Keynesianism in Chile

Last week Chilean president Michelle Bachelet announced an “especially anti-cyclical” government budget for 2015. Utilizing the usual rhetoric of creating jobs and stimulating the economy, the first budget in her second term is set to increase by a whopping 9.8 percent. The new budget’s “historical increase in public investment” – mind you, these are the words of a Socialist Party president – will be directed mostly toward social reforms. The increase in spending is supposedly covered by a landmark tax reform passed last month raising corporate taxes and closing tax exemptions. These funds, confiscated from those who could make actual investments to meet market needs, will be used to ramp up spending on health care by 85 percent and education by 10.2 percent. In addition, Bachelet pledged to pump more money into developing certain remote regions and consolidate social welfare schemes, stating her administration’s goal to have 1,700 of the poorest families on the dole by next year. The latter, of course, is typical of the redistributionist ideology; the fundamental difference between giving a man a fish to feed him once and teaching him how to fish so that he may become more self-reliant. As always the irony of striving first and foremost to make the poor and destitute more dependent on others for their sustenance seems to be lost on most people. Growing up, children are expected to become better able to take care of themselves and take on more responsibility as they get older – I personally recall a story or two about my older sister looking after me when we were kids. Yet when government takes this inherent human instinct and turns it on its head, nobody bats an eye. In her press conference president Bachelet claimed the stimulus will create 139,000 jobs. What she left out, …

How we organised a conference in China to talk about FREEDOM!

As he mobilised China with the Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao did not want to create just a new political or economic system. He wanted to create a new mindset entirely. To realise these goals, both the freedom of speech and the freedom to organise had to be completely eliminated. For Chinese at the time, meeting with others publicly was entirely out of the question. Even within the walls of their own homes one had to be wary, as neighbours and even family members might report them to the Party leadership. My own grandfather was sentenced to over a year of hard labor simply for making a comment about Mao’s wife to one of his colleagues. Walking through the streets of Shanghai today, it seems inconceivable that just 40 years ago the place was under the thumb of such an oppressive regime. Markets and capitalist activity are everywhere, businesses are started with ease, and buildings shoot up without years of urban planning procedures. While on the surface, it seems that China has been completely transformed, deep down, the legacy of the Cultural Revolution lives on. Though the level of enforcement and the severity of the punishments have both declined, free speech and freedom to organise are still heavily restricted. As a result, there is a tremendous hunger for new ideas, particularly greater understanding of this new market economy that they are experiencing today. Chinese have embraced and thrived with capitalism out of instinct, but not because they agree with or understand it. Thus, a number of entrepreneurs and students are currently seeking out the answer to the question of whether or not capitalism is moral. Eager to provide them with the answer to this question, Li Schoolland initiated the first Shanghai Austrian Economic Summit in 2012. Given the restrictions on group meetings, …

The People’s Republic of China Goes Austrian?

What does an average guy from the West like myself know about China? Tian’anmen Square, the Great Firewall, communism, and collectivism. One can still find remnants of these generalizations in Chinese society today, even after the free-market reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping in 1978. However, there is no doubt that China is radically changing. While there, I observed expensive luxurious cars on the street, lavish malls with ice skating rings, an abundance of technological products, and people using mini segways instead of walking. I spoke to many Chinese students, some sporting Rothbard shirts, and realized that they want to be individualistic and create their own paths in the world. They all question the information blockade and know about Facebook, Twitter, and their government’s restrictive policies. Their willingness to listen to my and other outsider views on China demonstrate their eagerness to learn more. This open mindset will not go away and is sure to influence political opinions in the future. Three years ago, I co-founded European Students For Liberty (ESFL). At that point, I was blown away to discover a handful of people committed enough to spend their time and energy promoting liberty. Before that, I thought there were barely any classical-liberals out there. Now, this fall, ESFL is organizing 16 conferences in 15 countries and the African Students For Liberty Conference this past weekend had 1180 student attendees. Things truly are changing! China is no exception, as demonstrated by this picture from the Shanghai Austrian Economics Summit organized by our friends from TFT Events and the International Society for Individual Liberty (and the great Schoolland family). Many Chinese professors talked about the follies and shortcomings of government intervention in the economy. Everyone at the event had a profound knowledge of classical liberal ideas and wanted to learn more. This astonishing conference was topped by the moving story of Yeon-Mi Park. Yeon-Mi fled North Korea in 2009 and had to live as an illegal immigrant in China before finally …

Austrian Economics and Social Media in China

In many places around the world we hear about the use of social media and mobile apps to help people communicate with each other in opposition to the state or against mainstream standards. From Egypt to Venezuela, social media has played an instrumental role in the organisation of protests. Fearing the same, the Chinese government has long sought to block the use of social media sites, thus Facebook and Twitter have a very minor presence in the country. Nonetheless, here in Shanghai I’ve learned about some of the innovative ways that local mobile apps are being used to spread ideas of liberty. While it is risky to talk about politics or to openly criticize the government in China, the field of economics provides somewhat safe ground to discuss ideas of liberty. Even then, one still must be mindful of one’s wording, because the terms ‘free-market’ or ‘capitalism’ are still blacklisted, whereas the phrase ‘market economy’ is perfectly acceptable. This past month a group of professors of Austrian Economics (a number of whom spoke at our 2012 Shanghai Austrian Economic Summit) got together and decided to create an online course entirely based on Hayek’s works. What’s exceptional about their approach is that the whole course is hosted on Weixin (known as WeChat for English users), which is like a Chinese version of Whatsapp. The lectures are given live, enabling students to tune in and respond in real time, while those who can’t make it at the time can still catch up later. The professor gives his lecture by leaving voice messages for the group. Each clip is limited by the app to being just a minute long, though they can be played consecutively. All the while, students can type in their questions, to which the professor can reply instantly. This style …

China: 35 Years Along the Path to Capitalism

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the opening of China, when earth shattering reforms were officially launched. Policy changes introduced at the Third Plenum meeting in December 1978 did not instantly make China into a capitalist country—because capitalism arises from the people’s response to freedom rather than from government policy—but it laid the essential foundation for development of capitalism. In the years since, 680 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty and the country has become the world’s second largest economy. How could this miracle take place? To answer this question, we call upon Dr. Ning Wang. Dr. Wang and Nobel-Prize winning economist Ronald Coase co-authored the recently released book “How China Became Capitalist,” which brilliantly tells the story of China’s 30-year transition from a closed, communist, agrarian economy to a rapidly growing industrial economy. Kenli Schoolland: What was it that enabled such a dramatic shift in leadership to take place at this event? Ning Wang: It was due to the combination of many factors, some more contingent and some less so. In the first place, there was a strong demand for change among the leadership, or more accurately, a demand for furthering the kind of changes that started after Mao’s death in 1976, that is, a shift of focus from political movements to economic development. Inside Chinese politics, Deng Xiaoping had been widely regarded as a successor to Mao (even by Mao himself). Even though Deng was deprived of power right before Mao’s death; he was never humiliated in a way that was done to other Chinese leaders who opposed to Mao, like Liu Shaoqi. Before the Third Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, Deng was on the rise to power. His return to the center of political power was sealed at the Third Plenum. Then, among …

Jonathan Gullible 2013 Fall Newsletter

KAZAKH & RUSSIAN MUSICAL SLOVAKIAN THEATER FINLAND E-BOOK SERBIAN LIBRARIES THE NETHERLANDS TOME AFRICA & INDIA THEATER CHINA SEMINARS THE MOVIE: WHO IS JG? RECOGNITION HOLIDAY GIFT SEASON 2013 SUMMER ACTIVITY KAZAKH & RUSSIAN MUSICAL The musical production of JG for young audiences in Kazakhstan is progressing nicely. This will be accomplished in Russian, Kazakh, and English. From the formal announcement seeking support: “The Kazakh composer Lyudmila Melnikova is writing a musical for children and youth about freedom and justice, inspired by the fairy tale of Кen Schoolland’s book, ‘The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible.’ While the work so far has been without cost, money is essential to record the music in a production studio. We ask you to render partial financial assistance as you think fit and possible. The necessary amount is US$1000 in total. Fragments of music are now available for impressions. Libretto and lyrics for some character songs have also been created. We hope for your understanding and support.”      Writes Lyumila, “I have written the music to the fairy-tale, I only need to record it in studio. Now I prepare staging of fairy tale’s chapter of ‘Turtle and Rabbit’ in puppet theater for children. I appreciate your desire of financial assistance in studio. It’s really nice to meet you. I send you one more part of blues ‘I want to prohibit the sun’ from the chapter ‘Candles and Coats’.” “Today, at Kazakhstan TV will be first night of your fairy-tail ‘Rabbit and Tortoise’ in children’s program “Spoki noki”. I send you its fragment in the Russian language. Authors of fairy tale are mentioned in a full version of program, in the beginning and the end, in theaters. I will prepare this fairy-tail in English soon and send you this full version. Aloha Lyudmila.” 1. Сказка Кролик и Черепаха_урез(1).mp4 (80.7 MB) Ссылка для скачивания файлов: http://files.mail.ru/909C6FB361FC4215BD313AB587D49379 Файлы …

Shanghai Conference is a success!

The wife of ISIL president Ken Schoolland, Li Zhao Schoolland, is a native of mainland China, and has been working with a network of free-market advocates within the country. In July, 2012, she brought many of them together at the ISIL Asia Regional Conference/Austrian Economics Summit near Shanghai. It was organized as a low-key private meeting to avoid trouble with the government. The event was quite a success, with 130 participants from 26 countries. Li assembled an impressive speaker lineup, including several members of the prestigious Mont Pelerin Society: Doug Bandow (USA), Jeff Crawford (USA) Andy Eyschen (Malaysia), Xingyuan Feng (China), Fred Foldvary (USA), Rainer Heufers (Germany), Zhuhai Jiu (China), Casey Lartigue (Korea), Cris Lingle (Guatemala), Christian Michel (UK), Barun Mitra (India), Ken Schoolland (USA), Kenli Schoolland (UK), Josef Sima (Czech Republic), Robert Sirico (USA), Mark & Jo Ann Skousen (USA), Tudor Smyrna (Romania), Lobo Tiggre (USA), David Veksler (USA), and Hiroshi Yoshida (Japan). A major part of ISIL’s “Johnny Appleseed” strategy over the years has been the awarding of conference scholarships to students and young activists, who gain tremendously from the knowledge off speakers and the networking opportunities. Inspired by the ISIL conference experience, they have often gone home and started or expanded organizations and publishing projects.   Li selected 30 recipients of full or partial scholarships from among her Chinese contacts, and ISIL members funded about 15 international scholarships from Armenia, Australia, Hong Kong, India, USA, and Vietnam. We would like to give special thanks for the generous scholarship funding provided by Will & Rita Olschewski, the Charles G. Koch Foundation, Jeff Crawford, Ron Manners, George & Geri Sherman, Neil Bates, Bud Bates, and Sue Kleiman.

A Peek Inside China

  A Peek Inside China by Louis James   Seahorses in my soup . . . I didn’t have the heart to eat them.      Yes, they do eat bugs in China – and just about everything else that grows and is not poisonous. The story there was that, as a guest of honor at one of Majestic’s small gold mines in Shandong province, I was served up a platter of stir-fried silkworms.      This delicacy is very expensive, as for some reason, the silkworms won’t give you silk for making robes and stuff with after you eat them. There was seaweed on the table behind the Silkworms. Never my favorite, I ate a lot of seaweed that day. I don’t even want to know what was in that last dumpling, but it sure wasn’t pork, as I was told.      I managed to pass on (I kid you not) a platter of fried caterpillars by claiming I was full and putting down my chopsticks. Unfortunately, I did fish a rooster head out of a pot of soup, and was told it’s not polite to put something back after you grab it, so it sat on my little crumb-catching plate and stared at me accusingly for the rest of the meal. You’ve already heard about the fancy restaurant in Beijing where I managed to scandalize folks by passing over a $100 bowl of shark-fin soup. Unfortunately they set a bowl full of dead seahorses in front of me before I could refuse – not chopped up, but whole and sad-looking. I didn’t have the heart to eat them.      Among many other strange things I cannot identify, I’ve now eaten ox stomach, duck intestines, and some sort of alcoholic beverage the making of which involved animal guts (I stopped asking when the description got …