April 22, 2016 Print

In the 1980s, Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman helped to popularize the ideas of liberty and free-market economics through his unprecedented Free to Choose series on public television. That tradition of scholarship and public media exposure is being carried on today by The World Show in collaboration with Atlas Network partner the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), with their Free Markets television series. The half-hour installments of Free Markets air in both Canada and the United States on 280 PBS affiliates, and 18 episodes from the first and second seasons are available to view online.

“The Free Markets series is an exceptional opportunity for viewers to be exposed to free-market ideas for the first time, or to deepen their knowledge of those ideas, and also to get to know some of the key individuals involved in the movement. Guests include, among others, Steve Forbes, John Allison, Charles Murray, and a featured re-run of a 1994 interview with Milton Friedman to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth.”

Tom G. Palmer, Atlas Network’s executive vice president for international programs, participated in the first season of the series, speaking about his decades-long experience working to advance freedom throughout the world, from his early days smuggling libertarian literature and document replication machines behind the Iron Curtain to his work with hundreds of international Atlas Network partners and their scholars.

“This is an international movement of people, so we have colleagues all over the world who are involved in this,” Palmer said during his interview. “I happen to be sitting here in the United States at the moment, but we have colleagues who are in many other countries who are also engaged in the same type of work that I do. It’s really an international team effort.”

Luis Henrique Ball, Atlas Network board member and former vice president of Venezuala-based Atlas Network partner Centro de Divulgacion del Conocimiento Economico para la Libertad (CEDICE Freedom), speaks about how the authoritarian regimes in both Cuba and Venezuela have failed so completely to provide freedom and prosperity for their residents.

“I would say the break point came in 1973 with Pérez, the so-called social democrats,” Ball said during his interview. “They veered to the left. ... The government of Venezuela at that time — they were true democrats, I have to say, these people were true democrats — but they were very leftist and very statist in their ideas. They decided they could do away with the private sector. ‘We have all this oil money.’ The price of oil quadrupled in 1973–74, so actually Pérez, Carlos Andrés Pérez, gave a speech saying that ‘We don’t need the private sector anymore. The state can do it all.’ And the central bank, which was independent, was nationalized. Foreign investments were limited to a few areas in the economy. The rest were either nationalized or forced to sell to locals. The aluminum industry was nationalized. The mines were nationalized — long before Chavez.”

Kris Mauren, executive director of Atlas Network partner the Acton Institute, appeared in the second season to talk about his organization’s documentary Poverty, Inc. A thorough examination of how the paternalistic global charity industry keeps third-world populations mired in dependency, Poverty, Inc. shows how the real, sustainable solution to global poverty is to dismantle the barriers that keep people from participating in productive market activity. Poverty, Inc. won Atlas Network’s prestigious Templeton Freedom Award in 2015.

“Nobody wants to be a beggar,” Mauren said during his interview. “Nobody wants to stay poor and depend on other people. People have talents and abilities, and they want to do for themselves. Many people are just excluded from the natural order of things, and the economy. And that’s done by barriers, such as trade barriers, it’s done by lack of rule of law in their countries, it’s done by collusion in their countries between government-granted monopolies. There’s lots of ways that people are just kept out of the economic system, and we need to look at those, identify those, and break them down so people can be who they’re meant to be and can be productive for themselves and their families. So, there’s a lot of things we can do, starting with basics: the rule of law, private property, and space for entrepreneurships.”

Other episodes of the series include Lawrence W. Reed, president of Atlas Network partner the Foundation for Economic Education, discussing the renowned early economist Adam Smith and his legacy for economic thought during the ensuing centuries; Randy Barnett, professor and constitutional scholar at Georgetown University Law Center and speaker during Atlas Network’s third annual Liggio Lecture at Atlas Network’s 2015 Liberty Forum, speaking about how the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the individual rights it protects have been long overlooked in American jurisprudence; and much, much more.