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Tom G. Palmer

Articles by Tom G. Palmer

No, Autocracies Don't Make Economies Great

November 29, 2021

One argument frequently advanced for abandoning the messy business of democratic deliberation is that all those checks and balances, hearings and debates, judicial review and individual rights get in the way of development. What’s needed is action, not more empty debate or selfish individualism!In the words of European autocrat Viktor Orbán, “No policy-specific debates are needed now, the alternatives in front of us are obvious…[W]e need to understand that for rebuilding the economy it is not theories that are needed but rather thirty robust lads who start working to implement what we all know needs to be done.” See! Just thirty robust lads and one far-sighted overseer and you’re on the way to a great economy!That’s a folksy way of describing dictatorship. The more academic way is to call

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Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky: 1942 – 2019

October 28, 2019

The Cato Institute mourns the passing of a colleague, Vladimir Bukovsky, a senior fellow of the institute and a giant among champions of freedom.
A single name was enough to enrage powerful dictators: Bukovsky. Vladimir Bukovsky was a tower of strength, with the integrity never to buckle and the courage to endure. The word dissident barely suffices to describe him. He was interrogated and then expelled from university at 19 for attending illegal poetry readings and for criticizing Komsomol, the Young Communist League. In 1963 he was arrested for making two copies of Milovan Djilas’s work The New Class, which argued that communist states, far from eliminating class oppression, merely cemented the rule of a new class of party bureaucrats.
He was sentenced to two years of torture in a

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They Cannot Make Us Hate Them

July 17, 2017

Liu Xiaobo passed away on July 13th, 2017, at age 61. This piece was originally posted at on September 8, 2016.
When I think of examples of successful self-control and dignity under the most difficult circumstances, one person comes to mind before all others: 刘晓波, Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese writer and human rights activist, who was sentenced on Dec. 25, 2009, to 11 years of imprisonment in China on the charge of “inciting subversion of state power.” Liu’s body is in prison and he is being made to suffer deprivation of liberty, health, companionship, and more by state authorities, but he will not allow himself to be consumed by the hatred that would destroy a person with less self-control. Before being subjected to years of imprisonment and abuse, he had tried to lead a

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F. A. Hayek: Prophet of the Modern World

June 2, 2016

This article appeared in The Washington Times on May 8, 1999. Reprinted from

On May 1, a handful of pathetic demonstrators celebrated May Day, the day of socialist solidarity, in Moscow and a few other cities around the world. It was a far cry from the great days of socialism. Socialism is dead.
On May 8 there will be small and quiet celebrations around the world marking the 100th birthday of one of the men who buried socialism, F. A. Hayek. Although a distinguished scholar and a winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, Hayek may have made his greatest contribution to the fight against socialism and totalitarianism with his best-selling 1944 book, The Road to Serfdom. In it, Hayek warned that state control of the economy was incompatible with personal and political freedom and that statism set in motion a process whereby “the worst get on top.”
But not only did Hayek show that socialism is incompatible with liberty, he showed that it is incompatible with rationality, with prosperity, with civilization itself. In the absence of private property, there is no market. In the absence of a market, there are no prices. And in the absence of prices, there is no means of determining the best way to solve problems of social coordination, no way to know which of two courses of action is the least costly, no way of acting rationally.

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