The year 2017 is slowly concluding, and with that it is a good time to look back at what has happened over the last twelve months. For us at the Austrian Economics Center, it has been another successful year. Our annual Free Market Road Show, this time in 45 cities over ten weeks (from March to May) was once again a great experience – similar to the US edition. Also, we organized two conferences in Vienna in cooperation with Liberty Fund, one for journalists in April, the other for students in November. Our works were published by FEE (see Federico Fernández and Kai Weiss), the Mises Institute, CapX, and many more. Our scholars and their projects were mentioned in The Economist, the National Review, and Atlas Network, they got interviewed by the likes of Tom Woods, and spoke at events like the Freedom Fest. Finally, we also started our newest project, Values4Europe, which we will continue to build in 2018. All this would have not been possible without you. In that sense it is also high time to thank you for your enduring support. We are looking forward to seeing you again in 2018!
Since one of our main goals for this year was to start filling our blog – which we did since June by posting one article a day, we want to share the ten most successful articles (up to December 27) at this place (successful meaning the total number of clicks). Enjoy reading them either for a first – or hopefully a second – time.
It’s now time for the Greek civil society to start building an anti-populist consensus that favors rationality, a smaller state, less regulations, and cuts in taxes and public spending. Think tanks, public intellectuals, bloggers, and people in new media have to help create a demand for sound policies. If Greece is up to this challenge, Alexis Tsipras will soon join Christina Kirchner in the ranks of unemployed populists.
In small states the government is closer to its citizens and by that better observable and controllable by the populace. Small states are more flexible and are better at reacting and adapting to challenges. Furthermore, there is a tendency that small states are more peaceful, because they can’t produce all goods and services by themselves and are thereby dependent on undisturbed trade.
I would have probably voted for Macron at the national elections as well as for his twin-in-chief, Justin Trudeau. The problem with both politicians is rooted deep in a long lasting evil that only takes newer and more refined forms. Seduction, superficiality and manners constitute a danger for democracy. It took us around ten thousand years to develop a semi-free, semi-egalitarian-against-the-hierarchies and prosperous society. Let’s not waste it on a pair of cute eyes.
Unilateral free trade could be the solution for Great Britain going forward. Combine that with swift free trade agreements with major allies – think the US, Australia, Canada – and you would quickly have a Britain better prepared for globalization than the protectionist EU. This is not to say that no deal with the EU would be the best option – not at all, considering countries like Germany are still extremely important trade partners. Nonetheless, the extreme panicking of Remainers about a ‘hard’ Brexit is unjustified.
When it comes to politics, it is the 1930s all over again. So my hope is that politics are not going to matter as much anymore in the future. I think politics is doomed, it is so disgusting – like, why do we keep doing this? Why can’t our politics basically be liberal? I don’t know, but I think the future of liberalism is outside of politics. It’s within technology, it’s within education, it’s within culture, and more and more people who believe in human freedom and human flourishing need to pursue other avenues for realizing their dreams besides an exclusive focus on political organizing.
Most of the people who wear a Che t-shirt are either completely clueless and just wear it because it’s fashionable and trendy, or they have been misled. He’s glorified for exactly the opposite of what he really thought and did. Many people who are in the gay community identify with Che Guevara. But he was a persecutor of homosexuals in Cuba, he thought that homosexuality was a bourgeois problem and with the revolution it should be eliminated. He wanted homosexuals to be sent to re-education camps and he did so.
It is easy to see why Scandinavia is so often mythologised by adherents of socialism. Its citizens enjoy some of the best universal health care and education in the world, which receives high levels of government funding and remains (largely) free at the point of use. But don’t be fooled by the high tax rates. The success of the Nordic Model hinges on its embrace of free-market capitalism, competition and defense of private property – a far cry from the centralized planning system espoused by the socialist Left.
Inflation (defined as an increase in the money supply) shows how much redistribution is occurring thanks to the monetary policy. Inflation stood at an average of eight percent in the last two decades – while interest rates where continually declining. As a comparison: During the era of the gold standard – a period in which the foundation for today’s prosperity was laid – inflation was at only two percent, while the interest rate was four percent.
In case of a monetary expansion, the ones who profit from it are the ones who are close to the money. “Close to the money” in this case means everyone who can access the money right at the beginning, i.e. big companies, banks, etc. They get loans and make investments. Prices then start to rise even though the rest of the population has not received any of the new money yet. The result is a redistribution from the poor to the rich.
The State is not us. There is no such thing as “rule by the people,” because there is no such thing as “the people.” There are only individuals. There is no such thing as a “general will.” Only individuals have wills. “The People” is an incoherent abstraction: a fictional, willful entity that we have been inculcated into believing in, even though we cannot comprehend it. The revolutions from 1688 to 1917 replaced one superstitious basis of state legitimacy with a new one.
The AEC’s fundamental goal is to promote a free, responsible and prosperous society. Through education and improving public understanding of key economic questions, the AEC promotes the idea of a free market economy and the ideal of a free society.