Byron Schlomach

Vaclav Klaus helped turn failed communist state into bastion of freedom

Posted on September 24, 2008 | Author: Byron Schlomach
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Most economists are content to remain in the ivory tower and most politicians are content to let public opinion lead. Vaclav Klaus, a Ph.D. economist and President of the Czech Republic, has led public opinion and acted on his convictions. Today, the Czech Republic is one of the freest and fastest growing countries in Europe.

President Klaus will receive the Goldwater Award for Liberty for helping usher in an era of economic prosperity in this formerly communist country at the Goldwater Institute's 20 Anniversary Celebration on October 2.

In the 1960s, a young Vaclav Klaus studied economics at home, Italy, and the United States. He absorbed the lessons of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman (previous Goldwater Award recipients), taking their "subversive" message back to his native land. Consequently, he was largely denied an academic career due to his belief in free markets, but emerged as Minister of Finance in 1989 when the Eastern Bloc collapsed.

For eight years, Vaclav Klaus challenged entrenched interests, overseeing the break-up of large state monopolies and the conversion of state enterprises to private ownership in Czechoslovakia. Often opposed by the popular former dissident, poet and president, Vaclav Havel, Klaus has continued the expansion of economic freedom in the Czech Republic, becoming that nation's president in 2003 and winning re-election this year.

President Klaus is one of a rare breed-a Ph.D. economist who has achieved a large measure of success in elective politics. We hope you will join us as we honor his lifetime dedication to expanding liberty.

Byron Schlomach, Ph.D, is director of economic policy at the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: "Goldwater Institute Twentieth Anniversary Celebration"

Wikipedia: Vaclav Klaus Bio

Cato Institute: The Czechs Adopt a Flat Tax

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