Libertarian Media

Mu Aye Pu – City of tomorrow

From Kurt Hanson: I have some good news to report. We have reached our funding goal of $350,000. A surge of investment last week put us over the finish line, in fact we are oversubscribed.
I want to thank you for publishing the story on Mu Aye Pu because that is what kicked off the investment interest. We did in 4 months what I thought would take a year.
This will be the founding of a city of tomorrow in the jungle, and there will be nothing quite like it in the world. We are turning a former war zone into an amazing oasis of peace and prosperity that will be home to 100,000 or more people.
Here is a recent article about our business and our plans to raise $100 million early next year to build. We already have our first business customer, a high-end wellness clinic wants to set up shop at MAP.

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Categories: Libertarian Media

Killing Indonesia’s future with kindness

By Rainer Heufers, Executive Director of Center for Indonesian Policy Studies

Do a little search on domestic news about education in Indonesia and be confronted by every conceivable government program to improve the quality of education in the country. From fierce debates on whether children should attend 5 school days instead of the usual 6, Indonesian President Widodo’s program to change the‘character’ of children in schools, to stamping down on ‘illegal’ students who did not go through the new and confusing government school registration process.

It seems that the government is becoming the overbearing parent anxious for it’s child to do well, overloading it’s children with too many regulations and interventions, and then chiding them for not being able to follow them.

What’s needed is a step back. Schools, parents and students need the space and the freedom to find what best suits them and to grow into their own.

CIPS has been looking into low-cost private schools now for the last two years. Our most recent research goes into the second poorest district of Jakarta, called Koja. We were amazed to find that in Koja there were far more private schools than public ones (85 private compared to 55 public). Of these 85 private schools – 51 charge less that 10% of the minimum wage, making them “low-cost” by our standards.

We visualized the location of these schools in a map, and decided to record their inspiring stories in a series of short videos.

Of these schools, we met Mr. Ignatius Meak, or as his students and teachers simply call him – Mr. Ig. He started the Bina Pusaka primary school for his community in 1975. As a Catholic, he was met with skepticism by many of the Muslim parents in area thinking it was a Catholic school. Now the school enrolls mostly Muslim children, and is a beautiful example of religious tolerance amongst a community dedicated to giving its children a bright future.

Or take the Al-Khairiyah vocational school that is doing more to secure better job prospects for its students than centralized government programs could ever achieve in a decade. The school teaches the children practical trade skills and are giving them access to job opportunities through cooperation with large automotive and logistics companies, and have even placed them in jobs abroad.

So why aren’t we doing more to recognize the hidden achievements of these schools?

Let low-income communities like the ones in Koja have the freedom to build their own schools, and let poor parents decide what education they want for their children. Then step back and watch children flourish.

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Categories: Libertarian Media

Urgent Help Needed for Libertarian Flood Victim in Sierra Leone

by Mustapha Cole and the Sierra Leone Liberty Group

“A massive flood and mudslides hit our desperately poor West African country of Sierra Leone on August 14 that claimed more than 1000 lives. The secretary of our Sierra Leone Liberty Group, Mohamed, lost all of his property and one member of his family. I, too, lost my home.

We are calling for urgent help for Mohamed and myself in the amount of $2500 to fix up our own homes. Any extra funds will be used to help other homeless in our community. The sooner the better, as we also face the possibility of a cholera outbreak, as happened after floods in 2012. The more money we can raise, the more people we can help.”

Liberty International’s Executive Director Jim Elwood reports that LI is collecting money to assist Mustapha, Mohamed, and if possible, their neighbors. The funds will be transferred to Mustapha Cole, President of the Sierra Leone Liberty Group (SLLG) in Freetown. Mr. Cole will distribute funds and will document how these are processed. The situation in Sierra Leone from this flooding is dire and urgent. Please help!

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[Ed. Note: Mustapha Cole lost members of his own family in the Ebola epidemic a few years ago, yet was active in private efforts to combat the disease, with government health aid virtually non-existent. Last year he organized a student liberty seminar. We have previously sent him funds for his liberty work and can vouch for him].


Categories: Libertarian Media

Congress Should Let Puerto Rico Offer Immigrant Work Visas

Arnaldo Cruz and Marc Joffe

Most observers trace Puerto Rico’s financial crisis to a long economic recession on the island, a downturn that is often blamed on Congress’ decision to phase out the tax exemption on Puerto Rican corporate earnings between 1996 and 2006. A deeper look at the numbers suggests that something else is happening — and that an out-of-the-box policy change could turn around the island’s economy. Rather than ask the federal government for statehood, Puerto Rico’s government should instead request the option to issue territorial work visas.

Government statistics show that Puerto Rico’s GDP has fallen about 5 percent over the last 10 years.  But per capita GDP has remained flat. So the mega-recession is attributable to population loss. After peaking at 3.83 million in 2004, the island’s population fell to 3.41 million last year. The loss is concentrated among young people and families. The proportion of Puerto Ricans over 65 has risen from 12 percent in 2004 to 14.5 percent last year.

Puerto Rico’s insolvency is not the first municipal bond default triggered by population issues. Detroit went bankrupt after a catastrophic fall in population over a period of decades. Long forgotten is the wave of Florida municipal bond defaults that occurred in the late 1920s and 1930s. In the early 1920s, civic leaders borrowed in anticipation of mass migration to the state. But after a hurricane and fruit fly epidemic, people stopped coming and cities couldn’t shoulder the debts they had taken on.

Puerto Rico’s population decline is attributable to falling birth rates and out-migration. Some people have left the island due to corporate downsizing, but many more are leaving to pursue better opportunities on the mainland. Census figures show that Puerto Rico has suffered net out-migration of 360,000 since 2010. Since Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, there is no restriction on them moving to the 50 states.

While earlier generations of Puerto Ricans migrated to poor neighborhoods in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, Florida is now the favored destination. Orlando is just a three-hour flight from San Juan and the weather is similar. With over 300,000 Puerto Ricans in the Orlando area and more than a million across the state, new arrivals from the Commonwealth are likely to be in the company of friends and relatives. They can also find familiar cuisine and other cultural amenities. Meanwhile, median household income in Florida is more than double that in Puerto Rico and jobs are more readily available.

Puerto Rico migration appears to be part of a larger trend that is also adversely affecting middle America. Just as young people are moving from small towns to big cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, many young, ambitious Puerto Ricans are trying to establish themselves and build their careers in Florida’s more cosmopolitan cities. This is a megatrend that probably can’t be changed by adjusting tax and regulatory policies on the island.

The best guess right now is that Puerto Rico out-migration will continue. As health care and government services deteriorate, the rate of departures could even accelerate. Given the differential in living standards between Puerto Rico and the mainland, it is hard to imagine large numbers of Puerto Ricans moving back to the island — at least not until they retire.

While life in Puerto Rico may no longer be attractive to many Puerto Ricans, it remains a great option for those living in impoverished Caribbean and Latin American countries. Border patrol agents periodically detain migrants attempting to illegally reach Puerto Rico by boat, mostly from Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Rather than deter immigrants, Puerto Rico should be welcoming them — at least those willing and able to work. With the mainland U.S. closing its doors under President Trump, many immigrants would likely consider work permits valid only in Puerto Rico. This option should be welcome in impoverished and crime-ridden Latin American countries such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

It would be especially attractive to Venezuelans now facing an economy in freefall. Many Venezuelans have already moved to neighboring Colombia, both legally and illegally. Peru has received over 5,000 emergency visa applications from Venezuelans after establishing a new program in February.

Puerto Rico can compete for these immigrants, and anyone relying on cashflows from Puerto Rico’s government should welcome their presence and the tax revenues they would generate. The federal government should grant Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories the right to grant work visas. These documents would only be valid in the territories issuing them; any visa holder travelling to the 50 states would be treated like any other prospective immigrant from his or her home nation.

Since the territories are separated from the U.S. mainland by long distances and large bodies of water, visa holders would not be able to stream into the 50 states. Their documents could be checked at each territorial airport to prevent them from slipping in via a domestic flight.

One argument made against immigration to the U.S. is that most immigrants don’t speak English as a first language and may not assimilate, thereby diluting American culture. This isn’t a problem with Latin Americans moving to Puerto Rico, whose official language is Spanish.

This suggestion is similar to an idea now before Congress. Senate Bill S.1040, the State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017, introduced by Ron Johnson (R-WI) and co-sponsored by John McCain (R-AZ) would allow US states to grant work visas. As written, the bill only applies to the fifty states and the District of Columbia. It also limits each state to 5000 visas per year. Puerto Rico should be added to this bill and given a higher quota.

The concept of work visas being issued by sub-sovereign governments is nothing new. As the Cato Institute’s David Bier points out, Canada and Australia already have such programs.

Puerto Rico is shrinking and fine-tuning its economic policies won’t change that. A new wave of immigrants could rejuvenate Puerto Rico’s economy and contribute new tax revenues that will allow the Commonwealth government to meet more of its obligations.

Note: One of the co-authors, Marc Joffe, discussed this idea at the Liberty International World Conference on August 10 at the Fajardo Inn.

Categories: Libertarian Media

Corruption and Liberty in Peru

Transcript from Jorge Luis Hérnandez Chanduví speech at the Liberty International World Conference in Puerto Rico.

I was gladly surprised when I received an invitation from my friend Ken Scholland to participate in this important event. I was surprised because I hadn’t heard from him in a while and I was happy because I am very interested in freedom related topics and I defend freedom and I promote it in every opportunity that life offers me.

As a personal confession, my father was a businessman who despites the government in all its forms, even though sometimes he didn’t clearly understand what exactly he hated. I grow up hearing him say that the government didn’t let him work. In other words, the government didn’t let him generate wealth as a consequence of keeping benefiting others with his work.

I also heard him say many times that commerce is the one activity that will more likely take us out of poverty. This speech and everything that I will say today is no more that the development of my father’s ideas.

Well, let’s get right to the topic that we are supposed to discuss today. What is corruption? Why does it exist? What is the relation between corruption and any given government system?

What is the first thing that comes to your mind, my friends, when you hear the word Peru? Is it Machu Picchu? Is it MVLL? If this were the case, I would be very happy. Although, for those who follow Latin America news, Peru can also means Alberto Fujimori, one of the few south american former presidents incarcerated for crimes that go all the way from embezzlement to kidnapping and homicide. In fact, he was convicted for the murder of nine students and one professor from La Cantuta University in Lima. He was also convicted for the kidnapping of one journalist and one businessman and he was also acussed for the irregular payment of fifteen millions dollars to his former advisor Vladimiro Montesinos.

Unfortunately, he is not the only former Peruvian president with problems with the law: Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia are in custody, accused of money laundering charges. The Prosecutor Office accuses them of having received irregular money in the 2006 and 2011 presidential campaigns. In the first case, from Venezuela and in the second, from Brazil through the companies Odebrecht and OAS.

Similarly, the ex-president Alejandro Toledo is in condition of fugitive. He has been given two orders of preventive custody and an international order of capture. The first order of imprisonment is also for the crime of money laundering (created in Costa Rica by a ghost company called Ecoteva) and the other request for prison is related to the case of Brazilian megacorruption called Lava Jato: as in the case of the Humala – Heredia spouses, the Public Prosecutor accused Toledo of having received a bribe of $ 20 million from Odebrecht to grant them public works during his term.

Another former president Alan García Pérez (twice president of my country) is also being investigated, although justice has not yet reached him.

Long story short, at least three out of four of the most recent peruvian presidents have been accused of corruption or are in prison. Nelson Mandela said: “In my country we go to prison first and then become President”. In Peru, the opposite seems to happen: you become President, then you go to prison.

Well, when such reality slaps us in the face, all citizens – and politicians, above all, who tend to take advantage of this situation- raise their voices and promise to strengthen the fight against corruption. In my country, there have been unsuccessful attempts to combat this scourge for decades especially after the fall of Alberto Fujimori’s autocratic regime. But nothing has worked. Everything has failed. To paraphrase an idea in one of Augusto Monterroso’s tales, “when Peruvians wake up, corruption is still there”.

I believe that since everything done so far does not work, we must try other alternatives. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” Albert Einstein used to say, and he was right. But before proposing any solution, we must pause for a moment and analyze the problem.

Let us first try a general and simple definition of corruption. According to Transparencia Internacional, for example, corruption “consists of the abuse of power for its own benefit. It can be classified into large-scale, minor and political corruption, depending on the amount of funds lost and the sector in which it occurs. “

By this definition, anyone holding power can commit corrupt acts. Corruption then presupposes an authority or a decision maker, that is, someone who voluntarily assumes the position of making decisions that affect others. This person, therefore, can be at the head of a company or perform a public function. It is clear that corruption can occur in the private sphere, as well as in the public one.

However, I – and most of the scholars who have tackled the topic of corruption in Latin America – are interested in dealing with the corruption that appears from within the government apparatus, because the consequences of this corruption end up being greater and more damaging than corruption that occurs wthin the private sphere (the so-called “corporate corruption”).

Concerning the first type of corruption mentioned above, those who end up paying the consequences of a bribe of an authority (to get irregularly a contract to build a road or a college, for example) are the taxpayers. Regarding the second type, the consequences of an unfair act (for instance, the principal of a school that charges a commission to a publishing house that had a monopoly on the sale of books to students) are suffered by a smaller universe (parents and students in this school, in the example)

In this line, Spanish professor Lorenzo Bernaldo de Quiroz argues that “To practice corruption is to use directly or indirectly the political or administrative power outside its legitimate sphere to seek advantages in money or in goods, and distribute them among friends, relatives, servers or supporters. Corruption necessarily involves the use of the state apparatus on a discretionary basis to grant benefits to specific individuals or legal entities”.

So if corruption consists of the abuse of (political) power for its own benefit, the most convenient thing to do would be to diminish the power of those who hold it and access it from time to time (five years in the case of my country) through legitimate means or not. And this limitation of power implies establishing a real state of law and a true market economy.

Why do politicians seek to benefit themselves or benefit their friends when they obtain power? It’s simple. Because they act rationally, because they are profit maximizers. The studies on corruption start from a basic methodological error: the idea that human nature undergoes a mutation according to the scope in which individuals develop their activities.

According to this idea, individuals behave one way when they act in the market and another when they wear burocrats costumes. They believe that by magic, when they obtain a public office, they are stripped of all selfish interest and devote themselves to the service of the common good. Nothing further from reality. The individual behaves the same here and there. And the bureaucrat accepts bribes and steals because the system allows it. “If self-interest dominates the majority of men in all commercial enterprises, why not also in their political enterprises,” says Professor Bernaldo de Quiroz.

Now, if we take power from politicians, who do we give it to? Obviously to the source from which this power originates: the individuals. Let us divide the power that politicians now hold in small shares and hand them over to the citizens (let us give it back to them).

That would be, from my perspective, the first step to fight against corruption. But let’s go further. As Enrique Ghersi quotes, “the main error is that we have not understood what corruption is. Generally, we take it as a CAUSE, despite being an EFFECT”.

That’s right, corruption is an effect. The effect of having an intrusive state, a state that approaches its claws to properties that are or should be eminently private. Let us analyze this in detail, again following the ideas already developed by Professor Ghersi.

Corruption is an effect of a intrusive state, in a general way, but in a more specific or particular way it is an effect of the high cost of legality. No law is neutral. It entails costs, but it also brings benefits. What is the cost of the law? The time and information necessary to fulfill it; in other words, whatever I invest on it in order to comply with it or whatever I stop doing in order to do the same.

Then, applying the economic approach, if the law is very expensive, if the costs of it exceed the benefits of complying with it, simply the citizen will not comply. Here it is important to keep in mind that ethical assessments are an additional component of the scale of values ​​through which the individual makes rational decisions.

As Ghersi points out, “This is a pure decision based on individual utility, in which the citizen uses law as a means made available to him to make decisions. If the law requires a lot of time, people do not comply. If the law requires too much information, people do not comply.” It is the so-called economy of law.

Following this discursive line, corruption appears when there is a bad economy of law. Corruption breaks out when the costs of complying with the law exceed its benefits and, therefore, the citizen breaches or, better expressed, gives a bribe in order not to comply and not to be penalized for it.

Thus, the “bribe” or “aceitada” (as it is recently called in my country, which means “oiling”) becomes an insurance policy to work quietly, to protect against the application of an excessively burdensome law.

Consequently, a second measure, a more specific measure to fight corruption is to reduce the cost of the law. And where do laws “cost” less? In what kind of government laws cost less? It is simple. The cost of the law is a reflection of power. The greater power a ruler holds, the greater the number of laws is to be enacted, the greater their legislative haemorrhage will be, as a demonstration of a power that knows no limits.

As there is no counterweight, oversight, the laws dictated by a robust power have the evident purpose of favoring certain interest groups, “their” interest groups, their friends, to the detriment of the majorities that are forced to comply even though they are so absurd and expensive.

Here, it is also worth mentioning Robert Klitgaard’s famous formula (C = M + D-A), according to which “Corruption equals monopoly plus discretion minus accountability”. Therefore, a government regime will further promote state corruption while granting greater monopoly and concentration of public decision, as long as there is less control through the so-called political counterweights and the less obligation the officials have to account for their management. As is evident, these are characteristics of totalitarian governments.

On the other side, when power is limited, laws tend to be less expensive. Certainly, political counterweights and even empowered and organized citizens – clothed with a recovered power – can push back the ruler who tries to pass an expensive law.

The most effective way to fight corruption is not to put the nation in the hands of immaculate beings with a natural predisposition to the common good, but rather preventing the power they have from being misused. It is not just who rules the question we must ask ourselves but also how much power we should give to this ruler. And with all that said, the answer becomes obvious: the least possible so that it can do the least possible damage. The two instruments for restricting the government power are the rule of law and the market economy. Consequently, and returning to the initial question “where do laws cost the least? Well, in a system where the division of powers governs, where laws govern, not men, where the political power is separated from economic activity. In short, in a system where the greatest power resides in the citizens and not in the rulers.

A final reflection: I firmly hope that my country will continue to move forward on the path of development, a road that began in the 1990s with the structural reforms introduced by the now imprisoned former President Fujimori and have continued to this day.

Recently, the Lava Jato scandal – the mega-corruption case coming from Brazil where a group of large companies led by Odebrecht obtained public contracts in exchange for bribes to several Latin American rulers, including two Peruvian former presidents, as I pointed out at the beginning – has hit the peruvian economy as much or even more than “El Niño” Phenomenon.

However, we have hope in what our current President, Pedro Pablo Kuckynski, can do in the next four years (he has just completed a year of government). PPK, as our president is known in America, is a firm believer of the benefits of democracy and free market economy. For some reason he has been an economist at the World Bank and an investment banker.

As the latest Economic Freedom Index reports, “Peru’s economy is relatively open and welcomes most foreign investment, but regulatory delays and lack of predictability in regulations are problematic for foreign investors. Government corruption is a serious problem, and drug trafficking has grown, limiting foreign investor confidence in the economy. State-owned enterprises remain very active in the economy, especially in the petroleum sector. Nevertheless, poverty rates have been reduced, and Peru has benefited from significant foreign investment in mining and manufacturing. Peru has started numerous trade agreements with the U.S. and other countries and is a founding member of the Pacific Alliance. ”

In other words, although we have so much more to improve, Peru shows some signs of being on the right track.

Thank so much.




Categories: Libertarian Media

MA program at CEVRO Institute

Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) – 3-trimester international master’s program in Prague, Modeled on University of Oxford.

Integrates political philosophy, politics and political economy, Renowned lecturers from Czech, US and European universities

Categories: Libertarian Media

Get a FREE Digital Copy of Healing Our World When You Help Its Romanian Translator

When the Berlin Wall fell in late 1989, and the Soviet Union crumbled, books about liberty in Eastern European languages were non-existent. A few passionate liberty-lovers rectified this by spending their free time translating pivotal freedom-oriented books into their native languages.

Valentina Nicolaie was one of those intrepid individuals. She translated Healing Our World and several other important books into her native language (Anthem, by Ayn Rand; The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible by Ken Schoolland; La liberte – deux ou trois choses que je connais d elle by Christian Michel, and Defending the Undefendable, by Walter Block). Finally, Romanians could learn about freedom’s benefits in their own language! Valentina received little or no compensation for this monumental work.

Now Valentina needs our help. She has metastatic breast cancer and wasn’t able to withstand the recommended chemotherapy. Valentina has turned instead to alternative methods, such as high dose Vitamin C infusions, but, as in the U.S., she’ll need to pay out of her own pocket.

Liberty International, formerly International Society for Individual Liberty, is raising funds to help Valentina. We awarded her the Bruce Evoy Memorial Award in 2001 for her dedicated service to liberty under trying conditions in her country. Your contribution towards her medical fund is tax-deductible.

Best of all, EVERY contributor will receive a PDF of Valentina’s Romanian translation of the 1992 edition of Healing Our World to share with any Romanians that you might know. Donors who contribute $25 or more will also get a Kindle, ePub, and PDF of the 2015 English edition of Healing, which sells on for $9.99.

Please contribute now and help Valentina live to translate another day!

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Categories: Libertarian Media
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