Free Societies

2023 Smart Bets Weekly Highlight: Atlas Network Partners in Lithuania and New Zealand

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Each year, as part of Atlas Network’s Smart Bets program, we select 10 high-achieving partner organizations that represent the freedom movement’s established and up-and-coming stars from around the world. These organizations are given a game-changing opportunity to make even more profound advancements in their work within the Smart Bets class. Membership provides partners with additional grant funding, access to collaborative meetings and consultations with the Atlas Network team and other Smart Bets organizations, and networking engagements with prospective donors. The pinnacle of the Smart Bets program is the chance to compete for an additional US$50,000 grand prize to the organization that can demonstrate the most transformational impact of their work at the Liberty Investors Summit, held during the Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner 2022 in New York City.

The 2023 Smart Bets encompass three U.S. states and seven countries, representing five continents. This week’s featured 2023 Smart Bets include:

Lithuanian Free Market Institute | Lithuania
Economics, Civics, and Liberty for Early Teenage Learners

The early teenage years are instrumental in an individual’s development. Neuroscience research tells us that this is the time when children become receptive to social realities, when they begin to distinguish between right and wrong, and when they move from concrete to abstract thinking. Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) sees opportunity in this critical stage of development to strengthen young teens’ understanding of civics and ethics, and establish a springboard for later learning. LFMI has already created two internationally acclaimed textbooks for high school youth, Economics in 31 Hours and A Citizen in 31 Hours. Both textbooks have been officially approved and adopted in schools, and currently reach seven in ten Lithuanian students in the classroom (and are also used in schools in Slovakia, Poland, Georgia, Ukraine, and Uganda).

LFMI is now working to extend the reach and effectiveness of their economic and civic educational resources for early teenagers and fill in the existing gap in school education.

LFMI is creating a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary course that affirms civic, economic, and ethical competences as essential skills for life. Following its high school resources, the new program integrates economics, civics, and ethics through learned skills and attitudes that are based in real-world phenomena (ranging from poverty and robotization to ecology and fake news), with an emphasis on the principles of individual freedom and responsibility. The course will align with Lithuania’s educational goals of utilizing interdisciplinary learning approaches. It will be provided on the country’s largest digital learning platform that supports a nationwide outreach to schools and incorporates diverse multimedia tools. LFMI will onboard teachers on the course methodology, organization, and delivery through an officially accredited professional development program. With teachers’ continued efforts, LFMI hopes to eventually reach one in two early teens and be officially recognized as a benchmark for economic and civic education.

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union | New Zealand
Leading the World from the Bottom of the World

In the 1980s, New Zealand was a leading actor in economic reform and deregulation, ultimately leading to the birth of Reagan/Thatcher-style neoliberalism that spread throughout the Western world. The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union aims to reestablish the country as an economic reformer and global thought leader through their key public policy objectives: lower taxes, less waste, and more transparency.

An upcoming election is expected to deliver a government more favorable to market-based thinking in New Zealand, and the Taxpayers’ Union intends to work alongside the government to be at the forefront of policy development. They plan to work toward their mission by drafting parliamentary bills; shifting the Overton Window by utilizing popular support; campaigning against high taxes, government waste, and inflation; and publicizing high profile government employees or contractors who have had misleading or deceptive trade interactions. The Taxpayers’ Union aims, in the long run, to become the most popularly supported taxpayer and fiscally conservative pressure group in the world, and to establish New Zealand as a pro-freedom policy laboratory. In their words, they will “lead the world from the bottom of the world.”