XIII. International Vernon Smith Prize 2020 – Call for Papers!
“Is the Public Interest really in the public’s interest?”
The International Vernon Smith Prize is an essay competition for the advancement of Austrian Economics. Sponsored and organized by ECAEF – European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, Vaduz (Principality of Liechtenstein).
Call for papers!
Is the Public Interest really in the public’s interest? About 85 years ago, F. A. von Hayek already has warned us that even “if people agree about the desirability of planning in general, their agreements about the ends which planning is to serve will in the first instance necessarily be confined to some general formula like ‘social welfare’, the ‘general interest’, the ‘common good’, ‘greater equality’ or ‘justice’ etc. Agreement on such a general formula is however, not sufficient to determine a concrete plan, even if we take all the technical means as given”. Although, these ambiguous, emotionally charged and politically domineering slogans still arouse the fantasy of intellectuals and politicians alike, a conceptual definition of these ‘multi-purpose’ terms appears to be of no concern for them. It is a regrettable fact that especially economics, far more than the other social sciences, is obsessed with the reiteration of popular, yet meaningless buzz words.
All entries must meet the following 5 requirements:
1: Entries may be submitted by individuals of up to 30 years (in 2020). 2: Entries may not exceed 12 pages, including a full bibliography and a 1/2 page summary; 1.5 spacing; left/right margins no less then 1 inch. 3: Entries must be submitted in English in electronic form (PDF) to email@example.com and must include a current CV with Date of Birth. 4: Entries must be received on or before November 22, 2020.
It is mandatory that all prizewinners participate in the award ceremony in Vaduz (Principality of Liechtenstein) in February 2021.
Prizes are not transferable and will be awarded on the basis of originality, grasp of subject, and the logical consistence of the argument. An international jury will judge the essays and the winners will be invited to present their papers at a special event in Vaduz, Principality of Liechtenstein on Feb 8, 2021.
The International Vernon Smith Prize has been established in 2008 by ECEAF for the advancement of Austrian Economics. It is named after Professor Vernon Lomax Smith (born on January 1, 1927). He is professor of economics at Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics and School of Law in Orange, California, a research scholar at George Mason University Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, and a Fellow of the Mercatus Center, all in Arlington, Virginia. Vernon Smith shared the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Daniel Kahneman. He is also the founder and president of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics, a Member of the Board of Advisors for The Independent Institute, and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C.
China ist zumindest wirtschaftlich gestärkt aus der Corona-Krise herausgekommen. Wer dem Reich der Mitte eine Strategie unterstellt, liegt nicht falsch. Die Strategie heisst: Krisenbewältigung.
Düster tönte es noch im Mai 2020: Chinas Aussenhandel brach im Vergleich zum Vormonat um 9,3% ein. Die Exporte der grössten Handelsnation der Welt gingen in US-Dollar gerechnet um 3,3% zurück. Die Importe sackten sogar um 16,7% im Vergleich zum Vorjahreszeitraum ab. Insbesondere der Handelsstreit mit den USA machte sich bemerkbar. Die beiden grössten Volkswirtschaften liegen nun schon seit zwei Jahren in einem Handelskrieg mit gegenseitig verhängten Sonderzöllen.
Im Mai gingen Chinas Exporte in die USA um 14,3% zurück, während die Importe aus den USA um 7,6 % abnahmen. Drei Monate später, im August, schien das Bild schon ganz anders. Die Exporte aus dem Reich der Mitte nahmen um 7,2% zu, die Importe um 1,4%. Die ursprüngliche Prognose für den Aussenhandel sah eigentlich negative Veränderungszahlen vor. Doch die Realität entwickelte sich anders: besser …
Due to the current development of the Covid 19 pandemic regretfully we are forced to postpone our V. CEPROM/ECAEF Conference (scheduled Dec. 16, 2020) to March 30, 2021. Please mark your calendar. We apologize for the inconvenience and will keep you posted.
Principality of Monaco:
V. International CEPROM/ECAEF Conference
(In honor of Jacques Rueff, 1896-1978)
“Is the Public Interest really in the public’s interest?”
– with Lessons from the Past Pandemic –
The conference is developed and organized by ECAEF (European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, Liechtenstein). It is hosted by CEPROM (Center of Economic Research for Monaco). By invitation only. Stay tuned for updates regarding the Conference Program.
Designed and Arranged by ECAEF – European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation (LI)
Locally hosted and organized by CEPROM- Center of Economic Research for Monaco (MC)
By invitation only
Academic Director: Kurt R. Leube (ECAEF; firstname.lastname@example.org) Administrative Director: Emmanuel Falco (CEPROM; email@example.com) Media Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org Conference Date: 30 March 2020 Location: Musee Oceanographique de Monaco, Principality of Monaco Conference Languages: English/French; simultaneous translation
09:00-9:30 Registration 09:30-9:45 Welcome: H.S.H. Prince Albert II and H.S.H. Prince Michael of Liechtenstein
9:45-12:00 Session I: The Public Interest: On its Substance as a Governmental Concept 09:45-10:00 Chair: Peter A. Fischer (CH) 10:00-10:30 Limits and Necessities of Regulation: Public Interest Lessons from the Past Pandemic – Henry I. Miller (USA) 10:30-10:45 Discussion 10:45-11:15 Coffee break for all participants 11:15-11:45 A false Dichotomy? The Public Interest and Inequality – Axel Kaiser (CL) 11:45-12:00 Discussion
13:45-15:30 Session II: The Public Interest: On its Meaning as an Economic Policy Function 13:45-14:00 Chair: Carlos A. Gebauer (D) 14:00-14:30 Bliss Point Economics: On the Root of Public Interest Evil – Terry L. Anderson (USA) 14:30-14:45 Discussion 14:45-15:15 In the Name of the Public Interest? Government Debts and Reckless Monetary Policies – Lars P. Feld (D) 15:15-15:30 Discussion 15:30-16:00 Coffee break for all participants
16:00-18:00 Session III: The Public Interest: As a Guide to and a Fact-Check on Public Policy Measures 16:00-16:15 Chair: Peter A. Fischer (CH) 16:15-16:45 Conjectures, Refutations or Fakes? Only an Unbiased Science is in the Public’s Interest – Josef H. Reichholf (D) 16:45-17:00 Discussion 17:00-17:30 On the Zeitgeist and the Public Interest – Johan Norberg (S) 17:30-17:45 Discussion 17:45-18:00 Closing Remarks: Kurt R. Leube (A/USA) 18:00 End of Conference
Please note: Some paper titles might be edited or changed.
Modern-day iconoclasts are removing objects and symbols of Western civilization as part of moralistic campaigns. By doing so, they are falsifying history and attacking the very foundation of democracy.
Iconoclast is a Greek word for a person destroying a picture. Its use goes back to Byzantine Emperor Leo III (717-741), who banned religious images. Today’s iconoclasts are fanatics destroying objects of historical heritage for political or religious reasons.
In March 2001, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar ordered the blowing up of two monumental 6th-century statues of Buddha in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley. This barbaric act of religious zealotry shocked the world and was rightly condemned. Today, however, many would refrain from criticizing such gestures for fear of offending the religious sensitivities of Islamists. The Bamiyan Buddhas’ destruction is unforgivable. The statues, sculpted in 507 and 544, predated Islam. At the time, Buddhism was the prevailing religion in the area.
In 1966, Mao Zedong launched a brutal and radical mass-scale operation in China to reshape the country’s perception of history. During a decade known as the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Communist Party murdered hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed countless historical monuments and works of art. Iconoclasm, an expression of fanaticism, also exists today. Europeans and Americans tend to associate the phenomenon with the uncivilized past and faraway radical movements such as the Taliban or Maoists.
Such a ‘history’ can be considered a form of intellectual iconoclasm Many in the West forget that past events and cultural heritage must be understood within their historical framework, not judged by the norms, standards and beliefs of today. Unfortunately, our approach to the past has become increasingly judgmental: it mixes a hypocritical “benefit of hindsight” attitude with moral arrogance in assessing the events and personalities of bygone eras. Such a “history” becomes a political tool. It can be considered a form of intellectual iconoclasm. A significant number of Western historians no longer analyze the past in its historical context. They would rather judge it using moral standards set by themselves. The intellectual base for this practice eerily resembles that applied by the Taliban in the bombing of the Buddha statues. For example, Europe’s historical secularism has been overinflated, prompting excessive criticism of the continent’s Christian heritage. The opposition to including a reference to God in the European constitution was iconoclastic in its radicalism. The more Europe denies its Christian past, the more radical groups will entrench themselves. Xenophobia can quickly become the norm and laicism could degenerate into fundamentalism and intolerance.
Eradicating heritage, regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with it, tends to polarize societies. The so-called “cancel culture,” born from social media’s practice of banning nonconformists, is supported by lots of organizations and spreading in Western societies. The past is doctored or censored according to today’s view of what is proper and what is not.
It is hardly a coincidence that a new monument of Karl Marx, the creator of socialist philosophy, was erected with great pomp in the city of his birth in 2018. Marxist thinking has been undergoing a renaissance for all sorts of wrong reasons, including in academic and political circles. Beware, as socialism has produced only poverty, oppression and genocide.
Socialism has repeatedly, consistently and without exception, proven a failure. The Soviet Union of Joseph Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev, Venezuela of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, or Pol Pot’s bloody experiment in Cambodia are striking examples of the disaster this system inevitably brings on countries that embrace it. Another socialist experiment is now taking place in China. On the one hand, it is about trying to improve the material well-being of Chinese people, on the other – introducing total control by the ruling party.
What is socialism? Basically, it is a doctrine that uses the lofty notions of equality and solidarity to impose an oppressive system that is anathema to these. Equality, being alien to human nature, is incompatible with freedom. The pursuit of equality invariably leads to fascism-like solutions. A free society, as opposed to a socialist one, lets people pursue opportunities of their choice as long as it does not harm others. This is also the basis of free-market competition. These are the ingredients of systems characterized by cohesion, prosperity and fruitful progress.
Systemic brutality and intimidation
Socialist systems come in a variety. The most extreme forms existed during Stalin’s purges in the Soviet Union, in Albania under Enver Hoxha and Pol Pot’s social engineering in Cambodia, and in China during the decade-long Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong. In the Soviet system, property rights were eliminated. In today’s China, some entrepreneurship and private property are allowed. However, the state has the power to confiscate it at will and individual freedom is subjected to the arbitrary designs of the ruling bureaucracy.
A striking characteristic of all these states is the rulers’ brutal intolerance of freedom of opinion and the system’s critics.
Given socialism’s track record, it is surprising that Marxist-Leninist ideas are seeing a comeback lately – although, this time around, they have been repackaged. Increasing numbers of NGOs, politicians, media outlets and universities come out in support of the socialist and totalitarian renaissance as green movements in which environmental and climate issues are misused to camouflage neo-Marxist policy “solutions.” Tellingly, these groups and organizations display sharp intolerance to any disagreement with their doctrine. This doctrinaire attitude is on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic. Some universities in Europe no longer seem concentrated on propagating knowledge, open debate and understanding; the focus on campuses has shifted to what are considered the correct opinions. Many NGOs attack those not toeing their lines, assailing the plurality of opinion and ignoring fact-based arguments. What we are witnessing looks like poorly camouflaged attempts to impose authoritarian norms. Intolerance in society is increasing by the day.
Populist politicians of all ilk – and political parties especially – like to ride the wave of denouncing economic and social inequality. They willfully ignore the well-established fact that general prosperity cannot be reached while enforcing strict equality on society. They also omit the experience-born truth that poverty is effectively eliminated in a healthy, market-driven economy, not through the redistribution of wealth. Such schemes are not sustainable: as Margaret Thatcher famously observed, “The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”
Why do they do it?
A number of economists – motivated either by ignorance of their discipline’s basics, stubborn righteousness or ideological fanaticism – present social inequality as the root cause of today’s economic and social problems. In the United States, even seasoned political veterans active in the electoral campaign subscribe to this damaging doctrine.
The revival of old totalitarian temptation also takes place in the open. While one sees many old monuments removed from public places or vandalized, a new statue of Karl Marx has been added to the many already standing in the world. Even the then-president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, attended the 2018 celebrations of the philosopher’s 200th anniversary and the unveiling of the hulking 4.4-meter bronze figure in Trier, his birthplace.
No one seemed to care that Marx was the father of an ideology that murdered untold millions in the 20th century. If that estimate seems high, please add the victims of Stalin’s sweeping purges – including the state-induced hunger (Holodomor) in Ukraine – the mass executions in China during Mao’s Long March and Cultural Revolution, and the genocide in Cambodia, to name just the most tragic crimes committed in the name of socialism.
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