Freedom loving people around the globe have watched in horror as our nation’s founding principles have come under attack. They realize many young people were never taught basic principles of US history and Constitutional freedoms. What can we do to solve this problem? Education is key to preserving liberty, and we must be creative in our approach. Enter the Tuttle Twins, books created by Linda’s guest, Connor Boyack. The Tuttle Twins books simplify concepts from great writers like Hazlitt, Hayek, and Bastiat, helping readers understand how economic policies impact everyday lives. Connor also leads the Libertas Institute, a free market think tank, and they discussed innovate policy recommendations to protect freedoms at all levels of government. This episode highlights why limited government, free enterprise, and personal responsibility are keys to prosperity for nations, businesses, families, and individuals.
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Linda J Hansen: Thank you for joining us today. I know you’ll be truly interested in meeting our guest, Connor Boyack. Connor Boyack founded Libertas Institute in 2011 and serves as its president. Named one of Utah’s most politically influential people by the Salt Lake Tribune, Connor’s leadership has led to dozens of legislative victories spanning a wide range of areas such as privacy, government transparency, property rights, drug policy, education, personal freedom and more. A public speaker and author of over two dozen books, he is best known for the Tuttle Twins books, a children’s series introducing young readers to economic, political and civic principles and that is how I came to know about Connor Boyack.
And before he speaks, I’d like to have you know a little about Libertas Institute. Their mission is to change hearts, minds, and laws to build a freer society by creating and implementing innovative policy reforms and exceptional educational resources. Their vision is a future where individuals are unleashed from restrictions that prevent them from peacefully building the lives they want.
So freedom, opportunity for children, for adults, you have fought for that your whole life. So, thank you, Connor, and thank you for being here today.
Connor Boyack: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Linda: It’s a pleasure to meet you. As I shared with you before we started recording, I have ordered several sets of the Tuttle Twins books. I’ve given them away as gifts. I’ve enjoyed reading them with my grandchildren. They are just great books that I highly recommend. As we look at how we can impact our nation and bring about more policy proposals that protect our freedom, protect our Constitution, protect freedom for future generations, it’s so critical that we do pay attention to educating our children with the principles that made this nation great. So what led you to start Libertas and what led you to write the Tuttle Twins books?
Connor: So our think tank has been around for about a decade and what was happening for me at that time was, I was very passionate about freedom. I had just helped get Mike Lee elected to the U.S. Senate and was trying to figure out what my next move was, where I wanted to next make a difference. So I worked with some different organizations but never felt really at home anywhere. I never really felt like the impact was high enough and recognized kind of like that quote attributed to Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I realized, “Okay, I think I need to create this thing. I don’t think there’s anything already here.”
So we set up shop about a decade ago as a think tank in our state. What that means is we work on a lot of legal research and reform, trying to help elected officials see how to make better decisions and help voters understand the issues kind of from a free-market, liberty perspective. And after doing that for a few years, I had two kids at the time that this story took place. They were five and three. I would ask them, “What did you do today? Tell me about your day,” when I would come home from work. And every once in a while that question would be reciprocated, right? “Dad, what did you do at work?” I was trying to figure out, “How do you talk to an eight year old about eminent domain or how do you talk to a six year old about socialism? How do you break these things down? I went on Amazon trying to find books that would teach these types of values and came up short. There was just nothing and so once again came to the realization that I had to be that change in the world, had to be the one to create these resources. So Elijah my friend, his children were also younger at the time and he saw the same need, and so he’s our illustrator, a very talented guy. We teamed up to do the first book. It really was just a fun project. We had no vision for what it has now become. At the time it was, “Hey, let’s do a book. It’ll be great.” And it has just exploded. And now it’s a full time endeavor for the both of us.
Linda: It’s fantastic and to our listeners, I really do want to recommend the Tuttle Twins books. They can walk young people through so many principles of freedom. You basically in some ways paraphrase some of the great writers from Hazlitt to Hayek to
just the economic principles of our Constitution and our free enterprise system. You have really simplified for children. And I really appreciate that. That’s what I tried to do with my Prosperity 101 materials is to simplify this so people can understand how it applies to their daily life, whether it’s their pay check or if they want to open a business, whatever it is, they need to understand how all of these policies affect their liberty, freedom, and prosperity.
Connor: That’s right. Yeah. It’s hard, I think, for a lot of adults, too, because these topics can be fairly intimidating for the average adult. We weren’t taught that well in public school when we were younger. And so what we found is there are a lot of parents that share these values. They have this life worldview or this perspective, but they lack the confidence in articulating how these ideas work, what they mean to their children, to their peers, coworkers, whoever. Our goal with the Tuttle Twins is really to try and simplify this so there is a language with which these adults, these parents, can talk to others, especially their kids, about these concepts. We’ve found that when we do two things, when we simplify these ideas and then when we tell them through story, it really unlocks this deeper understanding of how these ideas work. So that’s kind of the magic of what we’ve been able to do so far.
Linda: Mm-hmm. And it’s great. You have ones…there are eleven books in the series so far—The Law, the Miraculous Pencil...I love that story for those—that’s based on the story of how a pencil is made.
Connor: That’s right.
Linda: The original video of how a pencil is made.
Connor: That’s right.
Linda: Yeah, and Creature from Jekyll Island. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Connor: This is a book based on one by the same title, The Creature from Jekyll Island, all about the Federal Reserve. This is the central bank in the United States that basically controls our money. It was hatched in secret literally as a conspiracy in 1910. The bankers and politicians who went to Jekyll Island, which is a little resort in Georgia, at the time it was a swanky high-end resort, and they traveled by train in the dark of night with secret names because they did not want anyone knowing what they were doing. So anyways that’s the Federal Reserve and this is the institution that is responsible for devaluing our money. The dollar has lost about 94% of its purchasing power since the Federal Reserve launched over a century ago. And so our book talks about, “What is money? What is inflation? Why do things cost more today than they did when mom or grandpa or whoever was buying these things and trying to understand what that is.” And certainly the message is extremely relevant today when you look at the fact that over 20% of our money supply has been created in the past year alone and we’re already starting to see some of these effects of inflation even more with a lot of these prices going through the roof--the housing market and others. That’s a big topic that we think is really relevant.
Linda: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Definitely. And Food Truck Fiasco which is a great book. Maybe you’d like to talk on that a little bit.
Connor: This is based on Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. This book primarily talks about a concept called protectionism, when the government helps a particular business or industry by creating laws that shield them from their competition. Think of a modern example: Uber and Lyft, when all the taxi laws made it illegal for people to drive on Uber and Lyft. That’s just one of many examples of how the law can give an advantage to some competitors when that’s not the government’s role at all.
Linda: Right. Right. And we can see that in some of the oligarchy that is present in our society right now.
Linda: And the Road to Surfdom. I was sharing with you that I had read that with my grandkids talking about eminent domain and that is a great book. We’ve got the Golden Rule, Search for Atlas. (Laughs)
Connor: Yep. That one’s based on Atlas Shrugged, a fairly well-known book.
Linda: I loved that. Spectacular Show Business. What is that one based on?
Connor: This one is all about entrepreneurship. It’s based off an economic book by a gentleman talking about the role of entrepreneurs in our economy, that it’s they that take on the risk to pursue new ventures that end up serving and helping so many of us to have better lives.
Linda: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. And what I try to do with Prosperity 101, too, is just really empower entrepreneurs to be able to speak more freely, to be able to help share these principles with their employees and those that they work with. It’s just great, budding entrepreneurs. I have to tell you. I’ve given these books to my grandkids and we’ve gone through many of them. This year they had a project, an entrepreneurial project, that they came up with at Easter time. So they had to FaceTime me and they had to call me and tell me all about it. And I loved it because the youngest one in that family, he said, “Grammy, we are en-tre-pre-neurs” (Both laughing) “We started our own business and this is what we did.” They actually advertised before Easter that they would help families by filling Easter eggs with candy and hiding them for people.
Linda: They made $170 profit.
Connor: Wow. That’s awesome. (Linda laughing) That’s great.
Linda: So that was great. The next one is Education Vacation.
Connor: This is based off of the work of John Taylor Gatto, a fairly well-known education reformer talking about how we actually learn, how learning actually works, and how modern schooling doesn’t always achieve that goal. So it’s really helping kids understand that we need to focus to the extent that we can on the things that we value and that we’re interested in, and that’s what we get excited to learn. Being compelled to memorize and learn things doesn’t really work the best. So it’s a book all about how education actually works.
Linda: Education choice, too. And then this one, the Messed Up Market. Would you like to share a little bit about that?
Connor: It’s our most recent book and this one is based off of a book called, Human Action by Ludwig von Mises. This is all about how the government can mess up the market. What’s funny about this is that this book was written a few months before Covid started and before Congress started throwing money at everyone and messing up the market. And many of the things that we talk about in that book, though written before Covid, began happening in spades during 2020. So it’s a book that’s been very relevant and helps people understand the problems that can come when the market is kind of tinkered with by those in charge.
Linda: Yeah. These are great books and I recommend them to everybody really. I have shared your links and everything with many young parents and they’ve come back to me and said, “Oh, my gosh. I remember hearing about this when I was in college but I didn’t really understand it.” So you’re really helping not even just the young people but the parents to have a better understanding. And there’s just so much in our culture that works against our Constitution, against free enterprise capitalism. Socialism is being pushed. We’ve got this whole progressive agenda and so we’re really thankful for this. You also have books for toddlers, which I love: The ABC’s of the American Revolution, The ABC’s of Economics and The ABC’s of Liberty and little board books. It’s never too young to start helping young people to understand.
Connor: You’re exactly right.
Linda: And you have the Tuttle Twins TV show coming up here that you’re raising funds for. Could you share a little bit about that?
Connor: Absolutely. So we’ve seen such success with the books over the years. We’ve distributed now over two million books. We translate them into about a dozen languages. We’re just seeing such demand from families who see that there’s nothing else like this material at all, that these ideas are so critical. So you point out the toddler books. One of the things that we’ve done is we’ve expanded in terms of age. We have not just our children’s books, but we now have the toddler books. We have books for teenagers as well. And so we’re trying to reach wider ages, but we’re also expanding the formats. So like we have a card game. We have curriculum for families to do. We have a podcast.
Now we’re working on an animated cartoon series so that we can have these ideas shared in different formats. Not every family does podcasts; or books are one thing, but kids love cartoons. So can we create a cartoon that’s kind of like Phineas and Ferb or The Simpsons? The Simpsons is a good example where sometimes they’re a little more crass but what they’re achieved over the years is a type of humor where it’s fun for the younger kids to watch, but it’s also fun for the adults to watch because they have adult humor in there as well. And so that kind of two-layer approach is something that’s worked really well for them. Well that’s the approach we’re trying to take with the Tuttle Twins, an educational cartoon that’s just fun to watch. It’s fun for the adults. It’s fun for the kids. It’s got good values being shared. It’s informative and educational. So we’re hoping to launch the first episode later this year and get season one into production.
Linda: That’s great. That makes me think of Veggie Tales.
Linda: Veggie Tales is a great example of a cartoon that is made for kids but there are all kinds of references in there that really only the adults get or I don’t know if you ever listened to radio broadcast, Jungle Jam…
Linda: …or Adventures in Odyssey. They were just fantastic. Jungle Jam was great. Anybody listening you can find Jungle Jam and Adventures in Odyssey. They were great.
But I also…thank you so much for sharing everything you’re doing to promote this patriotic free enterprise liberty-minded education to young people of all ages, but I also want to highlight the work you’re doing legislatively, like really truly helping drive policy. I know our time can be a little bit short, but I’d like people to know that the Libertas Institute has done some innovative things. They’ve had pioneering reform on a number of policies that are now expanding to other states, on things like digital data privacy, regulatory sandbox, parenting—you call it free-range parenting, but allowing parents to let their kids walk to the neighborhood park.
Connor: Normal parenting.
Linda: Yeah. (Both laughing) Yeah. Obviously making sure kids are protected and safe, but maybe you can talk about that a little bit, but I love this one—lemonade stand freedom. My kids, who are now raising entrepreneurial kids, there was one point where we lived out in the country and there was a highway in front of our house and the state decided to redo the highway. They were using eminent domain for our land, but then they were going to park all of their equipment on our land. It was a very hot summer. I thought, “Hmm, this looks like an entrepreneurial opportunity.” So we built a lemonade stand and the kids sold lemonade, coffee, chocolate chip cookies, brownies and popcorn to these people.
Linda: They had shifts and they made a ton of money that year.
Connor: That’s awesome.
Linda: But I often wonder, would they be able to do that this year with so many different regulatory limitations to lemonade stands? So I love that. And then you have something about home business licenses and food truck freedom and limits on fines and fees. So I invite people. We won’t be able to talk about all of them, but go to the Libertas Institute website and you will find out more and be able to contact people about how to make some of these policy proposals happen in your state as well.
But I think right now in this age, I’d like to focus first on the digital data privacy. I know you have an e-book, Protecting the Right to Privacy in a Digital Era. Could you explain a little bit more about what you’re doing there and what you recommend states do to help protect us all in terms of our digital privacy?
Connor: Yeah, you know it’s interesting if you think back to when the Fourth Amendment was created. The Fourth Amendment is the part of the Bill of Rights that says you have to get a warrant, there has to be a judge, probable cause; you need what’s called particularity. And that’s really important to understand because the Fourth Amendment was created—I’ll explain particularity—it was created because the British Redcoats were using something called writs of assistance. Basically where they would just sign a piece of paper and say, “Oh, we get to search through your home and every home on the street.” And it was extremely invasive for the Colonists to be subjected to a government that basically disregarded the property rights of the people living there. So the Fourth Amendment said you can’t just do these broad searches where you kind of ransack everyone’s home. You need particularity. In other words, you need to identify the specific home, the room, the thing you’re going after. You need to have particular suspicion rather than doing broad searches.
Okay, fast forward to 2021 and we all use these electronic devices. The problem is that the courts have not kept up with the Fourth Amendment when it comes to new technology and right now in the United States the courts have created this legal doctrine. It’s called the third-party doctrine where they say that law enforcement, the government, does not need a warrant if your information is in the cloud. So your Dropbox files, your photos you’ve uploaded, your voicemail, whatever, because they say, “Well, look, if you wanted this private and thus us having to get a warrant, you would be keeping this data to yourself. You would keep it on your computer or your phone where, yes, we’d have to go get a warrant because it’s like in a place that you control. But when you upload it to someone else, when you share it, when you use a third party, then all bets are off because we don’t have to get a warrant for that.”
So we got a law passed in Utah that tells our state and local law enforcement, you’ve got to ignore the courts. You will get a warrant if you want anyone’s information, digital information, whether it’s on their device or if it’s uploaded to the cloud. And importantly that also includes metadata. For example, let’s say I upload a financial document to Dropbox. Well, our law says if you want that document on Dropbox’s servers, you have to get a warrant. But it also says all the information that Dropbox creates is also subject to a warrant. For example, how often did Connor access the document, where was he located when he accessed it, who did he share it with, how many times did he view it, when did he upload it. There’s all this information that’s very revealing about us that is not ours. Drop Box created all that information. It’s not my data, but it’s data about me. And so our law also locks all of that down and says all of this information is private for Connor and if you want to snoop on Connor, get a warrant. Warrants frankly aren’t that hard to get. Probable cause is not a very high legal standard, but it at least forces the government to articulate their suspicions and follow the Constitution.
And so we’ve been working with a number of other states. Michigan just passed their Constitutional Amendment making sure that digital data is also protected. A number of other states are looking at this as well, because it’s time to catch the Fourth Amendment up to the digital era and tell the government they can’t create these massive loopholes. That’s been a very important issue for us.
Linda: Well, thank you for doing that and for leading the way. That is fantastic. I know that so many people now especially are concerned about their digital footprint and their digital privacy. So thank you for doing that.
I know our time is a little bit short. It there any other one issue here that you’d really like to highlight, that if people would like to get in touch with you?
Connor: Well, sure, the fun one for me. So we call it the lemonade stand law, but it’s really just youth entrepreneurship. There have been stories across the country of little kids, literally like four year olds getting their cute little lemonade stand shut down because they didn’t have a food handler’s permit or a business license. And these things often cost like a hundred bucks. What kid is going to sell enough lemonade on a random Saturday that they want to do this for fun. You’re never going to sell enough lemonade to break even so they just get shut down. These are horrible stories.
So years ago, about five years ago, when we saw these stories happening, we went to our legislature and said, “Let’s put a stop to this.” And we got the first law in the country passed that said young entrepreneurs, minors—so anyone under the age of eighteen—if you are doing something entrepreneurial, you do not have to obtain any permit, any license, you don’t even have to collect sales tax. There is literally a free market for kids. No burdens from the government at all.
This isn’t just lemonade stands; it’s babysitting; it’s lawn mowing; its putting Easter eggs full of candy on neighbor’s lawns. (Linda laughing) Any of these entrepreneur activities, technically you’re supposed to get a business license and you’re supposed to collect sales tax and all these things, and often that doesn’t happen which means these kids are criminals. They’re violating the law. What message are we sending these young entrepreneurs by saying from day one, “Oh, by the way, you broke the law.”? That’s just ridiculous.
So we got that law changed and now we’ve been helping a number of other states get similar laws passed. There’s a smattering of different states that have passed some of these laws now. Just a signal. I’m like, yes, it’s helpful for the kids and it makes an impact for these kids and gives them that safety, but I think there is an important message that is sent with a law like this as well, which is, we want to encourage entrepreneurship. This is important and if anything it’s a signal to maybe say, “Hey, for the adult entrepreneurs, how about we lighten the load on them as well?” So that’s been a fun one for us to work on.
Linda: That’s great and I know you have the entrepreneurs’ market or that child’s entrepreneur market fair. Could you explain a little about that? Maybe other states would like to implement something similar.
Connor: Yeah. They do this in other states. There is a group called, if you Goggle children’s business fair, I believe it might be childrensbusinessfair.org or something, but there’s a group that does this across the country. We basically do a similar thing, but just in our state of Utah. It’s basically like a farmer’s market but run entirely by the kids. Of course the parents are there to help set up and watch or whatever, but the goal is the kids are doing all of the customer interaction. They’re counting the money. They’re doing the pitching. They’re trying to get people, passersby, they’re like, “Hey, stop at my booth. Come look at this,” learning salesmanship and customer service. It’s just a really fun experience for the kids to see the profit motive motivate them to come outside their comfort zone and learn some of these new skills that will help them later in life.
Linda: That’s really great. I know in addition to the lemonade stand that my kids had, one of my daughters, she had wanted more music lessons than we could afford. She was already playing three instruments. I had six kids to pay for things. So I said, “Well, if you want to play that extra instrument, you have to come up with a way to earn the money.” So I helped her create a little craft business and for years her little craft business funded her saxophone lessons.
Linda: So it’s really helping people understand that work can bring reward. I believe, too, that all of these efforts, your educational efforts as well as the policy proposal things, it helps move us away from this entitlement society that has become so prevalent and this entitlement mentality that the government is the provider of all things and it is not. Obviously the government can’t give us anything until we give the government something first and we never get it back as much as we gave.
Linda: Yeah. Exactly. I want people to know how they can reach you, so could you give the website for Libertas and then your contact information there?
Connor: Yeah. The institute’s website is very easy. It’s just the word libertas.org. Tuttle Twins is just tuttletwins.com. We’re very easy to contact at either of those websites and reach out and see what we’re up to. Certainly if your family, for those of you listening out there that don’t have the books, you can head to tuttletwins.com and go check them out for yourself.
Linda: Right. And you’re on various social media platforms. That’s how I first found out about Tuttle Twins and began following and enjoying what I was seeing. So I ordered the books and was just so thankful for them and that’s what led me to research the rest of your work. I’m just so thankful that we could highlight your work, the work that you’re doing with Tuttle Twins and with Libertas. Thank you so much.
Connor: Thanks for sharing your platform and giving me a chance to share.
Linda: Well, thank you.