Learn Liberty

Dangers of Politics

Selfishness in Government

Diana Thomas (bio)
Utah State University
Assistant Professor of Economics

Start Date: June 03, 2013

Program Length: One Week

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The U.S. Congress entered 2013 with an approval rating of 14 percent, the lowest in US history. In the US and beyond, people are frustrated about the influence of special interest groups on politics and the mismanagement of government budgets. As a result, voter turnout rates are lower than ever, and people who do vote are often misinformed and disillusioned.

Why do politicians, interest groups, and voters behave the way they do? Why does our political system continue to produce such frustrating outcomes? And why do lobbyists have so much sway in Washington?

Grasp the crux of our present political dilemma by joining economist Diana Thomas from Utah State University for a one-week introduction to Public Choice, the study of political behavior and motivations.

We will explore the following topics:
• What are the main motivations/incentives of politicians and bureaucrats?
• Why are so many people ignorant about politics?
• Why do special interests have so much political power?
• And why is it that regulation never really seems to achieve its intended goals?

What to expect from the program

You will have access to a set of online videos with short topical lectures and participate in a live Q&A session with Dr. Thomas on June 6th.

In just two hours a week, you can finish with an excellent overview of the Public Choice discipline and a signed certificate of completion (Certificates only available to US Residents). If you’d like to complete the session with distinction and get special perks like free books, invitations to exclusive in-person educational programs, personalized letters of recommendation, and other opportunities, you might want to commit yourself to about 5 hours a week to make it happen.


  • Why should I join the program?

    Like snowflakes or stars, the benefits of engaging in our programs are innumerable and unique. Here are just a few:

    • Knowledge - Impress your friends with your enhanced critical thinking skills

    -Academy programs explore the fundamental concepts underlying the debates around contemporary social, political, economic, and philosophical issues.

    -You’ll learn to speak and think more clearly about our complex world using economic and philosophical vocabulary and concepts though engaged discussions with your professor and peers.

    • Incentives for Top-Participants - Show off the swag you’ve earned

    -Signed certificates of completion from a university-affiliated professor

    -Letters of recommendation from the professor for top participants

    -Prizes – books, magazine subscriptions, and gift certificates

    • Resume Builder - You’re an awesome go-getter and this proves it

    -Demonstrate that you are a self-starter who takes initiative and finds new ways to educate yourself.

  • How much will this cost?

    It’ll cost your time, blood, sweat and tears. We call that opportunity cost .

    But other than that, all of your costs are on us, so it’s TOTALLY and COMPLETELY free for you! At least for now. Sign up and take advantage of this offer while supplies last!

  • How do I participate?

    We’ve worked HARD to make participation for you EASY! The time commitment can be as little as two hours per week or so, but beware – our Professors’ programs are known to be so exhilarating and enlightening you may have trouble tearing yourself away.

    It’s really a simple 3 step process -

    1. WATCH a few short video lectures and entertaining intellectual content through our MentorMob playlists (if you don’t know what that is, we cover it in another FAQ question)

    2. DISCUSS the program content in a private Facebook discussion group with your fellow participants and respond to the professor’s prompts

    3. PARTICIPATE IN A LIVE SESSION led by the professor in the form of a Q&A or debate. You’re invited to join via webcam and submit questions to have address directly! Note that you don’t NEED to attend the live session, you can always watch a recorded version later, but it’d be a bummer to miss out on your participation, it’s really the best part.

    Other than that, there’ll be opportunities to stretch your knowledge muscles by submitting “webwork” assignments to apply your program’s concepts in new and creative ways.

    We’re always experimenting and rolling out new features and experiences, so there’s plenty of things to come that I’m just not ready to tell you about!

  • Will I get personalized attention from the professor?

    Hell yeah! That’s really what differentiates us from other online programs. The professor dedicates several hours a week to interact with you and your peers in live sessions and a Facebook discussion group, posing questions and chiming in on your discussions!

  • The program has already started! Can I still sign up?

    Yep! Just register through the program’s page and you’re good to go.

  • I have more questions! Who can I get in touch with, and how?

    We’re always excited to hear from program participants and have a get a near pathological joy from answering your questions. Email us your questions, comments, or philosophical musings to academy@learnliberty.org.

  • What’s the difference between a Samurai and a Ninja?

    Funny you should ask.

    You see, in ancient Japanese feudal society, the Samurai were a well-respected class of wealthy and powerful noble warriors that strictly adhered to the ethical code of conduct known as Bushido. Born into a life of privilege and ascetic honor, their ultimate glory was to die in battle as a show of sacrifice for the Emperor or in defense of their lands for a greater purpose than their own lives.

    A ninja, in contrast, arose as a recruit from the lower classes. They studied martial arts, as well as the arts of sabotage, espionage, and assassination. Through sheer meritocracy, they would rise from the shadows as hired guns to do the dirty work of the many clans of Feudal Japan. They were masterful warriors, smart and professional, who exploited their opponents’ weaknesses, infiltrated their defenses, and did whatever it took to accomplish the job they were assigned.

    The samurai and the ninja represent many dualities. Idealism vs. opportunism. Aristocracy vs. meritocracy. Order vs. chaos.

    Do you consider yourself a samurai or a ninja? Why? If you’ve read this far, let us know at academy@learnliberty.org. We’re interested to hear what you have to say!