Friday, April 06, 2007
We arrived back in Georgia at 4:30 p.m. Friday after a memorable trip to Tsakhkadzor, Armenia, not far from the capital, Yerevan. I gave two lectures -- one on the nature of taxation, the other on privatizing schools -- but just barely. A bad head cold nearly deprived me of my voice. But I managed to get through. The entire traveling party was hit with one malady or another, the price of a wearying journey that surely suppresses one's immunity. Anyway, we are all on the mend. This journey included a trek by foot across the border and through the bureaucracies between Georgia and Armenia.
During my tax lecture, one student denounced the inheritance tax, which is alway music to the ears. Another student asked whether taxes were necessary at all, and I referred the class to Gustave de Molinari's "The Production of Security" in order to pursue this interesting inquiry.
I should point out that at each of the seminars we hosted students who normally are unable to get together. In Georgia we had students from Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. None of these countries has good relations with the others. Armenians may not travel to Azerbaijan and vice versa. The countries are in a state of war over disputed territory. Wikipedia's account of the dispute is here. I am no expert, so I can't vouch for the Wikipedia article. But it probably explains the basics.
At the Armenian seminar we had Georgians and Azeris, but also students from Abkhazia. This is an area claimed by Georgia but Abkhazians are seeking independence, and Georgians have had to leave their homes in the conflict. An account is here. The point is that these students rarely deal with each other, and FEE helped bring them together. They were appreciative and everyone got along. During the final banquet, several toasts were made to liberalism and its principle of all people getting along through trade and peace.