Category Archives: Austrian Economics

Austrian Economics

Semantic Traps

Semantic Traps


Semantic Traps:
Politics with Loaded Terms

A Seminar for Scholars, Journalists and Entrepreneurs

“One must always repeat the truth, because even the error around us is preached again and again. And not from individuals but from the crowd.”   J.W. von Goethe


     When political speech writers pen speeches for presidents, prime ministers, and other influential dignitaries, they choose their words carefully, knowing that rhetoric matters. A classic case of an intentional deception of words, according to Schumpeter was the hijacking of the term liberal. In a similar fad, the market economy is increasingly condemned as a system of crony capitalists, the empty notion of social justice turned into a general verdict on our society’s moral status, or carbon pollution became a substitute for the greenhouse gases. In chapter 7 of The Fatal Conceit, “Our Poisoned Language,” F.A. von Hayek lists over 100 words before which we put social ranging from social accounting to social property to social waste, and in each case obfuscate their meaning.
Have you ever wondered how many of our habitual political terms have assumed quite different meanings or, maybe deliberately, have even taken on undertones that suggest something detrimental to what we want to get across? It seems as if the old Confucius warning “when words lose their meaning people will lose their liberty” has more relevance today then ever before.
With Confucius’ admonition in mind, PERC, Liechenstein Academy, and ECAEF have teamed up to organize a seminar on “Semantic Traps: Politics with Loaded Terms”. Details including the agenda are listed below. If you are interested in finding out more about the seminar, contact co-directors, Terry Anderson or Kurt Leube.

Seminar Date:  June 9-11, 2016 (Thu evening to Sat noon)

Location:  Liechtenstein Academy Foundation Campus: Freudenfels Castle at Lake Constance, Eschenz, Switzerland

Admission Fee:  Free Admission

Program Director:  Hans-Rudolf Maag

Academic Directors:  Terry L. Anderson and Kurt R. Leube

Seminar Program

Thursday – 9 June, 2016:
tbd Opening Dinner (optional) and welcoming remarks by H.S.H. Prince Michael of Liechtenstein

Friday – 10 June, 2016:
09:00 – 09:30 Registration
09:30 – 10:00 Welcome and Opening
Member of the Princely Family (LI), Hans-Rudolf Maag (CH) and
Terry L. Anderson (USA)

Session I: Politics
10:00 – 10:30 «On the Confusion of Terms in the Political Debate»
Michael Wohlgemuth (D)
10:30 – 10:45 Discussion
10:45 – 11:15 Coffee break
11:15 – 11:45 «Justice, Fairness, Solidarity! The Prophecy of a ‘Socially Just’ Society»
Hardy Bouillon (D)
11:45 – 12:00 Discussion
12:00 – 12:30 «Is the ‘Public Interest’ really in the Public’s Interest?»
Carlos Gebauer (D)
12:30 – 12:45 Discussion
12:45 – 14:00 Buffet Lunch for all participants at seminar site

Session II: Economics
14:00 – 14:30 «Are the Poor really Getting Poorer as the Rich are Getting Richer?»
Erich Weede (D)
14:30 – 14:45 Discussion
14:45 – 15:15 «In Defense of Private Property»
Gary Libecap (USA)
15:15 – 15:30 Discussion
15:30 – 16:00 «Fair Trade and Sustainability: Is Globalization Evil?»
Robert Nef (CH)
16:00 – 16:15 Discussion
16:15 – 16:45 Coffee break
16:45 – 18:00 Q&A, Session I and II
19:00  Dinner at the seminar site (Freudenfels Castle; mandatory); Speaker TBA

Saturday – 11 June, 2016:
08.00 – 09.15 Breakfast
09:30 – 09:45 Directorial Remarks
Hans-Rudolf Maag

Session III: Environmental Issues
09:45 – 10:15 «Dynamic Economics and Dynamic Ecology: The Essence of Free Market
Environmentalism»
Terry L. Anderson (USA)
10:15 – 10:30 Discussion
10:30 – 11:00 «On Secular vs. Non-Secular Environmental Beliefs»
Mark Pennington (UK)
11:00 – 11:15 Discussion
11:15 – 11:45 Coffee break
11:45 – 12:15 «Unleashing the Power of Free Market Environmentalism»
Martin Hostettler (CH)
12:15 – 12:30 Discussion
12:30 – 12:45 Closing remarks
Member of the Princely Family (LI), Hans-Rudolf Maag (CH) and
Terry L. Anderson (USA)
12:45 Individual departures

Vernon Smith Prize Winners

Vernon Smith Prize 2014
Austrian Econonmics Applied: 8th International Vernon Smith Prize 2015.

8th International Vernon Smith Prize 

Vaduz (FL), January 24, 2016. After much reading, long discussions and at times quite difficult deliberations, the international jury of the VSP finally came to a conclusion and is delighted to announce the winners:
The 1. Prize goes to Daniel W. Issing (Germany), the 2. Prize to Demelza Hays (USA), and the 3. Prize to Mats Ekmann (Finnland). Heartfelt congratulations! Their profiles and essays will be posted after the winners have defended their papers at a special festive event on February 15, 2016 in Vaduz, the Principality of Liechtenstein.

The annual Vernon Smith Prize for the Advancement of Austrian Economics is sponsored and organized by ECAEF – European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, Vaduz (Principality of Liechtenstein).  Topic of the 2015 Essay Competition was:


Edward J. Snowden:  Hero or Villain?


A Prince on Politics

Prince Hans-Adam II. The State in the Third Millennium
Prince Hans-Adam II.: “The State in the Third Millennium”

A book review by Kurt R. Leube

   “The State in the Third Millennium” is a remarkable work. Elegantly written by a historian who is simultaneously a head of state, politician, successful international businessman, world famous art collector, and leading philanthropist, it will doubtless provoke some frank debates. After much research and historical study of the concepts, purposes, and limitations of the state, Prince Hans-Adam II, the reigning prince of Liechtenstein, has published a work of critical importance. In view of the growing loss of confidence in democracy and the current state of unchecked governments, Hans-Adam confronts the prevailing intellectual and political despondency in an audacious way.
Right from the start, Hans-Adam II passionately discloses his firm commitment to the classic liberal (in the European sense) principles of self-determination, direct democracy, and free international trade. Although the idea of self-determination has been incorporated in the un Charter, it regretfully “remains a central but still unfulfilled principle of the un.” Almost no country besides Liechtenstein has firmly enacted the right of self-determination. In states with self-determination, the population cannot be forced to cooperate with the government; rather it is the obligation of the state to make the effort to work together with its citizenry. After all, in the case of a lack of cooperation it is usually the supreme power of the state, and not the individual citizen, that falls apart.
The author takes us from the still somewhat murky origins of the state and the fundamental roles religions and ideologies have played in it to an intriguing discussion of the developments in military and transportation technologies and how much they have contributed to the size and strength of nations. History shows that in the long run the very idea of democracy proves to be incompatible with great and powerful states, most likely due to the fact that huge landmasses can be preserved only by means of totalitarian, or at least authoritarian, control. Following ancient Greek philosophy, the prince differentiates the cyclical evolution of monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, and anarchy. His goal seems to be the prevention of anarchy, and so he argues that the three elements of monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy “should be brought together so that they operate in harmony for the benefit of the state and its population.” Over time, he writes, the symbiosis between a monarchy based on religious legitimation and an oligarchy started to fade when the religious legitimation of monarchy was brought into question and the possibility emerged that democratic legitimation could be possible even in large states. The successful example of the American Revolution started a worldwide process that even today, after two hundred years, is not yet concluded.
The chapter on the “American Revolution and Indirect Democracy” discusses why the U.S. Constitution became such a dominant liberal (again, in the European sense) prototype for 19th- and 20th-century Europe, Latin America, and beyond. “Despite its weaknesses,” Prince Hans-Adam II notes, “the model of democratic legitimation of oligarchy and monarchy realized by the American Revolution represented a tremendous step forward in the history of the development of the state.” And yet, for him neither the American Constitution, nor almost any other modern constitution, can be viewed as the founding works of true democracies because “at the most, one could speak of certain democratic rights” granted to the population.
The author’s analysis of the major steps Switzerland’s Constitution took towards the developments of direct democracy helps one understand the current Swiss political system. The Swiss Constitution does not limit the right of the population to election of a representative who will then act in their behalf. In their direct democratic system “the people themselves have the right to make material decisions.” The “Referendum, which gives the people the right to vote directly on a decision of parliament,” and the “Right of Initiative” that grants the citizenry the irrefutable right to make material decisions are themselves the two fundamental pillars of direct democratic systems. For Prince Hans-Adam II, the difference between the U.S. and Switzerland thus lies in the structure of the state. Whereas in the U.S. the counterbalance to the Congress and the courts is the president, in Switzerland the executive branch, the legislature, and the courts are controlled by direct democratic forms. Over time and in comparison, the direct democratic model thus has “brought the people more democracy than the indirect democracy of the United States.” Unlike all other constitutions of Western countries, only those of Switzerland and particularly of Liechtenstein feature the direct democratic legitimation of their political functions. And even though it is very small in size and population, Liechtenstein’s legal framework has made a number of important new contributions to the further development of direct democracy and the right of self-determination.
Thus, Chapter 8 is devoted to the principality’s advanced constitutional reform of 2003. It concludes by describing Liechtenstein’s monarchy as “a partnership between the people and the Princely House, a partnership that should be voluntary and based on mutual respect.” The hereditary monarchy in Liechtenstein “always needs the confidence of a majority of voters and thus democratic legitimation” worked mutually well during the past 300 years.
After discussing the many weaknesses built into the traditional forms of most Western democracies, Prince Hans-Adam II presents his vision of a future state as a peaceful service provider. According to the Prince, the challenge of our times is the advancement of ideas that will lead to the development of a state model that accomplishes:

1. the prevention of all wars, including civil wars;
2. the serving of the entire population of a country and not just a privileged section;
3. the provision of “maximal democracy” and the certainty of individual freedom through the rule of law;
4. and, last but not least, the enabling of the state to compete globally.

  According to Hans-Adam II, these objectives can only be accomplished by transforming the state as we know it into “an organization that serves the people and not the other way around.” In tune with the academic tradition of the great classical liberal thinkers, Hans-Adam too attempts to limit the powers of government and the legislature and to assure the working of the Rechtsstaat as a safeguard of individual liberty. The clear separation of powers, a government under the law, the distinction between private and administrative laws, and the provision of due process for the enforcement of law — these are the guiding principles of the liberal Rechtsstaat. Only under the rule of law is everybody, including the government and the so-called sovereign parliaments, bound by rules. Political decisions thus are warranted to be made in accordance with known and general rules and not according to the apparent popularity of particular outcomes or, worse, whatever the majority finds expedient to do in order to retain majority support. The author’s ideas about the various tasks of the future service state, especially pertaining to most social security systems, pension funds, educational systems, and questions of public finance will undoubtedly provoke intensive discussions.
Although scarcity is a condition of our existence, most beneficiaries of the current welfare state were made to think of their provider as an infinite resource through which benevolent politicians appropriate assumed well-deserved benefits and favors. However, due to our finite supplies, any redistributional subsidy for one segment of the population must necessarily result in a denial of comparable funding for another section. When people are exposed to this sort of social redistribution, the anticipation of benefits and the growing loss of self-responsibility generates more welfare dependents, at staggering costs. And yet, rent-seeking politicians keep abusing the welfare systems by irresponsibly overloading future generations with financial obligations they will never be able to meet. In other words, “apart from its high cost, the system threatens the freedom of the individual and in a democracy gives political parties the possibility of ‘buying’ votes with taxpayers’ money. The welfare state faces a crisis in the age of globalization with the rapidly increasing mobility of people, services, and goods.”
‘The State in the Third Millennium’ devotes a chapter to the problems related to education. In it, the author asks “whether it should be one of the responsibilities of the future state to run the education system.”
Most state-run and unfunded pay-as-you-go pension systems are on the brink of collapse, and soon-to-be-deprived beneficiaries are already angrily defending their presumed claims, while others are facing confiscatory tax obligations. Thus does progressive taxation lead to decreasing motivation and public outbursts of discontent. “In order to prevent greater crises, the retirement age will have to be increased, and the pension system will have to be changed gradually from the current unfunded pay-as-you-go system to a funded system,” Prince Hans-Adam II writes. He recommends a full privatization. By changing the present patronizing social security benefit structure into a market-based capital accumulation system, pensions and other transfer funds will become transparent and will be determined by the individual’s contributions, and not by some politically decided standards of justice or even merit. With such radical changes made, a population will finally be able to keep the overpowering domain of the state in check and revive its own innate feelings of self-responsibility, dignity, and social bonds.
The State in the Third Millennium devotes a chapter to the problems related to education. In it, the author asks “whether it should be one of the responsibilities of the future state to run the education system.” After all, knowledge or ignorance are quite relative concepts; they can hardly be defined as public goods. There is not much reason to believe that even if some supposed best knowledge were made available to all it would result in a better society. The ideal of state education may well be traced back to J.G. Fichte’s and Wilhelm von Humbodt’s Prussia, which in the early 19th century created a system that combined obligatory education with government-run educational institutions. However, due to social and demographic changes, most of these publicly financed systems today can not be fully funded, nor is their present quality something to be trumpeted. “Instead of using taxpayers’ money to finance the education system, it is much better to subsidize parents or students so that they can themselves choose the school that in their opinion is best for them,” Prince Hans-Adam II astutely notes. He puts forward the idea of school vouchers, which Milton Friedman introduced in his influential essay, “The Role of Government in Education,” in the 1950s. Hans-Adam’s suggestion, like Friedman’s model, retains a decisive role for the state within the education system, but schools and other learning institution, he believes, should be exposed to competition.
There are other engaging chapters, on topics ranging from transportation, to public finance, to the problems of a national currency and the array of other duties that states have taken over during the past 200 years. Prince Hans-Adam II asks provocative questions: How should a future state finance itself if the governmental obligations “are limited to maintaining law and order, conducting foreign policy, and financing education”? Should we continue to permit the state to coerce as much as it can from the taxpayer? Should the state of the future be reduced to the role of a provider of the necessary infrastructure?
Especially poignant are Prince Hans-Adam’s thoughts on the conditions that must be met in order to have and maintain a national currency. And yet, one misses in this book Friedrich A. von Hayek’s radical and thought-provoking idea regarding concurrent currencies, published in his short but important essay, “Denationalization of Money.” So long as the state holds the legal tender monopoly on money creation and distribution, Hayek wrote, the temptation to inflate a currency and thereby gain a temporary economic boost is usually much too strong for politicians to resist. A market solution would therefore allow private enterprises to issue their own competing currencies, and the general public would naturally choose the most reliable, stable money, which is least prone to inflation. Consistently applied, the private issuance of money would not only prevent governments from damaging the economy, restricting the freedom of individuals, and robbing them from the fruits of their work, but it would also bring to a halt the constant expansion of governments.
In order to achieve the promising future he desires, Prince Hans-Adam II develops several motivating strategies. As its title suggests, for instance, his book ends with a carefully drafted charter for the state in the third millennium. Written in candid language, and based often on the advanced Constitution of the Principality of Liechtenstein, his book could become a key to limiting the growth of government and its involvement in an ever-widening sphere of life. The author’s ideal of the future state — one which guarantees the people’s right to self-determination and which would transform the state into a peaceful service corporation — may not be realized in full. Indeed, some parts of his vision might even remain in a distant utopia. A swift succession of new ideas is hardly a criterion for an achievement of powerful significance, of course, but the ideas and solutions presented in this book could certainly help to revive long-dead debates.
The Prince’s political philosophy is a remarkable attempt to contribute to bettering representative democracies — governments which are even now being challenged by an angrily disengaged populace and find themselves on the brink of social and financial collapse. His integration of the relevant literature, combined with bold ideas, family history, and his own experiences heading a state, makes The State in the Third Millennium an elegantly written tome, a rewarding read, and a very valuable contribution.


Prince Hans-Adam II.: The State in the Third Millennium. I. B. Tauris & Company, 208 Pages, $45.00. -> Buy at Amazon


Kurt R. Leube is professor of economics emeritus and research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He also serves as academic director of ECAEF – European Center of Austrian Economics, a Think Tank based in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

In memoriam Juan Carlos Cachanosky

In memoriam Juan Carlos Cachanosky

Juan Carlos Cachanosky     With the untimely death of Juan Carlos Cachanosky (13. 10. 1953 – 31. 12. 2015) we have not only lost a very dear and reliable friend. We have also lost a brilliantly insightful and resolute free-market scholar who managed to get so many things right and who could explain real world economic behavior with incision and clarity. Among the small number of true Austrians in Central- and South-America, identified with the European liberal tradition that produced such great thinkers as Ludwig von Mises or F. A. von Hayek, ‘Cacha’ as he was called by his friends, was one of the most enterprising minds, tirelessly working hard to turn his ideas into viable international projects. Despite his remarkable academic achievements in Austrian Economics, he always remained a generous and modest chap, who came as close to the vanishing ideal of an honest mind as perhaps human frailty will ever permit. With his dry sense of humor, his striking energy and passion for spreading sound economics, and his cheerfulness it was at all times intellectually very rewarding to be with or just around him. I feel privileged indeed to have been among his friends and collaborators.

    Juan Carlos Cachanosky studied Economics at the Catholic University of Argentina and was awarded a PhD by the International College of California. Following various academic appointments he was elected Director of Research at ESEADE, a major university and free market hub in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the same time he successfully directed the Economics Department at the Catholic University in Rosario, Argentina. Among countless other important students, Juan Carlos served as the thesis advisor for Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, now Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. For well over a decade Juan Carlos was Dean of Universidad Francisco Marroquín’s Business School in Guatemala City, Guatemala. It was him who helped to push this unique place into an internationally recognized university. After hard work and until his premature death, he worked not only as professor and academic President of CMT Group in Edinburgh (UK), but also as a close collaborator with ECAEF (LI) and the Liechtenstein Academy (LI). As a much sought after lecturer Juan Carlos Cachanosky was active on almost all continents, but his enterprising spirit was mostly appreciated in Central- and South America, in Scotland, and the Principality of Liechtenstein, possibly the last stand for sound economics and free market ideas. Cacha’s work developed from a comprehensive approach to various disciplines that condition and influence one another. His countless publications, especially in the field of monetary theory and the history of economic thought are fine cut jewels.

We at ECAEF and Liechtenstein Academy are very saddened and we will miss him dearly. Our heartfelt condolences go to his family.

Kurt R. Leube
Academic Director, European Center of Austrian Economics

Let Rwandans decide whether to stick with success

In a referendum last week on their country’s constitution, the people of Rwanda overwhelmingly approved an amendment that changed presidential term limits. The new rules mean that 58-year-old President Paul Kagame can run again for the presidency in 2017, and could theoretically serve until 2034, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein in his latest GIS publication.

Rwanda, Africa’s most densely populated country, had suffered through civil war and genocide for years until a rebel force commanded by Mr Kagame ended the slaughter in 1994. He then served as vice president and minister of defence until 2000, when he acceded to the presidency. Under a new constitution, Mr Kagame was re-elected to seven-year terms in 2003 and 2010.

President Kagame is probably Africa’s most successful leader. His goal is to develop what was once among the poorest nations on the continent into a middle-income country by 2020. Rwanda boasts few national resources, but under his leadership has achieved impressive growth rates of 7 to 8 per cent annually. Inflation has fallen to single digits. Although the majority of the population still makes its living through subsistence farming, an impressive services sector, especially in IT and telecommunications, has developed. Education and health care are priorities, crime is low and the country is safe.

Mr Kagame – in contrast to many other African leaders – has not been tainted by corruption. Though he has been accused of supporting the M23 rebels in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the extent of that support, if any, is unknown. It is important to note that the situation in the eastern DRC is extremely fragile and that the government and its troops have a track record of committing atrocities. Rebels sometimes act in defence of minorities though they may, unfortunately, also commit cruel acts.

All in all, Mr Kagame’s track record is good. Unfortunately, Africa is a place where corrupt leaders tend to cling to power, as is happening now in neighbouring Burundi. However, Mr Kagame continues to enjoy the support of a solid majority of the population – as shown by elections whose results, on all evidence, have not been manipulated.

The administration of United States President Barack Obama has come out strongly against measures taken to allow Mr Kagame to run again. ‘President Paul Kagame has an opportunity to set an example for a region in which leaders seem too tempted to view themselves as indispensable to their own countries’ trajectories,’ said Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, at the beginning of December. ‘We expect President Kagame to step down at the end of his term in 2017.’

The initiative has also been widely criticised in Europe. But the choice does not lie with the Americans or Europeans. The decision is the Rwandans’ alone to make. The international community should abstain from judgement.

We do not know what path President Kagame will take in the future, nor the details of how his succession will proceed. We do know, however, that he has promoted integration in a country with a history of discord, and that he has a clear, positive vision for its future. No critic of Rwanda’s choice has come forward with a credible alternative. In a country at an early stage of development, continuity can be essential – and President Kagame is not yet an old man.

Fallacies of State Education

austrian-in-argentina

FALLACIES OF STATE EDUCATION

by Alberto Benegas-Lynch, Jr.


European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, Liechtenstein University, Vaduz, May 29, 2015


The first thing that should be said is that the expression “public education” is completely misleading, it hides the real nature of what it means to say, that is state education since, on the one hand, private education is also for the public, and on the other, the disguise is used because state education is such a horrible expression as state literature, state press, state art and the like, these are grotesque contradictions in terms. Force does not teach, in the last analysis, it is impossible to teach freedom and independence of thought based on compulsion.

In most countries today private education is not really private since secretaries and ministries of education must approve curricula. The private sector, with some limits, take care of such things as buildings and uniforms, but the essence of what they are offering to the public is managed or influenced by bureaucratic departments. This is a central characteristic of the hypocrisy of fascism: private property is registered by privates but government uses and disposes of it, in contrast with communism that in a direct way abolishes property. Both operate in the same direction, one in an indirect way and the other directly, but both distort accounting or block it all together because relative prices are falsified or eliminated, which means misallocation of scarce resources that necessarily increases poverty.

In a civilized country ministries and secretaries of education should disappear and accreditation, as it was originally, would be done by academies and private institutions that in the process audit each other and take responsibility of the quality of school and university programs.

Politics should not interfere with such an important and delicate matter as education. Since we are all different in most respects, specially from the psychological perspective, programs must be different to fit different potentialities given that we all are unique and in a multidimensional fashion, which requires not only competition of very different approaches but must be dynamic. Also it must be stressed that each one of us is not the same today in relation of what we were yesterday. To impose educational programs or guides vertically from political power, although they might be decentralized in the context of politicization, is not to understand what education is about.

It must be understood that we all pay taxes, specially those poor people that never have seen a form to pay direct taxes. This is so because those who are de jure tax payers reduce investment which, in its turn, reduces wages and income in real terms, a process that occurs since capitalization is the only explanation to rise standards of living.

Moreover, if we take on account the marginal utility concept it will be clear that a unit of money in general -although it is not possible to compare intersubjective values nor refer to them in cardinal numbers- is not the same for a poor person than it is for a rich one, as a consequence the negative effect is higher in the first case, so we conclude that the poor is in a worse situation since, in practice, they are responsible of a huge proportion of the payment. In other words, the consequence for relative poor people is deeper and more severe that what investment contraction and simple numbers indicate.

Imagine a very poor family that is not in condition to afford de opportunity costs to send their children to school. In that case, trough taxes that family is paying schooling for richer persons to attend. And if a family with great effort can send their boys and girls to study -if they incorporate a reasonable tax analysis- they will send them to a state school so to avoid paying double costs: one for the private school and another for the state school.

From another perspective, the costs per student in state education centers are in general higher than in private institutions for the same reason the so called “state enterprises” are inefficient. The constitution of these corporations necessary mean malinvestment because resources are allocated in a different way that the market would of done (and if it were in the same direction, there is no reason for state intervention). The way people drink coffee and the way they use lights is not the same in a private place than in a state building. Incentives and the “tragedy of the commons” operate in a inefficient way.

The voucher system has been suggested several times. It is true that this system shows the non sequitur: this means that from the premise that people should be forced to finance other peoples education it does not follow that there should be state institutions, since vouchers (demand subsidies) allow people to choose between all the existing private educational institutions.

In any case, vouchers also mean that poor people are principally financing more affluent students and, although IQ standard measurements are irrelevant (we are all intelligent but for different matters), those who do not qualify for the existing academic proposals must pay for those with better conditions and are more qualified, which is of course also an unacceptable injustice.

This does not mean that private vouchers should be eliminated, on the contrary, these provide very good incentives just the same as scholarships that are financed voluntarily in sight of positive externalities that good education means. The problem arises in the case of state vouchers.

It has been said that education is a public good, but this does not resist a technical analysis given that it does not meet the non-rival and the non-exclusion principles.

It has also been said time and again that state education must be incorporated because it gives support to the idea of “equal opportunities”.

Equal opportunity, prima facie seems attractive but it is absolutely incompatible with equality before the law. Liberalism and the open society provide that people have more opportunities but not equal. If a mediocre tennis player were to have equal opportunity playing with a professional, there must impose that the latter, for example, should play with one leg and, and that means that his rights have been infringed.

Similar reasoning goes for the alleged “right to education”. There is not such thing. A right implies the counterpart of an obligation. If somebody obtains 100 in the labor market, there is an universal obligation to respect that income, but if the same person demands the “right” to receive 200 which he does not earn, and this is granted by the state, this means that other persons are coerced to pay the difference which will infringe their rights, that is the reason why the “right to education” is a pseudoright.

I am perfectly aware that today state education is the sacred cow of the moment, nevertheless it should be denounced as a dangerous myth.

It is said that those that have the intellectual conditions to apply to the available educational proposals but do not have the sufficient resources, should be helped. This is a very well inspired statement but for this the first person of the singular should be used and not the third of the plural. “Put your money where your mouth is” constitutes a good recipe. In the same token, this is the reason why solidarity and charity can never be provided by the state since they mean voluntary acts with funds that belong to the owner.

In various countries home schooling is used as a defense against the invasion of state education, not to say the explosive revolution of on-line universities teaching. Some time ago, The Economist treated the home schooling issue at length where the opinion of some admission officials of Ivy League Universities in the US appeared in relation with candidates that studied under home schooling. They said that they were impressed not only with the high standard skills and learning of students but by their excellence in language and dressing.

Some object home schooling based on the opinion that the system does not allow to socialize with other students, which is not true because those programs specially concentrate in relations with other youngsters through sports, dancing, chess clubs, Church and other kind of meetings. The extraordinary support of Internet programs does not require that parents know the content of different topics, they just must be near and alert with schedules for their children, directly or via persons hired for that purpose at home.

Where state education exists, at different degrees, sooner or later, indoctrination will take place. If bureaucrats are in charge of education it is a natural consequence that government should influence programs and texts in some way, which affects the so crucial diversity. Just the same as it is so important to separate religion and power, education and political power must be separated if an open society would be the goal.

In some countries historians concentrate in education when state education appeared and do not take note of the previous private schools and institution that existed, most of them disappeared due to the irruption of “free” education, situation that had a negative effect on this field. It is also relevant to stress the indirect influence of politics in education when government finances the so called “private education”, for example, the large proportions of the budget of some of what are considered as high rank US universities, such as Richard Pipes shows in great detail.

It is maintained that children should have a minimum of education such as learning to read and write, but if this is so and people agree it is precisely what they will have through direct payments or through scholarships, there is no need for compulsion. It is true that education is basic, but more basic is to have food and no sensible person will suggest that food production should be in the hands of the state as in Stalin´s era -and his imitators, past and present- because people starve under that conditions. When politics take over education there is a tendency to produce another kind of starvation: the cultural and spiritual one.

May be the most powerful reason for the degradation of education is the corruption of democracy, originally as majorities owe respect to the rights of minorities, but instead have smuggled and installed an infamous system that we can identify as cleptocracy, that is, government of thieves of liberties, properties and legitimate dreams and projects of private lives.

If we pay attention to the writings of historians, we learn that starting with Athens, education was free from government regulation. Anybody could start a school and compete for students at very different prices, which produced the most well educated society of the time, in contrast with Sparta that established a military and totalitarian system that made that society the least literate of that world, only trained in brute force and aggression of dissidents and neighbors with no such thing as private lives.

Rome had basically a free system that included private tutoring during the Republic which changed with the Empire that required teachers to be officially certified and demanded state licenses for schools, and prosecuted and deported teachers whose teachings were disapproved by government.

In the Arab world, education was based on the Athens free system. This was the reason for progress in architecture, medicine, economics, law, geometry, algebra, philosophy, agriculture, literature and music during several centuries, instead of fanatic governments of our time who are inclined to socialize education as a way to indoctrinate people for political and religious purposes, as it was established before in some Christian countries through the criminal Inquisition and other authoritarian methods. In Spain, during the eight centuries of Arab governments, the enormous progress obtained has been stated by historians in the very different fields we have just mentioned, including religious tolerance for Jews and Christians.

Due to the propagation of the control of the state in education and other fields, starting in the sixteen century, the first system of state schools was established in Germany, Switzerland and France. In the eighteen century most of Europe was under the influence of that view (except Belgium that established the system in 1920). In the United States, except New England, education was free but this changed dramatically and in the twentieth century compulsion to attend schools was established and the Secretary of Education was introduced in the seventies. Originally, in the colonies parochial education of different religious denominations had great influence and, later on, in some colonies when state education started it was financed with state lottery so as not to resort to compulsion.

The argument that state schools and state supervision of the so called private education must be controlled by the state to “fabricate good citizens” is a very bad excuse for indoctrination. This is why it is wrong to suppose that if government spends more in state education things will be better: on the contrary, via politicization things will worsen. The revival of the statist ideas of Herder, Fichte, Hegel, Schelling, Schmoller and List in German schools and universities (which, in part, Bismarck started in the political field) is one of the main reasons through which Germany prepared the path for Hitler to assume power. And once the Nazis were in government, the system was endorsed by such intellectuals as Keynes who in the preface of his 1936 German edition of The General Theory wrote that “the theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than is the theory of production and distribution of a given output produced under conditions of free competition and a large measure of laissez-faire”.

I would like to end this telegraphic presentation by quoting Ludwig von Mises from his book The Free and Prosperous Commonwealth, where he underlines that “there is, in fact, only one solution: the state, the government, the laws must not in any way concern themselves with schooling or education. Public funds must not be used for such purposes. The rearing and instruction of youth must be left entirely to parents and to private associations and institutions”.

Download the entire essay, including Bibliography here ->
Alberto-Benegas-Lynch.doc

An Austrian in Argentina

austrian-in-argentina

by Federico N. Fernández*

   Thanks to the generous invitation of Juan Carlos Cachanosky and Kurt Leube I had the pleasure to co-edit a book in honor of Alberto Benegas Lynch, Jr. The Festschrift is titled “An Austrian in Argentina. Essays in Honor of Alberto Benegas Lynch, Jr” and is comprised of articles written by some of the greatest contemporary thinkers of the Austrian tradition in Latin America.
Benegas Lynch is a key figure of classical liberalism and Austrian economics for the Spanish speaking world. He has authored more than twenty books and countless articles. Scholars like James Buchanan, Jean-Francois Revel, and the Nobel laureate Friedrich von Hayek have written forewords for some of his books. He has always been a staunch and uncompromising defender of the ideas of freedom and open society. Benegas Lynch has reflected on many areas and has made multiple original contributions. Lately, he has been writing on matters related to determinism and free will and about education … Continue Reading -> medium.com/Free Market Diaries

 


*Federico N. Fernández: Austrian Economics Center Senior Fellow, Classical Liberal, Critical Rationalist.

Anthony de Jasay Prize Winner

Anthony de Jasay
Anthony de Jasay, 90

Anthony de Jasay Prize Winner | Not only in celebration of Anthony de Jasay’s 90th birthday, but foremost in appreciation of his seminal and exceptional works on defending individual liberty by challenging the legitimacy of states and unchecked ‘democratic’ governments, the ECAEF has established the “ECAEF Prize for Thinkers for the 3rd Millennium”.  With this prize we intend to raise the awareness for Anthony de Jasay’s oeuvre and to engage the audience to further discuss these vital questions of our times. As incontestably the world’s leading exponent of classical liberalism, the ECAEF is very  proud to award him the first “ECAEF Prize for Thinkers for the 3rd Millennium”.


Anthony de Jasay (born Jászay Antal, 1925) is a Hungarian-born philosopher and economist known for his anti-statist writings.

Central Banks, Fiscal Policy and the Betrayed Citizen

haberler conference 2016

Topic and date of the XII. Gottfried von Haberler Conference have been announced:  Topic: “Central Banks, Fiscal Policy and the Betrayed Citizen” – German translation: “Zentralbanken, Schuldenpolitik und der geprellte Bürger”. The XII. Gottfried von Haberler Conference will take place on May 20, 2016 in Vaduz (Liechtenstein).  Once the Conference Schedule is set, we will be publishing it right here at ecaef.li.

Kleinheit als Last oder Lust

Dinner-Ansprache auf der XI. Gottfried-von-Haberler-Konferenz von Peter A. Fischer

Ich bin gebeten worden, Ihnen zur Einstimmung auf die XI. Gottfried-von-Haberler-Konferenz meine Gedanken zum Thema “Kleinheit als Lust oder Last” vorzutragen. Diese Anfrage habe ich mit Freude angenommen. Denn gerade in wirtschaftlich so turbulenten Zeiten wie den gegenwärtigen scheint mir die Initiative von Prinz Michael, S.D. Prinz Philipp und Kurt Leube besonders notwendig und wichtig, die ECAEF im Fürstentum zu gründen und Ideen, die die Freiheit fördern, zu unterstützen. Konferenzen wie die unsrige bieten den dringend benötigten Raum, um brennende Fragen jenseits des tageshektischen Mainstreams aus einer liberalen Optik heraus zu diskutieren. Da mache ich natürlich gerne mit. Bedeutet Kleinheit nun “proudly small”, stolz klein und erfolgreich sein zu, wie es das Motto des letzten St.-Gallen-Symposiums eben erst suggerierte? Oder heisst das eher, “im Würgegriff grosser Staaten” zu schmoren, wie wir es morgen diskutieren werden? Kleinsein ist immer relativ. Ich fühle mich gross und sehr geehrt, als Schweizer hier im schönen Fürstentum Liechtenstein diese Tischrede halten zu dürfen, geeint im Bewusstsein der Erfahrung kleiner Länder.

Erlauben Sie mir zuerst eine persönliche Reminiszenz. Als kleiner Schuljunge war ich früh relativ hochgewachsen. Aus rein körperlichen Gründen konnte ich etwas weiter springen als die meisten meiner Klassenkollegen, und ich war auch etwas stärker. Allerdings fand ich es im Allgemeinen spannender, Bücher zu lesen als meine Kräfte in Jungenkämpfen auf dem Pausenhof zu messen. Einer der körperlich am kleinsten Gewachsenen schien dies als herausfordernde Arroganz zu empfinden. Er wollte sich dauernd gegen mich beweisen und versuchte, Kollegen gegen mich aufzubringen, um mich gemeinsam in Bedrängnis zu bringen. Ich konnte das nicht verstehen, hatte ich ihm doch gar nichts angetan. Seit diesen jungen Jahren habe ich das Gefühl, dass Grösse und Kleinheit beide auf ihre Art Last und Lust sein können. Durch meine natürliche Ausstattung hatte ich es in meiner Kindheit in manchem etwas einfacher, während der kleine Schulkamerad offensichtlich darunter litt, körperlich vielen Klassenkollegen unterlegen zu sein. Dafür spornte ihn das zu aussergewöhnlichen Leistungen an. Er war ehrgeiziger, flinker und findiger als viele von uns, weil es für ihn nicht selbstverständlich war, sich durchsetzen zu können. Vielleicht sind die Parallelen etwas weit hergeholt.

Aber wenn wir Staaten betrachten, so fällt doch auf, dass es für kleine Länder überdurchschnittlich oft eine Lust zu sein scheint, klein zu sein. Laut den Daten der Weltbank zu Wohlstand und Wirtschaftsleistung pro Kopf waren kaufkraftbereinigt 2012 die folgenden zwanzig Staaten die wohlhabendsten der Welt: An erster Stelle stand Katar, gefolgt von Macao, Luxemburg, Kuwait, Singapur, Brunei, Norwegen, den arabischen Emiraten, der Schweiz an neunter Stelle, vor Bermuda, Saudiarabien, den USA, Hongkong, den Niederlanden, Irland, Oman, Österreich, Schweden, Deutschland und Dänemark. Bekanntermassen sind Erdöl und Erdgas für viele grössere Staaten eher ein Fluch als ein Segen, aber einige wenige scheinen fähig zu sein, diesen in breiter gestreuten Wohlstand umzumünzen – und das sind überdurchschnittlich oft kleine Staaten. Ganz generell zeigen die Daten, dass zehn der zehn reichsten und sechzehn der zwanzig wohlhabendsten Staaten kleine Länder mit weniger als zehn Millionen Einwohner sind.

Das heisst natürlich zum Glück nicht, dass Grosse keinen Erfolg haben können: die USA und das auch nicht gerade kleine Deutschland gehören in praktisch allen Ranglisten zu den zwanzig reichsten Volkswirtschaften. Natürlich ist Kleinheit per se auch kein Erfolgsgarant. Unter den ärmsten zehn Länder finden sich gemessen am kaufkraftbereinigten BIP pro Kopf vier kleine, aber 6 von 10 zählen mehr als 10 Millionen Einwohner. Typisch ist in den statistischen Daten leider auch die Arroganz der grossen Multilateralen: Vom kleinen aber feinen Liechtenstein gibt es nur Angaben zur Bevölkerung, jedoch keine vergleichbaren zur Wirtschaftsleistung. Dabei würde ein Einbezug des Fürstentums bestimmt die Dominanz von prosperierenden Kleinstaaten in der Spitzengruppe weiter verstärken. Von der Lust der Kleinheit Dabei ist es keineswegs selbstverständlich, dass kleine Länder so überdurchschnittlich erfolgreich sind.

Ökonomisch gesehen müssten grössere Staaten eigentlich besser dastehen, weil sie Skalenerträge ausschöpfen können, während kleinere von geringeren Koordinationskosten dank grösserer Nähe profitieren sollten. In einer freien Marktwirtschaft ist allerdings die Wirtschaft unabhängig von der Grösse der Staaten zum Glück recht dezentral organisiert. Wahrscheinlich deshalb sieht man von Skalenerträgen in den Makro-Daten wenig. Pro Kopf der Bevölkerung scheinen grosse Staaten zwar etwas weniger für allgemeinen Verwaltungsaufwand auszugeben. Aber dafür verfallen grössere Länder im Durchschnitt stärker der schädlichen Tendenz, mehr Aufgaben der öffentlichen Hand zuschieben zu wollen. Grössere Länder haben im Schnitt höhere Staatsquoten, und sie sind eher überschuldet.

Wo die verteilten Wohltaten von weit weg kommen, scheint die Versuchung erst recht gross, grosszügige soziale Auffangnetze zu spannen, anstatt, wie es der Singapurer Finanzminister kürzlich treffend formulierte: Trampoline. Trampoline im Sinne von sozialer Unterstützung, die es Gefallenen erleichtert, wieder aufzustehen, aber bei der diese dann schon selber wieder springen müssen. Laut den Daten der Weltbank figurieren bei den entwickelten Ländern unter den zehn am wenigsten verschuldeten Staaten nur gerade drei mit mehr als zehn Millionen Einwohnern.

Top-Performer ist das kleine Estland. Auf einen meines Erachtens ganz entscheidenden Vorteil der Kleinheit hat schon Gottfried von Haberler immer wieder hingewiesen, nämlich den positiven Einfluss internationalen Handels auf die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung eines Landes. Kleinere Länder haben natürlicherweise keinen grossen Heimmarkt, den sie abschotten können, damit sich einheimische Firmen darauf konzentrieren. In der Regel ist deshalb ein grösserer Teil ihrer Wirtschaft wettbewerbsorientiert und damit produktiver als der Binnensektor.

Eine Untersuchung des Credit Suisse Research Institutes mit dem Titel “The Success of Small Countries and Markets” kam kürzlich zum Schluss, dass die Lust des Kleinseins darüber hinaus vor allem in deren überdurchschnittlich verlässlichen Institutionen und der Qualität der Ausbildung wurzelt. Das bestätigt auch der neueste Global Development Index des World Economic Forums. Dort haben nur gerade drei der zehn Länder, die beim Subindex der Ausbildungsqualität am besten abschneiden, mehr als 10 Millionen Einwohner. Meiner Ansicht das wohl zentralste Erfolgsgeheimnis prosperierender kleiner Staaten ist deren quasi erzwungene Subsidiarität. Entscheidungen und Verantwortung fallen in kleineren Ländern viel eher und schneller zusammen. Die Chance ist grösser, dass es rechtzeitig gelingt, Zusammenzusitzen und nach einer adäquaten, pragmatischen Lösung zu suchen. Staat und Bürger sind einander näher. In kleinen Ländern entspricht der Staat eher der Vision, die Fürst Hans-Adam II. von Liechtenstein in seinem Buch so eindrücklich dargelegt hat und bei der der Staat zum Dienstleistungsunternehmen wird, das dem Bürger dient.

Das ist keineswegs selbstverständlich, gibt es doch immer noch viel zu viele Länder, in denen der Staat eher einer bürokratischen Eliteorganisation gleichkommt, welche den normalen Bürger unter dem scheinheiligen Vorwand “höherer Ziele” ausnimmt. Um das zu erleben, muss man nicht einmal nach Moskau oder Peking übersiedeln, wie ich es vor einigen Jahren getan habe. Meine Erfahrungen haben mich in der Überzeugung bestärkt, dass der offene Wettbewerb der Meinungen und Ideen in einer direkte Demokratie, das Recht auf “voice” und “exit” entscheidend sind für eine innovative Wohlstandsgesellschaft – entscheidend auch, um den Staat im Zaun zu halten. Kleinheit begünstigt die Chance, dass voice gehört wird und die Talentiertesten nicht mit den Füssen abstimmen und das Weite suchen.

Sie sehen, ich bin ein grosser Anhänger des Kleinen. Allerdings wäre es allzu naiv, nur das hohe Lied der Lust am Kleinen zu singen. Kleinheit als Last Es gibt ganz offensichtlich auch die Last der Kleinheit. Wenn sie bloss darin bestünde, für klein und niedlich befunden und deshalb nicht ganz ernst genommen zu werden (wie etwa die Schweiz in Deutschland), so liesse sich damit ganz gut leben. Doch erstens sind kleine offene Volkswirtschaften den Launen der Grossen und auch der Weltwirtschaft besonders ausgesetzt, wie es sich gerade seit der Finanzkrise wieder zeigt.

Wenn sich beispielsweise die internationalen Kapitalflüsse wegen realwirtschaftlicher Schocks oder geldpolitischer Kursänderungen stärker verändern, so tritt in kleinen Ländern und deren Finanzplätzen oft ein, was einer meiner Vorgänger als “Mokkatasseneffekt” bezeichnete. Unter flexiblen Wechselkursen bewirken solche Schocks schnell überschiessende Kursreaktionen. Liechtenstein und die Schweiz erfahren das gegenwärtig wieder schmerzhaft anhand der Frankenstärke, welche der Realwirtschaft ein ungewöhnlich hohes Mass an Flexibilität und Anpassungsfähigkeit abverlangt.

Dennoch halte ich es bisher eindeutig für einen Vorteil, eine eigenständige, stabilitätsorientierte Währung zu haben. Das gilt natürlich ganz besonders für Länder wie Liechtenstein und die Schweiz, wo der Finanzsektor einen wichtigen Teil der Wirtschaft ausmacht, auch wenn der nun auch unter dem starken Franken leidet. Aber die geldpolitischen Spillover-Effekte und damit die Verletzlichkeit haben in Zeiten immer unkonventionellerer Geldpolitik zugenommen. Zweitens hat der Streit um das Bankgeheimnis und um womöglich nicht ganz steuerkonforme Vermögen drastisch illustriert, wo die grösste Last der Kleinheit liegt. Der kleine Staat ist in einem Kräftemessen mit den Grossen ziemlich schnell recht wehrlos. Gross ist für den Grossen die Versuchung, an einem kleinen Staat (oder einem kleinen Finanzinstitut) ein politisch vermeintlich billiges Exempel zu setzen. Und wo öffentliche Kassen leer sind, werden hehre Prinzipien der Gleichbehandlung und des Rechtsstaats oft in Windeseile von reiner Machtpolitik verdrängt.

Damit die ungleichen Kräfteverhältnisse nicht zu sehr zur Last werden, sollte sich der Kleinstaat meines Erachtens erst recht bewusst sein, dass de jure und de facto Souveränität zwei unterschiedliche paar Schuhe sind. Stillschweigender automatischer oder schneller autonomer Nachvollzug mögen manchmal das kleinere Übel sein. Doch sie schränken die De-facto-Souveränität auch schmerzhaft ein. Um nicht im Würgegriff der Grossen nach Luft schnappen zu müssen, sollten kleine Länder ihre Interessen deshalb erst recht vorausschauend vertreten und frühzeitig Allianzen für ihre Anliegen schmieden.

Gerade in der Aufarbeitung der Finanzkrise hat sich aber wieder gezeigt, wie schwer dies in einer sehr direkten, auf Stabilität bedachten Demokratie wie der Schweiz ist. Da muss Veränderungen immer sehr viel Aufklärungsarbeit und Konsenssuche vorangehen. Wahrscheinlich ist es kein Zufall, dass es dem Fürstentum Liechtenstein etwas friktionsloser als der Schweiz gelungen ist, sich auf den fundamentalen Wandel im internationalen Finanz- und Steuerwesen einzustellen. Gerät der Kleine erst in den Würgegriff der Grosse, sollte er eben besonders flink und findig sein, um sich diesem wieder zu entwinden. Klein im Grossen – gross im Kleinen Ich habe Ihnen bisher einige Gedanken zu Lust und Last der Kleinheit vorgetragen.

Doch wie steht es um das sich verändernde Verhältnis von Gross und Klein? Bei Unternehmen ist zu beobachten, dass wichtige Innovationen oft eher bei kleinen Startup-Unternehmen stattfinden als bei grossen Konzernen. Kleine Unternehmen bieten eine dynamischere, flexiblere Atmosphäre und gehen eher Risiken ein; öfters geht es bei Ihnen um alles oder nichts. Grosse Konzerne bieten dafür mehr Stabilität und Sicherheit und haben andere finanzielle Möglichkeiten als kleine. Erfolgreich scheinen die grossen Konzerne in ihren Forschungsabteilungen und Profitzentren aber am ehesten zu sein, wenn sie Bedingungen wie bei Kleinen schaffen. Kaum ein Unternehmen wirbt damit, gross und mächtig zu sein, klein im Grossen lautet vielmehr die Devise.

Klein im Grossen, das dürfte auch für Staaten kein schlechtes Rezept sein. Die USA sind ein sehr föderalistisch organisierter Bundesstaat und China wächst schnell, seit Reformen für einen intensiven Wettbewerb zwischen den Gebietskörperschaften und Sonderzonen sorgen. Die Europäische Union hat besser funktioniert, als noch die Schaffung eines Gemeinsamen Binnenmarkts im Vordergrund stand und Freiheit und Verantwortung im Kleinen einen höheren Stellenwert besassen. Dennoch möchte ich nicht nur das Hohelied der Kleinheit singen. Ich glaube nämlich auch, dass zu deren Lust zunehmend etwas mehr Grösse im Kleinen gehören sollte. Die Globalisierung hinterlässt Spuren und das ist auch gut so.

Vor diesem Hintergrund halte ich eine undifferenzierte Verherrlichung des nationalen Alleingangs für wenig zukunftsweisend. Ökonomische Integration braucht ein gewisses Mass an grenzüberschreitender Kooperation und übereinstimmender Regeln. Und Freiheit muss geschützt werden. Der liberale Vordenker Friedrich August von Hayek war bekanntlich ein Freund des Kleinen. In seinem Buch “der Weg zur Knechtschaft” schrieb er “Wir alle werden dabei gewinnen, wenn wir imstande sind, eine Welt aufzubauen, in der die kleinen Staaten atmen können.” Aber Hayek plädierte auch energisch für ein Dach über dem Nationalstaat. Er schrieb: “Wir brauchen eine internationale Instanz, die zwar nicht die Macht hat, den Völkern zu befehlen, was sie tun sollen, aber imstande sein muss, sie von Handlungen abzuhalten, die anderen schaden”.

Hayeks Aufruf hatte wohl nicht das im Sinn, was heute die EU lähmt. Hayek warnte eindringlich davor, dass zentralistisches ökonomisches Planen schnell auf eine schiefe Bahn führt. Aber er wusste auch, dass der Kleine und dessen Interessen davor geschützt werden müssen, tyrannisiert zu werden. Das zunehmend herausfordernd aggressive Verhalten von Putins Russland hat vielen die Augen geöffnet, dass Freiheit und Unabhängigkeit ohne militärische Sicherheit gerade für kleinere Staaten nicht selbstverständlich sind. Freiheit braucht Schutz. Wirtschaftspolitisch ist die EU derweil herausgefordert, weil sie sich in einer fehlkonstruierten Währungsunion politisch festgefahren hat. Als Reaktion darauf melden sich grundsätzlich integrationskritische Bewegungen zunehmend lauter zu Wort. Die schärfsten Europakritiker, ob bei UKip, Front National, AfD oder Pandemos in Spanien, sind dabei leider oft weniger liberal als nationalistisch-protektionistisch gesinnt. Die beiden Einsichten, dass Freiheit Schutz benötigt und kompromisslose Nationalisten oft nicht liberal gesinnt sind, böten vielleicht Anlass, sich auf eine neue Grösse im Kleinen zu besinnen. Für die EU könnte der drohende Brexit zum überfälligen Reformdruck werden, damit sich Europa wieder offener und effizienter auf seine tatsächlichen Stärken besinnt und Zusammenarbeit in Freiheit und Eigenverantwortung vor Zentralismus und Haftungs-Vergemeinschaftung stellt. Wirtschaftlich gefragt ist echter Wettbewerb in einem Gemeinsamen Markt, der zwar gemeinsame Spielregel setzt, aber nicht würgt, sondern offen ist und unterschiedliche Integrations- und Assoziationsstufen zulässt.

Gleichzeitig denke ich aber, braucht Europa in Fragen der Sicherheit und wohl auch der Aussenpolitik mehr Mut zur Grösse. Es gilt, erfolgreich Kleinheit im Grossen und Grösse im Kleinen wertzuschätzen. Dabei könnte mittel- bis längerfristig das nationale gegenüber dem lokal-regionalen wie auch dem multilateralen etwas an Bedeutung verlieren. Der überregionalen liechtensteinisch-schweizerisch-österreichischen Zusammenarbeit könnte da durchaus ein gewisser Modellcharakter zukommen.

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, den klein gewachsenen Schulkollegen von damals habe ich leider aus den Augen verloren. Aber ich denke, es ist sicher kein Nachteil, klein zu sein. Etwas mehr liberales Verständnis und Respekt würden Klein und Gross allerdings guttun – damals wie heute. Ich danke Ihnen.