Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog

The Reason Foundation

Emily Purvis – Week 12

Emily Purvis, 3 March 2016

“Look up” said our guide.

It wasn’t the first time he had suggested that. We needed to be reminded to tear our eyes away from the dazzling beauty of the marble coliseum style pillars lining the hall along with the handsome jarrah panelling. Gazing up, the high ceiling was a blinding shade of gold. Square panels set at different depths embroidered with intricate renaissance patterns amongst a tessellation of tiles added to the elegance and sophistication of the room. The grandeur of the building was intensified by elaborate architectural design and fine detail. A sharply suited young professional with a slick comb over, immaculately polished Salvatore Ferraro loafers and a steady gaze strode past us with no time to feign a smile. His cologne lingered for longer than he did – no doubt the young man had been sent on an urgent fact finding mission by one of the congressmen. My fellow Mannkal scholars and I had been reunited in Washington DC and were lucky enough to explore the Capitol building with the assistance of Tremayne Smith (Special Assistant to G K Butterfield in US Congress – thanks to John Hugo for making our tour possible).

I spent the week in Washington DC exploring and catching up with the other Mannkal scholars. The rich political and cultural history of the United States is concentrated in various Smithsonian museums dotted around the circumference of the National Mall. I particularly enjoyed the National Museum of Air and Space along with the Holocaust Museum. It was easy to spend several days exploring the National Mall area, including the Washington Monument, Library of Congress, the Capitol Building, the White House and the US Supreme Court. I also enjoyed exploring other historical districts of DC, such as the picturesque Georgetown and vibrant Adams Morgan neighbourhood. On one evening, I attended a panel discussion event at the German Marshall Fund think tank addressing foreign policy and ‘how millennials can assist refugees’. This is a topic I am particularly passionate about and it was encouraging to meet so many other young people who share my interest.

The International Students for Liberty Conference officially opened on the evening of Friday 26 February 2016 with hundreds of scholars from all over the US, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe in attendance. The Reason Foundation had a big presence at the conference, with prominent journalist Nick Gillespie opening by leading a panel discussion with Dr George Will and Matt Welch on ‘why the world is actually getting more libertarian’. Throughout Saturday, I attended back-to-back breakout sessions on various issues including immigration, human rights and politics. There were two standouts for me: the first being a presentation by Dr Bryan Caplan (CATO Institute) on the benefits of open borders and the second being Alex Nowratesh’s (CATO Institute) explanation on the economic effects of immigration. The ‘open borders’ debate is a common topic of conversation amongst Libertarian scholars and one I particularly enjoy participating in. I admit that I must continue to read and learn more before I can form my own view – this is something I look forward to developing further when I return to Australia. I would like to write an article on the arguments for and against open borders in my spare time this year.

My interest in policy and research has undoubtedly grown and become a passion of mine over the last 3 months. Whilst I have always enjoyed writing and discussing political topics, my time with the Reason Foundation in Los Angeles has consolidated my interest in policy. I am incredibly grateful to the Mannkal Foundation for the opportunity to travel to the United States to further explore my passion for research. My experience with the Reason Foundation has been truly life changing and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on issues such as privatisation and immigration with other students, friends and family in Western Australia. Thanks to Mannkal, I have been able to meet with some of the most influential and inspirational writers in the United States as well as form new friendships with incredible young people from Perth. These networks are invaluable and have opened my mind up to another world and way of thinking. This unforgettable journey would not have been possible without Ron Manners and the Mannkal Foundation. Thankyou for the opportunity to represent Mannkal and I look forward to sharing my experiences with future scholars!

Emily Purvis – Week 11

Emily Purvis, 22 February 2016

“Justice Antonin Scalia was appointed to the US Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1986 and served for nearly thirty years. His sudden death is highly suspicious”. I had been in Washington DC for less than 20 minutes and already I was engaged in a politically charged discussion. “His Honour was on a hunting trip in Shafter, Texas. He supposedly was missed at breakfast and his party assumed that he would not be participating in the morning hunt. Later that day, he was discovered in his room with a pillow over his head. The story has changed many times”. My Uber driver appeared to be more focused on convincing me of his conspiracy theory than he was concerned with navigating 14th Street. Justice Scalia’s death has left the US Supreme Court bench at a 4-4 split between conservative and liberal jurisprudence, thus evoking speculation. My driver explained that as this was a presidential election year, Obama would be looking to appoint a liberal Justice in conservative Scalia’s place. I listened attentively, but remained sceptical. This is a fascinating time to be in DC.

This had been my final week at the Reason office and marked the end of my time in Los Angeles. On Monday, a group of us celebrated Presidents’ Day by hiking through Runyon Canyon in Hollywood Hills. It was a warm 90F and we hiked for several hours before finishing the day with tacos at a bar in Marina Del Ray. During the week, I finished up my research project on the precautionary principle at the office and spent my evenings saying goodbye to friends in Santa Monica. It was difficult to say goodbye to my new colleagues/friends but we plan to stay in touch via Facebook and email. I also hope to visit again soon!

After packing up my suitcases and moving out of the Culver City apartment, I flew to Washington DC. I have a busy week of sightseeing and networking ahead! Today, Sophie O’Mara took me around DC and to Georgetown for some window-shopping. Tomorrow, we plan to explore the National Mall – home of the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the White House.  I am looking forward to catching up with the other Mannkal scholars before the Students for Liberty Conference next weekend.

Emily Purvis – Week 10

Emily Purvis, 15 February 2016

The dirt track ahead led up a steep incline and onto the final peak. The raw Earth felt beautiful beneath my feet – we were far away from the concrete sidewalks and delicately constructed gardens of Los Angeles. The sun bathed our skin and covered the valley in a glorious Saturday afternoon glow. Heavily panting, the fresh air was all the incentive I needed to climb that final stretch of the mountain. The pacific coastline from Santa Monica to Malibu ran along the horizon to my left and looking out to the right, I could see the Valley, including Calabasas and the Hidden Hills. I had joined my housemates on a hike within the mountains of Topanga State Park and discovered an entirely new side of Los Angeles. Tucked away and ‘remotely’ located just 60 minutes from Downtown, this secluded patch of wilderness lies between the Pacific Coast Highway and the Valley. The region is heavily populated by those who prefer the bohemian lifestyle and reminiscent of the hills of Ubud. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Having spent 11 weeks here, I had spent a considerable amount of time observing the Angelenos. Amongst breakfast burritos, a Gold’s Gym membership, Chihuahuas and impeccable fashion sense, the Angeleno can almost always be found hiking on weekends. It was one of those quintessential LA activities along with owning a Disneyland pass and cruising around in a 2016 Mustang V6 convertible. Needless to say, I loved the lifestyle and had quickly adopted the Californian culture.

On Friday night, I attended a hip-hop concert in the Inglewood district. The Forum is a massive stadium in West LA that regularly hosts events and has a capacity of 17,505 people. My guess was that the stadium was almost at full capacity on Friday night, with Kid Ink, Miguel and the Weeknd each playing a set.

My research at the Reason Foundation has been progressing rapidly and I will submit my final draft to Julian on Tuesday. Tomorrow is Presidents’ Day in the US and is a public holiday. The third Monday of February was officially recognised in 1885 and is dedicated to President George Washington. However, the day is generally considered a celebration of Presidents’ past and present. It seems that only Government offices will close on Monday, while other services continue to operate as normal. I plan to go for an early brunch and hiking again with my friend Joseph from the Reason.

Emily Purvis – Week 9

Emily Purvis, 8 February 2016

The atmosphere was tense. Not a sound could be heard amongst the crowd and all eyes were fixed on gate number 1. At the end of the 300 ft arena, a fiery colt had been crammed into the holding stall, his body pressed against the metal bars. The bronco resisted by thrashing his hooves wildly against the railing and snorting in defiance. His cowboy stood behind the gate taking swigs from a communal hip flask, presumably filled with ‘ice tea’. All of 16 years, the boy’s hat was perched on top of a messy mop of mousy brown hair. His dirt-stained button down and ripped jeans suggested he had done this before. All in one movement, the boy swung up onto the gate and sank down onto the writhing colt’s back. He fixed his hat and gave a stern nod. The gate swung open and the colt exploded out of the stall amongst a flurry of ground crew running wildly to jump the arena railing to safety. The colt snaked his head and bucked uninterrupted in a violent rage. One hand flailing in the air, the cowboy did not lose his seat nor his hat, and comfortably made the 10-second horn. The audience erupted into whoops and applause – I was at a Saturday night rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas.

I had flown to Dallas on Friday night with very little planned for the weekend. I had decided to hire a car and simply let my journey unfold. A Reason colleague had kindly arranged for me to stay at his friend’s place while she was out of town. This was my first experience of the renowned “southern hospitality” and set the tone for a wonderful weekend away. Dallas itself is quite spread out and connected by intertwining motorways, so having your own transportation is essential if you wish to travel to more rural areas. On Saturday afternoon, I drove from Dallas to the near-by town of Fort Worth to experience a more pastoral scene and visit the stockyards. Broad brimmed cowboy hats and heavily embellished boots are not a rarity here, along with fried pickles and an hourly bull parade down the main strip. Fort Worth was the last stop for late 19th century drovers herding their cattle up the Chisholm Trail. It quickly became known as “Cowtown” and grew into a thriving district. The Union Stockyards were constructed throughout 1887-88 and were completed in 1889 to hold livestock in transit.

After experiencing a southern breakfast (my fruit salad included marshmallows), I set off in a northwest direction from Uptown Dallas to Southlake for some Western style horse riding. Those who know me personally know that I am an avid equestrian rider and so I jumped at the opportunity to be back in the saddle. I met with full-time lawyer, part-time cowboy Jeff and he introduced me to a 16hh buckskin mare from Colorado. Jeff and I rode for 2 hours through the Texas countryside with his belgian malinois hound leading the way. It was a breath of fresh air and I thoroughly enjoyed being on horseback after a 2 month hiatus.

I will continue my research on the ‘precautionary principle’ back at The Reason office in Los Angeles this week. I am currently drafting a timeline tracing the judicial application and legislative development of the principle in Australia for the last 15 years. This research will assist Julian with a piece he is in the process of updating. I can say that I will miss the Lone Star State, but I am looking forward to continuing my work in LA.

Emily Purvis – Week 8

Emily Purvis, 2 February 2016

Gulls gracefully glided through the brisk morning air, their large bodies supported by seemingly frail wings. Their feathers ruffled slightly as groups expertly circled and dived toward the water, hovering for a moment before rising back up onto the mooring. They were a beautiful sight against the backdrop of Pier 33 and the tiered Colonial Revival style houses beyond. I was standing on the starboard side of the San Francisco ferry-boat, although ‘cruise liner’ may have been a more accurate description. She was a good-looking vessel – lacquered dazzling white with immaculate stainless steel deck railings, she stretched out across the wharf and comfortably fit the 200 or so passengers. Coffee in hand, I admired the view of San Francisco city and the vast ocean expanse surrounding us. I smiled. It was a ‘pinch yourself’ moment. My Mannkal journey had now taken me to San Francisco and we were en-route to Alcatraz.

Although I have been working on a prison-related research project, I have been unable to visit an American jail. Earlier this week, I had telephoned the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and enquired. The Sheriff was perplexed by my request but regrettably informed me that prisons are generally not open to the public. I figured that Alcatraz could be my next best bet. Alcatraz Island is situated 1.5 miles off the coast of San Francisco city and operated as a federal prison between 1933 and 1963. Alcatraz was established to hold the most troublesome of prisoners, including those who had attempted escapes from previous facilities. Notorious criminals held in the prison included Al Capone, Robert Stroud (Birdman) and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. On 2 May 1946, the infamous ‘Battle of Alcatraz’ saw 5 people killed and 12 wounded when several rouge inmates tried to break free. Alcatraz prison was forced to close in 1963 due to rising operating costs.

Fellow Mannkal scholar Phil Hancock and I had travelled together from Los Angeles to San Francisco over the weekend. SF is a magnificent city. It boasts colourful architecture and breath-taking views. Coffee shops and diners on every corner, this tree-lined metropolis has something for everyone. During our short visit, we explored the famous ‘zig-zag’ Lombard Street, bought trinkets at a bustling flea market on Treasure Island, enjoyed a traditional dragon dance in Chinatown, walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, admired bonsai in the Japanese Tea Gardens, took photos of the famous ‘Painted Ladies’ row of houses on Steiner Street and attended a Super Bowl 50 street party along with 2000 other San Franciscans and travellers alike.

This week, I will continue working on my research into e-cigarettes and the application of the ‘precautionary principle’. The precautionary principle is sometimes used as justification for enacting laws that heavily regulate the use of products where there is a lack of scientific evidence proving they are safe. I am really enjoying this new project and looking forward to being back in the office on Monday morning!

Emily Purvis – Week 7

Emily Purvis, 25 January 2016

Tiny lights coiled up the trunks of palm trees illuminated the cobbled path. Soft background music could be heard in the distance over the muffled din of chatter and guided us toward our destination. We followed the walkway and came to an open expanse lined with restaurants and bars. Lights glittered through the trees and a three-tiered water fountain gave the Orange County open-air dining complex a Mediterranean feel. The elegant and relaxed ambience of ‘Fashion Island’ made it the perfect location for Saturday night dinner with friends in Newport Beach.

A drive down the I-5 will take you from Los Angeles to Newport Beach in about 60 minutes. Orange County is more laid back than LA and is popular with families. The sea breeze and smiling faces give this coastal town a vacation vibe. However, a trendy and exciting nightlife is prominent and ranges from the classic ‘dive bar’ to venues like the sophisticated Island Hotel. Our evening was as eclectic as the city, with visits to the aforementioned and several more.

This week has been busy at The Reason Foundation. Colleagues and visitors from all over the US had congregated at the LA office for the National School Choice Week event on Tuesday. The ground floor of The Reason office had been transformed from concrete walls and camera cables into a thriving hub of activity. The panel discussion, hosted by Nick Gillespie and Lisa Snell, explained the benefits of providing families with alternatives to public schools. In the US, the neighbourhood in which a family lives determines which public school the children can attend. Nick Gillespie and Lisa Snell expertly led the audience through the ramifications of this type of system and explained how charter schools could lead to better results.

The feedback I received on my research report from Julian was positive and we are both happy with the project so far. Julian suggested that I wait until later this year when the final results for the Rikers Island social impact bond pilot have been released before I complete my recommendations. We both decided that this was the best way to proceed for the report to be comprehensive and persuasive. I have begun working on a new research project into the legality of e-cigarettes in various countries. This is a topical and interesting subject which I am enjoying learning about.

I have joined a dance studio here in Culver City and have quickly become addicted to my new hobby! I have made many new friends at the studio and spent 3 evenings there this week. I have also discovered a new interest in programming and have joined an iOS coding meetup group here in Los Angeles. There is always so much to do here and I am enjoying the busy LA lifestyle!

Emily Purvis – Week 6

Emily Purvis, 18 January 2016

The dimly lit room was rapidly approaching capacity as patrons cruised in to the open space and were ushered to their table. Those who had the foresight to make a reservation were ideally placed in front of the stage and chatted amongst themselves waiting for the entertainment to begin. I had managed to secure a seat at the bar with a complimentary house merlot and was soaking up the trendy, sophisticated ambience. Groups clad in leather jackets and fedoras were spotted throughout the crowd, along with the quintessential hipster and jazz enthusiast. Suddenly, the stage came to life with an explosion of sound from the lead saxophonist. The note holds and as it dips, another saxophonist erupts into a skilful rift that leaves the audience stunned – eyes slightly widened and mouths ajar, heads around the room began to nod in approval. This was Saturday night jazz at Andy’s Jazz Club in Chicago, Illinois.

I had taken an early flight from LA to Chicago on Saturday morning and arrived at noon. This city is trendy, clean and boasts magnificent architecture. In 1871, Mrs O’Leary’s cow allegedly kicked over a lantern in her barn, which led to one of the largest US disasters of the 19th century. The Great Chicago fire burned for two days and destroyed most of the city’s central business district and left more than 100,000 residents homeless. Despite the tragedy, Chicago remained economically prosperous due to agricultural trade and attracted leading architects to the city. Consequently, the historical buildings from early 19th and 20th century have remained and give the streets a unique charm. I learnt about influential early architects Daniel Burnham, John Wellborn Root and Frank Lloyd Wright during a ‘Historic Treasures of Culture and Commerce’ walking tour of the city.

I was lucky enough to be able to meet with Dr Marius Ronge, Founding Principal of Alpha 6 Management and consultant. I took the opportunity to ask him about his career, how he started his own company and whether he had any advice for me. Dr Ronge was incredibly generous with his time and gave me a lot of suggestions. I am inspired by his success and look forward to putting his suggestions into action.

I have kept a busy schedule in Chicago. On Saturday afternoon, I walked along the riverfront and down shopping street Michigan Avenue. The local people are incredibly friendly and I found myself engaged in a discussion about American society in a downtown pizzeria on more than one occasion. The view from 97 floors up in the John Hancock Centre was another highlight and must-do dining experience if visiting the ‘Windy City’ (this colloquial term surprisingly does not refer to the weather. The civic pride of early 19th century travellers from Chicago was often mistaken for bragging).

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King day here in the US and a public holiday. I will be heading back to LA in the afternoon for a four–day work week at The Reason. My research project has been coming along well and I submitted my first draft to Julian on Friday. I am looking forward to reading his comments and getting further guidance on my work.

Emily Purvis – Week 5

Emily Purvis, 11 January 2016

The steady clatter of laptop keys drowned out the noise of the falling rain against the skylight. The mood was an equal combination of passion and intellect – an ideal playground for the young and creative. Across the hall, talented TV producers buried amongst scripts and monitors worked on their latest educational creation. My colleagues were so focused throughout the day that ‘chat breaks’ were informally scheduled around the coffee machine at 10 am and 2 pm. I preferred to work this way. A freshly brewed cup of black fuel had taken up residency on the top right hand corner of my desk, precariously wedged between my MacBook and the desk phone. It was a necessity and common feature of the SoCal office space, along with casual fashion and a desire to make a difference.

My work at The Reason office in Los Angeles this week has seen my skeletal research paper flesh out into a partial first draft. I am researching and writing a policy brief on ‘pay for success’ contract models targeting recidivism and their applicability in the US. The United States of America has the largest prison population in the world with 2.18 million people incarcerated in 2014. 67.8% of prisoners in the US are re-arrested within 3 years of their release and 76.6% re-offend within 5 years (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2014). The concept of remunerating prison operators for performance has become increasingly popular in recent years. Linking payment to results for reduction in recidivism rates has been trialled in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States of America. This emerging trend and approach to contracting is made up of three different variations, which are the focus of my paper: (1) private prison operator contracts; (2) social impact bonds, and (3) State contracts. My paper will examine trials of the different variations and recommend how a contract can best be used to incentivise results to reduce recidivism in the United States.

My body has finally succumbed to the change in weather and a busy schedule, so I spent the weekend on bed rest with tonsillitis. A minor set back that in no way has curbed my enthusiasm! I have rescheduled my weekend San Diego trip for another time when I am back to full health so that I can prepare for another productive week at The Reason office in LA.

Santa Monica Pier with Matt Bunny

Santa Monica Pier

Working at The Reason Foundation

Emily Purvis – Week 3

Emily Purvis, 4 January 2016

The room was simply magnificent. Upon entering the three-storey New York townhouse, an imposing staircase lined with mahogany boards led up to where the party was being held. From the sound of the grand piano and loud, joyful singing above, the festivities were evidentially already in full swing. A tall man dressed in a white tuxedo warmly greeted me and whisked away my coat. I made my way up to the second floor and into an explosion of people. A group of party-goers armed with champagne were huddled around the piano joyfully singing Christmas carols. Suddenly, a tenor opera singer burst into song and the powerful tune filled the entire room – this was Christmas in New York City.

I had spent 5 days exploring New York City and traveled to New Jersey to stay with Julian (Vice President of the Reason Foundation) and his family. Here, I worked on my research project during the days and spent time with Julian, his wife Kendra, and their two beautiful daughters in the evenings. I was overwhelmed by their generosity and their kindness made me feel like I was part of the family. On the evening of the 20th of December, Kenda had invited me to join her at a New York barrister’s townhouse to celebrate Christmas with 50 of his closest friends.

In the lead up to Christmas, I celebrated with Julian and Kendra’s friends, family and neighbours. I flew back to Los Angeles on the evening of Christmas day to meet with my friends and fellow Mannkal scholars, Brandon Nguyen and Matthew Bunny. They are visiting Los Angeles for several days so we have been spending time together and enjoying the California weather! I start work at the Reason Foundation office on Monday and I am looking forward to further progressing my research report.

Emily Purvis – Week 2

Emily Purvis, 4 January 2016

It was almost painful to breathe the crisp morning air, but the smell of freshly brewed coffee and bagels pulled me along the sidewalk. The 2-minute journey was worth the blast of ice-cold wind and energy that was required to navigate the busy New York City streets. Upon entering the Red Cup Café, conveniently situated on the corner of 44th Drive and 21st Street, a friendly waitress serves you a cup of black coffee and a cream cheese bagel – the breakfast of New York champions. Bar style seats are the only available in this typical NYC café/diner and you can enjoy a view of the street while quickly becoming acquainted with the stranger sitting next to you.

My NYC agenda was packed with sightseeing and meeting new people. The Rockefeller centre in the heart of Manhattan was undoubtedly a highlight. The building was constructed during the Great Depression in 1930 and financed by John D Rockefeller Jnr. Standing at 70 floors high (266 m, or should I say 872 ft), this tourist destination is not for the faint hearted.  For $32 USD, you can take several elevators to the top and brave the strong winds for a breath-taking view of New York City. The immensity of this famous city is overwhelming from the top of the Rockefeller.

Exploring New York City this week has felt like a time warp – the busy rush of traffic and people make hours seem like minutes. I now understand why people visit and become addicted to the fast-paced lifestyle and ever-changing plethora of things to do. At Christmas time, the city is magical and unique. A “winter village” complete with Christmas markets, ice-skating rink and mulled wine bar has popped up in Bryant Park on the corner of 5th Ave and West 40th Street. I spent my last evening in New York exploring the shops and enjoying a glass of Grenache there before kicking on for pasta at Tony’s with a group of hostel buddies.

After enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City for 5 days, I took the NJ Transit train to New Jersey. Here, I was warmly greeted by Julian’s family (Vice President of the Reason Foundation). Julian, Kendra and their two girls have kindly offered their home to me for the next 7 days while I work on my research paper and enjoy the New Jersey serenity. The city is so picturesque, I feel like I am in a postcard. My room has a stunning valley view that often distracts me from my work. It takes strong determination and will power to stay focused in a setting taken straight from the USA Travel and Tourism Guide!

I am having a wonderful time in New Jersey and I am incredibly grateful to Julian and Kendra for inviting me into their home. I will spend Christmas here with their family before returning to Los Angeles and The Reason office for the New Year.