The Ongoing Crisis — Special Report from “Emergency Session” at FreedomFest

Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

“One rarely comes across other venues in life that remotely match FreedomFest’s intellectually elevated atmosphere of free association for free minds.” — Gene Jewett, attendee

More than 2,000 investors and concerned citizens gathered for FreedomFest last week at Bally’s Events Center in Las Vegas to hear from over 150 speakers, including Sen. Rand Paul, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Steve Forbes, John Mackey, Peter Schiff, Doug Casey, Robert Kiyosaki, and a host of financial gurus, authors and think tank experts.

Here are some of the highlights:

–Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal said that the Supreme Court’s upholding of ObamaCare was “the most important and worst decision in the last 40 years.”

–Steve Forbes went so far as to accuse President Obama of being a “hard-core socialist” who plans to nationalize 16% of the economy (healthcare). These are scary times, indeed.

–A standing room-only crowd heard Dinesh D’Souza talk about his film “2016: Obama’s America,” based on his bestselling book, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.” D’Souza warned that America could be facing another four years of a stagnating economy and further loss of liberty if Obama gets re-elected.

–Wayne Allyn Root electrified the audience when he reported that capitalists and entrepreneurs were going on strike against wasteful, big government along the lines of Ayn Rand’s novel, “Atlas Shrugged.”

–European expert John Browne emphasized that Europe, with a combined GDP of $17 trillion, is the world’s largest economy and cannot be ignored. However, he was not optimistic about its outlook in the face of the fiscal crisis in Greece, Spain, and Italy.

–Steve Moore announced that he and Art Laffer (of the famous Laffer Curve) have just released a report on 30 major countries that have engaged in aggressive deficit spending to get them out of the Great Recession, and not a single one has seen an economic recovery. I did a special pre-conference session on Austrian economics, which is the only school that preaches a return to sound classical economics of balanced budgets and sound money.

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–Tom Palmer of the Atlas Foundation said that Egypt is the “big prize” in the Middle East and has just fallen into the hands of the radical Islamic Brotherhood.

–Keith Fitz-Gerald, editor of Money Map, offered an optimistic note that China won’t collapse like many doomsdayers are predicting (including Bert Dohmen and Ty Andros).

–David McAlvany reported that debt has been growing at a 16% rate since 2001 — an unsustainable rate — and long-term unemployment has doubled in the United States. Job creation and destruction are the key issues in America.

–Peter Schiff said the Fed (or the Treasury) can’t afford to raise rates and will do everything they can to avoid it.

–Sen. Rand Paul detailed his encounters with the Transportation Security Administration and reported on his efforts to privatize and rein in the second-most hated agency of the U.S. government (behind the Internal Revenue Service).

–In the mock trial on Friday evening, “Wall Street on Trial,” Steve Moore and his Wall Street star witnesses were found not guilty, by a vote of 12-0, of malfeasance of the public trust! John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, and author George Gilder complained that Wall Street needed to clean up its act, not engage in crony capitalism and not get bailouts from Washington.

–At the Anthem film festival, “The Afghan Nightmare,” produced and directed by Norwgegian documentarian Klaus Erik Okstad, won the FreedomFest Grand Prize. Okstad came all the way from Norway to receive the award. In fact, we had attendees from all over the world, including South Africa, Australia, Argentina, and The Netherlands, among other countries.

–In the closing panel, I asked the participants to respond to newsman John Stossel’s comment to me after we both listened to an upbeat speech by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (sponsored by the Manhattan Institute), “We are toast.” All of the panelists — Steve Forbes, Grover Norquist, Erick Erickson, Matt Gibbe, and Sen. Rand Paul — strongly disagreed. They all thought we could turn things around, just as Canada rebounded in the mid 1990s. The panelists were especially optimistic about the November elections. “We are at freedom’s crossroad,” concluded Steve Forbes. Sen. Paul added, “Libertarians have more power inside the Republican Party.”

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–We had our first wedding at FreedomFest! Congratulations to Brian and Valerie June for tying the knot at our gala Saturday banquet. “We love FreedomFest and thought this would be the best place to get married — among the friends of liberty!” stated Brian.

The exhibit hall, “the trade show for liberty,” was abuzz with representatives of more than 100 think tanks, freedom organizations, and financial services companies. Manhattan Institute and the Permanent Portfolio Fund were there for the first time, and PERC, a Montana-based, free-market environmental think tank that is celebrating its 20th anniversary, also was represented. C-SPAN interviewed more than a dozen authors and committed to return next year.

And the Anthem film festival, directed by Jo Ann Skousen, attracted huge crowds this year. Documentaries dominated the film festival, covering such issues as the financial crisis, vaccine safety, global warming, states’ rights, the futility of war, and entrepreneurship.

Audio recordings of FreedomFest 2012 now are available! Go to www.miracleofamerica.com.

Next Year We Move to Caesars Palace!

When moderator Chip Wood asked Sen. Paul if he would come back to FreedomFest next year, the lawmaker replied “absolutely!” Sen. Paul told me he considers FreedomFest the most important freedom event of the year and wants to be a part of it.

Next year, we move to Caesars Palace. Our theme will be “Are We Rome?” Mark the dates, July 10-13, 2013. We have lots of great ideas planned, including a debate at the Roman Senate (Sen. Paul’s idea). We have prepared this 2 ½ minute video: https://vimeo.com/45821274.

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Naomi Brockwell, an attendee, just wrote me: “I’m counting the days until next year’s festival. Literally. 360 to go….” Me, too.

If you never have attended, consider the following feedback that I received. FreedomFest 2012 was a “blast”… “wall to wall excitement”… and “the best libertarian conference I’ve ever attended — by far.” These are just some of the superlatives I heard this year. I hope to see you next year.

You Blew It! Learn from Hong Kong’s Amazing Transportation System

My wife and I are here in Hong Kong, before heading to Shanghai, where we will be giving some lectures at the Austrian economics seminar sponsored by Li and Ken Schoolland. (See the details by going to www.isil.org).

When I visit Hong Kong, I always am amazed at how well the transportation system works here. The airport is not only beautiful, it works. It is built far away from downtown, but the airport offers a high-speed train that gets you into the city within 24 minutes. Once you are in the city, you can take a bus or a taxi to your hotel. Everything is clean. You can get around the city easily by a variety of means — subway, ferry, taxi, bus, or private car. And there are no potholes.

In short, Hong Kong leaders (and other Asian cities) engage in enlightened central planning when it comes to infrastructure. They were believers in Say’s law, which focuses on productive saving and investment as the key to economic growth.

In the United States, our transportation and infrastructure investment is pathetic. We live by Keynes law, in which consumption drives the economy and we constantly under-invest and under-save. It shows. We have wonderful malls and downtown entertainment, but getting to those malls and downtown entertainment is a trying experience. Our airports, roads and bridges are falling apart.

What to do about it? Read Robert Poole’s excellent monthly report on the need for a transportation revolution at www.reason.org.

 

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