Observations of an Irishman: American Culture Is Different

A Phony Narrative

In a strict ideological sense, I share a lot of values with both conservatives and libertarians. All of my beliefs stem from the idea that our rights are God-given, and while it's government’s job to protect those rights, people should have as much control over their lives as possible.

There's one issue about which I find myself in full disagreement with a growing number of those on the “right” today. That is their dismissive treatment of young people and college students. It is so frustrating to see the narrative online that "young people suck" and that they are nothing more than precious "snowflakes." It is frustrating because this attitude goes against a founding principle that made America exceptional and different to other nations --- the principle of believing in the individual and that you judge people by the content of their character and not some label you think they belong to.

American culture is about lifting people up and not putting them down.

The second reason it is frustrating is this attitude is the exact opposite of the American culture I love so much. American culture is about lifting people up and not putting them down, inspiring people to be better and to reach for the stars, not condemning them and saying, "you are the problem."

I was honored to be invited to speak with several colleges during this trip and I was excited to learn the truth for myself. While speaking to a group called Young Americans for Liberty on the campuses of both Duke University and the University of North Carolina, I discovered the narrative that dismisses young people was exactly that --- a phony narrative.

I met with some amazing young people aged between 18 and 21 who knew more about free market economics than most people twice their age as they quoted Hayek, Von Mises and Smith to me. While we did not agree on every issue, it was clear to me that these young kids were well educated and well thought out on their positions, and they were humble enough to know that not everyone will agree with their positions.

Now, people will correctly point out that these students are in the vast minority on their campuses, but those kids standing for freedom on campuses need our support and encouragement, not our insults. We also need to encourage those brave young kids to speak out and try to grow their numbers. If we give that support, their numbers will grow and those young minds that survive college will be battle-tested and ready to take on more responsibility in the real world.

Lastly, if we owe younger people anything, it is a sincere apology. They cannot be blamed for the state of the debt, the size of government, advancement of government regulations, a society where innovation and entrepreneurship have lessened and socialism has become more acceptable. Young people today are the product of an environment where politicians on both sides, the media, the culture and Hollywood have advanced a phony narrative of their potential.

We need to help reverse this.

Count Your Blessings

America is such a unique and exceptional country and there is no other country you could compare it to. Sadly, I think a growing number of Americans don’t appreciate how many opportunities they have that others do not. I want to point out some differences in our societies that you may have never spent any time thinking about.

BIGGER Is Better!

When I arrive in America, one of the first things I notice is how big everyone's cars are, and how many people drive SUVs, Jeeps and trucks. It is not uncommon for the “average” American car to have a two-liter engine. In Europe, we have cars that are two-liter engines but they are not owned by many. The average engine size is around 1.6 and engines come as small as one-liter.

This also continues into the size of houses. It is not uncommon for an American home to be in excess of 2,000 square feet. In places like Ireland and the U.K., the average size is less than 1,000 square feet.

Choices Unlimited

In America, there are always multiple brands competing for your dollar. Capitalism grants Americans the opportunity to make choices in all aspects of their daily lives.

If you are reading this now, stop, take a moment out and think of the number of places you could eat at right now. Now think how far you would have to travel to get to your favorite outlet. How does that compare to Ireland, you might ask? Sure, we have places like McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Subway, but they are few and far between and America has a lot more choices.

Believe it or not, Americans also experience significant competition in the area of religion. Growing up in Ireland, my choices were to be a Catholic or Atheist. Things have gotten better over the years as we now have several Protestant churches, a couple of Baptist churches and one Mormon church in Dublin. When I was stateside, though, I had my pick of those, with the addition of various non-denominational Churches and many other faiths.

Competitive Advantage in Gas Prices

America and its people have one major competitive advantage over a large part of the rest of the world and that is the price of gasoline. The average price of gas in Ireland right now is roughly $6.50 a gallon (€1.39 per liter), but that is cheap because of a favorable exchange rate. Can you imagine the reaction in America if gas was even $5 a gallon? Can you imagine the impact on your economy? Yet this is cheaper than what Irish people and most of Europe pays every day.

On this trip, I drove a lot of miles (in the thousands) and drove cars much bigger than my Irish one and the most expensive trip to the pump I had was $31, and that was because the tank was empty. Several years ago when oil prices when at their highest in Ireland, it used to cost me nearly $100 to fill my car, which made it hard to have a full tank of fuel.

Making a Difference

I always love hearing stories about successful people; especially those where the people involved came from nothing or overcame a big obstacle. They inspire me to be better and give me hope that maybe one day with hard work I will have some of the success they achieved.

According to a recent study, America is the second most charitable nation (beyond Myanmar) in terms of donating time and money. It is always inspiring to hear about “ordinary” people seeing a need in society and stepping up to make a difference through fundraising or awareness.

American culture at its finest.

But the perfect combo, in my opinion, is when you can mix business with charity.

During this amazing trip, I found one of these amazing combos. I was given the opportunity to speak in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and wanted to meet with some dear friends for food beforehand. They introduced me to a restaurant called Mission BBQ. This is a company that serves amazing BBQ food with incredible staff at affordable prices and donates some of their profits to both police and military charities. While I was there, they were raising money for a 9/11 charity by selling branded hats and cups. During the Christmas season, they helped lay wreaths at the graves of those who had paid the ultimate price for freedom.

I am officially a fan. I don’t the next time I will get the opportunity to get stateside, but I know if I am near a Mission BBQ I will be there, and hopefully more than once.

It's just one example of American culture at its finest.

Jonathon Dunne is an Irishman with a lifelong dream of becoming an American citizen. After waiting for over 13 years, Dunne received a job offer from Glenn Beck so he could achieve his dream, but unfortunately, he did not meet the requirements to apply for a visa. Unless laws change or Dunne decides to break the law (he won't), his American dream is dead. Despite this setback, he still loves America and seeks to be a positive influence on society by promoting the idea of America and God-given freedoms. While on a recent vacation, Dunne delivered sixteen presentations (for free) in eight different states across the U.S. During this time, he kept notes and we asked him to share some of his experiences. As you read the column below, imagine the words are being spoken in a thick, Irish accent. If you're having trouble imagining how that sounds, you can hear it for yourself by tuning into Dunne's free weekly podcast, "Freedom's Disciple," on TheBlaze Radio, available on SoundCloud, iTunes, iHeart Radio, Google Play and Stitcher.

In light of the national conversation surrounding the rights of free speech, religion and self-defense, Mercury One is thrilled to announce a brand new initiative launching this Father's Day weekend: a three-day museum exhibition in Dallas, Texas focused on the rights and responsibilities of American citizens.

This event seeks to answer three fundamental questions:

  1. As Americans, what responsibility do we shoulder when it comes to defending our rights?
  2. Do we as a nation still agree on the core principles and values laid out by our founding fathers?
  3. How can we move forward amidst uncertainty surrounding the intent of our founding ideals?

Attendees will be able to view historical artifacts and documents that reveal what has made America unique and the most innovative nation on earth. Here's a hint: it all goes back to the core principles and values this nation was founded on as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Exhibits will show what the world was like before mankind had rights and how Americans realized there was a better way to govern. Throughout the weekend, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Stu Burguiere, Doc Thompson, Jeffy Fisher and Brad Staggs will lead private tours through the museum, each providing their own unique perspectives on our rights and responsibilities.

Schedule a private tour or purchase general admission ticket below:

Dates:
June 15-17

Location:

Mercury Studios

6301 Riverside Drive, Irving, TX 75039

Learn more about the event here.

About Mercury One: Mercury One is a 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2011 by Glenn Beck. Mercury One was built to inspire the world in the same way the United States space program shaped America's national destiny and the world. The organization seeks to restore the human spirit by helping individuals and communities help themselves through honor, faith, courage, hope and love. In the words of Glenn Beck:

We don't stand between government aid and people in need. We stand with people in need so they no longer need the government

Some of Mercury One's core initiatives include assisting our nation's veterans, providing aid to those in crisis and restoring the lives of Christians and other persecuted religious minorities. When evil prevails, the best way to overcome it is for regular people to do good. Mercury One is committed to helping sustain the good actions of regular people who want to make a difference through humanitarian aid and education initiatives. Mercury One will stand, speak and act when no one else will.

Support Mercury One's mission to restore the human spirit by making an online donation or calling 972-499-4747. Together, we can make a difference.

What happened?

A New York judge ruled Tuesday that a 30-year-old still living in his parents' home must move out, CNN reported.

Failure to launch …

Michael Rotondo, who had been living in a room in his parents' house for eight years, claims that he is owed a six-month notice even though they gave him five notices about moving out and offered to help him find a place and to help pay for repairs on his car.

RELATED: It's sad 'free-range parenting' has to be legislated, it used to be common sense

“I think the notice is sufficient," New York State Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood said.

What did the son say?

Rotondo “has never been expected to contribute to household expenses, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, and claims that this is simply a component of his living agreement," he claimed in court filings.

He told reporters that he plans to appeal the “ridiculous" ruling.

Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

RELATED: The problem with asking what has conservatism conserved

The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Is this what inclusivity and tolerance look like? Fox News host Tomi Lahren was at a weekend brunch with her mom in Minnesota when other patrons started yelling obscenities and harassing her. After a confrontation, someone threw a drink at her, the moment captured on video for social media.

RELATED: Glenn Addresses Tomi Lahren's Pro-Choice Stance on 'The View'

On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this uncomfortable moment and why it shows that supposedly “tolerant" liberals have to resort to physical violence in response to ideas they don't like.