The winner of the 12th International Vernon Smith Prize are:
1. Prize: Kristoffer Mousten Hansen (DK)
2. Prize: Amos Zweig (CH)
3. Prize: Sam Crocker (CA)
The prizes have been awarded on the basis of originality, grasp of subject, and the logical consistence of the argument. An international jury did judge the essays and the winners were invited to present their papers at a special event in Vaduz, the Principality of Liechtenstein on Monday, February 10, 2020.
The 2019 topic was: ‘When the People fear their Government, there is Tyranny. When the Government fears the People, there is Liberty.’
A democratic government derives its authority from the consent of the governed and is loosely defined as a set of institutions through which we adjudicate our disputes, defend our rights and protect honestly acquired property. Under the rule of liberty the government is assigned the duty of impartial umpire, and each individual gives reason, intent and moral scope to his own life. As long as a person does not violate the rights of others he is sovereign over his own affairs.
Tyranny on the contrary, is characterized as a government that is an active player in people’s affairs. From a dictatorship to the benevolent welfare state all shapes of despotism wield their political authority and legitimized power of coercion to assure certain outcomes or forms of behavior considered desirable to determine how the members of the society may live, work, and associate with each other. Thus, the challenge in a democratic society is to keep government constrained and limited so that individuals can prosper and solve problems as free, independent and responsible citizens. However, it is the character rather than the volume of government activity that is important and ought to be specified in a constitution.
The prize money given to winners:
1st Prize: €4,000 | 2nd Prize: €3,000 | 3rd Prize: €2,000
The International Vernon Smith Prize for the advancement of Austrian Economics is an annual essay competition sponsored and organized by ECAEF – European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, Vaduz (Principality of Liechtenstein).