Birmingham student wins essay contest

Birmingham Township high school student Natalie Gildea is the winner of the first-ever Future of Freedom essay contest sponsored by the Libertarian Party of Chester County. Christopher Goodrich and Shivam Shetye were the second and third place winners, respectively.

Natalie Gildea, right, and Christopher Goodrich, are the first and second. place winners of the Future of Freedom Essay Contest sponsored by the Libertarian Party of Chester County.

The Future of Freedom Essay Contest was open to all Chester County high school students, including public, private, charter, and homeschooled students. Winners were awarded certificates and cash awards after their announcement at the June meeting of the LPCC. The theme of this year’s contest was “Unlawful Laws.”

Gildea attends Archmere Academy. Her essay took aim at Stop and Frisk laws that she said are “an ineffectual and invasive practice in policing.” The first-place finish earned her $250.

LPCC Vice-chair Jacquelyn Crane said, “While we had no requirement that essays align to our Libertarian philosophy, we were encouraged that so many submissions presented thoughtful views on restricting the power of government and putting responsibility back into the hands of the public. It is evident that we have a wonderful base of liberty-minded youth right here in Chester County.”

Shivam Shetye took third place.

Crane added that the number of responses “blew past our expectations. We received dozens of submissions, which were anonymized and judged against standard criteria, including Adherence to Theme, Strength of Supporting Ideas, and Style and Mechanics. It was important to remain open to ideas and topics that were not traditionally Libertarian, and we were thrilled to receive so many high-quality entries. The selection committee was truly challenged to choose the best ones.”

The collection of essays covered a wide range of topics, including wages and taxes, electronic communications, policing and warrants, mental health, drugs, and even War Powers.

Second place winner Christopher Goodrich’s essay focused on the 100-year-old Jones Act, which he described as creating an “economic hardship for American island territories .... which ultimately harms the very same hard-working Americans the Jones Act was intended to help.”

The third-place essay by Shivam Shetye described the threat to safety and security inherent in no-knock warrants.

Goodrich, from Oxford Area High School, won $150, and Shetye, who attends Downingtown East, won $100.

The idea for the essay contest came about because one Chester County Libertarian asked a simple question.

According to Crane, “One of our members, Kevin Anderson, asked the group why people seemed so eager to believe we can legislate our way out of problems, while no one seems to consider the large number of pointless, biased, and outdated laws that should no longer be on our books. We loved the idea. Even here in Chester County, for example, we continue to prosecute for minor drug offenses while our taxes fund expensive government programs and seizure of private property through eminent domain.”

About the LPCC

The Libertarian Party of Chester County promotes individual liberty for all residents of Chester County, Pennsylvania. The members are involved in volunteer activities throughout the community, and they work with local governments to ensure that laws and regulations conform to the state constitution. Their monthly meetings are open to the public and are held at Timothy’s Restaurant in West Chester.

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