The Smith Fellowship, one of the many programs of Atlas Network’s Leadership Academy, brings up-and-coming leaders from around the world to Washington D.C., where they receive varied training in marketing, fundraising, management, and other relevant skills.
A recent alumnus of the Smith Fellowship, Garret Edwards, is director of legal studies at Fundación Libertad, a partner organization based in Rosario, Argentina. Garret had more than 40 meetings and attended 15 events with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Embassy of Argentina, Google, FreedomWorks, Mercatus Center, Uber, and the World Bank. He also met with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), economist Deirdre McCloskey, and Lawrence Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education.
Atlas Network conducted an interview with Garret before he left Washington to learn about the fellowship’s most impactful moments and how it has helped him in his work.
Atlas Network: What does the sociopolitical and economic climate of Argentina look like?
Garret Edwards: It really takes an effort to pinpoint the biggest challenges that Argentina is facing. It is the kind of question that has perplexed economists, lawyers, philosophers, scientists and essayists for decades. At the turn of the 19th century, and during the first few decades of the following one, Argentina was among the top ranked countries in the world. In just about every measuring criteria, Argentina was king of the hill. And suddenly, something along the road happened and it has never quite recovered its footing.
Garret and Foundation for Economic Education Lawrence Reed.
As of now, Argentina’s economy is not sustainable in the long run, maintaining a fiscal deficit in order to cover for its public spending. That, of course, produces a cycle of ever-expanding inflation. The thing is, we must not confuse the symptoms with the causes. Inflation is like a fever, it is there just to tell you that something is wrong, but it is not the problem itself. Long-term changes in Argentina require that our education and justice administration system be reformed in-depth and with clear and transparent solutions, and the economy will improve as a result.
Fundación Libertad has a firm commitment in addressing these issues and has done so since its inception. Its many programs and events are aimed at shedding light on those very subjects, among many others, such as public spending and the fiscal deficit it entails and the myriad of ways that the rule of law in Argentina could be improved and preserved.
Garret and renowned economist Deirdre McCloskey
Tell me about Fundación Libertad’s battle against the ‘blue laws’ of Argentina.
For the past couple of years Fundación Libertad has been waging a battle for the freedom to work on Sundays in Rosario and Santa Fe, fighting against blue laws [laws that are designed to restrict or ban certain activities on Sundays] that forced commercial establishments such as supermarkets to close on Sundays. That backwards legislation, passed by the Santa Fe Province and to which the City of Rosario adhered to, was deemed unconstitutional by our Provincial Supreme Court of Justice in December 2017. That has allowed supermarket employees to be able to work on Sundays and consumers to continue shopping on those days as well.
Garret and former Atlas Network President Alex Chafuen.
This is a legal battle that will have a new chapter in 2018, when the National Supreme Court will have to give a final ruling and decide whether this episode comes to a just and fair end or not. We are confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the lower court’s ruling and that the freedom to work will be protected.
You met with a lot of people while you were in Washington. What were some of the highlights?
I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Smith Fellowship will prove to be of invaluable help to Fundación Libertad going forward after its 30th anniversary. Fundación Libertad has been around since our country’s return to democracy, through all its ups and downs. Having reached maturity, the chance of making effective and efficient use of the ties that connect us with like-minded organizations all across the globe will be an indispensable asset to elevate the public policy debate in Argentina.
Garret and U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
Over the Smith Fellowship, I had the utmost pleasure, honor and privilege of meeting with over 40 people and attended more than 15 events. I even had the chance to present on Argentina and Fundación Libertad at Americans for Tax Reform’s international coalition meeting.
I would have to say that taking advantage of the opportunity of being able to speak with the likes of Senator Mike Lee from Utah, Dr. Augusto López-Claros, director of Global Indicators Group at the World Bank, Dr. Tyler Cowen from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, among many others, was a great experience. It’d be a disservice naming just a few of the persons who I met, because all of the meetings will be useful for me and for Fundación Libertad going forward. From public organizations to non-profits, and everything in between, every appointment was eye-opening and provided me with new insights on how the United States works and the rest of the world as well.
Garret reunited with three other graduates of Atlas Network's Think Tank MBA training at Students for Liberty's LibertyCon. From left to right: Kyle Walker (Students for Liberty), Garret, Casey Given (Young Voices), and Robert Schimenz (Stossel in the Classroom).