Monday, February 11, 2019

Pingree, Ocasio-Cortez Pressure Big-Tech CEOs For Sponsoring LibertyCon

Hundreds of libertarian activists and young professionals recently descended upon the Washington D.C. area for LibertyCon. This conference put on by Students for Liberty provides networking opportunities and a forum to discuss libertarian ideas in a series of panels and presentations. They spanned a wide variety of topics, from the merits and drawbacks of a universal basic income to examining the greatest regulatory threats to the Internet. One presentation caught the ire of a few Democrats in Congress. This presentation, led by Dr. Caleb Rossiter, a retired statistics professor from American University, argued that there should be a more robust public debate about whether carbon dioxide was the cause of the “climate catastrophe.” Rossiter argued there should be a more dispassionate review of the data surrounding climate science, and be more room for debate about causes and effects. To Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), this was unacceptable. The pair penned a letter to the CEOs of Facebook, Microsoft, and Google to chastise them for being high-level sponsors of a conference that featured such a presentation. It is worthwhile to note that they did not sponsor that presentation itself, but the conference in general. It’s quite upsetting that two members of Congress would take time to send a letter making sure private companies get back in line after they sponsored a conference at which one presentation among dozens did not align with these politicians’ opinions on the climate. The conference also featured a debate on the merits of a carbon tax, and included a speaker who made the libertarian case in favor of such a tax. In an afternoon speech entitled “Arguments Libertarians Shouldn’t Make” by economist David Friedman, son of the lauded free-market economist Milton Friedman, he argued one such argument is that climate change isn’t real or isn’t caused by human activity. Friedman stated unequivocally that he believes climate change to be real and man-made. This certainly counters Pingree and Ocasio-Cortez’s narrative that LibertyCon was an anti-environmentalist free-for-all. While it’s clear LibertyCon represented a forum for debate and engagement rather than a single-tracked agenda, it’s still concerning that this letter was sent in the first place. Members of Congress should not chastise private-sector leaders for sponsoring events like LibertyCon that encourage civic engagement of a younger demographic that has historically lacked in that area. This is a veiled form of intimidation...MORE

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