The FMRS Porto occurred on April 9th, 2022, at TRYP by Wyndham Porto Expo Hotel in conjunction with +Liberdade. André Pinção Lucas delivered the events opening remarks.
Lucas’ opening remarks were followed by a keynote speech on “The Portuguese Entrepreneurial Landscape” delivered by Dan Mitchell. Mitchell discussed indicators to consider when measuring an economy’s health: rule of law, quality of governance, fiscal trade, and regulatory policy. While Portugal’s economy is in a good position by global standards, it is behind the rest of Europe.
The keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion including Cecília Meireles, Luis Reis, and Gastão Taveira. Taviera stated “we are not in a tax haven; we are in a tax hell” regarding Portugal’s economy. The Portuguese economy needs economic reform, including increased savings, increased productivity, and more foreign investment. Meireles discussed the difficult tradeoffs to lowering taxes in Portugal, as 3 million Portuguese out of 10 million are retirees. Reis discussed the lack of conversations surrounding freedom in Portugal, and Portugal’s culture of envy towards the rich. Ultimately, Reis claimed that it is important to teach Portuguese students about freedom and give them hope for a brighter future in Portugal.
The panel was followed by another keynote speech surrounding the topic “Is Liberalism Green?” by Ivana Vojinović. Vojinović discussed the importance of property rights and markets in environmentalism. Cooperation, not conflict, is required to promote environmentalism. Rights need to be both defended and well defined, otherwise pollution and other environmental consequences result. Central planning leads to less innovation and environmentalism. Vojinović asserts that “yes, liberalism is green”, contrary to the misconception that free markets can’t dictate environmentalism.
After the keynote, another panel was conducted involving Filipa Mota, Henrique Pereira dos Santos, and Sergio Loureiro. The panel discussed the importance of property rights and the tragedy of the commons. Without property rights, the environment does not belong to anyone, so no one has incentive to protect it. Property rights are the best way to deal with negative externalities in relation to the environment. The state can employ tools such as incentives and the carbon tax to encourage the market to produce cleaner. These topics are discussed in the British Conservation Alliance and the Austrian Economics Centers’ “Green Market Revolution” book.
Next, a keynote speech on “The Social Impact of Liberalism” was delivered by Eamonn Butler. Butler stated, “because people aren’t told what to do in liberalism, they must become aware of other people”. Therefore, liberalism promote social ties, social progression, and mobility. Butler stated, “you get growth, adaptability, and faster human progress thanks to liberalism”.
Butler’s keynote was followed by a panel including Ana Rita Bessa, Carlos Guimarães Pinto, and Carlos Oliveira. A major problem facing Portugal is that 46% of its citizens have only a basic education up to the sixth grade. This problem needs to be addressed by both the Portuguese Ministry of Education and the private sector. Another educational problem is that the Portuguese education system focuses on egalitarianism, rather than freedom. The panel advocated for a flat tax based on the grounds that it leads to higher economic growth and tax revenue in the long run, despite lower tax revenues in the short run.
Scott B. Nelson then delivered closing remarks, thanking the panelists, the hosts, and the audience. Nelson discussed the fragility of liberalism and its need to be defended, referencing a Thucydides quote “happiness depends on freedom, and freedom depends on courage”. Nelson thanked the audience once more, thus concluding FMRS Porto.