Criminal Justice, Cronyism, and Foreign Policy Among Topics at YALCON

The Charles Koch Institute was proud to be a sponsor of this year’s Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) National Convention, which took place at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. As liberty-minded students from across the country gathered to discuss the most pressing issues facing society today, the Institute brought together experts from a variety of policy areas for discussions on where these issues stand and what should be done moving forward.

Bill Frezza, host of RealClear Radio Hour and fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, moderated a discussion on the effects of corporate welfare on economic success. In conversation with Robert McNamara of the Institute for Justice, Romina Boccia of the Heritage Foundation, and Patrick Hedger of the Charles Koch Institute, Frezza stressed the importance of understanding the distinction between pro-business and pro-market principles.

“The public doesn’t have the time or attention span to monitor every licensing law, and cronyist boards exploit that,” Hedger said. He pointed to famous national advertising campaigns for milk, pork, and eggs, noting that the campaigns tax farmers for funds, or else “the industry works against you.” McNamara had similar concerns regarding the Export-Import Bank, and how its de-authorization and subsequent reauthorization could have been a larger part of the national conversation. Ex-Im “is not in the domain of what federal government should be doing,” McNamara said.

The Institute also hosted a panel on criminal justice reform entitled Proving Innocence: Civil Asset Forfeiture’s Threat to Liberty. The discussion was moderated by C.J. Ciaramella, a reporter at Reason magazine. Speaking with Renée Flaherty of the Institute for Justice and Jonathan Blanks of the Cato Institute, Neill Franklin, a law enforcement veteran and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, explained that civil asset forfeiture is often abused as a practice because of the profit incentive. “That’s how [law enforcement] pays for task forces; it’s how they pay overtime,” Franklin said. “But our priority should be to address crime where there is an injured party.”

In a third panel sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute, Katherine Mangu-Ward, editor in chief of Reason magazine, sat down with Chris Preble, vice president of defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, to talk about American foreign policy since the Cold War.

Speaking on the conflicts in which the United States has intervened in the last 20 years, Preble said, “If we doubt government’s ability to deliver mail, we should also doubt that same government’s ability to drive democracy 8,000 miles away.” When asked why interventions abroad had become nearly a de facto stance, Preble argued, “After the end of the Cold War … our interventions superficially looked like they worked. And that led us into Iraq.”

All three panels at the YAL National Convention demonstrate the importance of research, education, and dialogue for finding solutions to complex that affect everyone’s lives. In addition to supporting research on critical issues, the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation support students and rising professionals through professional education opportunities.

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