Updated: Oct 2
Women gathered in Spokane this week to learn about the free market’s power to improve lives. More than 100 guests attended The Woman Panel on September 27 to hear from women in policy and education. The Woman Panel has recently partnered with Mountain States Policy Center. It is a monthly meeting of women ‘who believe in the power of free-market principles and solutions’ and who are inviting all to hear these solutions.
The Women and Education Panel featured Joanna Hyatt (School Choice Advocate Unlimited Co-Founder & Board Member), Pam Orebaugh (CV School Board, Nursing Teacher University Level), and Natalie Poulsen (20-year teacher Former Public Schools and Faith Christian Academy). The women in policy panel featured Mountain States Policy Center’s policy analysts Amber Gunn and Madilynne Clark.
Women in Education
Hyatt, Orebaugh, and Poulson began the evening highlighting how choice benefits education. The panelists shared their experiences of limited school choice and how children suffer, especially the most disadvantaged. During COVID, these women witnessed the harm restrictive policies cause students and they stood up for better choices.
Joanna Hyatt watched school closures damage students and concluded that parents need access to more education choices to help their children. “Because when there is only one choice, that isn’t really a choice,” Ms. Hyatt said of public schools, which are the only option government gives families if they don’t have the means to pay for their children’s education twice (once in the form of tax dollars, and once in the form of private tuition or homeschool costs). Competition drives schools to perform better and creates better outcomes for students. Natalie Poulson followed the data and found that masks were not effective in school settings and led to negative consequences in child development. Pam Orebaugh sees how local school boards are limited by national and state teacher unions and federal and state legislative policies which ignore local input. For effective change, state policy makers need to hear the voices of constituents sharing free market principles.
These three women stood up for effective and valuable schooling in its many forms and encouraged those in attendance to do the same. Better schools will only be possible if more people insist upon free market solutions in their communities.
Women in Policy
The women of Mountain States Policy Center shared how capitalism is a force for good in the world. Amber Gunn taught attendees about the pervasive social and economic philosophies which preach what economist George Gilder calls the “materialist superstition’—that the world is a fixed pie and a zero sum game, where one person’s wealth directly correlates with another person’s poverty. From Thomas Malthus in the 1700’s to Paul Ehrlich in the 1960’s, many economists have wrongly believed that the world’s population growth would result in mass starvation and famine, and that brutal totalitarian measures were the only solution to the world’s resource problem.
But these dooms day social philosophers and economists wildly misunderstand the power of the free market. Although population exponentially increased following the industrial revolution, so did the total production of goods and value generated in the economy. Wealth is not material; it is knowledge. As Thomas Sowell once noted, the cave man had every available resource at his disposal that we do today, but the difference between our age and the stone age is knowledge. As our world population has increased, so has the collective brainpower and knowledge needed to solve the world’s resource and shortage problems.
Capitalism is the force that has driven extreme poverty from nearly 80% of the worldwide population in the 1820s to less than 10% of the population today.
The innovative power of the free market has made more goods available for lower prices. Over the last several decades, the prices of goods subject to competition (particularly foreign competition) have fallen as barriers to trade have come down around the world. Prices of non-tradeable goods subject to regulatory capture, such as healthcare, college tuition, and housing have surged. It is the free market that has offset rising costs of goods that are highly regulated by government. The iPhone 14, which costs about $1,000 today would have cost $101 million in 1991 for the same technologies. It is the power of the free market that makes these goods available to us.
Madi Clark added that not only is capitalism a force for good for the economy and population as a whole, but free market principles are a force for good for the individual. The pursuit of happiness is an essential human right, but it is a struggle for many in the United States today. The power of the free market enables people to pursue happiness despite the economic and social battles around them. Madi shared research affirming that work, an essential value in the free market, helps individuals feel valuable.
The women in policy panel also addressed COVID policies in the mountain states. States with the most restrictive regulations, like Washington, faced and will continue to face the steepest costs from COVID-19. Whereas, other mountain states like Idaho were a port in the storm and are an example to look to in future health crises as the balanced government intervention with the reality of effective choices.
Amber Gunn encouraged the crowd to share free market choices within their families, neighborhoods, and communities. The heart of a free market is voluntarism. We have the most potential for good and for change within our personal spheres of influence. Rather than looking to coercive governments to solve all of our problems, we should put our own hands to work by meeting local needs, running businesses, and supporting local non-profits. Madi Clark added that MSPC will be working on the Free Markets are for Everyone project in the coming year, which will potentially include children’s books encouraging free market principles.
MSPC is looking forward to our partnership with The Woman Panel and the voices of the free market which we will have the opportunity to learn from in the coming months. A special thank-you to our sponsors Chris and Dalene Patterson, Holliday Heating and Cooling, Holiday Inn Express Spokane Downtown, and to Bonnie Quinn for her organization of this event.
Join us for The Woman Panel – Immigration and Law Enforcement on Wednesday, October 25th at 7 pm at the Gathering House. Register Today!
Stay tuned for future events of The Woman Panel across the Mountain States region.