“I think that sometimes utopias are good. There were also socialist and communist utopias and I don’t think that they were used for a good purpose.  Actually, many people were killed because of these utopias, but I never heard about someone killed because of a libertarian utopia.”

marek tatala

This week the podcast is back in Warsaw again and I’m talking with with a Polish gentleman by the name of Marek Tatała.

Marek is the VP of the Economic Freedom Foundation which is a Polish grant giving organisation in a similar vein to Atlas Network.  Alongside funding relevant projects, they also work on advocacy and political lobbying, believing in any way that bridges can be built to help integrate free market and classical liberal ideals into general society.

Our discussion revolves around the work of the foundation and we touch upon many related subjects including the decentralisation of nation states, Polish political trends, global free market success stories and whether or not membership to the EU is a net benefit or not.

Enjoy the conversation.

Automatically Generated Summary

00:00 Introduction

Section Overview: The host introduces the podcast and the guest, Marek Tatala.

00:46 About Marek Tatala and Economic Freedom Foundation

Section Overview: Marek Tatala is the VP of Economic Freedom Foundation, a Polish grant-giving organization that funds relevant projects and works on advocacy and political lobbying. The foundation aims to integrate free market and classical liberal ideals into general society by building bridges between different groups in Poland.

  • 01:10 The discussion revolves around the work of the foundation, decentralization of nation-states, Polish political trends, global free market success stories, and whether or not membership to the EU is a net benefit.
  • 03:18 Economic Freedom Foundation is a hub for other groups in Poland where people can apply for grants. They support their projects while also trying to build bridges between different liberty-oriented organizations.
  • 05:02 Many liberty-oriented organizations are semi-professional or volunteer-based. They don’t have enough time to communicate with each other as being part of these organizations is not their job. Economic Freedom Foundation has resources to do these connections and invest in communication.

02:14 History of Economic Freedom Foundation’s Office Building

Section Overview: The host asks about the history of the building they are in.

  • 02:37 The building survived World War II and is privately owned by an Irish investor. It’s located in a district with embassies and political buildings such as Polish Parliament.
  • 02:54 If you walk 200 meters forward from their office, you’ll find Polish Parliament. There’s also headquarters of the biggest opposition party next door on the other side of the street.

03:18 Economic Freedom Foundation

Section Overview: Marek Tatala explains what Economic Freedom Foundation is and how it works.

  • 03:39 Economic Freedom Foundation is a new foundation created in 2021. It’s a hub for other groups in Poland where people can apply for grants.
  • 04:01 The foundation supports their projects while also trying to build bridges between different liberty-oriented organizations.
  • 04:20 The communication was not a strong point of the Liberty Movement, so the foundation invests in communication to promote each other and maximize benefits.

06:02 Funding Polish Projects

Section Overview: The speaker discusses funding projects in Poland and how they focus on free market-oriented groups. They offer grants and try to do more than just give money.

Focus on Polish Projects

  • Mostly focus on Polish projects
  • Similar to Atlas Network, but for Poland
  • Offer grants and try to do more than just give money
  • Encourage finding other sources of financing for their project so they don’t build dependency on one donor

07:08 Unique Project – YouTube Program

Section Overview: The speaker talks about a unique project that is not typical for the Liberty Movement. It’s a travel program where the host speaks about economic history of countries from the perspective of their economic successes.

Travel Program with Economic History Perspective

  • Host travels around the world speaking about economic history of countries
  • Sponsored episodes about United Kingdom
  • Attracts people interested in travel channels who can also learn about Economic Policy
  • Not typical for Liberty Movement

09:08 Traditional Research Projects and Webinars

Section Overview: The speaker discusses traditional research projects as well as webinars that are currently taking place. One webinar is discussing pension reform in Poland.

Pension Reform Webinar

  • Discussing pension reform in Poland to make it more sustainable and survive with demographic conditions
  • Proposing recommendations to politicians
  • Suggests equalizing pension age between genders

Traditional Research Projects

  • Currently has a webinar with one of their partners and a big Polish newspaper
  • Advises groups in communication and fundraising areas

11:21 Private Pension Funds

Section Overview: The speaker discusses the need for a clear system for private pension funds in Poland and explains why women’s pensions begin earlier than men’s pensions.

Private Pension System

  • 11:21 A clear system is needed for private pension funds in Poland.
  • 11:28 Different systems and rules create confusion.
  • 11:42 Women’s pensions begin earlier than men’s pensions in Poland.
  • 12:08 Minimum pension law ensures that most women will receive minimum pension, which taxpayers subsidize.

12:49 Travel Documentary Project

Section Overview: The speaker talks about a travel documentary project that aims to educate people about free market policies and how they work.

Episodes of the Documentary

  • 12:49 The Botswana episode highlights the country’s economic success story due to free market-oriented reforms.
  • 13:28 The project aims to reach people outside of the free market bubble by creating content that appeals to a wider audience, such as travel documentaries.
  • 14:09 Singapore is planned as the next destination for an episode, showcasing its success with free market policies.
  • 15:15 The creator of the project is a Libertarian who also interviews politicians with similar views on his YouTube channel.

16:43 NGO Targeting Old People

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about the need for an NGO that specializes in projects for pensioners and how classical liberal libertarian values can be promoted among them.

Promoting Classical Liberal Libertarian Values Among Pensioners

  • 17:07 There is a need for an NGO that has classical liberal libertarian values and specializes in doing projects to pensioners.
  • 17:30 Stimulating projects to reach these people is important. Persuading them not to demand too much from the government, as it will lead to their children and grandchildren being taxed more.
  • 18:33 LGBT community was captured by left-wing political parties while classical liberals offer the same on marriage or well-being but also less regulation in economy which is important for these groups.
  • 19:12 Neglected group of Catholics who are still very strong in Poland. Projects like economic lessons for young priests should be promoted.

19:34 Old People’s Views on Politics

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about old people’s views on politics and their nostalgia towards socialist times.

Nostalgia Towards Socialist Times

  • 20:01 Older generation feels nostalgia towards socialist times because they were young when they were socialists.
  • 20:19 Law Injustice party is currently ruling with its electoral base being older generation. They do a lot of privileges and additional benefits for pensioners especially before elections.

Political Spectrum in Poland

  • 21:04 Law Injustice party calls themselves right-wing conservatives but they are more left-wing than some social democrats in Poland. They did series of renationalization economy, implemented new regulations, many new taxes, and don’t really like free markets.

22:08 Political Parties in Poland

Section Overview: The speaker discusses the political parties in Poland, their ideologies, and their chances of winning the upcoming elections.

Major Political Parties

  • 22:08 The ruling party is Law and Justice, which has strong support in conservative areas.
  • 22:30 The biggest opposition party is Civic Platform, which started as a classical liberal party but has moved towards center-left over time.
  • 23:16 Law and Justice uses populist tactics to win elections by promising monetary benefits to voters.

Minor Political Parties

  • 24:16 Novo Chestnut is a small free-market oriented party that was successful in the past but now part of the coalition with Civic Platform.
  • 25:00 Classical liberals can be found within different political groups, including Civic Platform.

Future of Political Parties

  • 25:20 There is hope for classical liberals from different parties to unite and create a platform for cooperation inside parliament.
  • 25:59 If Law and Justice wins again, it could lead to further deterioration of institutional quality and violations of rule.
  • 26:19 Creating change from within is preferred over creating a parallel system.

27:27 The Future of Classical Liberalism

Section Overview: In this section, the speakers discuss the future of classical liberalism in politics and whether it is possible for a classical liberal party to win elections.

Possibility of a Classical Liberal Party Winning Elections

  • 27:46 It would be difficult for a classical liberal party to win elections due to varying levels of knowledge about economic policies among voters.
  • 28:30 If a classical liberal party starts thinking about winning elections, they may have to change some of their ideas to make them less liberal, which could destroy the core values of the party.
  • 29:14 The democratic system incentivizes parties to change their policies in order to gain more market share.

Limitations on Limiting the State

  • 29:54 Lowering public expenditures by even two percentage points would be considered a big success because many EU countries have public expenditures at 40-50% of GDP.
  • 30:38 A libertarian government would face challenges in limiting the state due to past promises and commitments made by previous governments.

31:01 Decentralizing Poland

Section Overview: In this section, the speakers discuss a project called “Decentralized Poland” that aims to decentralize power from central government authorities and give more autonomy to regions.

Decentralization as Solution for Polarized Society

  • 31:26 The project “Decentralized Poland” aims to move arguments about controversial issues from central government authorities down to regional authorities.
  • 32:09 The goal is for regions to have greater autonomy over tax systems, regulations, and other issues that generate controversies in public debate.

32:55 Decentralization as a Solution to Polarization

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the idea of decentralization as a solution to polarization and social conflicts in Poland. They explain that there will be case studies on perfect conservative, progressive, and Christian Democratic regions.

Implementing Decentralization

  • 33:15 The state needs to be convinced to implement decentralization.
  • 33:41 Changes need to be made to Polish legislation to enable regions to be more decentralized.
  • 34:05 The idea is to convert Cena into a Regional Chamber representing different regions.

Incentives for Decentralization

  • 35:12 Not all politicians are for centralization; some support greater decentralization.
  • 35:55 Local communities and politicians can lobby for more decentralized systems.
  • 36:14 Decentralization can resolve social conflicts and allow for experiments with different policies.

Growing Polarization in Poland

  • 36:55 Regional polarization was visible in previous elections but is growing.
  • 37:16 There are divisions between big cities, smaller towns, countryside, and younger/older generations.
  • 37:37 Decentralization can help resolve these social conflicts.

38:31 Experimenting with Privatization

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses how they experimented with privatization in Poland despite it not being a legal model for non-profit organizations. They also talk about the potential backlash from the central government and the growing divide between city and countryside.

Privatizing Land and Assets

  • 38:31 The speaker talks about experimenting with privatization in Poland.
  • 38:51 They mention privatizing land or assets of regional governments.
  • 38:51 The central government may not be happy about this move.

City-Countryside Divide

  • 39:12 The speaker acknowledges the growing divide between city and countryside.
  • 39:35 They discuss how this divide contributes to the “people versus elites” narrative that is prevalent in many countries.

Populism and Elites

  • 39:55 The speaker explains how populists use the “elite versus people” division to create anger in society.
  • 40:21 They mention that the current party in power has created their own elite by capturing state institutions and appointing members of their party as leaders of state-owned enterprises.
  • 40:41 The speaker believes that decentralization can help lower anger towards elites by allowing people to interact with local elites face-to-face.

41:43 Polarization and Technology

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses why polarization seems to be increasing, despite living in what they consider to be the best period of human history. They also touch on social media’s role in accentuating polarization.

Causes of Polarization

  • 41:43 The speaker acknowledges that polarization is increasing but believes it is a small imperfection compared to the benefits of new technology.
  • 42:48 They mention that social media is one reason for the increase in polarization.

Benefits of Technology

  • 43:11 The speaker believes that we are living in the best period of human history thanks to new technology, such as artificial intelligence.

43:53 Positive News from Economic Freedom Foundation

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about some positive news from the Economic Freedom Foundation and how it is possible because of successful entrepreneurs who invest in the foundation.

Success Stories Enabled by Reforms

  • 44:19 The existence of the foundation is made possible by entrepreneurs who invest their money in it.
  • 44:39 Thousands of success stories in Poland were enabled by Balcerowicz reforms, shock therapy, and a successful transition in 1989.
  • 45:02 After the end of socialism, people were finally able to have their own plans for life.

Professionalization of Liberty Movement

  • 45:24 The movement for liberty has become more professionalized over time with bigger budgets and more people involved.
  • 46:13 Despite criticism that neoliberalism is dying, liberal policies still survive within the political system after 30 years.
  • 46:59 The foundation has recently summarized its first round of grants and started another round. Small successes are expected to be more visible in the future.

47:23 Classical Liberalism vs Libertarianism

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker explains his views on classical liberalism versus libertarianism.

Limited Government vs Zero Government

  • 47:44 The speaker considers himself a classical liberal because he believes in limited government rather than zero government or public policy.
  • 48:10 Libertarians would like to abandon the state and make everything private which is an attractive idea but not yet fully understood or implemented.

Targeting Smaller State

  • 48:35 The speaker believes that the target should be a smaller state rather than a zero state.
  • 48:58 Anarcho-capitalism is too radical and hard to promote and implement.

49:39 Classical Liberalism and International Cooperation

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the potential for success of classical liberalism in lowering government intervention. They also discuss the idea of a zero government approach and whether it is feasible. The speaker believes that international cooperation is necessary in today’s global world, despite being a believer in decentralized governance models.

Potential for Success of Classical Liberalism

  • Lowering government intervention step by step has much bigger potential for success than doing events and research. 49:39

Feasibility of Zero Government Approach

  • Utopias are sometimes good, but socialist and communist utopias were not used for a good purpose. The speaker has never heard about someone killed because of libertarian utopia. 50:28
  • It’s good that there are some people that present this vision as some kind of Holy Grail or ideal to look at, but moving to completely private approach to everything would be difficult to implement. 51:32

Decentralized Governance Models and International Cooperation

  • The speaker believes in international cooperation because we live in a global world where there are countries with dictatorships and authoritarian governments like Russia or China that pose threats to security.51:52
  • For Poland and other countries, there is no better solution than European Union despite its imperfections. Single market should be strengthened, more freedom in terms of trade should be allowed outside EU while still maintaining the platform for global cooperation provided by EU membership.54:05

55:13 The Benefits and Reforms of the EU

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses the benefits of being part of the EU, including access to a single market and trade openness. They also suggest reforms such as limiting expenditures on common agricultural policy and enabling countries to experiment more with lower regulations.

Benefits of Being in the EU

  • 55:57 Access to a single market allows for freedom of movement for goods, services, capital, and people.
  • 56:21 Trade openness provides greater benefits than subsidies received from the EU.
  • 57:06 It is important to invest in presenting these other benefits to counteract negative perceptions.

Reforms Needed in the EU

  • 57:28 Limiting expenditures on common agricultural policy which is bad for agriculture and environment.
  • 57:50 Building stronger trade connections with countries outside of the EU.
  • 58:17 Enabling countries to experiment more by lowering regulations produced in Brussels.

59:20 Decentralizing or Removing the Central Body of the EU?

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker argues that decentralizing or removing the central body of the EU would not be beneficial. They believe that there are good things about being part of the EU such as access to a single market. They also argue that without it, there could be trade wars between European countries.

  • 59:39 There are good things about being part of the EU such as access to a single market.
  • 01:00:04 Without it, there could be trade wars between European countries.

01:00:44 Trade Issues and Libertarianism

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker discusses his views on trade issues and why he does not consider himself a Libertarian. He talks about the exploitation of children in production and how it affects free trade.

Views on Free Trade

  • The speaker is not sure if complete free trade should be allowed, especially when it involves exploiting children for cheaper production.
  • He believes that there should be some control over countries that exploit the environment in ways that are not possible in the EU.
  • The speaker used to support complete open border solutions for trade but now thinks that negative externalities created by business activities need to be considered.

01:01:54 Negative Externalities and Fair Competition

Section Overview: In this section, the speaker talks about negative externalities created by business activities and how they affect fair competition. He also discusses his views on open borders for people.

Negative Externalities

  • The speaker is unhappy with over-regulation of environmental issues in the EU but believes that zero regulation on polluting local rivers is not good.
  • He thinks that businesses polluting local rivers violate the freedom of other people who use them.
  • The speaker believes that companies competing with those maintaining EU or international standards while polluting their neighborhoods have an unfair advantage.

Open Borders for People

  • The speaker supports very open borders for people, even within the EU.
  • He thinks restrictions should be much smaller.

01:03:18 Year-long Sabbatical

Section Overview: In this section, the interviewer asks what the speaker would do if he had a year-long sabbatical with unlimited budget to play with.

Traveling Plans

  • The speaker would travel a lot to places visited by successful YouTube authors due to economic policies and to places of failure.
  • He would like to visit Cuba, North Korea, and Honduras to see firsthand how bad the economic situation is there.
  • The speaker would use this knowledge for personal understanding and also as a productive activity that can be used later to speak about successful policies.