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Dr Tom G. Palmer links the importance of limited government to a sustainable democracy at Liberty Institute’s Julian L. Simon Memorial Lecture

FNF and Liberty Institute hosted noted libertarian, Dr Tom G. Palmer at the Julian L. Dr. Tom Palmer delivers talk
Dr. Tom Palmer delivers talk
Simon Memorial Lecture on the topic, “Enduring Democracy and Limited Government: An unbreakable partnership.”Given the recent general elections, this topic had important significance for India.


The event was chaired by Mr Swaminathan Aiyar, (Consulting Editor, The Economic Times and Senior Fellow, Cato Institute).  Dr.  Parth J. Shah (Centre for Civil Society), as part of the panel, offered his comments on the talk and emphasized the relevance of the subject for India. 

The foundation of the talk was the conflicting understandings of the terms, “democracy” and “limited government”.   Throughout history and the world, these conflicts have created democratic structures that have led to dominance of the majority at the expense of minorities and weak governments with no self-regulating mechanisms.  

A desirable democracy that is stable requires limited yet effective government for the following reasons.  Firstly, a durable democracy requires a loyal opposition, one that does not fear loss of power, property or life, upon being the opposition.  Secondly, a sustainable democracy requires reliable transfers of power—elections. Independent election commissions and Manali Shah, FNF delivers a note
Manali Shah, FNF delivers a note
independent judiciaries that ensure due process and provide correct information on the election results and are not under threat from the elected authority.  Thirdly, limited government helps reduce the time inconsistencies inherent in decision-making and ensures binding commitments are made.  Fourthly, a limited government by keeping the basket of goods under collective choice small, prevents them from becoming collective bads. 

Limited government often attracts harsh reactions, one being that it equals a weak state or is anti-state.  On the contrary, the concept calls for a strong limited government which can efficiently deliver its services to the people.   The talk ended with a flashback to the roots of democracy in ancient Athens, where a comprehensive system of checks and balances and guaranteed freedom of speech made possible the right balance between limited government and an enduring democracy. 


The full version of this talk is here!


About Dr Tom G. Palmer

Dr. Palmer is Vice President for International Programs at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, General Director of the Atlas Global Initiative for Free Trade, Peace, and Prosperity, and a Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. He is the author of the recently published Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice. Dr. Palmer has long been active in the freedom movement and was very active in the late 1980s and the early 1990s in the spread of classical liberal ideas in the Soviet bloc states and their successors. He continues to be active throughout the region through his work with InLiberty.ru, the Global Initiative’s Russian-language program, and with the Institute’s European programs. He also established and supervises the Global Initiative’s programs in Arabic, Persian, Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Portuguese, Chinese, French, Behasa Melayu/Indonesia, Africa (in a several languages), and he is working to establish new programs to promote classical liberal ideas in Urdu, Hindi, and Vietnamese. He was an H. B. Earhart Fellow at Hertford College, Oxford University, and a vice president of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. He frequently lectures in Europe, North America, Eurasia, Africa, Latin America, China, and the Middle East — from England to Iraq to China to Kyrgyzstan to Ghana and many other countries — on political science, public choice, civil society, and the moral, legal, and historical foundations of individual rights. He has published contributions in books published by Princeton University Press, Routledge, Cambridge University Press, and other publishers, and has published articles and reviews on politics and morality in scholarly journals such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Ethics, Critical Review, and Constitutional Political Economy, as well as in publications such as Slate, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Die Welt, and The Spectator of London. He received his B.A. in liberal arts from St. Johns College in Annapolis, Maryland, his M.A. in philosophy from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and his Ph.D. in politics from Oxford University.

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