The Defense of Jimmy Carter

Why it’s time to appreciate Carter’s presidency

Cartoon courtesy of A.J. Nwoko

When you think of Jimmy Carter, what are the first words you think of? Are they strong, courageous and independent? Chances are probably not.

When it comes to thinking about the man from Plains, Ga., a majority of people wouldn’t use any of those words to describe his time as President. They may use those words when talking about Carter’s humanitarian efforts with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, but when it comes to his presidency, it would be safe to say that the national attitude is negative. Most people, especially conservatives, feel Carter failed to deal with the international and economic woes of the 1970s, and it was up to his successor, Ronald Reagan, to lead America to greatness once again.

But are these feelings towards Carter fair? Granted, there were problems that arose during Carter’s time in office, but that does not mean we should dismiss his presidency as four years America will not get back. In fact, Carter did a tremendous amount of work that often gets overlooked.

Carter working at his desk. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

When it comes to economics, Carter faced an economy weighed down by inflation, high unemployment and an energy crisis. Some would say it wasn’t until Reagan that these problems were fixed and the economy began to roar, but without Carter, the booming economy of the 1980s would not have been possible.

As shocking as it may sound, the Carter administration was a leader in deregulation. While these efforts were not perfect, they did help lay the groundwork for a stronger economy while also transforming the luxuries of the 1970s into some of the common services we use today.

When it came to the travel industry, Carter led the deregulation of the airline industry, which resulted in making flying a normal method of travel instead of a luxury for a selected few. As a result, airfares fell nearly 40 percent between 1980 and 1996.

Later in his term, he even started to deregulate the trucking and railroad industries. Even though the plan was started, it eventually was delayed then dismantled by Reagan to fulfill a promise he made with the Teamster’s Union in return for an endorsement.

Carter also helped push the antitrust suit against AT&T, which ultimately led to the breakup of the corporation and the formation of new companies, many of which provided telecommunication services for a cheaper rate. Granted, a better way to have handled this situation would have been, in the words of William L. Anderson of the Mises Institute, to “have deprived AT&T of its legal monopoly status.” Regardless, Carter’s actions without a doubt promoted competition as new phone companies and new jobs were created.

When addressing the energy crisis, it was in fact the Carter administration who laid the groundwork for deregulation of the oil industry. Unlike some Democrats who felt the oil industry should be nationalized, Carter insisted on a gradual decontrol of oil prices. While a step in the right direction, Carter also pushed a tax on oil companies, as he felt that this decontrol would result in higher profits for oil companies who, in his opinion, “really don’t deserve them.”

Despite this blemish, total decontrol was scheduled for spring 1981, but as Reagan entered office, controls were lifted almost immediately, giving Reagan credit for saving the oil industry.

Unfortunately for Carter, inflation rates were high and unemployment rates were at an uncomfortable level (even though unemployment did decrease from 7.5 percent in January 1977 to 5.6 percent by May 1979), making Reaganomics seem like the better option, helping Reagan win the 1980 election and giving the Gipper credit for saving the economy. But in actuality, it was Carter, not Reagan, who helped create economic prosperity, for without Carter’s path of deregulation, recovery would not have been possible to achieve.

Shifting to the subject of foreign affairs, Carter did a great job… minus a certain hostage situation that will be discussed later. The Carter administration managed to do the impossible by not only strengthen in the United States’ standing abroad, but also promoting diplomacy through the least violent means possible.

Highlights include improving diplomatic relations with China by officially transferring diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the mainland, opening the door for the current diplomatic relationship we have with the nation today. The administration also returned the Panama Canal to Panama, which removed part of America’s overbearing presence from Latin America, possibly preventing a Vietnam War-like scenario. It was Carter himself who helped broker Israeli-Egyptian peace with the Camp David Accords.

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Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat with Carter at Camp David in 1978. Photo courtesy of the United States Government.

Yet while Carter and his team were improving America’s standing abroad, there was one nation that remained a burr in America’s backside: the Soviet Union

Carter’s plan for dealing was the Soviets was unique, being simultaneously peaceful and threatening. On one hand, Carter supported the SALT II treaty, which would have curtailed the manufacturing of nuclear weapons (it ended up not ratified by the Congress). On the other hand, Carter also proposed the development of 200 missiles to counter an uncontrolled build-up by the Soviets. Yet, the most threatening thing Carter ever did was boycott the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. While some may scorn him for ruining many athletes’ only chance for Olympic gold, it was a very interesting yet nonviolent strategy for dealing with a bully.

In fact, Carter kept the nation at peace and is one of the few presidents who never led America to war. While some may see that as weakness, it should be seen as a strength. Being able to sit down and talk about your issues or refusing to associate yourself with unethical individuals takes a fair amount of patience, especially if you want to make an important statement . In this aspect, Carter should be praised for his diplomacy and should be a shining example of how a president should handle foreign affairs.

Finally, Carter most certainly had a positive persona to him. He didn’t come off as a typical politician, but instead someone who would be willing to risk even his own standing if it was for the benefit of the greater good.

An early example of this would be a May 4, 1974 speech Carter gave at the University of Georgia while he was serving as governor of the Peach State. In attendance of this speech were numerous state legislative members, judges and then-Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, who was speculated to be a serious contender in the 1976 Presidential election.

The race at the time had no frontrunner, and during a period where Americans’ trust towards the government was quickly deteriorating due to Watergate, there was a need for someone to come out and advocate for change in the political system. No one knew who or how it was going to happen, but something needed to change.

Once Carter opened his mouth, everything did in fact changed.

Carter used this speech to address the various defects of both the Georgia judicial system and the American political system. Unlike many politicians before him, Carter pointed out the system he was a part of was not based in equality, but instead protecting the rich and powerful.

“In general, the powerful and the influential in our society shape the laws and have a great influence on the legislature or the Congress,” Carter said. “This creates a reluctance to change because the powerful and the influential have carved out for themselves or have inherited a privileged position in society, of wealth or social prominence or higher education or opportunity for the future.”

While reflecting on the speech many years later, Carter remarked that reaction of the crowd was “one of stunned silence.” No one in the room knew how to react to Carter’s speech, yet that’s what made it fantastic. It was something so different from the prominent political culture, it ended up being the moment that caught people’s attention and later propelled Carter to the national political stage. He even received endorsements from cultural icons like Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and the Macon, Ga.-based Allman Brothers Band.


Carter with the Allman Brothers Band in 1975. Photo courtesy of Gregg Allman and William Morrow.

With all of this evidence supporting Carter’s time as president, does that mean he deserves to be considered as one of the best presidents of all time? Not in the slightest.

While Carter did have his great moments, some of his actions while president are some of the worst actions made by a president in recent history.

In terms of bureaucratic power, Carter gave the federal government more responsibilities and even more control over our lives. He was instrumental in the creation of the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. While both departments seem like good ideas on paper, neither has done anything but waste our tax dollars, placing the federal government in  a area they had no purpose being in in the first place.

In terms of foreign policy, his most known escapade was his shoddy handling of the Iran Hostage Crisis. After Iranian students overran the American embassy, seizing more than 60 Americans, Carter went through multiple plans to get these Americans free. This includes economic sanctions and a poorly executed rescue operation, neither of which worked. Eventually, Carter did negotiate a deal with the Iranians, but it took 444 days for that deal to be met, making the United States look weak not only in front of a global audience, but also the Soviet Union.

Even Carter’s persona was starting to get on everyone’s nerves. His efforts to come off as average, which include his 1979 Crisis of Confidence Speech addressing the doubts raised about the nation’s future, came off as unpatriotic to some and ridiculous to others. This speech in addition to the Iran Hostage Crisis, the weak economy, a growth in bureaucracy and Carter’s goofy personal life (including an incident of getting “attacked” by a swamp rabbit while fishing) gave the Reagan-Bush ticket the edge in the 1980 Presidential election.

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The rabbit in question. Photo courtesy of the Jimmy Carter Library

But even with all of that, it doesn’t mean we should dismiss Carter’s presidency as horrible. If it wasn’t for Carter’s economic plan, Reagan would not have had the economy he did while president. If it wasn’t for Carter’s diplomatic abilities, the world would have been a less safe place to live. If it wasn’t for Carter’s personality, we would not have had anyone shake the political structure and show us that it was indeed possible to challenge the system

Do I think Carter is one of the greatest presidents of all time? Absolutely not. While his negatives are few, they surely do damage his presidency overall. However, I do not think he deserves the negativity he currently gets. While his accomplishments may not be widely recognized, America could not be what it is today without Jimmy Carter.

Maybe it is time we associate words like strong, courageous and independent with Jimmy Carter’s presidency. It was those traits that made Carter a great president, which as a result made America a great nation.

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Conservatives Have the Ideas to Power the Future of Clean Energy

Renewable energy is a fast-growing industry that holds a great deal of promise for the future success of our state. The myth that clean energy is solely an issue for Democrats is just that… a myth. Conservatives see the benefit clean energy innovation brings to the state of North Carolina, both environmentally and economically. Both parties are willing to embrace renewable energy initiatives, as they understand the positive impact such developments will leave all across our great state. This, in turn, has made the issue a bi-partisan one.

In fact, over the course of the last several years, conservative support for clean energy development has multiplied. Registered Republicans are actually more than twice as likely as registered Democrats to make large investments to clean energy innovations. There are now many economic reasons for business-minded conservatives to financially support these exciting advancements. Furthermore, studies have shown North Carolina’s energy mix will actually save consumers $173 million by 2026.

Why turn back now? The clean energy industry continues to grow and is proven to save money for citizens across our state. At this very moment, the clean energy industry is supporting 18,000 jobs within North Carolina. With investments and demand only continuing to increase, this sector will inevitably continue to flourish. We must continue our commitment to clean energy, but we must not do so in a top-down, centrally planned fashion. We must spur the growth of renewable energy through the use of private investment and free market principles in order to have the maximum economic and environmental benefits for our state.

Lux Libertas,

Francis C. Pray, III


The Carolina Review

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Why Liberals Win

Don’t worry – they won’t ever look up. They are millennials.

Any seasoned conservative worth his or her salt – that is, any conservative that has, in some manner or another, been voluntarily immersed in the world of political argumentation – knows the difficulty of defending limited government against liberal affect. No matter how well one seems to know the topics at hand, repelling emotive assaults from activists who carry around a set of finely-tuned and effective cliches always proves an arduous task, particularly in a forum that doesn’t easily warm to conservative thought. We may not care about the extent to which our views are catchy or memorable – as long as they are well-reasoned, we will hold them and defend them. But where exactly does the future of the enlightened ideology lie if it can no longer gain a foothold in the appealing world of pop culture? Such is the prevailing challenge inherited by a new generation of young, conservative thinkers: to make marketable the wildly unpopular view that the dependency agenda fails in every sense of the word.

And quite the challenge it will be, to convince the beneficiaries of wealth redistribution that excessive taxation is philosophically and economically corrupt. One need only examine the wealth of political debates that occur daily between liberals and conservatives to see that the latter struggle in a sensationalist culture: Whether the topic involves free-market economics and its iterative advantage over Keynesian counterparts, or the demonstrable successes of capitalism in creating wealth and alleviating poverty, the celebrated liberal reply remains the same – “profit is evil!” to choruses of eager applause. The discussion may concern republican ideals or the consequences of powerful bureaucracies; it may trace the legitimacy of conventional cultural values, or outline the necessity of personal responsibility in family and in society. But the responses it evokes from the Left never evolve, always having something to do with meanness and oppression, lauded by uneducated automatons.

A TV show that brilliantly illustrates this reality is Bill Maher’s Real Time, the intolerance and naivete of which I have previously decried in ample terms. Maher’s formula, however, is simple, devious, and effective: Invite a well-verse conservative who is generally loathed in pop culture over his or her controversial views (Ann Coulter, Nick Gillespie, etc.), litter the rest of the panel with three or so comedians, journalists, and scientists who are overbearingly liberal and secular (Rachel Maddow, Sam Harris, Neil deGrasse Tyson, etc.), and humorously watch as a pack of ravenous wolves devour an incongruent lamb at the fierce bidding of both Maher and his illiterate, Roman spectators.

It’s genius, but simultaneously maddening to watch, for you know that there is absolutely nothing you can do to isolate Maher’s idiocy from the likes of his cultish cronies so that the writer from National Review has the chance to demolish Maher’s predictable worldview. And just when you think the conservative will have an opportunity to defend his assertions, Rachel Maddow goes off on how nobody’s listening to her because she’s a woman, employing sexist rhetoric to mock her male opponent. The audience laughs, hoots, and hollers, and the cycle continues unabated – certainly an ironic way for Rachel to demonstrate her feministic independence and self-actualization! Meanwhile, the conservative sits awkwardly and wonders what it might take to convince his fellow panelists that the views espoused by millions of Americans across the country are not as debasing and frivolous as they seem – not as much, at least, as those which necessitate blind approval from the likes of undergraduate women’s studies majors and Starbucks baristas.

The point is that there is a science to the way in which liberalism overwhelms even the smartest conservatives’ voices in pop culture, appealing to boorish and rebellious sentiments in millennials whose attention spans last the length of a Miley Cyrus hit. Conservatives simply cannot win in forums designed to mock their policies; in the same way, they cannot defeat an opposition which is exceedingly hipper and craftier in its manipulation of the politically ignorant. No wonder it is so challenging for Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to appeal to certain demographics, demographics which are seemingly inbred to fight against the “outdated” elements of the conservative movement – fundamentally, conservative politicians hold views that, in their economic complexity and philosophical rigor, are too elusive to compete against their fast, cheap, and easy counterparts.

And as you may expect, such holds frightening implications for future elections in which millennials must (however unfortunately) be allowed to vote, darkening the prospects of electing reasonable politicians whose views are independent of the pop-culture behemoth. Conservatives can prove that social security will soon grow financially insolvent, but they have been hitherto unsuccessful in convincing many voters to support those who would do away with the fiscal nightmare – the devious financial alchemy – that is FDR’s undying legacy. The same holds true for the larger welfare state, in general: Do we honestly believe that vast numbers of food-stamp and Medicaid recipients will suddenly experience a change of heart, or the dose of objectivity needed to convince them to vote down the very measures on which they foolishly depend? Of course not, and that’s the critical thinking behind liberalism – the underlying mechanics that allow even the most unsupportable of ideologies to flourish. That dependency on government trumps both economic security and the prestige of principled policy is, itself, liberals’ greatest hope for the road ahead.

As suggested before, the notion of limited government appears bleak in a future in which conservatives fail to overcome this hurdle. Though their policies reiterate disastrous failures, liberals sometimes win because their advantage in pop culture – amongst actors and singing prima donnas who use their inexorable connection with immature minds to propagate rebellious nonsense – is palpable; because there is no stronger political impetus these days than a check from the government that emerges mysteriously from the vast ranks of “those who have,” as Marx might put it. If conservatives could only morph this strand of coolness and change the side to which it regularly attaches, then perhaps it is conceivable that Bill Maher, not Dinesh D’Souza, will have to defend his hysteric views on Republicans’ IQs as outraged audiences cheer his demise.

For that to happen, though, the conservative brand must change in a fundamental sense – seen to be held by both thinkers and farmers, lawyers and mathematicians, Baptists and agnostics. It must shake loose the assumption that membership within conservative circles naturally arises from having money, or that the sole association to be made with businessmen is the draconian cultivation of profit. In short, millennials must be convinced that big government absorbs, overwhelms, and destroys, despite any moralistic claim to the contrary; they must be shown that there is nothing rebellious about the centralization of power or the upheaval of natural rights. But more than anything, they must be reached by people who are hilarious, charming, confident, and, most of all, persuasively brilliant.




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Liberals Trashing the Liberal Arts

Did you know that cultural normalizations reflect the deep-seeded biases and insecurities of those who are mistakenly comfortable with societal construction, championed by imposing troglodytes that enter into the traditional family structures of an anciently homophobic people? Did you know that racial tensions extend beyond the highly commercialized struggles of rejected, downtrodden ethnicities and into the psychological complexions of oppressors – oppressors who are religious, who are inexorably connected to status, wealth, and power? Did you know that these elements are eternal and have dominated all of western literature?

Neither did I, and I’m an English major. Supposedly, I’ve studied the works of such authors as Shakespeare and Milton, Dickens and Dostoyevsky, Yeats and Frost, but have failed to truly understand them – for I didn’t march into my first English class this year with tight, black jeans, a nose ring, and a peace sign tattooed onto my forehead. More than that, I was surprised to encounter how formulaic the responses of the “free thinkers” were … was it that their notions were so specially cocooned in a nest of self-revelation that I, a bumpkin from Buncombe County with dangerously-suburban ideas, was unable to grasp them? Just listen to Rachel Maddow for five minutes and tell me that’s not what she thinks about conservatives and Christians.

Perhaps I should stop trying to be funny now and focus on getting to the point, one that has serious implications for the future of well-rounded education: Liberals – with both their ideas and their personalities – are trashing the liberal arts. By constantly boring the rest of the world with incessant talk of discrimination and social justice, liberals are turning away more and more students who are unwilling to put themselves into a situation in which they are forced to listen to such narrowed intellectualism. Instead of pondering what Shakespeare’s plays, for example, have to say about virtue and vice, human limitation in the face of mortality, or the fall of the seemingly well-meaning, liberals prefer to discuss the manifestation of 21st-century social conflicts that are largely overstated in the first place. No wonder there are people all across the nation who question the relevance of a liberal arts degree – colleges are simply not adequately utilizing the humanities to prepare those types of problem-solving intellectuals who used to emerge from institutions of higher learning.

It’s important to note, too, that the increasingly monolithic structure of the campus-liberal mindset flies in the face of the original notion of liberal arts education. The assumption was that the study of such subjects as philosophy, literature, history, and political theory would allow students to develop the means necessary to achieve the sort of intellectual flexibility seen in history’s influential figures. Following the ideals of the Enlightenment, proponents of liberal arts education believed that engineering, medicine, and business administration were intrinsic to improving human conditions, but that the humanities were essential to the cultivation of human understanding. All in all, I would argue that this does not ring true if liberal ideologies are permitted to fester under the guise of individualism; for they represent the exact opposite of individualism, screaming collective cries of injustice while expressing intolerance toward those who dare to push back against their views.

While I understand that issues of discrimination are often important aspects of literary analysis, I cannot conclude that liberals, in a general sense, approach them properly. It does not do to overshadow or infect great literature with frivolous politics, searching for frivolous foundations to frivolous ideologies; to do so in a drone-like fashion on college campuses that supposedly champion intellectual diversity is even worse.

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Defending the Media’s Death Star

For many conservatives, Bill Maher is a frustrating, political ambiguity – a man who may have unfairly propositioned Christians in his dreadful and dull documentary, Religulous, but who has also ostracized the Islamic community for its failure to handle its radical elements. Recently, however, this mysteriousness was considerably lessened when Maher remarked on his show, Real Time: “I feel like the reason people are so polarized is Fox News. I think of all the things that changed in America, Fox News changed the most.” Although these comments have since drawn all sorts of criticism from both reasonable liberals and outraged conservatives, the demonization of Fox is not peculiar to Maher – for when it comes down to it, all sorts of media hacks brutally resent any interruption of their slobbering love affair with their ultimate hero, President Obama.

But before actually considering its validity, allow Maher’s statement to resonate in your mind for a few moments. If you were ever wondering whether or not it were possible for leftists to further ascribe social problems to Fox News, then there you go: Fox News – that rebellious teenager who refuses to binge-drink cheap beer amongst his rowdy friends; that wise adult whose opinions are considered mean by whiny activists – is now, according to Maher, responsible for public polarization.

The question is, for what else can Maher blame FNC? If climate change was responsible for events in Ferguson, then perhaps it isn’t so contrived under the liberal mindset to attribute, say, gang violence in Chicago or the rise of ISIS in the Middle East to Fox News’ propaganda. Those, obviously, are claims from which even Maher would shy away, but the point remains: if FNC can be so maligned for simply presenting a larger variety of viewpoints, then it can also be frivolously connected to all sorts of problems the world faces.

Maher’s claim may seem obviously outlandish to one not so familiar with media dynamics, but the truth is that Fox News’ hosts, correspondents, and viewers have become accustomed to this sort of vindictiveness. To President Obama and others, who can’t conceive of anyone disagreeing with liberal policies without having first been brainwashed by Bill O’Reilly, Fox News represents an immediate threat to their intellectual monopoly. After all, how would conservatives survive if there were no channel to feverishly locate when MSNBC, CNN, CBS, ABC, and CNBC are all on at the gym? Where would we go – when the smarmy smirks of Rachel Maddow and Piers Morgan chase us around every corner – if there were no counter to their fatuous claims? The truth is that outside of Fox News, scanty opposition exists toward the unfettered expression of liberal ideas: Fox News is the outpost, the well that fills with water for the conservative student who’s stuck on a nasty college campus. And should it lean conservative, so what? For every Sean Hannity, there’s a Chris Matthews, a Jon Stewart, and a dangerously angry Al Sharpton – I think it’s time for a bit of variety.

This all may seem like somewhat of a stretch, but there are a plethora of instances in which liberals in media have effectively drowned out conservative voices. In 2012, when Mitt Romney was gaining significant momentum after his first debate with the President, for example, Candy Crowley, a respected anchor for CNN, actually interrupted him during the second debate as he was trying to make a point about President Obama’s reaction to the Benghazi crisis. She, the “impartial” moderator, countered Romney’s claim about the Administration’s difficulty in describing the dreadful act of violence as one of terror, and proceeded to “correct” the record in President Obama’s favor. Disgustingly, the President sat back and verbally thanked Ms. Crowley for her political gift – an instance which significantly hindered and embarrassed the Romney camp.

And then, of course, one cannot ignore the liberal media’s treatment of the various scandals that have plagued the Obama Administration – the targeting of conservative groups by a polarized IRS saturated with power; certain bureaucrats’ horrid and lazy handling of the VA’s backlogging of injured veterans; and the State Department’s tethered reaction to the Benghazi terror attacks, administration officials covering incompetence by blaming an anti-Islamic video for the whole ordeal.

It used to be that the media existed to extract provocative information and to force uncomfortable government leaders into answering to the wider public. Indeed, these scandals would constitute a goldmine for any media correspondent wishing to be useful at his or her job – but not, apparently, for CNN’s correspondents, who still would rather discuss the mysterious disappearance of that Malaysian Airlines jet than Lois Lerner’s abuse of power. The question remains, is Fox News really so polarizing, to use Bill Maher’s own words, because it refuses to cede its journalistic integrity to pliant media brethren? Shockingly, there are many who would, despite obvious disparities, respond in the affirmative.

So, to put it lightly, the demonization of conservatism by a largely biased media is real, not exaggerated. As Greg Gutfeld, a Fox News anchor, writes in his book The Joy of Hate:

“I work at the Death Star, the fair and balanced joint that’s beating the crap out of its competitors. For a liberal, my network symbolizes everything they hate …. It’s a handy reference point whenever they get angry but can’t think of anything to say …. They realize condemning the network will get them out of any jam, without ever having to say anything that might require actual intelligence” (77-78).

It is no surprise, then, that Fox News – an organization that fails to carry the same presuppositions as CNN or MSNBC – is met with such vitriol, for don’t bullies always target the child they cannot, in their wildest dreams, understand? To them, Fox News is a devilish place shrouded in self-imposed misery – a misery brought about by its shameful desire to widen the sorts of opinions presented to viewers. Fundamentally, the rest of the media would prefer it if their liberal expostulations were left unchallenged and if Bill Maher and his cohorts had unmitigated access to vulnerable, young minds. After all, destructive ideologies are most capable of survival when left monopolized; the demonization of FNC is simply a continuation of that hatred for competition.

In essence, Fox News is the counterpoint to an ugly end, the stymie to a new and preposterous order in media centered on progressivism. And fortunately, as Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly and “The Five” systematically eviscerate their competition (all the other networks, combined) in the ratings, the American public can be sure of a more balanced approach overall to the reception of news programming.

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Belle Knox visits UNC-Chapel Hill for a Talk about High Tuition

“I would rather be screwed on camera than screwed by our education system.” That statement basically sums up how college student Miriam Weeks feels about her decision to enter the porn industry as a means to pay for her $62,000 a year tuition at Duke University. Miriam (better known by her porn alias Belle Knox) came to UNC-Chapel Hill on Monday, September 9th to talk about college tuition and her views on what should be done to make college more accessible.

Belle is a women’s studies and political science double major at Duke University and found that upon entering the school, her parents, who are first generation immigrants, could not afford the unusually high tuition that she was faced with. So instead of taking out loans and applying for grants from the government, she did what any other logical person would do. She joined the porn industry. Making about $1,200 a scene, Belle had found an unconventional, yet effective way to pay for her education out of pocket. Needless to say, her decision to pay for college by becoming a porn star definitely made a splash among major news outlets. Belle wrote an op-ed for Time Magazine Online, and has been featured in The Huffington Post, The New York Post, Rolling Stone Magazine, The Daily Beast, Fox News, and the Spectator just to name a few.

Alright, we get it, doing porn to pay for college is a big deal, but she’s probably not the first, so it’s not THAT big of a deal, right? Well no, it’s not that big of a deal in and of itself, but the kicker in this situation is the fact that Belle is a very outspoken critic of the higher education system, and to make things even more interesting, she is a well-versed libertarian who also identifies herself as a feminist. So we have a porn star/libertarian/feminist who spends a lot of her time giving talks about how to fix our higher education system… Before your brain implodes at that thought, allow me to try and do some justice to these labels.

Belle’s talk at UNC focused primarily on her stance regarding college affordability and during that talk, along with the Q&A afterwards, she cast some light on her political beliefs. The problem she outlined with higher education is largely accurate and it really only takes a basic understanding of economics to grasp: When the government gives out subsidies (grants, loans, etc.) it will create a greater demand for education, therefore colleges can hike up their prices because the students are under artificial hope that everything is paid for, when in reality when those students graduate, they are faced with debts that they cannot pay off and are forced to default on the debt, which doesn’t matter to the colleges, because they are getting their money either way.

Belle advocates solutions such as preparing some for trade school, community college, or the workforce. She says that the main issue is that everyone thinks they have to go to college in order to have a quality standard of living, and that isn’t always the case. Those that do go to college, Belle says, should seek financial help in the form of “state aid, charities, and scholarships” rather than seeking loans from the federal government. Belle says that if colleges do not change their ways, “Higher public education will collapse… in the business sense.”

Just from Belle’s stance on education, you can see why she would identify herself as a libertarian, but why the feminist label? When prompted by a student to answer that question, Belle said, “Feminism is not a one size fits all movement… I don’t care what you do, as long as you don’t interfere with me.”

Despite the fact that Belle Knox seems to have her life in order, she does have some regrets about her decisions. When talking about choosing Duke over a more affordable public school, she said, “If I could go back in time and do it again, I probably wouldn’t go to Duke (Belle had a full scholarship to Vanderbilt). Also, she says she “would never advise anyone to go into the porn industry”. Belle spoke about how she didn’t really enjoy doing porn, saying it was “uncomfortable and unnatural”. Surprisingly enough, Belle does indeed identify with some moral standards and said that “porn, for me, can be summed up in one word: guilt.” She claims that she feels guilt for putting her family through the ridicule that they have faced (Belle and her family have received multiple death threats since she joined the porn industry).

So what does Belle’s future look like after college? Her plan is to quit the porn industry and attend law school once she graduates. When asked about her association with porn in the professional world, she said “there will be people who will refuse to hire me based on my previous work, but there also will be people who will hire me, despite that. We’re in a progressive age”

Belle Knox is definitely changing up the game when it comes to paying for college, and is using her newfound fame to promote a solution to the problem of high college tuition that many colleges should listen to. You do you Belle Knox, my hat is off to you. When asked how she thought we should approach the tuition problem, Belle said it better than anyone else could; “I don’t think that we should lie down and take it anymore.”

Belle Knox’s talk at UNC was sponsored by the Young American’s for Liberty. For more information, go to

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Interview with Sean Haugh, Libertarian Candidate for US Senate (Part Two)

As the 2014 midterm elections are quickly approaching, a large amount of the nation’s attention has turned to North Carolina, a state that many consider a swing state after it flipped from blue to red between the 2008 and 2012 elections. The battle has mainly focused on Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis. There is, however, a third player in this traditionally two-party game: Libertarian Sean Haugh. The Durham pizza delivery man has gained a fair amount of attention thanks to his multiple YouTube videos, and currently has five percent of polled North Carolinians supporting him. Haugh previously ran for the US Senate in 2002 and had served as the national political director for the Libertarian National Committee.

I went to Durham to sit down with Haugh and discussed why he thinks he can win this race. In the second part of my two-part interview with him, Haugh and I talked about the problems surrounding his two opponents, the episode in Ferguson, Mo. and his main method of campaigning: YouTube.

If you have not yet read Part One of this interview, you can find it here.

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United States Senate candidate Sean Haugh (Photo courtesy of Rachel Mills)

Alex Thomas: Let’s talk about your opponents. The race has mainly been focused on Speaker Tillis and Senator Hagan, with neither side being able to confidentially secure a majority of voters. A September 10th poll by Rasmussen has Senator Hagan up over Speaker Tillis by six points, while a month ago a similar poll by the organization had Speaker Tillis up by five points. Why do you think neither of them can get a majority of people on their side?

Sean Haugh: Because the majority of voters see them for what they are: people who represent corporate special interests and not the people. I found it amusing that Senator Hagan had commissioned a poll that she was touting a couple of days ago, and right there in the stuff that she was trying to point out, her negatives still outweighed her positives. But, her negatives are closer to her positives than Speaker Tillis’ are.

I hold the opinion that Speaker Tillis is completely unelectable. He has no point being in this race. He’s just out there to fly the flag of his party. He has no chance because he has lost such significant demographics. So many people have looked at his performance in the General Assembly and want to reject him.

I’m getting a lot of support simply because I’m not either of them.

AT: You are currently situated around five percent. That is according to a Civitas Institute poll, which, unlike the previously mentioned poll, did actually mention your name directly –

SH: I don’t consider a poll legitimate unless it mentions me by name. That Rasmussen poll that you mentioned is worthless because it’s “some other candidate”. It’s so bizarre to me that the political class and  a lot of media are so wrapped up in the Washington game, that they, too, have lost any sense of reality.

One thing that really amazes me about this race and the lack of legitimacy of media coverage of it is that they are all focused on control of the Senate. That seems to be the only thing that matters to them at all.

A lot of the times, they really just don’t know what to do to me. I just don’t fit into their conception of reality.

AT: Why do you suppose you don’t fit into it?

SH: Because I’m actually talking about issues that matter to people. You watch this news coverage, and there’s almost nothing about how this election is going to affect the people of North Carolina. It’s all about how it’s going to affect what happens underneath the dome in Washington, DC.

I think that is one of the reasons why more and more people are getting their news from Twitter and Facebook instead of the mainstream media. They can actually get real news. Like a lot of people who live in the 21st century, that’s how I get my news.

I talk to people who just watch cable news, and just wonder how they hardly know anything that’s going on in this world. They certainly know plenty about sharks and the Kardashians, but not much about, for example, what happened in Ferguson, Mo. a month ago.

AT: Since you mentioned Ferguson, let’s say a similar incident occurred here in North Carolina. If you were Senator, how would you address a Ferguson at home?

SH: We do have Ferguson here at home. The only difference is that we didn’t shut down the city and protest over it.

There are three cases here in Durham alone since our current police chief, Jose Lopez, took office. Situations where people died through interacting with the police, but not necessarily in confrontation. One in particular is the case of Jesus Huerta, who was shot in the back seat of a patrol car. They still maintain that he managed to sneak a gun in and shoot himself, even though he was handcuffed in the back of the police cruiser.

Overall, the police really have changed over the last few years to really be opposed to protecting and serving the people while having a good community relationship. These kind of things have happened all across the country.

One thing that really concerns me is the militarization of police. To me, that’s a sign of just how opposed to the people the police have become. Why do you need this big, mine resistant armored vehicle for local police work? It’s completely unnecessary unless you want to go to war with the people.

What happened in Ferguson is really a national problem. One thing I would like to do as a Senator is stop this 1033 Program of giving police department and local law enforcement military weapons.

But, I’m not sure how much else I could do besides being supportive of local groups who can really address their local issues. The only way to restore that relationship between the public and the police is for the public and the police to work it out themselves.

AT: So far, your campaign efforts has consisted of around 30 YouTube videos explaining your positions on a variety of issues, ranging from immigration reform to Israel. Have you found this method of campaigning to be successful in attracting support?

SH: Absolutely. It is so easy to share videos and it’s incredibly inexpensive. It costs me around $50 to make each video, and I’ve been able to get my message out to a very large number of people.

In addition, I’ve been able to establish a larger social media presence than either of my opponents because I actually use it to engage people, talk to people and listen to people. They [my opponents] don’t seem to understand Facebook and Twitter in particular. They just use it as a bullhorn to get people to listen to them.

People being able to talk to me and get to know me as a real human being really sets me apart from my two opponents. I mean, you call up Senator Hagan’s office now to try to get some help with something or ask a question or state your opinion. More often than not you’ll get a busy signal. To me, that’s an insult in 2014. Nobody needs a busy signal anymore. You can at least put up a voicemail saying, “I’m sorry we’re so busy. We can’t take your call right now, but you can leave a message or we can call you back in a little bit.”

Getting back to YouTube, it is certainly a lot of fun. It really gives me the opportunity to present myself and my ideas in the exact way I want to. Since government is still kind of locked in the 20th century, it’s a lot less regulated than if I was making TV ads. If I was doing TV ads, I would have to include a lot of other language, so YouTube is very liberating.

I’m really enjoying this campaign a lot more than 2002 for exactly that reason. I can just be myself, say exactly what I want to say in exactly the way I want to say it. The technology makes it easy for me.

AT: You did not get a chance to participate in the September 3rd debate with Speaker Tillis and Senator Hagan. Do you think you will get an opportunity to debate them on a public forum?

SH: I am invited to a debate on October 9th sponsored by the League of Women Voters and WCET-TV. It’ll be down in Wilmington, and at various points all three of us had accepted that offer, but now everything is really in flux.

Once it was pointed out to my opponents that I would be there, all of a sudden they were a little bit less certain they would be there, too. They are incredibly afraid to face me at all. I really see these debates that don’t include me as them auditioning for their corporate special interest masters instead of actually trying to address the people.

There has been not only just my supporters but voters who want a real debate and don’t necessarily support me putting pressure on groups like WRAL and the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters to include me in a future debate.

Having been down this road before in 2002, I hope I’m being too cynical when I suggest that that’s the last thing either of them want. They [his opponents] are the ones controlling the process. I don’t blame debate organizers at all when I’m excluded because it’s not their call. It’s totally up to Hagan and Tillis, and they have both made it very clear that they don’t really want to face me or the people.

Things change every day. I’m still planning on going to Wilmington on October 9th, and we’ll see if either of them have the guts to show up.

AT: If there was one thing you could tell the people of North Carolina that could convince them to vote for you, what would that be?

SH: I’m the only candidate that wants to stop all war. We’ve been in the state of perpetual war for over fifteen years now. There are people in this country that are about to become a voting age that have known nothing but war. The majority of Americans and North Carolinians look at this and know that it’s untenable. We have to do something else other than just more bombing.

It’s not radical or extremist anymore to talk about libertarian issues like stopping all war or spending money that we don’t have. Everybody knows this debt we have is unsustainable, and yet my Democratic and Republican opponents promise nothing else but increasing that debt.

The main thing is if you’re voting for either the Democrat or the Republican, even though there are differences between the two, you are also voting for more war and more debt. It’s time that we send a message to the Democrats and the Republicans that we want something different.

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