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12/17/2012

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Thanks, Eric, for this great post.

After the collapse of communism, I was involved in establishing Western-type financial structures and institutions in some of the former Eastern Bloc countries.

Occasionally, I was expected to observe and establish - especially in Poland, a country that is very dear to me - personal contacts with the newly emerging political factions, parties and personalities (amongst the latter, you wouldn't believe the number of crooks and downright imbeciles I met, which has to do with politics not with the specific countries).

I seem to remember that there was a disproportionally large number of freedom-oriented politicians and bankers in Poland compared to most of the rest of the Eastern bloc countries.

There were many people amongst my contacts in Poland who actually understood freedom (some surely even better than I did), many more than in other Eastern European countries, where you might meet top level guys only to slowly grasp that when you say "market" they understand "planned economy".

I think, Leszek Balcerowicz was minister of finance or minister of economics at the time (early 90s), in the Mazowiecky government.

I admired Balcerowicz very much; to me, he stood out in the entire East as a doer and thinker dedicated to the cause of liberty, and I regret to this day that - I don't think - I ever met him in person.

Mind you, Balcerowicz certainly considered it his duty as a builder and defender of liberty in Poland to get actively involved in government and the state.

If people like him had not tried to gain a position of influence in politics and government, Poland would be a lot less close to freedom than she is today.

You simply can't get the state under control unless you involve yourself with it; this method of taming the beast will work sometimes, and sometimes it will not work, but there is no other method, just as it is indispensable to be most critical and vigilant vis á vis the state, all the time.

I am sure, Balcerowicz understands this only too well; indeed he dedicated his life to this difficult balancing act.

And I wonder how many armchair anarcho-libertarians would condescend to award Balcerowicz the status of a "man in favour of liberty" once they looked more closely at what it meant (the compromises, the statist acts etc) to fight for freedom like Balcerowicz did in the aftermath of the commmunist collapse.

PS

Of course, I can't follow Balcerowicz on

the Euro being like the gold standard - it is precisiely the opposite of it, a victory of the "romanic" money printers over the "northern" money policy moderates -,

and Germany having undertaken a fundamental overhaul of the welfare state,

if this is what he actually told the journalist or if I interpret his meaning correctly.

Apologies, Eric. Rereading my above comment, I think, I am getting a little obsessed with a certain point, which you have actually allowed for in your post more subtly, more gracefully and more effectively. Please bear with me.

"Please bear with me."

You bet, Georg. A little obsession is good every now and then. Especially when it involves food and beverage. ;)

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