November 5, 2012

AFF-Buffalo Launches With Discussion On Cronyism

By: Richard Lorenc

By AFF-Buffalo chairman Dustin Snyder

On Wednesday, October 24th, the brand new Buffalo, NY Chapter of America’s Future Foundation held their kickoff event at Coles Restaurant on the cultural mecca of Elmwood Avenue. The event was titled, “The Dangers of Cronyism” and focused on the questionable ethical considerations as well as the political and socio-economic impact of government and business getting in bed together. As a city which practically operates by such crony business practices, Buffalonians had a lot to say about the topic.

Four enthusiastic panelists joined AFF-Buffalo from a variety of backgrounds to speak in a roundtable-style format. The first panelist was Jim Ostrowski, attorney and plaintiff in New York’s famous “pork lawsuit” against cronyism in the state, as well as a regular contributor to and adjunct scholar at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute. He was joined by Jason Sorens, professor of political science at the University at Buffalo, founder of the libertarian Free State Project, and Mercatus Center scholar. Third was Chris Smith, journalist for the local Artvoice Magazine, small business advocate, and founder of CashMob. The last panelist was Bryan McCannon, professor of economics at St. Bonaventure University whose research focuses on law and behavioral economics, and the effects of re-election pressures on the decision making processes of elected officials.

Following an hour of excited mingling and milling around the buffet and bar, the festivities began with the panelists visiting a myriad of topics within the umbrella of cronyism. Each of them began by providing their own definitions of cronyism, and moved onto discussing its impacts. The panelists visited ideas such as the “chicken or the egg” question of whether business or government is to blame for cronyism, its influences on campaign spending, and what steps local populations can take to prevent such practices. They also touched on whether cronyism and corruption in government is an unavoidable or even necessary part of democratic government.

The discussion flowed extremely well, and created a great deal of back-and-forth with the audience – to the point where the moderator was forced to curb the number of questions so the discussion could continue. In fact, the dialogue was so engaging that even the venue’s bartender asked a few questions all the way from the back of the banquet hall.

Following the structured discussion, the guests and panelists continued to mingle and debate. The exchange was so lively that Coles’ staff offered to extend the open bar and our occupancy of the room well beyond our scheduled time. Both Mr. Ostrowski and Mr. Smith commented their pleasant surprise at the event’s success, stating, “It’s high time we had an organization like this in Buffalo, and seeing such great attendance means you’re definitely doing something right.”

After such a well-received kickoff, the Buffalo chapter of AFF looks forward to an exciting future. If interested in joining AFF-Buffalo, email

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