TT with HD: Jeremy Linden
HD: Ready to mount?
JL: Yeah. Alright. Whooh!
HD: Is this going to generally work for you?
JL: Yeah! Is it alright for you? Are you okay?
HD: Um, I guess on the up-cycle I would like to extend my knees a just bit more. So that would require you to ...
JL: ... move back?
HD: Maybe move back. But are you on the very end already?
JL: Oh, now I have more leverage.
HD: Ah, yes, this is much smoother.
JL: Right, yeah. I think you're probably a little heavier than I am.
HD: What do you weigh?
HD: Then I'm significantly heavier than you. Okay, these are the little negotiations that make life just that much easier.
HD: You mentioned when you walked up that you had just come from the Diag?
HD: And that was a Libertarian event?
JL: A lot of organizations at the University, before an event, we table on the Diag, just put basically a table out there, stand out there, a lot of people come up, ask questions, etcetera, we hand out flyers. Basically it's a promotion for the event we're having on Monday.
HD: This is the handgun give-away? [Monday, 3 April, 8:00pm, Michigan Union]
HD: I actually checked with my neighbor, who shoots regularly, about the appropriate vocabulary for this question: Are you carrying?
JL: No! And actually, legally, if I was, I believe I couldn't say, Yes. But I'm not. But I believe that legally, if you are carrying a concealed weapon, unless, for example, a cop stops you, if you say you're carrying a concealed weapon, then it's no longer concealed. That's 'brandishing' or something like that.
HD: So verbally brandishing the weapon, as it were.
JL: Yeah, someone that I know said something to the effect that he was planning on 'open carrying' [in Ann Arbor], which is legal in many states. For example, in Wyoming, or in a lot of western states, if you go to Burger King, you'll see people coming in with guns in their holsters. And no one will think twice about it.
HD: Have you actually seen this?
JL: Yeah, I've been to the West before. It's not uncommon. People don't bat an eye. However, obviously, if you went to a Burger King in Ann Arbor carrying a gun in a holster, and you weren't a police officer, people would probably be afraid or think you were going to rob the place.
JL: So the laws are different here. And legally there's not really anything in Michigan law that we can find that prohibits open carrying, but when my friend said something to the effect that he was planning on doing that, the Ann Arbor Police essentially told him that he would be charged with brandishing a weapon. Even though that's a stretch on the meaning of 'brandishing.' Brandishing is really sort of holding it out and threatening with it. Just having it holstered in your belt is not really brandishing. But I think he would probably be arrested for carrying openly. Or if you say you have a gun on you, I think, is violating the terms of concealed carry.
HD: So the gun that's being given away, what kind of gun is it? Do you get bullets with the gun, if you win?
JL: Essentially, here's what we're doing. Because of the legal aspect to it, you can't just have a gun and give it away to someone and say, Have a nice day! Obviously, that's against the law. For pretty obvious reasons. So what we're doing, the winner of the gun, what they're really winning is a trip to the gun store with us, where we will give them the money and they will buy the gun ...
HD: ... of their choice?
JL: Of their choice, up to a certain amount of money. It's going to be about $500. That's enough to get a decent gun, not a Saturday Night Special, not a cheap gun: something that's reliable, something that will be effective, if they ever need to use it. So essentially, they will have a gun of their choice, that they get for free. What we get is the assurance that they are allowed to carry a gun and that they're not breaking any laws. Because if you buy a gun yourself, the store will do the background check. If they buy a gun, we're assured that they can legally buy a gun, because they have to legally buy a gun.
HD: Well, that's a clever way to do it. I imagine it would be very complicated to try to actually procure a handgun and bring it onto the U of M campus ...
JL: ... yeah, yeah, we would be arrested for that, for sure. The University does not allow that. You can't just bring a handgun in the Union. I got a call about a day after we sent out the press release, someone from the Union called, and was very concerned ...
HD: ... I would imagine so ...
JL: ... yeah, she obviously thought we were going to bring a gun into the Union. And she said, I hope you understand that that's not allowed! And we said, Yeah, the gun will never be on the University of Michigan's campus.
HD: Having publicity that leaves the issue ambiguous is bound to be intentional, right?
JL: Yeah, it's intentional.
HD: It piques curiosity, and it does alarm people, and makes people say, Holy cow, what are these Libertarians up to now?!
JL: The outrage is certainly intentional. Certainly anyone who understands anything about campus politics understands why. I certainly wish we could just have a speaker and a forum on 2nd Amendment rights, but no one would show up. We've had people from the Cato Institute, from think tanks, to come. Some of them have been successful. Unfortunately, college students, after going to class five hours and six hours a day, don't really want to come and listen to a lecture.
HD: They're looking for some entertainment.
JL: They're looking for something that's more exciting than that, yeah. You know, Free! always sells in college, no matter what you're giving away. Free pizza! Free iPods! Free guns!
HD: So what is the mechanism of the give-away? I really kind of hope it involves a 'draw' of some kind?
JL: Yes! Of course. We have raffle tickets essentially. Everyone who comes in will receive one raffle ticket. We've taken some measures to ensure that people don't come in more than once, because that would be unfair. Legally, it's not going to be a raffle, it's going to be a give-away. A 'raffle' implies that you're putting money in, and that would be gambling.
HD: You mentioned campus politics. The MS ... A, is that the name of the organization? recently concluded their elections, or I think they concluded them ...
JL: ... yeah, they did ...
HD: ... it wasn't totally clear to me. Have they been certified by whatever body does the certifying?
JL: They have. They have. There's going to be some complaints, but in the end the results that were officially released will be the final results. People took this way out of hand. I actually know personally several members of different parties in the race, especially for the campus Right. While it's not technically true to call Libertarians the Right, on this campus, pretty much even the Right is liberal. It's really economics that distinguishes one side from the other. When I was writing for the Michigan Review, we ran an editorial in support of gay marriage. Michigan Review is the conservative publication on campus. So when we talk about conservatism at the University of Michigan, no one here is talking about, Let's ban gay marriage, Let's ban abortion. Although there are certain groups like that, the dominant form of conservatism at the U of M is either neo-conservatism or like foreign policy, Let's support Israel, and Let's support the war in Iraq. There's that form of conservatism and then there's, Let's reduce taxes and Let's get the government out of my life: a pseudo-libertarianism if not a true libertarianism.
HD: Did the College Libertarians run anybody in those MSA elections?
JL: The College Libertarians, College Republicans, College Democrats are all associated with national level institutions. We don't get involved, we can't run candidates for MSA. We would like to consider ourselves, I think, especially recently, we would like to consider ourselves above the ...
HD: ... fray?
JL: ... above that level of discourse, which is certainly not something we want to be involved in. Libertarians did endorse the Student Conservative Party, basically because their platform was amenable to us, it was the most like ours. We had never really endorsed candidates before. The endorsement was basically we said, Yeah, go vote for them.
HD: You didn't put money and effort into it.
JL: No, we didn't put money, we didn't put effort, because that's not what we do. The problem with MSA is, they don't really have any true power in the sense that they're not really independent. So they can make recommendations to the Regents, for example, but no one who has to do what they say. With things that have gone on in MSA, there's a good reason for that. With how MSA has done things in the past, if the MSA says, We must divest from Israel, I don't think we should have to. But that makes MSA politics largely a popularity contest and a resume padder. I sincerely hope that our MSA president is not going to be running for the President of the United States. I hope that's not a stepping stone. I think that the more serious political people try to stay out of MSA elections.
HD: Who actually won?
JL: The Students 4 Michigan Party, they're considered to have dominated all the other parties. And they're huge, they have an established base.
HD: So the new President of MSA is?
JL: I believe the new President is Nicole Stallings, I think. And I met her. She's nice. I didn't particularly get involved in the MSA election. I think everyone probably tries to do their best to represent students. I think largely in the quest for power, that many of them take measures that an outsider just looks at and sort of scratches their head. Like trying to crash opposition servers, something that S4M admitted they did. And I know people from S4M, I know a lot of them, and I know that if they weren't running for office, they would never, in their cool-headed moments, think of doing something like that. I mean that's illegal, that's a crime! I mean these people essentially committed a crime ... for MSA elections??!! For student politics?! It seems so silly to anyone from the outside. But the mob mentality and the lust for power, I think, they got blinded by their own quest became corrupted by it, essentially.
HD: Let me ask you about another issue that's related to campus and students, but actually has a broader local impact. That's the lease ordinance. It seemed to me that students in a fairly unified voice were very supportive of the ordinance. I just wondered, where was the Libertarian student voice saying, We're against this ordinance!
JL: We did have a member of ours come to an MSA meeting and speak. We actually had someone come to City Council meeting, one of our members, and spoke against it. We were against it. But at the same time, that seemed like it was just going to pass, it was ...
HD: ... it had a lot of momentum ...
JL: ... you have to pick your battles. Yes, we were against it. And I don't I think in the end it's going to make that much of a difference. Personally, I thought the problem really was just over, for example, people are saying, If you wait until next semester [after the fall], these predatory landlords will screw you over! I signed a lease in February. I mean, I didn't have a problem. There was no shortage of housing for me. What these people seem to be complaining about seems to be : students who act first get the best housing.
HD: But 'best' from the point of view of location, primarily, right? My sense is that the student housing market is driven by the cachet and convenience of location, whereas the actual properties themselves, if you stripped away the location, would be ...
JL: ... they're dumps! They're horrible. And all student housing is horrible. And the landlords have a reason for that: students really are going to trash the place! So I mean students are complaining of unfair discrimination? They are going to trash the place! Why would they [landlords] clean it up? I mean, obviously, I don't think they're truly dangerous. I think they're just run down. They're run down houses.
HD: Oh, you were talking about houses, when you said 'they're not dangerous'. At first, I thought you meant the students, who were not dangerous.
JL: No, no, no, no, no. The housing itself is not dangerous.
HD: And the students aren't either, I guess.
JL: No, I mean, I think that students are in general not, ... , everyone's trying to do the right thing. But I think this housing thing, the people who act first get the most desirable housing according to whatever subjective criteria they use, is really an economic thing, it's not surprising. The early bird gets the worm, that's just what happens. The impression that the lease ordinance advocates are giving is that if you wait until January, you'll be homeless! No one's homeless.
HD: Not even I am homeless.
JL: Not even you are. No students are homeless. The students who are getting 'preyed on' are the ones who are getting places where you have to walk, where you can't just wake up and roll out of bed and go to class. I'm sure that having a 10- or 15-minute commute to class is one that's more desirable, when you get into the real world. Then if you have a 10-minute commute into work, that's pretty good!
HD: It's not bad. So how's your semester going class-wise, education-wise? Sort of in the homestretch now?
JL: Yeah, I'm about to graduate, so I'm moving to San Francisco.
HD: Oh, that must be so tough.
JL: I'm looking forward to it after living in Ann Arbor. I'm from Michigan, so it's nice ... I like the West Coast, I like San Francisco. The climate's nicer.
HD: Do you have a strategy lined up for finding a place to live out there, or is that already settled?
JL: The company I'm working for is paying me to fly out in a couple of weeks. The way that San Francisco housing works is actually very different in that you sign a place a week before you move in: like a normal, non-student area, you look on CraigsList and see what properties are available, and you sign when you see them. If you're talking about expensive housing, I'm probably going to wind up paying something like 1200 dollars a month for a small a hole-in-the-wall studio in a mildly dangerous, but not too dangerous, neighborhood of San Francisco, with parking, which is necessary for my job. Right now in Ann Arbor I'm paying 500 and something a month for a furnished apartment: that's two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and two parking spaces. Of course, I think that it's rational: you pay more to live in San Francisco, because there's more to do in San Francisco, it's a much more fun city.
HD: Is there anything else you wanted to make sure we talked about before we dismount? Anything else on your mind? We can talk about Deal or No Deal, for all I care.
JL: I don't have a TV.
HD: You're missing out on some fine programming, man.
JL: I don't have time. I'm never home, I'm very busy. I work and take classes. I'm actually pretty absent in class recently. In addition to my work with Libertarians, in addition to that, I work a lot. So class sort of gets pushed aside. Especially in engineering. Engineering is one of those interesting fields, where people don't really go to class that often, ... as long as you show up to the exams ... because all the PowerPoint slides from the lectures are on the Internet.
HD: What sort of engineering are you doing?
JL: I'm a computer-science engineering major.
HD: Suppose someone came along and said, Jeremy you can't do computer science anymore. We're getting rid of all the computers. Have you ever contemplated doing something different, and if so, what would that be?
JL: If I had to be doing a non-technical field, I'm interested in entrepreneur-ship and business. That's something I've always been interested in. Or having a career in a think tank or something like that ... if I could be an intellectual for a living and get paid for it ...
HD: ... that'd be a pretty good gig.
JL: ... that's a good job! So that's what I'd be interested in.
HD: So anything else?
JL: I don't think so.