Barbara Kolm’s welcome words introducing the FMRS and its history were followed by the first panel on Economic, Capital and Property. Jean-Philippe Delsol spoke about the transmission of property and inheritance, noting the curiosity that there are liberals or “pseudoliberals” who are also less than enthusiastic about private property, basing their argument on the notion that exchange can only take place among the living. He concluded ironically by citing Proudhon, who stated that inheritance taxes destroy the family.
Kolm commenced her talk by noting that the fabric of our society is family, property, and that we can choose for ourselves. She connected Hayek’s warning about the pretense of knowledge to the problems of the hundreds of billions of euros that have been spent to restore economic growth in the wake of COVID lockdowns (as also happened after the 2008 financial crisis). She noted the incredible burden being placed on the taxpayer and made reminded the audience that the Ukraine war is not responsible for current inflation, but rather the European Green Deal.
Dan Mitchell summarized the fiscal history of this century, seeing a continual rise in debt and refusal among politicians to pay it off in times of growth. The other threatening factor is the demographic crisis, where the working population is declining with respect to the aging population. He noted that it’s essential to grow the working population in the private sector. He concluded by pointing to Switzerland’s spending cap as a model for other countries to promote private sector growth and reduce government debt.
The second panel addressed economic sovereignty. François Facchini pointed to the problem of discussing sovereignty with respect to the state in the first place; rather, it’s the sovereignty of the individual that must be protected against the state. Debt should remain domestic, as in Japan, otherwise it offers pretexts for creditors to aggress.
Nicolas Lecaussin picked up on Facchini’s comment regarding state sovereignty, observing that it typically means it’s the politicians who want to decide for everyone else. Instead he cited as an example of individual sovereignty needed in France such a figure as Elon Musk. State activity (e.g. mask mandates) during COVID was a failure, whereas private individuals and companies were able to organize themselves much more efficiently. He spoke also to some weaknesses in the case of France: production taxes, the absence of angel investors, and high public expenditure.
Li Schoolland offered several informative and revealing anecdotes about the failures of China’s central planning, which are not viewed by the government as a loss of money since the funds go from one government bank to another government project – the important thing is that they don’t get into foreigners’ hands. She noted the high levels of waste associated with various projects. For example, housing was in vogue years ago, and 20% of houses are now vacant. Mayors are expected to fulfill GDP quotas, resulting in construction projects designed to last for only a few years, thereby securing the quota and leaving repair or replacement work for the next mayor.