November 15, 2016

This year's Freedom Dinner featured inspirational speakers and camaraderie with global friends of liberty.

John Fund, Brad Lips, Grover Norquist, Matt Welch

The opening luncheon of Atlas Network’s 2016 Freedom Dinner, held on Nov. 10 at the historic Capitale in New York City, featured a panel titled “Policy Consequences of the U.S. Election,” with John Fund of National Review Online, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Matt Welch of Reason, and Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips, who moderated. The experts offered their perspectives on the results of the U.S. election, which had been decided less than 48 hours before the event.

Grover Norquist

“It’s at the state level where we can really move freedom forward,” Norquist said.

Alex Chafuen

In a panel titled “Big Wins and Important Battles for Freedom Abroad,” attendees heard from Atlas Network President Alex Chafuen, who moderated, as well as Clarence Crafood of the Centre for Justice in Sweden, Daniel Doron of the Israel Center for Social & Economic Progress (ICSEP), and Žilvinas Šilenas of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI).

“They say basketball is like a second religion in Lithuania, Chafuen said while introducing Šilenas and explaining the success of LFMI’s Economics in 31 Hours textbook project. “Let’s hope they make free markets a first religion.”

Žilvinas Šilenas

During his talk, Šilenas stressed how the book project is easily replicable in other countries. He mentioned just how poor the economics education had been in Lithuania, explaining, “So [did] we fight them or ridicule them for not teaching market economics in Lithuania? We decided to do neither. We chose to understand them.” Šilenas and the LFMI team regularly met with real economics teachers to learn their needs and the problems they needed to solve as teachers. Economics in 31 Hours is a result of those interviews.

Daniel Doron

Daniel Doron took the microphone for his talk after the reading of a recent letter from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praising ICSEP’s work. Doron reminded the audience how the battle for freedom is still a tremendous challenge, even when we see great success.

“It’s wonderful to be praised here at this event, in this country, and I humbly receive it,” said Doron. “But can you please come to Israel and repeat what you said there, because unfortunately too many of my countrymen might be surprised to learn about it.”

Doron discussed the things he thought could be instrumental in creating lasting freedom and reform in his country, and said, “When we have more entrepreneurs, we inevitably will change the demography of ideas.”

Clarence Crafoord

Clarence Crafoord of the Centre for Justice spoke about his work defending constitutional rights in Sweden and about starting the first public interest law firm for individual liberty in the Nordic region.

“The traditional Nordic model has given preference to the collective and not individuals,” Crafoord said. “We now lead what’s been called a Nordic Rights Revolution ... and we take pride in this!”

Elisa Martins, Wolf von Laer, Terry Kibbe, and Richard Lorenc

In a panel titled “The Millennial Challenge: Engaging Young People in the Battle for Freedom,” the audience learned how youth are making a difference around the world in their local communities, but reminded everyone that there is always room for improvement.

“We should be doing more with emotions and narratives in our communications,” said Richard Lorenc of the Foundation for Economic Education.

The panel was moderated by Terry Kibbe of Free the People, and featured Lorenc, Elisa Martins of Atlas Network, and Wolf von Laer of Students for Liberty.

Matt Warner, Tarren Bragdon, Christina Sandefur, and Samantha Harris

In the “Big Wins and Important Battles for Freedom in the United States” panel, Atlas Network’s Matt Warner moderated a discussion featuring Tarren Bragdon of the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), Samantha Harris of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and Christina Sandefur of the Goldwater Institute.

“When you make people dependent on government, you turn them into ‘dependocrats,’” Bragdon said, talking about the FGA’s Restore the Working Class project. “But when you free people from welfare, they not only survive, they thrive.”

Dr. Tom G. Palmer, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Rainer Heufers, and Edo Omerčević

A panel titled “Advancing Liberty in Muslim-Majority Countries” featured Dr. Tom G. Palmer of Atlas Network as moderator, and panelists Rainer Heufers of the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS), Wan Saiful Wan Jan of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) in Malaysia, and Edo Omerčević, a 2016 Smith Fellow from Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On the way to Capitale for Freedom Dinner

In the evening, Atlas Network supporters enjoyed an Atlas Club Briefing with Dr. Tom G. Palmer leading a discussion with the leaders of one of our independent think tank partners from Turkey, about how the country can return to a path that is respectful of individual liberties and a market economy while dealing with a broad and heavy-handed crackdown against dissidents.

The day culminated with Freedom Dinner, an inspirational celebration of the faces of freedom from around the world.

Alan Charles Kors

Alan Charles Kors, FIRE co-founder, gave the toast to freedom, saying, “Freedom is the great catalyst of human wellbeing and progress.”

2016 Think Tank Shark Tank Competition judges: Don Smith, Gerry Ohrstrom, Terry Kibbe, and Dan Grossman

Freedom Dinner featured the 2016 Think Tank Shark Tank Competition, showcasing the six-minute project pitches from Kristina Rasmussen of Illinois Policy Institute, Gabriel Calzada of Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala, and Anthea Haryoko of Center for Indonesian Policy Studies in front of the audience and a panel of judges — Don Smith, Gerry Ohrstrom, Terry Kibbe, and Dan Grossman. Haryoko won for her pitch proposing a massive online open course (MOOC) about how free trade makes food affordable for the poor.

Žilvinas Šilenas with Marija Vyšniauskaitė and Ieva Navickaitė

The main attraction of any Freedom Dinner, of course, is the announcement of the winner of the prestigious $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award. This year’s award went to LFMI for its Economics in 31 Hours textbook, teaching free-market economic principles to a new generation of Lithuanian youth.

The night always ends with the dance floor overflowing and the tunes of longtime favorite event band the Mumblers beating until nearly midnight.

View more photos from the 2016 Freedom Dinner here.