Christian Newman is a co-host of Newborn Libertarian Podcast, occasional blogger at LewRockwell.com, and likes to re-read the Candlemaker’s Petition for giggles. Follow him on Twitter @AnCapnCrunch.
The Daily Bell: We wanted to speak to you because of your articles on LewRockwell.com and because for a young person you seem well-versed in economics and free-market thinking. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Christian Newman: I was born and raised right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We have low costs of living, and put ranch dressing on everything.
The Daily Bell: Where are you going to college?
Christian Newman: I was enrolled at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, but I am going to be attending Loyola New Orleans in the fall.
The Daily Bell: How did you get interested in writing? Did anyone teach you?
Christian Newman: No one really taught me how to write other than me. I always liked to read books, and to be entertained when I read them, so I try to entertain my reader as well. If you make the work engaging and exciting, I would guess that the point of the piece sticks better with the reader. I once was told by a high school English teacher to lose the attitude. But since I didn’t like her, I decided to keep it.
The Daily Bell: Is your father a writer?
Christian Newman: No, but, my father is a major intellectual influence in my life. We both like to debate and discuss ideas with one another (sometimes losing sight of everyone else that we’re with). My dad has an extremely creative mind that I admire quite a bit. If there’s one thing he taught me that really sticks with me, is that if you’re going to put forth an argument or opinion, that you better be prepared and willing to follow its implications all the way. We have a love for debate.
The Daily Bell: What is your major at college?
Christian Newman: Economics. My love for econ was kindled by my community college teacher. I believe that it was the concept of Ricardo’s comparative advantage that really opened my eyes and made me excited about the concepts.
The Daily Bell: You’re a libertarian at a young age. Are others in your college libertarians too?
Christian Newman: My best friend is a libertarian, and we actually met before I think both of us could really consciously call ourselves libertarian. The first thing he ever said to me was “What do you think about welfare?” and I said “It shouldn’t exist,” and it was all hugs and rainbows from there. Since I was raised conservative, I always had an affinity for the free market and property rights (even though conservatives aren’t consistent with this principle). It was really my introduction to economics that pushed me off the cliff. Beyond that, it’s hard to find any staunch libertarians in college.
The Daily Bell: Aren’t college students very politically correct these days?
Christian Newman: Luckily, I was actually spared the agony for the most part of the PC movement on campus. Since I attended community college and then a non-main campus, the students I was interacting with tended to be older or just trying to get their degree over with. Though I have seen a designated safe space on campus at OSU-Tulsa. The lights are always off so scary words can’t find you, I guess. However, my girlfriend goes to the University of Tulsa, and I also saw a sign that suggested that saying “man up” is racist. In general, the PC movement seems to have infected mostly high school friends. Thankfully, I can watch from a distance at things happening at Mizzou or Yale, but I still think it would be exhilarating to be there when they cry when someone invalidates their experiences.
The Daily Bell: Aren’t many of them apolitical and wary of politics?
Christian Newman: I wouldn’t say wary of politics, but a majority are definitely apolitical. They don’t participate or take the time to understand the issues when there isn’t any political theatre rolling around. When election time comes, it seems like they don’t want to discuss it, or they just want to get on board with the popularity wave of whichever candidate the much louder and adamant Social Justice Warrior crowd endorses. But I would say that they’re not really wary of politics and politicians in general. They see it as some phase that rolls around and the people change and then life will go on. Today’s young people have known nothing but normalcy. They weren’t around to see the end of the Soviet Union, they don’t take time to understand these ideologies for the most part.
The Daily Bell: Don’t many of your generation believe the current system is failing?
Christian Newman: I don’t think so. Partially, they don’t even understand what the system is in the first place, so how can they know if it’s failing? What they know is that Bernie Sanders answers every question with “there has been a massive redistribution of wealth…” They know that they have been told that the system is failing, but since they don’t know what system that is, they blame whatever their friends or favorite golden cow tells them is to blame. I think many of my generation claims to be “anti-establishment” but I don’t think that’s unique to simply this generation of young people.
The Daily Bell: Do they understand that the West’s predominant political system is not a free-market one but quasi-fascist?
Christian Newman: Absolutely not. I would direct the readers to my article about the Fanatical Left on LewRockwell.com for a more fleshed-out explanation. I will say, however, that they don’t associate the kinds of regulations and leviathan economic controls with fascism because it comes in the disguise of helping the poor. What matters to them isn’t the fact that these strict economic controls and protectionist policies are put in place, but that they’re soothed into accepting them by people that claim to be “forward looking,” and “cool,” or “inspiring.” Remember, FDR wasn’t mean, but Hitler was. So that’s there basis of fascism.
The Daily Bell: Do they understand that the “majors” offered by colleges are designed to reinforce the current system but may have little or nothing to do with earning a tolerable income?
Christian Newman: Again, no. Of course, there are quite a few majors where college is a great place to learn and get certified for. I’m talking about mainly STEM fields. I think what you’re getting at is all the sociology, political science, gender studies (shudder), and even non-informational business degrees that try to ram “social responsibility” down students throats. The students don’t question these things because a majority of them are public school grads, and they’ve had a teacher since they were five. Not every student questions their teachers, and sometimes even when the teacher is put to the test, the other students roll their eyes and complain about wasted time. No one is taught how to think anymore. They’re taught what to think and to defer to the authority (the teacher) when they don’t know, instead of researching for themselves.
The Daily Bell: Do young people understand that the system they are entering is an authoritarian one designed to control and ultimately impoverish them?
Christian Newman: Well, I would certainly understand that. However, I don’t think most of these politicians are actually trying to impoverish the citizenry. Control them, absolutely, but some, like Bernie Sanders, genuinely believe his socialist policies will lead to some kind of utopia. When you finally get a fellow student to “break away from the matrix” and begin looking at things from an individual and libertarian perspective, then they begin to see it. My generation in general sees their legs broken and asks for the government to fix it, without realizing that their legs are broken because of government in the first place. They’re also too short-sighted that they don’t realize the executive power that they would want Bernie to yield could be turned right back in their face if a politician from the other party should come into power. They’re out for short term gains, and don’t realize the loss of liberty that would entail in the long term.
The Daily Bell: Do they understand central banking?
Christian Newman: No. Central banking is a tough thing to understand even if one has taken a money and banking course (I would say because Keynesianism is jumbled pile of fallacious equations and non-logical mush). Occasionally, you’ll hear some student ask “So our money isn’t really there? That’s kind of scary,” and so you’ll know that that one is redeemable. When you look at the memes being shared about why the poor can’t save money or is stuck in poverty, they always blame capitalist greed, inflation is the farthest thing from their minds, and I think it was intended to be that way. Until Ron Paul was running, I would guess that this was never a policy issue that was ever brought to the forefront in the masses’ eyes.
The Daily Bell: Do they know of websites like LewRockwell.com? Do they use the internet for purposes of self-education?
Christian Newman: Sometimes, but that student in particular would have to actually be very passionate about that stuff. Since they’ve been in public school all their live, all they know is to get a passing grade and everything else will fall into place. I think this is why millennials get a harsh dose of reality when they’re thrust into the job market. Their whole lives, they’ve not questioned anything, not sought out any alternative other than what’s on the standardized test, and in general, have no real strong opinion on anything to even field a remotely stimulating argument.
The Daily Bell: Have you met Lew?
Christian Newman: I don’t know him personally, yet, but I am excited to meet him in person at Mises University this fall. (Hey, Lew, thanks again for publishing my stuff!) It really all started when I wrote a quick movie review and sent it to my aforementioned friend and Per Bylund (who is going to be teaching a course on Austrian Economics this year), and since I didn’t know where to put this piece, suggested I submit it to Lew. Lew took it, and has since published other articles of mine as well.
The Daily Bell: You’ve done reviews for the site. You intend to specialize in that?
Christian Newman: Not necessarily. I’ll do nothing but my very best, no matter what I write. When Lew has writers like Walter Block, Walter Williams (any other Walters?), Tom Woods, Ron Paul, Per Bylund, and so many other big names on a short list of articles every day, I expect to try and churn out something that can stand on its own, and that’s not some continuation of something I had previously written. I expect to put out well-thought articles every time I submit. And then do a better job at proofreading them.
The Daily Bell: What are some of your favorite books and movies?
Christian Newman: My favorite series is A Song of Ice and Fire, by George RR Martin (the Game of Thrones) series. He’s a progressive guy but he will go down as one of the greatest anti-war authors of all time. I really hope people will read his books, especially young people, because its filled with moral dilemmas and really brings to light the consequences of war that my generation has just grown up in and shrugged off. Beyond fiction, I loved reading Bastiat and Lysander Spooner. Both of them are so incredibly witty and devastating to any argument possibly raised against them. Of course, Rothbard goes without saying. Every single one of his articles and books has a life of its own, and his arguments are so explosive, it’s no wonder why most college classes would never assign him.
The Daily Bell: Are you working on a book?
Christian Newman: I am not, at the moment. I’m trying to focus on school, writing the occasional article, a research paper (that I’m very excited about), and learning what it would mean to be a scholar. In the future, I would like to write a book. I would like to write fiction and tell a story and try to explain central banking and inflation as a key problem in the story. I’ve kicked around a few ideas, but I’m still developing them.
The Daily Bell: What’s your career track when you graduate?
Christian Newman: I want to become a professor of economics somewhere. I really want to be able to inspire young people the way my first professor inspired me. I would love to continue writing, and debating, and meeting new people who also love liberty and freedom like I do.
The Daily Bell: Are you aware that many libertarians believe the current college system is a waste of time- and that the loan system is exploitative?
Christian Newman: I am very aware of that. The student loan market is subsidized by the federal government, and has pumped up a huge bubble since the 1980’s. However, I would also remind those libertarians that some employers in the market still value the signal that a degree provides. If you’re going to go into a technical field, it pays. If you’re going to go for a run of the mill-degree, you’re wasting your time. Study entrepreneurship, investing, and raising human capital on your own time, you’re more likely to come out ahead.
The Daily Bell: Are you trying to change the college system- in your college anyway?
Christian Newman: Not really. I’m more focused with reaching other students and changing their hearts and minds than I am trying to change the system into what I think would be a better model and then just wait for the students to wake up on their own. There’s more value in programs like FEE and the Mises Institute that seek to educate the kids outside the classroom, and give them the tools to affect other students. If we’re going to change the college system, we need to change the college students first.
The Daily Bell: Is that a dangerous thing to do given that as a student with minority views you are not in a strong position?
Christian Newman: I have never been in a weak position. It’s true that I do have minority views, but the more I educate myself outside of the classroom, the more formidable I am going up against a stacked deck. If you listen to all these other views carefully enough, they give you the rope and gallows to hang themselves. Use humor, take their logic where they think they want it to go, and then hammer them with a ridiculous implication of their argument. Don’t back down, either, when someone mentions the “a” word (anarchy). If you back down and don’t follow your own principles, you lose support. Most of the time, just remember, debating or arguing your views isn’t to change the mind of your opponent, it’s to change the mind of the people who are watching.
The Daily Bell: Any other thoughts? Publications you want to recommend?
Christian Newman: Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview! I couldn’t be more thankful. I would also like to let your readers know they can follow me on Twitter @AnCapnCrunch, and to direct them to the podcast that I do with Kim Schjang, who is running for State Senate in Nevada on the Libertarian ticket, called Newborn Libertarian (you can find us on iTunes or Podomatic). She also helps to encourage me to do more stuff.
The Daily Bell: Last comments?
Christian Newman: Shout outs are a thing for my generation so here goes: shout out to Franco for being my partner in crime, Soowan for putting up with me, Per Bylund for inviting me and challenging me to succeed, Lew Rockwell for putting my unknown credentials on his website, Tom Woods for filling my head with too much information to not learn something, and Walter Block for responding to that email I sent him last December and taking an interest in developing my scholastic career. I hope to meet all of you guys at Mises U this summer. And of, course, for the Daily Bell for making me feel like I did something important, I hope I won’t let you down!