This week’s staff profile comes from none other than Learn Liberty’s resident viking, Jeffrey Pierce! As Learn Liberty’s Web Projects Coordinator, Jeff makes sure that the website is up and running and that your User Experience is top-o’-the-line.
LL: To start us off, when did you join the Learn Liberty team and what is your role?
JP: About a month ago I celebrated my two year anniversary on the Learn Liberty team! I was teaching middle school before that, so…quite a big difference. It’s been about two years now, and I’ve bounced around a few different roles, but now I’m on the Digital Strategy team. This includes coordination and management of our web projects and the user experience on the website as well as the marketing of our content through the digital space, so that’s social media and content strategy with email marketing.
LL: What thinker or writer piqued your interest in liberty?
JP: As an undergrad I studied psychology and philosophy, and in my philosophy classes I was exposed to a lot of classical liberal thinkers like John Locke, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. I’m one of many who around 2008, during Ron Paul’s second presidential run, heard some ideas from him that I hadn’t heard from other people, and over the next few years I started to explore them further. The ideas of those who influenced him, like Hayek, and Friedman sent me down that path.
LL: What books are you reading right now?
JP: Right now I’m reading a few books. A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, Negotiating with the Dead by Margaret Atwood, and American Earth which is a compilation of environmental writing since Thoureau.
LL: What is your favorite Learn Liberty video and why?
JP: I really enjoy Education vs. Schooling with Steven Davies. As an undergrad, I did education research and eventually became a teacher. One of the biggest reasons for my embracing a lot of these libertarian ideas was seeing how the traditional public school system fails a lot of students, and it’s amazing to me how many of us learn or succeed not because of, but despite, the system. Each student needs a unique educational structure.
LL: If you could have a lively dinner conversation with any three classical liberal thinkers, living or dead, who would they be?
JP: Frederic Bastiat, who is, for how old of a writer he is, very accessible today. Not just the prose but also the ideas. I like his style, and he’s a great introduction to a lot of my friends for an overall understanding of the way society works and the nature of government. The second person would be Milton Friedman just because I think he’s been the most successful communicator of classical liberalism and libertarian ideas. He’s the most public intellectual in that tradition. He’s just a great example of how a master communicator conveys ideas and connects with an audience. And, thirdly, either Thomas Sowell at Stanford University or Michael Huemer at the University of Colorado. Among contemporary thinkers, Huemer offers some of the most intellectually honest and systematic defenses of stateless solutions to structuring society.
LL: What music have you been listening to lately?
JP: I’ve been getting back into The Weepies and their album Be My Thrill. They’re sort of indie folk. And also Magic Man and their album Before the Waves. I suppose they’re more of what I like to call dance-infused indie rock.
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?
JP: I would legalize all products and substances. When I look at even substances or products that could be dangerous, I feel that there is a lot more harm done to individuals and families, and grater economic costs that occur as a result of trying to regulate and ban certain products and services. This prevents people from living more prosperous and more peaceful lives, and being able to innovate as much as they can.