In Final Plea, Economists Implore South Africa to Abandon Expropriation Plan

By Martin van Staden It is now well-known that South Africa’s parliament intends to amend the Constitution to allow the government to expropriate (forcibly seize) private property without being required to pay compensation. On November 15, 2018, the parliamentary Constitutional Review Committee finally officialized this intention by formally recommending that the Constitution be changed. Less than a week later, on November 20 and 21, my employer, the Free Market Foundation (FMF), hosted a conference in Johannesburg that brought together 23 participants from around the world. Where governments have been allowed to seize property arbitrarily, economies have been left in ruins. The goal of the “Conference on Security of Property Rights” was to allow experts from Africa, Venezuela, India, and the United States to share with South Africa the invariably detrimental experiences that other countries have had with similar policies of expropriation without compensation. Of the 22 speakers, two were from Venezuela (via video), one from India, one from the US, five from Africa— representing Nigeria, Kenya, Burundi, and Ghana—and 14 from South Africa. All the speakers had the same story to tell: where governments have been allowed to seize property arbitrarily and without the necessary checks and balances (like being required to pay compensation), economies have been left in ruins. FMF director Temba Nolutshungu neatly summarized the conference in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGvaBiRv1Eo Below are all the other presentations: Leon Louw (Free Market Foundation, South Africa) Leon Louw, the Executive Director of the Free Market Foundation, criticized the basis of the expropriation narrative in South Africa, which came in the form of several “land audits” conducted by the government and by civil society organizations. These audits paint a picture of a small number of wealthy white landowners hogging up the vast majority of South Africa’s land. Louw questions the very premise upon …

Beyond Austrian Economics

By Dean Peng I am an Austrian school economist. The reason is purely logical: Austrian economics is the only logically consistent economics. However, I will not continue contrasting Austrian economics with other “schools” and argue why Austrian is correct others are wrong. This has been done already, probably too much.  First thing first, I want to argue that the term “school” is misused.  There are schools in science and mathematics. Each school is good at some subjects. Warsaw school, headed by Alfred Tarski, was the best in mathematical logic. There was a Chinese school of mathematics, which was leading the studies of value distribution. Obviously, “school” is misuesed in economics. There are no schools but only doctrines. Different schools should learn from each other, while different doctrines only fight each other. The doctrine proposed by John M. Keynes is called Keynesianism, which has been falsified. Karl Marx proposed a theory of economics, which is a part of Marxism. Marx himself was aware that it was wrong. He couldn’t finish his Das Kapital. However, some people continue claiming that it is the ultimate truth, immune from criticism. Austrian economics was founded by Carl Menger and was developed by others. It is the only economic theory that is self-consistent. I am going to outline this theory, while leaving the origination and development of other doctrines to the subject of the history of economics. Strange enough and sad enough, students of other disciplines spend little time studying the history of their science (students of physics study theories of physics instead of history of physics), while students of economics are dumped in various different doctrines. Now, I will briefly outline this valid theory of economics (so-called Austrian school). 1.       The object that economics studies is not natural phenomena. By studying the unintended yet necessary consequences of …

Electricity, Monopoly and California’s Fiery Apocalypse

By Marc Beauchamp As I write this, California is burning down, from rural Paradise in the north of the state to Malibu Canyon in the south. President Trump blames environmentalists and government red tape for overgrown forests. Environmentalists blame climate change and clamor for government to do something about fossil fuels. From my perch in Redding, in far northern California, I see another way in which government contributed to these apocalyptic fires. No fire ever started because of government red tape or global warming, whether caused by man or nature. Fires start from sparks. The Camp Fire, now the deadliest and greatest destroyer of property in California’s modern history, started, it’s suspected, from sparks from transmission lines owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Company. PG&E equipment is also thought to have triggered the deadly fires in Santa Rosa and the California wine country in October of last year. California is a dry state and getting drier. It is crisscrossed by thousands of miles of electric power transmission lines. In windy conditions—or if these lines and related equipment are not properly maintained—they pose a serious risk of fire. This Thomas Edison-era electric power generation and distribution model is laughably outmoded. Can you think of any other industry that has changed so little in 130 years? Imagine that instead of Spotify we were still playing gramophone records. Why aren’t we all generating our own power, at our homes and businesses, using fuel cells or some other technology? Why do we have these transmission lines going everywhere, vulnerable to fires and terrorism? It’s nuts. The reason Edison and his power lines live on is that the electric utilities, with a government-sanctioned monopoly status, have kept out competition. Many environmentalists don’t get it. They want to replace coal, hydro, gas, geothermal and nuclear generating …

The Immigration Issue in Libertarianism

By Per Bylund Over a decade ago, I wrote an article published at Mises.org on the libertarian immigration conundrum. The “conundrum” was the seemingly unbridgeable differences between, if not contradictory views of, the two libertarian answers to the immigration question. The point of the article was to show that these answers are more compatible than most libertarians tend to think; both, in fact, espouse the non-aggression principle, but they emphasize different aspects of it. Since then, however, the debate has become more polarized and it has more or less caused a rift within the libertarian movement. The two libertarian positions on immigration, put simply, are the classical libertarian position of “open borders” (“no borders” might be more accurate) and the more recent “cost-principle” or “property-rights” view, primarily seen in the works of Hans-Hermann Hoppe. The latter has over the past few years, at least partially as a reaction to the “mass immigration” crisis in Europe, gained a rather large following and, as a result, the debate has intensified. (Hoppe’s argument has also, in a twisted turn, legitimized the highly statist so-called “alt-right” movement, which strangely appears to have attracted many libertarians.)   Utopia versus realpolitik   The differences between the two positions is not about what a libertarian world would be like. Such a beautiful world would have no governments, so the issue of migration would purely be a matter of how owners of property, whether private or joint/collective, choose to use it. Migration is then a matter of buying property or getting permission by current owners to enter and reside on their land; movement would not be restricted, but use of another’s property would be. Such a world actually has none of the problems these two views try to solve. The conflict is instead one about how the libertarian …

Adventures in Uganda

By Marina Brierley Last February I had the privilege of attending a Liberty and Entrepreneurship camp in Uganda. Such an inspirational event – to meet so many ambitious, thoughtful young people interested and hungry for the ideas of Liberty. Many were from the University of Kisubi, near Kampala, where the event was held, but some from other Universities and a few even came from Kenya. Mugabi John Socrates (from ALED – Action for Liberty and Economic Development) and Adedayo Thomas were our dedicated hosts and organisers.   The Vice Chancellor welcomed us warmly, sympathetic to the ideas of freedom and prosperity that seemed to be popular in this successful private university. The theme of the ‘camp’ was “Free Enterprise and Morality” – so vital to show that there is an inherent link between both concepts. Talks by Andy on ‘Why freedom? Principles of the Free market’, ‘10 technologies that will change the world’ and ‘Essentials of Entrepreneurship’ were enthusiastically received. Adedayo spoke on ‘The Foundations of Africa’s Economy and political freedom’ with considerable passion and flair. I contributed with a talk on ‘Education in the developing world’ which led to some discussion on the situation in Uganda and concluded with a talk on ‘Human Progress’ showing the amazing achievements that have been accomplished in the world where-ever and whenever free trade and entrepreneurship were allowed to flourish.   Travelling around the country in the days prior to the camp (through Kampala and to Northern Uganda for a safari I could not resist) I had observed the land and its people. A congenial climate, fertile soil, in parts lush natural habitat but above all, a young, aspiring population eager to make their mark in the world. So much raw potential! Through discussion with new friends I learned that many had long since …

Albanian Rep, Mrs. Kozeta Cuadari-Cika, needs our help!

Our outstanding Albanian Rep, Mrs. Kozeta Cuadari-Cika, needs our help! She is undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma in a Greek hospital, referred there because of the lack of suitable cancer treatment in Albania. The treatments are very expensive, costing over 3000 Euros each time. Her family does not have that kind of money. Kozeta became involved with Liberty International in 1999, while she was working for the free-market Albanian Center for Economic Research. She attended the LI World Conference in Dax, France in 2001, and has attended all of our subsequent European conferences until this year. Her illness forced her to cancel her participation in the Krakow conference. In 2014, Kozeta organized a fine LI World Conference in Tirana, Albania. She is a professional English teacher and translator, and has used her talent to translate and publish several libertarian books, many of which have been given to university students and at Liberty Camps. She has produced two Albanian editions of LI president Ken Schoolland’s The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible, plus Ayn Rand’s Anthem (see photo), Beyond Democracy by Frank Karsten, The Logic of Classical Liberalism by Jacques de Guenin, and The Free Market and Its Enemies by Ludwig von Mises. At the 2013 LI World Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, Kozeta was given Liberty International’s Bruce Evoy Memorial Award for her outstanding work for liberty despite the difficult circumstances in Albania. In another example of her benevolent spirit, despite being of modest means, her family took in refugees during the 1990s Albanian civil war. Kozeta is a delightful lady, devoted wife and mother, and a dedicated libertarian. Please give her your most generous assistance. We use Stripe.com, one of the most secure and reputable payment processors available. We take the issue of your personal privacy very seriously. We pledge to never make …

#LIWC2018 – See what you missed!

by Freedom and Entrepreneurship Foundation This was probably the biggest and for sure the most international liberty-oriented event in Poland. Over 120 people from 24 countries met in Krakow to discuss freedom. Liberty International World Conference has just ended and we would like to give you taste of it. LIWC2018 was Liberty International’s event which was proudly hosted by Freedom and Entrepreneurship Foundation. It all started with Welcome Dinner on August 12th. It was launched with short speech of our CEO – Jacek Spendel – and Liberty International’s President – Ken Schoolland. This evening prepared us for what was ahead of us – three days full of lectures, panel discussions and networking. Second day started with great keynote speech by Lawrence Reed (http://fee.org). “Excuse me, Professor” was not only it’s topic but also the name of his book in which he challenged the myths of progressivism. Reed’s follower was Pedro Mutzig who talked about the perspectives for freedom in Brazil. This day was also full of Polish accents. Two panels where filled with liberty-oriented politicians, activists, scientists and entrepreneurs from Poland – among others: Jakub Kulesza (Kukiz’15), Grzegorz Piątkowski (Commissioner for Alumni Rights), Krzysztof Haładus (ex Deputy Mayor of the Sosnowiec city), Jan Wojciech Kubań (CEO of PAFERE). Additionally, Karol Zdybel (Center of Capitalism) gave a speech on changing landscape of ideas. August 14th started with David Schmidtz’s Reinventing Social Science. This speech had a special meaning for us since we have just published Polish translation of “A brief history of liberty” written by Schmidtz himself. We highly recommend you to read it because it’s great summary for anyone interested in these ideas. That day we listened also to Terry Easton’s “How to become a Millionaire in 4 days”. Easton gave a great advice for people who are lazy – just move out to Zimbabwe.  Later …

Far from civilisation, close to liberty!

 by Freedom and Entrepreneurship Foundation Not a conference hall, but a modest lunchroom in a distant village in Southern Poland was a venue of the latest meeting of liberty leaders from all around the world. People from all continents joined together during the Liberty English Camp, organized by the Language of Liberty Institute (LLI) and its local partner, the Freedom and Entrepreneurship Foundation (F&EF). It took over 2 hours of mundane commute with several transfers to reach the 1,000-people village of Ponikiew – where the camp took place – from Cracow. The travel might have been especially challenging for those from abroad, since drivers don’t speak English, card payments are not accepted and GSM connection is acting up frequently. Ponikiew, located far from main routes and even further from the nearest supermarket, has probably not seen so many foreigners since five years ago – when one of the previous editions of Liberty Camp was organized there! When Jacek Spendel – the CEO of F&EF and organizer of the camp – is asked what on Earth made him invite people from all around the world to such place, he answers confidently: – We simply wanted to offer people something different than another conference. Formal events like conferences are important indeed, but I, as well as many of my friends, strongly felt that there is also a demand for more casual ventures. And Liberty English Camps, organized internationally since over a decade by LLI and its partners, are satisfying this demand. Despite difficult logistics, over 40 people from places such as Japan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Australia, USA or Luxembourg came to Ponikiew to discuss liberty, listen to lectures, and network – all in the informal setting of barbeques, beach volleyball and charming hills of the Polonia Minor region in Poland. The recruitment efforts …

The Brazilian Hero Who Died With the Word ‘Liberty’ on His Lips

By Pedro Mutzig Two hundred and one years ago, Domingos José Martins was shot in Recife, the capital of Pernambuco, a Northeastern state in Brazil. His last words, interrupted by his executioners, were “I die for liber…”. His freedom of speech assaulted in the last moments of life, he was unable to finish the word “liberty.” A Freer Brazil Domingos José Martins is one of many heroes who struggled to promote liberty and helped shaped the history of Brazil in the process. A more prosperous, free and fair society was his ideal. His story illustrates that the current upsurge of Brazilians’ interest in freedom and free markets is neither an isolated nor an unprecedented phenomenon. What we are seeing today is a revival of ideas rooted deep in our society. It’s important for liberty’s defenders to go back in history and look for individuals who are examples of courage, integrity and heroism. They can inspire us to act with even more confidence. For that very purpose, I present the Domingos José Martins story here, with particular attention to the the social context of his time. He was a key figure in one of the greatest popular mobilizations of our colonial period: the Pernambucana Revolution. The Life of Domingos José Martins Domingos José Martins was born in Marataízes in the Atlantic coastal state of Espírito Santo in 1781. His father commanded a small outpost of the Brazilian military, which served to prevent the clandestine landing of slaves and to protect travelers from indigenous attacks. When he completed his brief military career, he commenced business studies in the state capital of Vitória (the town where I live today), later completing his academic education in Portugal. After graduation he moved to London as an employee of the Portuguese firm, Dourado Dias & Carvalho. …

Liberty International Members Support Free Markets in Venezuela

Liberty International members are always hard at work supporting liberty activists around the world.  This week Dr. Kyle Varner and Matthew Bowler joined with the Mises-Mambi Institute to sponsor Luis Fernando Ojeda, a very prolific liberty activist in Venezuela to attend an important liberty-oriented conference in Chile. Dr. Varner, Liberty International Board Member remarked, “Freedom and capitalism are under assault throughout Latin America, but the spirit and dedication that Venezuelan liberty activists demonstrate in the face of some of the most brutal statist oppression is a strong inspiration.  I’m proud to support freedom and free markets in Venezuela!” Luis Fernando Ojeda is a heavy hitter in Venezuela’s liberty movement. He’s the Aragua state coordinator for the opposition party Vente Venezuela and the mastermind behind Infolitics, which is one of the most popular libertarian publications in the Spanish speaking world. Foundation for Progress Chile invited Luis to their upcoming conference in Valparaiso on August 2. Dr. Varner and Mr. Bowler are pleased to have been able to make his attendance possible, and both look forward to more support for the Venezuelan Liberty movement in the future.