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FEE Speaker Tells Young Eastern Europeans… Liberty Is Rare; Most Have Lived As Slaves Or Serfs

March 28, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

TEMPE, Ariz. — A champion of economic liberty urged some young Eastern Europeans who are studying entrepreneurship and free markets here to strive for achievement and leave the world a better place.
Although “the common man” is a complimentary term, said Lawrence W. Reed, president of the Atlanta-based Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), parents don’t urge their children, “‘Johnny, if you work really hard, you can be common’. . . . Commonness is nothing special.”
Reed was the main speaker during a March 14 evening program in this Phoenix suburb to raise funds to support participants in next year’s “Project Arizona,” which brings Eastern Europeans to the Grand Canyon State whose countries had suffered the debilitating effects of Communism.
They study the U.S. Constitution, American principles, economic initiative, and other topics, including at think tanks and Arizona State University’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership, as well as doing internships, in order to return home to spread that knowledge.
Poland’s Jacek Spendel, founder and director of Project Arizona, chose this state for what he considered to be its unique entrepreneurial energy and liberty. The project is all about inspiring people to go home and do something for freedom, Spendel told the March 14 gathering of participants and about three dozen supporters.
“You have an amazing liberty movement here,” he said. “You should be proud. I call it Arizona exceptionalism.”
This year, the second year of Project Arizona journeying here, brought six participants from Poland, Ukraine, and Croatia to spend three months of study, from January through March.
Praising the importance of “meeting new people” from various backgrounds, Spendel said, “We find beautiful, wonderful people everywhere. . . . This (Project Arizona) is an endeavor that we want to have for one or two decades,” or even longer, to spread its ideas.
Project Arizona (projectarizona.us) receives no government funding and depends on donations. Spendel said an anonymous donor will match dollar-for-dollar any contributions for the 2019 program.
Spendel told The Wanderer he plans to bring six to eight participants here for the 2019 program, people not only with English-language abilities but also a clear direction for their lives in mind.
The Wanderer introduced readers to Project Arizona in its February 15 hardcopy issue, “Young Eastern Europeans Come To U.S. To Study Free-Market Ways With ‘Project Arizona’” (p. 7B), which said 60 to 70 applications had been received for the 2018 program, from which the six participants were selected.
Reed, the main speaker on March 14, said he is “a big fan” of Spendel and Project Arizona, adding, “It’s always great to be back in Arizona.” In his talk, Reed supported free trade with examples from 19th-century French economist Frederic Bastiat.
Bastiat wanted to convince people that they should be glad, “not angry about it,” if someone wanted to provide them with cheaper goods, Reed said.
He told of Bastiat’s parable of the candle makers, who couldn’t compete with the free light provided by the sun, so they complained of the sun’s “merciless dumping” and asked the king to have people paint their windows black, therefore requiring the purchase of more candles.
More plentiful goods mean “accept it eagerly, and don’t complain about unemployed candle makers,” Reed said.
Another example would be a French businessman who sailed with $200,000 worth of goods to the U.S., sold them all, then returned with $300,000 of U.S. goods for French buyers, Reed said. “Only at the (French) customs house does this look like a bad deal,” a trade imbalance, Reed said.
Opposing such an “imbalance” means that “consumers in both countries have been denied an opportunity to improve their standard of living,” he said.
Reed told the gathering, “Liberty is a pretty rare thing. . . . Most have lived as slaves or serfs” or other people worried what government would do to them. “When you have it, you should value it. Can you imagine life without it?”

Heroic Hungarian Priest

Displaying a copy of his recent book, Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction (Intercollegiate Studies Institute), Reed said each person he wrote about “left the world a better place, or a freer place.”
The kind of hero he wanted to write about, Reed said, exhibited heroism over a long period, not simply running into a burning building one day.
His organization’s website, FEE.org, is brightly designed, with a number of interesting articles that demonstrate the worth of personal initiative, not deadening government control.
By navigating to “staff” at the bottom of the home page, then clicking on Reed’s photograph, one finds the stories of compelling individuals, written by different authors and edited by Reed, including, “This priest didn’t back down from the Nazis or Communists.”
That would be Hungarian priest Kornel Hummel, who served a community of blind people even as National Socialists and Communists cast their blight.
This story, by Hungarian Zoltan Kesz, says: “Hummel knew that his decision to stay and protect his flock might have a fatal ending. But he was a man of faith, courage, and duty. Twenty years earlier, while preparing to be a Catholic priest, he had a dream one night that he would be shot to death by a soldier.
“He told his students he believed it may have been a sign that he would someday be a martyr to the faith, and that he would willingly accept it if it proved to be the case. Once shy and reserved from behind the pulpit, Hummel’s fortitude and resolve came bursting forth when a real need surfaced,” Kesz wrote.
With the Nazis out of the picture but with the Soviets in control in 1945, Kesz wrote, Hummel was finishing hearing Confessions one evening when he was informed that a Soviet soldier was harassing a blind woman. Racing to the scene to protect her, Hummel was shot in the chest by the soldier and died saying the words, “Deo Gratias.”
“He didn’t run from danger to save himself,” Kesz wrote. “He did what he could for the lives and liberties of others, which is perhaps the greatest service any human can provide to another.”

A Fun Culture

An article with a lighter note was posted March 19 at the FEE site, “What the Irish experience in America can teach us,” by James Walpole, who recalled the bigotry that Irish-Americans had faced.
“I don’t know and can’t explain all the causes of the ultimate acceptance of Irish culture, but I do think St. Patrick’s Day has one answer,” Walpole wrote. “This is the only time of year most people think about Irish culture. And when they do, all they have to do is look around and see people having a good time, dancing, drinking, and listening to good music.
“Irish culture is much more than what we see on St. Patrick’s Day, to be sure, but what we see then is by no means a bad side of it,” Walpole wrote. “It’s not easy to keep a fun culture down….
“You can’t ban a people that are having more fun than your people,” he concluded. “Fun — this is a small but important part of how prejudice and xenophobia loses (sic).”
After the evening’s speakers concluded, The Wanderer asked Reed about his reaction to the Trump administration’s tariff program. Reed said, “. . . I understand the feeling of wanting to teach a lesson to countries that are not fair to us,” but “we, too, have our own policies that subsidize businesses. . . . We do these things all the time. . . . It’s not that we’re without sin when it comes to trade.”
In a few years, Reed said, “we may find that the world is a more protectionist place. . . . I think we’re playing with fire.”
However, he said, the Trump administration also is doing good things, like deregulation, tax reform, and reducing burdens on businesses.
One of Project Arizona’s recent activities was polling door-to-door for people’s opinions of photo radar, a personal-contact polling practice that’s not common in Europe, Natalia Drozd, of Ukraine, told The Wanderer.
People said they felt safer with photo radar, she said, but they didn’t like speed cameras taking their pictures.
Now there’s a trade-off between security and freedom.

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