come to honor and treasure your own wellbeing in part because I treasure it. The analysis that’s offered of this by Aristotle, in the Nicomechean Ethics in Book VIII, has never been surpassed. Sometimes thinkers get something right permanently and I think this is one of the places where Aristotle does so. It’s hard to improve on what he says. But the bottom line here is: for a friendship to be a friendship and for the true good friendship to be a genuine good that will be realized in our lives, one has to enter into a relationship for the sake of others. So I’d like to remind our libertarian friends, particularly those who have been influenced by Ayn Rand, or who are tempted to her way of thinking, that it’s probably good to read a bit of Aristotle on this and to understand that there are limits to individualism. We are not falling into collectivism with, all of its sins and potential horrors, when we recognize (as we should) that there are inherently social goods and if we recognize (as we should) that along with the institutions of civil society and their primary role, even government can have a secondary role in protecting our interests, the human good, the social good (though even government often forgets that its role is secondary). We are persons who goods include inherently social goods. 

So this is what prevents me from embracing the laissez-faire doctrines of strict libertarianism. Now on this, I don’t I am an orthodox conservative, at least by the standards of American conservatism. I believe that government should only intervene in the economy or in social life when it’s necessary; here I’m following the principle known as subsidiarity. But sometimes it is necessary when individuals cannot accomplish what needs to be accomplished on their own, or by way of private associations, or smaller groups or local associations, it is necessary for government to intervene to protect people against exploitation. Or to protect public health, safety and morals… Those are legitimate roles of government. The trouble, of course, is that so often government uses the legitimacy of those kinds of interventions as a pretext to performing interventions where they take over; they usurp the authority of the institutions of civil society and threaten the honorable and true liberties of the individual… That was a long answer…

U: That was a wonderful answer! A lot of Burkean conservatism and the conservatism that was inherited through Madison, especially with the threat that government poses to intermediary bodies, oftentimes presuppose an already existing way of life that needs to be preserved. So I just wanted to hear your thoughts on what responsibilities come along with new technologies and new social scientific methods that allow us to change that underlying already existing social life.

RG: That old principle that is applied in medicine, “First do no harm”, should probably have a broader application than merely medicine! It’s probably a good idea to first do no harm, proceed carefully. Where you have a grave injustice, and especially, most especially, where you have an obvious or fairly obvious grave injustice, well something’s got to be done. The rectification for injustice can’t wait; Martin Luther King made that point, and he was right to make it, in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. But where we have debatable matters, where it is not clear whether we have an injustice here or not, we need to avoid falling into the trap of being led by an ideology into the error of identifying what is in fact just and good as what is unjust and bad. We also need to be very cautious, as we have been warned by so many figures from Huxley to Chesterton to Orwell to CS Lewis, we need to be very very careful, especially with the new technologies and most especially with the new biotechnologies, we need to be very careful to avoid the temptation to make ourselves into gods, believing we can remake the human being in the way that God made the human being in the story that we’re given in the book of Genesis. If there is a road to hell, paved with good intentions, that is it. That we can solve all our human problems, we can remake the human being… One of the greatest errors with communism is that it proposed to remake mankind, make a new human being, make a new human nature, by the application of economic and social techniques. Well we learned that that was a terribly bad idea. I hope we don’t have to relearn it now that the temptation does not come from communist ideologues but from people who are fascinated with biotechnology. Who imagine that we can cure what ails mankind by remaking the human being, by genetic manipulations and other biological interventions.

U: That’s incredible, thank you so much.

Reflections on “Defection in the 2016 Election”

Reflection on the Exodus from the Establishment 

By Pedro Enamorado

An uncommon election year awaits us. How are we to make sense of the unexpected rise of highly polarized, non-establishment candidates? This past Wednesday, the William F. Buckley Jr. Program held an event called Defection in the 2016 Election: Sanders, Trump and the Exodus from the establishment” to shed some light on this phenomenon. The panelists included Eliana Johnson, an editor for the National Review, founder of America Rising, Matt Rhoades, and Jim McLaughlin, Republican pollster and media buyer for the Romney campaign. Dr. Jacob Hacker, a Yale Professor of Political Science, moderated the panel.

Eliana spoke first, and discussed the disparity between the nationalist politics of Trump and Sanders’ socialism in their positions on three key issues: immigration, free-trade, and the role of money in politics. The prevalence of these issues in debates and public discourse reveals that both parties recognize that these issues will carry the election. She noted that a grassroots funded Sanders campaign and a self-funded Trump campaign bolster these candidates’ claims to independence from party politics and have brought them tremendous electoral success. The enemy, in the eyes of the public and these outlier candidates is the establishment.

Matt had a different reason for the Democratic electorate’s love for Sanders: their deep distrust of Clinton. His group, America Rising, had begun piling evidence of corruption in the Clinton family years ago. The evidence ranges from the dubious expenses in the Clinton Foundation’s budget (spending over 50 million in a single year to transport the Clinton family), to the promulgation of the information about her email server scandal. Matt believes the electorate wisely took notice of Clinton’s mounting record of shady activity, revealing more a distrust of Clinton than of the Democratic Party, per se. He contends that Sanders’ success in Iowa was a product of voters viewing the caucuses as a referendum on Clinton’s trustworthiness.

Jim sees a correlation between this trend towards reform and an agitated electorate that holds a disapproval rate of 77% for Congress. The Affordable Care Act, for instance, recently got as close as possible to a repeal and he takes this as evidence of voter disillusionment with unkept promises of affordability and accessibility. On the Democrats’ side, he pointed out that Clinton didn’t even do well with her base in Iowa. Jim thinks high turnout and Independent participation can give the GOP an edge this year. However, he stresses that the winner of the primary must be a more moderate, reform-minded, non-establishment candidate to compete with the Democratic candidate. Such a candidate has a better chance in the general election against a Clinton or a Sanders.

Prof. Hacker then opened the door to a Q and A session. Audience members asked questions about things such as expectations of voter turnout and the oddity of Trump’s popularity. Matt responded that voter turnout has been high but that the GOP should push for more voter registration. Hacker chimed in that voter ID laws depress turnout especially for Democrats. However, he encouraged people to consider among what demographics turnout is high. On the question of Trump, Eliana contextualized his rise and his appeal among non-traditional conservative voters. She claims that non-religious, non-free market voters are supporting Trump because Trump has formed a coalition wiling to vote Republican for his sake rather than out of a sense of political alignment with the GOP. Many agreed that Trump and Cruz will likely end in a political duel until one loses his will or his funds.

This election cycle has offered the American people fascinating storylines and has incited much debate between pundits. Many experts disagree on how to explain the rise of Sanders and Trump and the fall of Clinton and the Republican establishment. At the panel event, I enjoyed listening to three of these experts all give their own takes on the crazy state of the 2016 election.

Intellectual Diversity in the 2016 Election

By Cameron Koffman, Co-Editor

In many ways, the 2016 election has represented American politics at their worst. Voters have watched Republican candidates hurl personal insults back and forth at each other and have watched the Democratic Establishment do some questionable things to make sure that Hillary is their nominee. In one way, however, this election has represented American politics at their best. Voters in the 2016 election have seen an incredible display of the intellectual diversity of America. What I mean by this, is that voters have heard pitches from candidates who not only hold different policy positions, but who also hold different intellectual frameworks and worldviews. Although it remains to be seen which worldview will win out in November (and even in the primaries this spring), it is evident that this electoral display of intellectual diversity will benefit America in the long run.

Candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have been challenging the establishment in this election cycle and have created disarray in American politics. These candidates view the core values that underpin the United States and the gravest threat facing our world radically differently than establishment candidates like Clinton or Bush. I am an establishment guy: I support Kasich and if neither he nor Jeb Bush wins the primary I will likely vote for Clinton and the Democratic establishment. However, I will concede that the resurgence of populism has benefitted America’s intellectual body politic. The establishment has needed to strengthen its own ideas because of the onslaught from the far left and the far right. Furthermore, the populists can speak for groups of the American people who feel left out of the national dialogue, especially working class Americans who see the gap between them and the Middle Class growing ever greater. In the liberal pockets of America, many people deride Trump as scary, misogynistic, homophobic, and racist. In conservative pockets people only deride Sanders as crazy and economically inept. I’m not sure I will completely agree with all those labels even though I really dislike both of them, but I wholeheartedly believe that their candidacies will come to benefit America as a whole (unless of course one of them is actually elected). In the case of Trump, he has made our national dialogue more robust by saying whatever he thinks. Many of those things he says are too controversial to be said by anyone else. I would not be happy if America were to elect Trump as its 45th president, but I am pleased that we have someone who accurately voices the frustration of some parts of working class America (even though he has never been a member of the working class) participating in our national dialogue. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, has been proposing a form of socialism for America, which is an economic worldview not often given any light of day in American public discourse. I would not be happy if America were to elect a socialist President, but I am happy that we have a socialist participating in and fortifying our national dialogue.

So, when you’re watching another outrageous debate this election cycle and fume about our political system, just remember that everyone in this country deserves a role in our national political discussion. This election, more than any election prior, has delivered a role to everybody. The current state of our union may seem hopeless and polarized right now, but I believe that reason will prevail and the best candidates will come out of this grueling intellectual challenge with stronger platforms and a better understanding of America. Even as a populist wave crashes on America, it’s not too late for the Establishment to win back the general public and reform itself to face the crises of today.


Buckley Essay Contest Winners: The Greatest Threat to Free Speech

High School Contest Winner: Kai Sherwin, Grade 11, Greenwich High School

What is the Greatest Threat to Free Speech”

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then the dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to slaughter.”1 George Washington, amongst the other Founders of our nation, recognized how crucial free speech is to a successful democracy. Our contemporary society has no defined limitations on the freedom of speech; however, there is an insidious undertow threatening to erode this sacred principle: political correctness.

To comprehend how political correctness is shaping the privilege of free speech, one must first understand several major aspects of this concept: The basic premise is that if the pundits and intellectuals can influence how individuals think and act, then they can also inevitably influence what is socially “acceptable” language. By imposing their political views on any subject, they create a pressure to conform to these standards. But these standards begin to limit the freedom of speech and expression. The very definition of the term stands as: “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated”2. But in reality, this term has almost nothing to do with politics.

Instead, political correctness has everything to do with the encouragement of group-thinking and the pursuit of conformity. Through social intimidation, a diverse body of ideas and expressions no longer flourishes as evidence of American free speech. In addition, a growing aspect of multiculturalism in our society only further contributes to this problem. Proponents of political correctness obsess over their belief that language should not be injurious to any ethnicity, race, gender, religion or other social group. They attempt to eliminate what they consider to be offensive remarks and actions and replace them with harmless substitutes that come at the expense of free expression. For example, a school in California, in an effort to maintain political correctness, sent five students home after they refused to remove their American flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo3. These unnatural filters on free language and expression constrict social exchanges by defining insensitives views as out of place. This acts as a direct suppression of free speech.

Political correctness is also used to discredit opponents of various ideologies by labeling them as violators of this code of conduct. For instance, my father is making a film about the early colonialists and their interactions with American Indians. But every time he speaks with an academic, he becomes uncomfortable with what defining terms are politically correct. Should he call them Indians, Native Americans, Americans Indians, or Natives? As a result, my father tries avoiding directly labeling these people, which also narrows the scope of his field of interest. This is a simple demonstration of how political correctness can put boundaries on free expression.

Declaring that some thoughts and phrases are “correct” while others are not is creating an ever-tightening noose around the freedom of speech. No matter how uncomfortable we are with particularly strident points of view, it’s crucial to recognize that this is a small price to pay to maintain a democratic system that promotes free speech as a basic pillar of society. While I am certainly not promoting inflammatory language, I believe that the channels of communication should remain unfettered from the burdens and limitations of political correctness.

Yale College Winner: Andrew Koenig, Yale Class of 2017

The Masters of Free Speech 

            In August, Stephen Davis of Yale’s Pierson College sent the following message to his students:

I’d like to request that you refrain from calling me “Master” Davis. Since I started    this job on July 1, 2013, I have found the title of the office I hold deeply   problematic given the racial and gendered weight it carries, and I have decided I cannot remain silent about it anymore.

It is ironic that Davis concluded his request by saying that he “cannot remain silent about it anymore.” Free speech was necessary for him to set limitations on free speech, a self-contradiction that hints at the speciousness of his argument and the threat it poses to free speech.

His argument in essence is this: speech should be free so long as it is not perceived by members of a given community to be harmful. Whether or not a specific word is obviously or patently pejorative is not the right question; what matters is what people feel in response to a given word. If there is sufficient resistance to a word, a general feeling that it is “offensive,” then that word should be banned or at least phased out.
This is not an unpersuasive argument. It has long been made, rightly, to prohibit speech whose express purpose is to cause harm or incite violence. However, in these cases there is no question of killing a word altogether; rather, context and intent are considered when deciding when a word should or should not be said. It is illegal to yell “Fire!” in a movie theater when one knows there is no fire because the intent is to cause panic and in that particular context may lead to trampling. But yelling it in one’s living room alone is no problem. Demagogic language meant to rile people up may be perfectly fine in everyday conversation, but not when said in a crowd intentionally to incite rioting. Even racial epithets only constitute “hate speech” in certain contexts where the express purpose is to provoke violence.

But in none of these cases is there a conscious effort by a higher authority to eliminate certain words from the lexicon simply because they might cause some people distress. That’s the trouble with “master.” The premise of such a ban is that the overall well-being of Yale’s diverse student body (or, if one is being a little more cynical, an administrator’s public image) should determine what people are allowed to say. That a word should be banned—regardless of intent, context, tradition, or the word’s ambiguity. The word has been turned into a bugaboo, which must be swiftly dispatched by one of the self-appointed masters of free speech. But to remain free, speech cannot be placed at the mercy of the vagaries and vogues of specific historical and cultural sensitivities or the caprices of administrators.

George Orwell explores the disturbing ramifications of this subjugation of words to administrative control in 1984. In the novel’s dystopian England, the limitation of speech is taken to a gross extreme by the invention of a new state-controlled language, “Newspeak,” and the elimination of “Oldspeak.” But it only takes a little imagination to see that the same principle which slowly chips away at the freedom of speech in America today is merely at work in a more systematic manner in Orwell’s authoritarian dystopia.

Orwell writes in the introduction to the Newspeak Dictionary: “It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought—that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc [English socialism]—should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. . . . This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever” (emphasis added).

            Archaic and alternate usages of words in Orwell’s England are stripped away, leaving behind lifeless nubbins of meaning. This erosion of language ultimately stifles the existence and diversity of thought, a grave danger to the body politic. For when the state wrests control of thought from the body politic by determining the terms of engagement, citizens no longer have the words to assert their rights or protest unjust actions by the state.

Do we not see in the case of “master” a similar (albeit much smaller-scale) process at work—a willful misunderstanding of the word that strips it of its secondary and alternate meanings, and acknowledges solely its meaning in the antebellum South? A bureaucratic authority considers people incapable of understanding ambiguity and gray areas, and so thinks that “eliminating undesirable words” like “master” from the lexicon is the only solution. As a result, the range of thought and people’s capacity to live their lives without state interference both diminish.

This, I propose, is the most serious threat to freedom of speech today: authorities’ attempts to take words out of circulation by fiat rather than letting them fall into obsolescence by common usage or disuse, a more democratic and organic process. This maiming, regulation, and elimination of “undesirable words” by bureaucratic ukase deprives people of the right to define their own interests, their own opinions, their own selves, their own terms.

Full Interview with Chris Michel

Caitlin Walsh Interview with Chris Michel, 9/12 (audio transcript)

CW: Thank you so much for joining us for this interview with The Beacon. To start right off with your background, you’re originally from the Bay Area, from Dublin specifically, which is a very liberal part of the country. You went to Yale College and Yale Law School, both liberal institutions. But you also clerked for John Roberts and worked for President Bush, who are conservative figures. Have you been a lifelong conservative or has that shifted over time?

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