Last May 27th the Free Market Road Show visited its 35th and last city. It was Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Teaming up with the Danube Institute the event closed an effort of 44 days in a row of traveling across Europe, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. More than four hundred speakers joined us on this adventure – to whom we will remain for ever grateful.
Going back to the Budapest event, Pieter Cleppe from Open Europe opened it talking about the European Union. “The good aspects of the EU are for free and the bad aspects cost a lot of money,” he said. To exemplify his statement he provided us with one of the most colorful examples of the FMRS. He told a story of how a colleague of his bought some useless land in Scotland and nonetheless could qualify as “farmer” according to EU standards and was selected to receive subsidies.
Barbara Kolm’s turn came immediately afterwards. She made the case for “smart regulations”. According to her, they cannot be found neither on the national nor on the supranational level. So called “consumer protection” burdens entrepreneurs with a enormous costs which have to be passed onto consumers.
In Budapest we had also the privilege to have a great speaker from Down Under: Ron Manners, Executive Director of Mannkal Economic Education Foundation. Mr. Manners attacked governments due to their irrational approach towards managing their accounts. “Governments spend unwisely and then blame us for not paying enough taxes,” said the Australian businessman.
The American economist Ben Powell, from the Free Market Institute, criticized the use of greed to explain economic phenomena. “Greed never actually causes anything because it is always there,” he said. “When oil prices went up they blamed greed. But now that they went 50% down nobody says that oil companies are less greedy,” concluded Mr. Powell.
Finally came the turn of Krisztian Orban, a local speaker. He identified the roots of the lack of trust Hungarians have for their own country. “Hungary was the only country in which there was no restitution after Communism.” This shows that the order of importance is: The state comes first and individual property rights come second. “People have learnt that lesson”, said Mr. Orban, “so as soon as they make any money, they take it abroad.”