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A Liberty Summer:
Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, China, Nigeria, Morocco, Greece
By Ken Schoolland
President, International Society for Individual Liberty
The object of the ROMANIA AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS SUMMER SCHOOL was to encourage development and prosperity and to help people learn a fundamental way of thinking about a free society.
Li Schoolland and Bogdan Glavan, Director of the Centrul de Economie Politica si Afaceri Murray Rothbard at the Universitatea Romano-Americana, organized the first summer program in Bucharest. More than 40 students from all over Romania attended a week packed full of more than 50 sessions of lectures, discussions, and debates by 9 teachers.
Yes, that’s right, more than 50 presentation sessions! For five days straight there were morning and afternoon general lectures followed by questions and answers. Each general lecture was followed by two small group lectures and discussions, with five concurrent sessions from which to choose. Never a dull moment.
One of the professors remarked, “We never worked so hard and so long as we did this summer without pay!” Several students commented that the toughest problem was deciding which of the lecture topics to attend. Even the professors were eager to listen to each other’s talks.
Who and what? Fred Foldvary, an economics professor from the University of Santa Clara, California, spoke on market ethics, market provision of public goods, free market money, Austrian economics, decentralized democracy, and economic depressions. Guido Hulsmann, a professor from the University D'Angers, France, and a senior fellow at the Mises Institute, spoke on the importance of savings and the causes of financial crisis. Josef Sima, President of Cevro Institute in Prague, spoke on environmental economics, inflation, economics and law, and the market for body organs.
Greg Rehmke, Program Director for Economic Thinking, an educational resource center, addressed the issues of globalization, cities and institutions, poverty, and entrepreneurship and the environment. Cris Lingle, an economics professor from Francisco Marroquin University of Guatemala talked about taxation, cities and prosperity, and Austrian explanations of the economic crisis. Vlad Topan, President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute-Romania and an economics professor at the Academy of Economic Studiesin Bucharest, spoke on the Austrian theory of the firm and a critique of transaction cost economics.
We were also fortunate to have two budding economists for special seminar sessions and discussions. Jennell Lewis, a recent graduate from Hawaii Pacific University, spoke on globalization and free markets, privatization and education, and monopoly and competition. Kenli Schoolland, a recent graduate from the University of Buckingham and a graduate student at the London School of Economics, spoke on the social repercussions of the welfare state, road privatization, and public choice and democracy. I addressed topics of immigration, the minimum wage, tax objections, problems of income redistribution, and free market ethics. And the student debate was a highlight of the program, deliberating how much of the state is necessary.
These programs were considered very successful, with a survey of attendees scoring well at the end of the program on questions about economic and personal freedom. The cumulative score was 80/90 (economic freedom/personal freedom) on the Nolan Chart. The issues that drew concern from about a fourth of the group on the role of government were about sex, drugs, and military conscription.
The July 8-12, 2011 program in Bucharest was accomplished in apartnership with the International Society for Individual Liberty, the Cato Institute, Economic Thinking, the Foundation for Economic Education, the Acton Institute, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, the Institute for Economic Affairs, Freedom Fest, CEVRO Institute of Prague, Institutul de Studii Liberale, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Societatea, the Institutul Ludwig von Mises-Romania, and media partner Forbes Romania. For each of the participants, Linda Whetstone and the International Policy Network (IPN) of London provided “Ideas for a Free Society” CD’s, a vast collection of the essays and books of liberty that includes Rothbard, Mises, Hayek, Bastiat, Hazlitt, Friedman, Rand, Norberg, Popper, and many other authors.
Some students followed up the Romania camp by deciding to attend the Casey Youth Conference on Liberty and Entrepreneurship. The CYCLE camps are organized by Lobo Tiggre and Virgis Daukas in Lithuania each summer. Romanian students were also offered scholarships to the 2011 ISIL World Conference in Sicily. A second camp in Romania next year is considered likely.
Denisa Sandu [front right] commented after going on to CYCLE 11: “I am happy to let you know that my experience in Lithuania was amazing and incomparable. Lobo and Virgis are extraordinary people and we easily became connected. Everyone was warm and friendly with me and I have learned a lot of useful things that are important to my self-development. So thank you for this chance!”
Writing about the Romania camp, Jeloaica Sandina said: “I will take this opportunity to thank you again for the tremendous experience you and your family offered us during the Summer School. After the closing ceremony, I had an informal debriefing with my colleagues and we concluded that we must do whatever necessary to have you back in Romania next year (or even earlier if possible). I have looked on the internet for the conference you have talked to me about - if I am not wrong, it is ISIL 2011 World Conference. I find the event really interesting and useful. Thank you again for your kindness.”
One more milestone in Romania was meeting up with Iulian Tanase. Not only did Iulian orginally introduce me to Bogdan Glavan, but he is the tireless publisher of the new, revised Romanian edition of my economics book, The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey, now published in 44 languages. Also at the seminars, Valentina Nicolae and Cris Comanescu, the translator and publisher respectively of the first Romanian edition of the book nearly 20 years ago.
In Sofia, free market economics presentations were organized by Petar Ganev, a senior researcher for the Institute for Market Economics (IME), and co-sponsored by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. The first event was a public lecture that I gave at the Radisson Blu Hotel on “Free Market Ethics and Benefits.” In addition to a nation-wide television interview, 90 attendees were invited to ask questions over the two-hour program. The lecture was in English, with simultaneous translation into Bulgarian.
Quite surprising was the result of a survey of the audience on attitudes toward economic and personal freedom. The cumulative score was 93/90 on the Nolan Chart of economic freedom/personal freedom, a much higher score than one would expect at a similar event in the U.S.
The following day offered an opportunity to meet with a leading figure in the free market movement in Bulgaria, Kalin Manolov, Founder of the Bulgarian Society for Individual Liberty, radio personality, and publisher of the new Bulgarian commentary edition of Jonathan Gullible.
That evening, I was hosted at the headquarters of the IME, offering a presentation on the global publication of Jonathan Gullible. This was followed by a question and answer session on some of the free market topics within the book. The book was distributed to the 25 attendees along with numerous other works in the “Ideas for a Free Society” collection.
For the second consecutive year, Li Schoolland organized the Northeastern University Summer Camp of International Economists in Shenyang. Eighty students from the Industrial Management School were enrolled through a rigorous English language screening process. All were highly motivated to explore free market economics topics over a week long program. There were 12 large group lectures, each followed by small group discussion sessions. Each of the large group lectures was followed by two sessions of 5 concurrent small group lecture/discussion seminars on a variety of topics. In total, there were 76 lectures during the camp. Whew! And all the students (during the first week of their summer break!) attended all the sessions. That is dedication!
Some of the teachers returned for the second year. Fred Foldvary, a renowned economics professor from Santa Clara University if California, spoke on market financing of public goods, market economics, issues of market failure, environmental economics, ethics and economics, business cycles, and economics of public choice. Kenli Schoolland, a graduate student at the London School of Economics, addressed the price mechanism, taxation, and privatization of roads and education. Dean Peng, surely one of the most fascinating, knowledgeable about China, and challenging of teachers, spoke on economic history and philosophy. And I lectured on agricultural subsidies, free trade, taxes and human behavior, income redistribution, and the economics of moral hazard.
There were also a number of teachers who were new to the program this year. Josef Sima, President of CERVO Institute of Prague, the Czech Republic, talked about monopoly and competition, the economics of Bastiat, Hayek, Mises, and Leoni, the economics of discrimination, and the essentials of Austrian economics. Barun Mitra, Founder and President of the Liberty Institute in New Delhi, India, talked about entrepreneurship and market solutions to environmental issues. And Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the CATO Institute, spoke on various issues concerning the contemporary Chinese economic landscape.
It was also a time of great fun! The students were divided into two great teams, debating whether chance or opportunity was the factor most decisive in shaping one’s life. The debate raged throughout the evening, with the professors serving as judges and offering comments and awards in the closing ceremony.
On the day of graduation certificates were presented to all the students. Six student groups responded with a talent show of song, dance, calligraphy, and games. There were tears of friendship and laughter.
One student wrote to Barun Mitra saying: “I’m one of the guys who had a happy time with you…At first I was very nervous to talk with you. Then I found you are nice and lovely. I never talked with a foreigner before and I didn’t think much about economics. But now it’s different. I am curious about free markets, how free trade works, and so on. I’m starting to care more. I appreciate that you make me think more about the world, economics, and government. And I appreciate you for helping my spoken English.”
Another wrote: “I’m very glad to have the chance to learn from Austrian economists from all around the world. You know in our university we just learn the theory of Mr. Keynes. And now I’ve learned many interesting ideas and ways of thinking in this camp. Like Mr. Schoolland’s free trade and free choice in currency, Kenli’s road price theory, and Josef’s stories about Bastiat’s broken window, and so on. Thank you, professors. I love you!”
And still another: “I’m so happy to attend the summer camp this summer holiday. In this week, I’ve learned a lot and had a great heavy harvest. In the class I learned many new definitions of economics. I also accept many new ideas about government, life, and the environment. I know you [Barun] like tigers very much. So I hope you’ll be healthy and strong as the tigers. Outside the class, I have much fun through talking with you and other professors. You’re all very lovely and kind. We love you very much! I hope you’ll come to Shenyang the next year because we’ll miss you very much.!”
The primary sponsor of the China economics camp was, as before, Jeff Crawford and the International Society for Individual Liberty. All of the students were given copies of the CD “Ideas for a Free Society,” courtesy of Linda Whetstone and IPN. Unfortunately, the Chinese language edition of Jonathan Gullible is currently out of print and was not distributed as last year. However, the full English commentary edition of JG is available in the CD.
Adedayo Thomas has a very successful and ambitious program utilizing a very effective play, A Letter From Jonathan Gullible. Adedayo developed a program to bring 100 students from institutions across Africa to his 2011 Students and Young Professional African Liberty Academy--SYPALA, August 3-7, 2011. Of the performance, Franklin Cudjoe wrote: "Real Theatre at Ahmadu Bello University! You’re missing it guys...Just saw the greatest play on the intrusiveness of governments around the world. Performed by the Theatre Arts Department of Ahmadu Bello University. The play is based on the book Adventures of Jonathan Gullible originally written by Ken Schoolland and adapted for the play by Adedayo Thomas. Truly, Nigerian theatre producers are the best! I told the cast (actors) they had done our whole week's work in just one hour. I requested a reenactment on Sunday. I will do anything to support the cast to go global. The audience was largely African, drawn from six countries." Wonderful!
In Rabat I met with Nouh el Harmouzi, editor of Minbar Al Hurriyya, the Arabic-language news and analysis site of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, and professor of economics at Ibn Toufail University in Kenitra, Morocco. Through the Lamp of Liberty and the CATO Institute, he arranged the publication of the Arabic edition of Jamal Attaib (a.k.a. Jonathan Gullible). The Arabic edition was made possible by the generous financial support of Nicholas Dykes, Tom Palmer, and the CATO Institute.
Nouh conducted a liberty seminar program for Arabic economics students in Morocco this summer. And he prepared the Arabic version of the animated “Philosophy of Liberty” (PoL) in Arabic, which he uses in his projects.
This version was adapted to film for the internet by Steve Cobb and Drew Suder. And, responding to the urgent necessities of Arab Spring, Ernie Hancock and Freedom’s Phoenix are responsible for widespread distribution throughout the Arab world. Analysis of recent PoL viewing reveals three Arabic speaking nations among the top 20 in the world: Saudi Arabia (#2), Morocco (#9), and Egypt (#17).
All of these programs depend on the generous support of donors who are eager to see the ideas of liberty spread throughout the world.
Greece is at a crucial turning point in history. Will they embrace liberty or spiral downward into tyranny. My family was fortunate to have visited with Jason Zafolias, the ISIL Representative for Greece and owner of the Zafolias Hotel. Concerning the protests, strikes, and riots in Greece this summer, Jason commented: “The responsibility for the present bad situation in my country has to do exclusively with our political system of statism or mixed economy according to which the state could make us live beyond our economic means. The Greek politicians of the last 30 years were demagogues without principles and ideology, increasing the size of the public sector by taking more civil servants, more public spending to pressure groups and, of course, more debt in order to gain elections.
Continued Jason, “The population encouraged that because from the school years they were taught that the state can solve all our problems. And now how can the present government ask for the money back from the Greek citizens? As you have seen from yesterday’s demonstrations, it’s not that easy. As Frederic Bastiat wrote in his book, The Law: ‘When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.’”
It remains to be seen what course the people of Greece will take next, but the signs of the time are not encouraging.