| November 15, 2012

Top 5 insights we've gained at the State Policy Network annual meeting

This week, the majority of the OCPA staff is in Amelia Island, Fla., for the 20th annual meeting of the State Policy Network. It sounds rough, we know, but we're actually enjoying ourselves. If the first day of the conference was any indication, we'll come home with more than our fair share of actionable information. In this case, though, we're more than happy to "spread the wealth." Among many, many other things, we've learned the following:

1. CrossFit and the free-market movement share a striking commonality.

They say -- and by "they" we mean the nebulous experts of whom government types are so fond -- that Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit Inc., might someday single-handedly rid the nation of those pesky and preventable health problems that accrue to couch potatoes. His revolutionary workouts have attracted a devoted following for one simple reason: They work.

At the breakfast plenary yesterday morning, Glassman shared the story of CrossFit's creation. Turns out, the company is a grassroots success story. From the outset, Glassman wanted to empower individuals and create local communities. In other words, he thinks health and fitness problems should be solved at the most local level possible. Hmm. Where have we heard that before? Sounds like subsidiarity to us!

2. If a picture says a thousand words, an infographic says more!

Here's one of our all-time favorites. Sure, we're not happy about what it depicts -- that Oklahoma led the nation in spending growth in the past decade -- but we still think it depicts it well.

3. The opportunities for engagement with organizations that promote free enterprise are endless.

From the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute to the 65 state-based think tanks, the State Policy Network itself, Students for Liberty and the Foundation for Economic Education, the number of organizations that devote themselves to the dissemination of information about the economic system of capitalism is staggering. Individually, these organizations do fabulous work. Collectively, they're the free-market movement -- and the members who comprise them won't rest until government is truly limited and markets are truly free ... because they all really believe the principles they advocate.

Just for fun and just off the top of our heads, more organizations who are represented at this conference:

  • The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
  • The Ayn Rand Institute
  • The Atlas Network
  • FreedomWorks
  • American Majority
  • Media Trackers
  • Accuracy in Media
  • The Federalist Society
  • The Bastiat Society
  • The Acton Institute
  • The Leadership Institute
  • The Institute for Humane Studies
  • Generation Opportunity

That doesn't even really scratch the surface. Want to learn more about this magnificent (albeit occasionally messy) movement of ours? Click a link! Ultimately, we all just want as many people as possible to engage free-market ideas.

4. For all that we appreciate multimedia, we also recognize the irreplaceable value of face-to-face interaction.

For those of us who spend much of our time behind a computer screen, camera or book, it's a welcome change to shake hands, exchange smiles and swap stories with like-minded folks from across the country. We're well aware that we haven't exhausted the mine of ideas -- and we appreciate the way the indefinable energy of in-person interaction seems to call creativity to the surface.

5. Federalism is absolutely everything it's cracked up to be.

The news out of Washington might rarely be good, but state policy experts have plenty of success stories to share ... identity politics exposed and "gender gaps" closed, punitive taxes delayed or dismissed, income taxes cut or eliminated, public pension systems reformed, children liberated from failing public schools, etc., etc., etc.

A bonus, just for fun:

6. Richard Nixon had a soft side.

Seriously, who knew? Hate to say it, but nearly half the OCPA staff wasn't alive when Richard Nixon delivered this gem in his presidential nomination acceptance speech:

Tonight, I see the face of a child.

He lives in a great city. He is black. Or he is white. He is Mexican, Italian, Polish. None of that matters. What matters, he's an American child.

That child in that great city is more important than any politician's promise. He is America. He is a poet. He is a scientist, he is a great teacher, he is a proud craftsman. He is everything we ever hoped to be and everything we dare to dream to be.

He sleeps the sleep of childhood and he dreams the dreams of a child.

And yet when he awakens, he awakens to a living nightmare of poverty, neglect and despair.

He fails in school.

He ends up on welfare.

For him the American system is one that feeds his stomach and starves his soul. It breaks his heart. And in the end it may take his life on some distant battlefield.

To millions of children in this rich land, this is their prospect of the future.

But this is only part of what I see in America.

I see another child tonight.

He hears the train go by at night and he dreams of far away places where he'd like to go.

It seems like an impossible dream.

But he is helped on his journey through life.

A father who had to go to work before he finished the sixth grade, sacrificed everything he had so that his sons could go to college.

A gentle, Quaker mother, with a passionate concern for peace, quietly wept when he went to war but she understood why he had to go.

A great teacher, a remarkable football coach, an inspirational minister encouraged him on his way.

A courageous wife and loyal children stood by him in victory and also defeat.

And in his chosen profession of politics, first there were scores, then hundreds, then thousands, and finally millions worked for his success.

And tonight he stands before you -- nominated for President of the United States of America.

You can see why I believe so deeply in the American Dream.

For most of us the American Revolution has been won; the American Dream has come true.

And what I ask you to do tonight is to help me make that dream come true for millions to whom it's an impossible dream today.

H/t to Henry Olsen of the American Enterprise Institute, who reminded the SPN lunch audience of this speech yesterday.

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