The FMRS 2022 events opened with a special evening hosted by the Faculty of Business and Management at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The event, moderated by Prof. Amir Shani, addressed a variety of issues related to economics and freedom in the Corona Age.
The opening panel, featuring Dr. Yaron Brook and Mr. Gia Jandieri, dealt with the question: Are we all China now? The panelists raised several issues related to the surveillance state and the right to privacy: Mr. Jandieri talked about the lessons that can be learned from the former Soviet Union about the injustices that the state can inflict on its citizens. Stateism is wrong and communism failed as the fall of the Soviet Union proved in Georgia. He stressed that Georgians and among them Jewish people engaged in black markets to keep the economy going. During the soviet time, property rights were practically non existent. Property owners were killed and the estates left to decay, because nobody is responsible any more. Dr. Brook expressed his concern that the West is enthusiastically adopting immoral practices of invasion of privacy taken in China, such as monitoring civilians and draconian lockdowns. The West no longer gains inspiration from freedom, individualism and capitalism. In the past lockdowns were not considered an option in pandemic plans. Then Corona came, China imposed lockdowns an her people, the other states followed. The only acceptable role of government during a pandemic is making sure that infected people are isolated, but only those. He quoted studies showing that there is no relation between death rates and lockdowns. Death rates were the same and lockdowns did not make a difference. The Western world learned the wrong lessons from China. We see great economic growth, the government seems to be in control. In wanting to imitate these “achievements”, the West abandons the values of enlightenment: individualism, freedom, self-responsibility. Instead we have adopted some sort of collectivism, central planning, social scores.
The evening’s keynote lecture, which dealt with the future of energy, was given by Prof. Yonatan Dubi. Prof. Dubi warned of environmental populism and emphasized the enormous contribution of fossil fuels to humanity. People in the Western world do not think twice, whether there is energy, when they plug in their electronic devices. In Africa, South-East Asia or Central America that is a major concern. The power of the industrial revolution drove people out of existential poverty. Machines took over some work, which left them with extra time for education. With power humans were fort the first time in history able to fight hostile weather, according to statistics, meteorology is not longer a threat. We need power 24/7, during the night 70% of the day time peak! Power Plants cannot be turned on an off quickly, and we cannot store power in large quantities. So we cannot rely on low density sources such as wind and solar. The main challenge will be to supply power to developing countries.
The evening ended with a debate on the question: What is the desired health policy during the corona pandemic? On the one hand, Dr. Yaron Brock argued that free markets are more effective and efficient than government interventions even in the Corona era. On the other hand, Mr. Amit Ben-Zur, an economist and public policy expert, has favored massive government involvement in the health care system.