Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Two top events for Europe

There are two events this summer that I'm looking forward to with anticipation. One is the annual conference of the International Society for Individual Liberty. It is being held starting Friday in Prague. If you are in Europe and would be interested check out here for more information. It will be great fun to catch up with old friends and meeting new ones and I like Prague very much.

Now you will have more time to plan ahead for the big Reason conference in Amsterdam in August. It is high on my agenda. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the irreverent cartoon series South Park will be speaking. I will enjoy meeting them. But the entire conference is filled with people I would love to hear or see again. Ron Bailey, the science editor from Reason, will be there. I last saw him in South Africa at the World Conference on Sustainable Development. We were both delegates to that UN shindig for the high priests of the green religion.

Bruce Bawer will be there. Bruce is an expat American forced to live in Norway because the US won't recognize his same sex relationship while Norway will (his partner is Norwegian). Bruce is the author of While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. I have read the book and recommend it.

Andrei Illarionov, the former advisor to Vladimir Putin, will be speaking. I worry about Andrei as he has been a high profile and vocal critic of the new dictatorship in Russia. I only met Illarionov a few months ago for the first time in Berlin. Mart Laar, the former prime minister of Estonia will be speaking. Johan Norber who wrote In Defense of Global Capitalism will be there and it will be nice to finally meet him.

An old friend for some decades, Tom Palmer, from the Cato Institute will be speaking as well. There is a whole range of speakers and it shall be a lot of fun.

I will be especially interested in the discussion with two leaders of the liberal think tank movement from Eastern Europe: Jan Oravec of the Slovakian FA Hayek Foundation and Natasha Srdoc-Samy fromt he Adriatic Institute for Public Policy from Croatia. I met Natasha last year in Zagreb at a conference she helped organize. I am a real optimist for Eastern Europe. I like to tell people that the Iron Curtain never came down -- the window is just on the other side now. While Old Europe (the EU) is wallowing in the regulatory mire and muck and stagnant or in decline Eastern Europe is embraching reform and developing rapidly.

It saddens me deeply to have to say it but in many ways the former satellites of the Soviet Union are more free than the United States now. They are moving in the right direction while the US is rapidly decaying into a dictatorship run by a man with authoritarian visions and the desire to socially engineeer the world. Those kind are always dangerous and when under the delusion that they are in power because a god wants them there --- well watch out people. So keep an eye on Eastern Europe. I still think our Easteran European friends ought to form their own version of the EU but based on free trade and movement only (no common currency and no uniform system of regulations which means regulation at the lowest common denominator). If they did I suspect in a few years time the stagnant dead economies of Germany and the very pathetic French will come clamouring to them begging to join their union instead. Of course they should say they are welcome provided they make some necessary reforms first.

Now my apologies for not blogging recently. I was in Berlin and without an internet connection. I am currently in Amsterdam visiting with friends from the US who flew over and my hotel here has a connection hence this post. I head to Prague shortly and don't know if I will have a connection there but will try to catch up some then. And then back to Berlin where my internet connection is scheduled but in "old Europe" such things take time. No dynamism left there I fear. They say it will be about a week after I get back before it is working. (Two weeks to install a phone line are what I was getting when I lived in Africa, not in a first world nation.)