10-05-2017 03:39pm

Winning the Battle of Ideas

What Jared Meyer has learned about millennials, free markets, and the importance of networking.

Jared Meyer is a senior research fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability. He graduated from the Koch Fellow Program: Policy in the summer of 2013 and from the Koch Associate Program in 2015. 

Where did you grew up?
I was born outside St. Paul, Minnesota, and I moved to Batavia, Illinois, when I was in second grade.

What got you interested in your career field?
I went to college at St. John’s University in New York City to study finance so that I could work on Wall Street. St. John’s required students to take three philosophy courses, so I enrolled in political philosophy with Dr. Douglas Rasmussen. By the end of the first class, I knew that I wanted to spend my career exploring the connection between ethics and politics. After the course was over, Dr. Rasmussen hired me as his research assistant. This additional experience made me more certain that I would focus on academia or policy after graduation instead of finance.

What book changed your life? 
It wasn’t so much a book as a school of thought. When preparing for a Liberty Fund colloquium, I was fascinated by Gordon Tullock’s and James Buchanan’s work on developing public choice theory. When looking at the status quo, public policy seems irrational and random. But by evaluating the economic incentives those in the public sector face, public choice economics allows people to make sense of how we ended up with senseless policies.

What place challenged your thinking?
I used to think that most members of my generation were socialists. Though I didn’t know any personally, and even though I went to college in New York City, stories in the media made it hard to believe otherwise. But after giving over 50 lectures on college campuses, I am convinced that proponents of free markets have won the battle of ideas over the government-control camp. I do not mean that all millennials are economic libertarians, but I have yet to find a millennial who wants the government to tell Apple how many iPhones to make or what features to put in the next iPhone.

Why did you participate in a Charles Koch Institute educational program?
I never considered working at a think tank until my senior year of college. But after hearing about the opportunities the Charles Koch Institute offered in Washington, DC, I decided to try one out. The Koch Fellow Program introduced me to policy work, and that was all I needed to decide that this career field was for me. The Institute’s programs allow students to discover their passion and learn applicable skills while building a powerful network.

What was most memorable about the Institute’s educational programs?
The most valuable part is the network. While the professional development is helpful, getting to know other people who are working to build a free society is invaluable. I have met most of my closest friends through these programs, and I have had a much more successful career because of the value provided to me by other members of the Koch network.

What do your friends find surprising about you?  
No one guesses it today, but I went to a military school and worked on a farm during my summer breaks.

What’s one piece of advice you’ve taken to heart?
My dad always told me that life is about collecting and developing skills. No matter what situation I am in, I try to discover how I can use that experience to enhance my skills.

What do you want to be known for?
I want to be known as someone who welcomes challenges and change. Succeeding in this goal should allow me to bring a novel point of view that influences upcoming public policy debates.

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