Hayek in Vienna

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Why being an "Austrian" in Austria is so difficult.

Well the conference on the roots of capitalism is over and we had some interesting discussions. More on that in later posts. First today's newspapers. Politicians never learn. There have been some cases of bird flu in Turkey and everybody is afraid of a pandemic i.e the virus jumps to humans and spreads. One of those terrible capitalist companies Roche has developed a pill Tamiflu that helps against the flu (although how much is helps and if its good against bird flu is still being tested). Now many countries have decided to buy Tamiflu and negotiate the price. The Minister of Health Mrs. Rauch-Kallat is still negotiating and waiting since "we don't want to be hysteric and contribute to the rise in a pharma companies stock price." The head of the social security agencies, Mr. Erich Laminger has suggested suspending patent rights for flu medicine in case of a pandemic. While I realize this might be a negotiation ploy I'm not sure it will work. Now all this wouldn't really surprise me in a socialist country but these people are members of or associated with our ruling center right coalition. It might be a good idea to distribute basic economic handbooks to these people.

Just now the news came over the radio that the normal flu vaccine is sold out in Austria. The government didn't foresee such high demand. I seem to remember a book by Friedrich Hayek called the "Road to Serfdom", had something to do with the failure of central planning.

As I said its not easy being a supporter of the Austrian School of Economics in Austria.

3 Comments:

  • It is so ironic that the birth place of Hayek is a socialist state. It is also ironic that Hayek is far more popular in the US than in Austria.

    By Blogger Minh-Duc, at Thursday, 20 October, 2005  

  • Ironic? Yes! Even more so as our "socialist state" is run by a coalition of conservatives and liberals (in the European sense i.e. supposedly pro free markets). But Hayek foresaw this and dedicated "The Road to Serfdom" to "the socialists in all parties". He new that socialist ideas sound well meant it was the consequences of good intentions he warned about. We have elections coming up in Vienna and practically all parties have some "socialist" ideas: The conservatives want to price freezes, the greens want a minimum wage regardless if you work or not (!), the social Democrats well they have been the ruling party in Vienna since 1918 (with the exception of 1938-1945), the freedom party wants all kinds of restrictions...
    Well I guess we'll just have to keep spreading the word, after all things used to be bad in England and the U.S. as well.

    By Blogger Richard Zundritsch, at Saturday, 22 October, 2005  

  • Hope is near. Why? Austria is a small country with about 8 Mill. inhabitants. Because of this and the general obedient attitude of the Austrians, the country is easy to control. The control of more than two thirds of all economic activity is well executed by all the parties through their central planning staffs. Most notably the ministries, the governors, the mandatory trade associations (Arbeiterkammer, Wirtschaftskammer, etc.) and the government-controlled TV-stations ensure full compliance, such as you would not even expect in a communist country. However, Austrian people seem to be content for the most part. This is what they want.
    Fortunately, this model is not sustainable in the face of globalization, over-regulation and too many old people living off the shrinking working population.
    Therefore, Austrians will become "Austrian economists" pretty soon, that is when the central planning model will have broken down. When? Hey, the model is screeching and kritting on all ends ... Hope is near!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, 25 November, 2005  

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