Transcript of Josef Sima’s talk at the Bratislava Austrian Economic Summit, given on June 24th, 2013. Transcribed and edited by Kenli S.
What I believe is very important is to get people attracted to free-market ideas. I’m a full-time academic: a full professor in the field of economics. I started in the department at the University of Economics, which is a big public school, the biggest public school in the Czech Republic.
Rather than spending the majority of my time doing research I was very happy to change the curriculum so that every freshman would start his or her economic education by reading Henry Hazlitt and his Economics in One Lesson, Frederic Bastiat, Mises and Hayek. I believe this is what ultimately can change the world.
I used to work for a free-market think tank in Prague called the Liberalní Institute. I did translations of many books including Mises’ Human Action, this is what I did while in Hawaii. I translated several books by Murray Rothbard, and so my kind of approach is to use academic institutions to offer an alternative and to get people excited about economics and the philosophy of freedom.
A couple of years ago I got an offer to become the president of a small free-market college in the very center of Prague. It is a private college, where we are able to provide alternative education, with free-market flavor in economic policy, political philosophy, and even in law and public administration.
Now I’m teaching people that before my class had wanted to become public servants. There I give lectures to them about the harmful effects of governmental regulations, hoping that ultimately they will change their minds. Then for example, after finishing their BA in public administration, they will go into business or law and business for their master’s degrees.
I’m here today to give you the second introductory lecture so that you understand better where you are. I don’t intend to lecture—because you aren’t students after all—but I have a couple of points to mention about the opportunity that opened for us 20 years ago with the fall of communism.
But before I do this, I want to publicly appreciate what my predecessor here talked about. There is one major difference between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and I’m kind of an example of it.
In the Czech Republic there is the possibility to be a free-market professor that teaches hundreds or thousands of students, have followers, younger faculty members, and have theses written on free banking, or on some kinds of libertarian aspects of economic policy.
In Slovakia, this is not possible. There, universities are still completely unreformed (the old public universities are still here) and you do not see a young generation of people who would bring some kind of free-market flavor. So, public education here in Slovakia is not excellent at all. There are some private schools as well, newly built or newly funded, but even there you do not find free-marketeers.