Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Truth to a declining power

Economist Václav Klaus, the Czech president who has a habit of speaking truth to power, rained on the global warming parade at last week’s WSJ-sponsored WSJ’s Eco:nomics conference.

In a familiar pose, Klaus was the only dissenter from the environmental orthodox among politicians and PC business leaders — at least as reported in Monday’s special Eco;nomics supplement in the dead tree Journal.

But his most prescient remarks in an interview with Robert Thomson of the WSJ were on the decline of economic freedom in the US:

Thomas: Mr. President, obviously during the dark days of communism, America was a beacon for you and many other people in Central and Eastern Europe. What are your impressions of contemporary America?

Klaus: Sitting here in this room in the last two hours and the coming from, first Europe, and, second, from a former communist country where I spent most of my life, I almost don't believe my eyes to see how much you believe in government and how much you don't believe in the market.

This is for me a shocking experience. And I have to say that very loudly. As a professor of economics, I have my theoretical arguments about the impossibility of running the economy from above.

As a person who spent almost 50 years of his life in a communist country, I know how crazy it is to introduce schemes like the cap and trade and similar ideas, how devastating and damaging for the economy all those ideas really are. So I'm rather frustrated. It seems to me that to fight for freedom, free markets, is still the task of today, even if we hoped almost 20 years ago in the moment of the fall of communism that it was over.

This is the same in Europe these days. There is one EU summit after another one weekend after another, there is a summit trying to find solutions. But I don't think that this solution will come from the government.
Some 170 years ago, we needed de Tocqueville to explain to us what we could not see about our own society. Now we need those who were enslaved by statism — and freed by American courage during the Cold War — to see how the American experiment will turn out unless someone stands up for economic freedom.

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