Learn Liberty: First, when did you join the Learn Liberty team and what is your role?
Cassie Whalen: I joined the Learn Liberty team in September of 2014 as an intern, but I loved working here so much that I didn’t want to leave. Luckily I got hired, so now I write for various Learn Liberty social media and do email marketing.
LL: How did you find your way to the philosophy of liberty? Are there any thinkers in particular that got the ball rolling?
CW: My dad is actually a libertarian, though he never used the word when I was growing up, so he’s the person who first got my thinking about the ideas of liberty. He never really tried to influence my political views or tell me I was wrong, but once I started getting interested in political thought in high school (read: started parroting the government interventionist stuff I’d heard through teachers and peers) he would just ask me questions about what I believed until I realized I didn’t know what I was talking about. I only really got into the philosophy of liberty when I started studying economics in college, and I’m partial to Bastiat, because he makes great points but he’s also engaging and concise.
LL: What are you reading right now?
CW: I’m about halfway through “Door Into Summer” by Robert Heinlein and an English translation of the first edition of Grimm’s fairytales. Also “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek… I’m pretty bad about reading multiple books at once.
LL: What’s your favorite Learn Liberty video and why?
CW: That’s really hard. I’m going to say Warsaw’s Blinking Lights, because it’s so inspiring, and it tells a story about how so many people were inspired by freedom even under an oppressive regime. I like a lot of Learn Liberty videos, but that one really gets me.
LL: If you could have a lively dinner conversation with any three classically liberal thinkers, living or dead, who would they be?
CW: Frederic Bastiat, Milton Friedman, and Ayn Rand. Bastiat and Friedman because I love their work and think they’re grand, and Ayn Rand as a controversial conversation-starter.
LL: What music have you been listening to lately?
CW: Christmas music, mostly. But my go-to listening is The Devil Makes Three, parody/comedy music (Weird Al, Tom Lehrer, Bo Burnham, Tim Minchin), and swing music.
LL: If you were in charge of government and had the power to unilaterally change one government policy permanently which one would you change and why?
CW: That’s a really hard choice, so I’m going to cheat and say that I’d eliminate government barriers to innovation in education. This means allowing for more school choice and dealing with a lot of the bad incentives created by the current public school system, and reducing the red tape required to innovate.
LL: What does liberty mean to you in one sentence?
CW: Do what you please, so long as you don’t hurt anyone.
LL: What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the last year?
CW: Probably Mad Max: Fury Road, but that’s just because Star Wars isn’t out yet. Hopefully it’ll be just as good.
LL: Do you have a favorite pro-liberty quote?
CW: “I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
— Robert A. Heinlein