15th International Vernon Smith Prize

The 15th 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). Topic in 2022:

… if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

George Orwell

The wisdom that people lose their freedom as soon as words begin to lose their meaning can easily be traced back at least to Confucius (551-479BC). As reality becomes intelligible only through clear and uncorrupted words, the direct cause of most disagreements and political discords seems to be an anarchy of meanings. And yet, no more than gradually we begin to comprehend that the intentional alteration of the meaning of words or fake news not only have grave political implications for any society grounded on the Rule of Law. They also critically jeopardize the sovereignty of its citizens and their trust in institutions.
One of the most evident Semantic Traps is the transformation of the almost sacred word ‘social’. Shrouded in mystery, over time this ubiquitous term more than others has corrupted the fantasies of social scientists and politicians alike. Used in certain pervasive word arrangements such as Social Justice or Social Democracy the word is employed to hint at feelings of envy, of guilt or even of revenge. Time and again this term is not only utilized to effectively disguise true political objectives. With unmistakable collectivist undertones, the word social often also bears strong resentments against individual freedom, private property or the market economy in general.

– 1st Prize: €4,000  –
– 2nd Prize: €3,000  –
– 3rd Prize: €2,000 –


An international jury will judge the essays, and the three winners be invited to present their papers at a special event on 7 February, 2023.

All entries must meet the following four requirements:

(1) Entries may be submitted by individuals of up to 30 years (in 2022).

(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 krl@ecaef.li and must include a current CV with Date of Birth.

(4) Entries must be received on or before 30 November, 2022.

It is mandatory that all prizewinners participate in the award ceremony in Vaduz (Principality of Liechtenstein) on 7 February 2023. 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 7 February, 2023.


The International Vernon Smith Prize has been established in 2008 by ECAEF 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. 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.

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