On Wednesday, February 20th, Young Americans for Liberty at UCLA kicked off our Free Markets 101 activism with a lesson in Jenganomics! We positioned our tabling materials and Jenganomics display on Bruinwalk, a heavily-trafficked campus thoroughfare where we were able to attract lots of attention with our giant model of the economy.
We read fellow California YAL chapter SJSU’s Activism Report and were inspired by their idea of labeling the pieces. So we put removable strips on each block representing government programs and policies detrimental to the economy. Our tower became a simplified metaphor for the Austrian theory of the business cycle.
We explained how, despite giving the appearance of growth (in a taller jenga tower) the programs employed by moving each block to the top really just redistributed wealth and destabilized the entire economy by sending distorted market signals to create mal-investments, eventually causing a toppling “crash” or recession. We explained how a recession, despite its destruction, is actually necessary to re-stabilize the economy, symbolized by the smaller and more stable Jenga tower in which none of the government programs have been pulled from the base to be used to distort the economy.
We used our new chapter A-Board, recently acquired by our Internal Vice President, Jake Akers, to advertise our Jenganomics display next to our standard table set-up, and offered free candy as prizes to passersby who participated. As the tower grew, more and more people would stop to watch to wait for its toppling. This provided a great educational opportunity to explain the economic thinking behind the game. Throughout the whole event, chapter member David Guo took some great pictures (now visible on our chapter photo-stream) to help us document the day.
We conducted the event following a student protest in favor of free healthcare for all UC students, so it goes without saying that we met a few redistributionist negative-nancies. One very liberal student informed us that he cared “more about the common good than greed” and valued “people over profits.” Upon asking the student what profits were a signal of, the student responded, “Profit? Well, it’s like exploiting the workers . . .” We explained that turning profits generally connotes providing a service to people effectively enough that they are willing to reward you for it. While this Rawlsian-in-training left unconvinced, his more open-minded friend took one of our meeting fliers and seemed intrigued by our point of view.
That’s how it often works in works in La-la-land, planting the seeds and lighting the brushfires of liberty, one person at a time!Published in