Report: Free Market Road Show in Tbilisi 2019
Tbilisi has always been a stronghold for the Free Market Road Show. And this year again, our event with the New Economic School brought many people, primarily students, to the Sulkhan Saba Orbeliani University on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
On the first panel, five speakers discussed European values and the future of the continent. Paata Sheshelidze opened the debate. Federico Fernandez, a Senior Fellow of the Austrian Economics Center, followed by a impassionate talk on how liberty could make a comeback to Europe – indeed, while the traditional media is out of touch, Fernandez argued, new technologies and the new voices that are being heard through them, are a great opportunity for libertarian ideas. Thomas Bachheimer from the Goldstandard Institute looked at how the European Union breached the rule of law itself during the euro crisis. While supposedly being a defender of this most important principle, it has become an organization fighting against it. And Richard Teather from the University of Bournemouth defended the principle of tax competition and said that one of the reasons the UK decided to leave the EU was precisely that this competitive element has been tried to be abolished by Brussels.
After lunch, the second panel on the “hidden” burden of regulation and government interventionism commenced. Cris Lingle from the Universidad Francisco Marroquin looked at the damaging effects of welfarism and how it defies the individual liberties of the people and the liberal principles that our prosperity is based on.
Kai Weiss from the Austrian Economics Center argued that a monetary system which is not based on the free market, but is government-mandated, can easily lead to disaster – like monetary systems around the world today – and end up in major busts and a redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. Instead, government should leave money to the people.
The panel was rounded out by Vahagn Khachatryan, the former mayor of Yerevan, who explained what is happening in Armenia after its Velvet Revolution in 2018, and Avigdor Jardeni from Israel, who summarized how the government in his country is clamping down on the free economy by over-regulation. Konstantin Topuria from the University of Georgia presented his vision of how higher education can play a role in spreading classical liberal ideas among younger Georgians.
The Free Market Road Show was merely one event on a weekend jam-packed by liberty-oriented events with our FMRS speakers. On Friday, Thomas Bachheimer and Kai Weiss already visited the Open University of Georgia for an event on monetary policy. On Monday, Richard Teather and Gia Jandieri looked at the tax system in Georgia and how a tax system should generally be set up to be least intrusive in the economy. At the same time, Cris Lingle gave a talk at the Agricultural University.
What the weekend made abundantly clear is that Georgians are ready for the libertarian message, and we hope that the FMRS made another case for why freedom is so important for all of us.