Local Talk on North Korea Informs YSU

By Tyler McVicker 
Jambar Contributor

Doug Bandow, the CATO Institute’s North Korea expert and former Special Assistant to Ronald Reagan during his second term, visited Youngstown State University on Oct. 19. The event was hosted by the John Quincy Adams Society.

“Since the John Quincy Adams Society is a strictly non-partisan organization, we like to bring in people from the political spectrum and pulling the little notes of wisdom, knowledge and experiences we can learn from both sides,” Mara McCloud, a senior political science and history major and president of the group, said.

The lecture dealt with the United State’s relationship with North Korea, along with North Korea’s relationship with the rest of the world. Bandow has been to North Korea twice, once in the early ’90s and again this last year.

He discusses his experiences in the country, and how much the social landscape appears to have changed over a 25-year gap.

“When I returned to the country 25 years later, the wealthy class of the country, at least the women, were wearing bright colors and seemed to hold a sense of individuality. This is something that would have never been seen 25 years prior, and it’s mostly due to Ri Sol-ju, wife of Kim Jong Un,” Bandow said.

Although turnout to the talk was low, what was discussed was detailed and informational, with many of the general preconceived notions surrounding North Korea being untrue or misinformed.

“What is interesting about Kim Jong Un is that he does seem different. That’s not to say that he is a nice guy … He does seem very concerned about economic development. He does seem interested in the international stage. Very different from his father and grandfather, not liberal, but very different than what came before,” Bandow said.

That said, he made sure to stress that the government of North Korea was an evil regime, and during his time in North Korea, many strange things occured.

“Trying to understand North Korea is not to justify them. It is not to give any sense of moral equivalence. This is a monstrous regime. If you had a contest on earth to pick to earth’s most evil regime, North Korea would win most years,” Bandow added.

“The national organization does an amazing job of setting up the chapters with speakers and making sure we get the best events possible,” David Hofsess, junior political science student and vice president of the JQAS, said about the JQAS managing to get such a high profile speaker.


  1. Doug Bandow is a pretty high end guy at the libertarian Cato Institute, which is sometimes slagged by purists for trimming its sails and endorsing Beltway-friendly crony capitalism and unrestricted immigration.
    I’ve voted Libertarian when possible since the 1980s, and think libertarian as a sort of default position. I’d been a minor political operative for both major parties. That was enough.
    The libertarians I met were very bright, true believers in their ideological commitment, and deeply pained by an America they believed had gone massively off the rails. The Ohio of 1818 looks pretty good to them in terms of personal moral agency and government restraint
    Hans-Hermann Hoppe offers libertarian theory in his popularly written “Democracy: The God That Failed”. What if the critter called liberal democracy is wrong? Hoppe lays out the case. Worth a read, and I think it may be online. Enjoy.

  2. “ . . . America they believed had gone massively off the rails.”
    Group health insurance is one such derailing idea. Tracing one of its taproots to the 1930s Soviet Union, group health insurance enjoys the protection of both Republicans and Democrats, and, of course, whole armies of enabler institutions and beneficiaries. That it undermines both Republicans’ and Democrats’ platitudes makes no difference.
    It ranks among the most radical and destructive ideas of the post-WWII period. I wrote a huge manuscript about it, “Group: How the Group of Your Unique Group Health Insurance Destroyed Your Mind and Ruined America.”
    Libertarians, also known as classical liberals, ask questions, which makes them something of an endangered species in a very non-libertarian America. Their ideas date to clubby Englishman, republican Dutchmen, cranky Austrians, and the idealized American frontier. Not everyone’s cup of tea, libertarianism offers a framework for thinking that makes for a good bee-ess detector.

  3. FWIW-“liberal”, as currently used in the States, and classical “liberal” are at political antipodes. Bit confusing.

    For a criticism of modern liberalism, also called state liberalism, or sometimes thought of as soft fascism, see Theodore Lowi’s “The End of Liberalism”, in which he uses the phrase interest group liberalism. There’s something related, economist James Buchanan and his public choice theory, although I don’t know much about it.

    Grim reading, but may help explain why meaningful debate doesn’t actually exist anymore.

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