January – March 2011
The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania ranks think tanks around the world based on a survey of hundreds of scholars and experts.
Out of more than 6,480 think tanks operating in 169 countries, they have rated the FMF as the 3rd most influential think tank in sub-Saharan Africa (4th in 2010) and placed it among the leading 75 think tanks in the world (among 392 leading think tanks in the world in 2010).
According to the final United Nations University edition of the report, published on 18 January 2011: “Think tanks are public policy research, analysis and engagement institutions that generate policy-oriented research, analysis and advice on domestic and international issues that in turn, enable both policymakers and the public at large to make informed decisions about public policy issues.”
In 2010 FMF Director Temba Nolutshungu contributed a chapter to Why liberty? Personal journeys toward peace and freedom. The collection includes the personal journeys of 55 authors from 15 countries: philosophers and physicians, economists and judges, military officers and environmentalists, police officers and soccer moms, lawyers and small business owners.James P. Gray, in recommending the book says: “…what is liberty, and why is it so important? The formal definition generally is that liberty gives a person freedom from despotic or arbitrary rule or control. More specifically, liberty gives a person freedom from undue interference by government or anyone else. To look at the impacts of liberty in more depth, I recommend that you read the recently-released book “Why Liberty: Personal Journeys Toward Peace and Freedom,” (Cobden Press, Apple Valley, 2010). This book, edited by Marc Guttman, provides the opportunity for 55 different authors to tell their stories about how liberty works where virtually nothing else does.”
The FMF’s book Nationalisation, published in January 2011, has sparked a lot of media (see below) and other interest. Of the 3,000 copies printed, only 30 remain. Most of the copies were distributed free of charge to the ANCYL (one branch ordered 200 copies), Cosatu, NUM, the Black Management Forum, government officials, the media, economics students, Nafcoc, etc; others were bought by various mining houses and interested individuals. It is important to note that those distributed free of charge, were done so, in most cases, at the request of the recipients.
The book was launched at a media gathering held in the FMF’s offices in Sandton on February 3. We are endeavouring to hold a similar a function for government officials in Cape Town a little later this year. We plan to base future feature articles on the research carried out for the book. Feature articles are emailed weekly to around 8,000 people. In that way, we hope to keep the topic in the public arena.
One of the first reactions to the book, published in the media, was by the ANC Youth League. They labelled the authors “dim-witted” and “quasi-intellectuals” and said: “Right wing and capitalist scholars should condition themselves for the inevitable, because Nationalisation of Mines is articulated in the Freedom Charter and will be given practical meaning by the ANC Policy and National Conferences in 2012. Our solemn appeal to those who want to debate nationalisation of mines is that they must do a simple thing – READ AND DO RESEARCH.”
We hope to raise sufficient funds to print an additional 3,000 copies of Nationalisation for distribution to university libraries and students. Any help our supporters can give in this endeavour would be greatly appreciated.
Nationalisation media coverage
Sowetan: State ownership of mines ‘bad idea’
Business Day: Nationalising mines ‘wrong route to take’
Times Live: ANCYL blasts the Free Market Foundation
Moneyweb: Alec Hogg interview with Leon Louw
News24: ANCYL dismisses nationalisation book
NewsTime: ANCYL dismisses anti-nationalisation book as intellectual laziness
Pretoria News: ANCYL dismisses nationalisation book
Business Day: League’s wide support
Business Day: Study in its own league
Moneyweb: Nationalisation … it’s gaining traction
Moneyweb: What Nelson Mandela thought about nationalisation
Mining Weekly: New FMF study tears mine nationalisation proposal to shreds
SABC News Radio
Moneyweb & Alec Hogg Special Report Podcast
Classic Business FM
SAFM Radio – current affairs
The FMF made submissions to the Labour Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on each of the four labour law amendment bills. It suggested that the four bills should not be considered in isolation, but be part of a comprehensive review of laws and polices impacting on job creation and working conditions. This is of particular importance in view of the fact that President Zuma has elevated “jobs, jobs, jobs” to the top of the national priority agenda.
If adopted, most of the proposed amendments would raise the cost, risk and difficulty of creating or sustaining existing jobs and would therefore increase unemployment, which is already at a tragically high level.
The priority of job creation, and the high rates of economic growth essential for the creation of the large numbers of sustainable jobs needed to absorb the unemployed into the labour market, requires a comprehensive, constructive and creative review of all relevant measures. Not just labour law, but also laws that impact on investment, competitiveness, savings, skills, small business, and the like.
All benefits have costs – there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The regulatory cost of benefits created for people fortunate enough to have jobs is unavoidably imposed on society’s most vulnerable and destitute people, not only the unemployed, but also marginal businesses, especially small business, and marginal employees, especially those who are less-skilled, aged, disabled or young.
In its detailed commentary on specific clauses, the FMF points out that (a) some are either unconstitutional or violate the principles of good law, (b) some would impose extreme costs and red tape on the economy without significant benefits for intended beneficiaries, and (c) some would cause economic distortion, which would reduce economic performance and competitiveness.
The submissions were also mailed to the media and our government list of 1,000 officials and are available here:
FMF in the media
The FMF’s website articles, sent to you weekly, are regularly republished by the local and international media. In 2008, the FMF’s articles were republished or the FMF was quoted in articles on 192 occasions. In addition, the FMF Directors participated in radio or TV interviews 17 times. In 2009, these numbers increased to 214 and 41 respectively, and in 2010, there were 225 articles or quotes and 31 radio and TV interviews. Here are headlines for the leader page articles published last year:
Jan 8 – Big Mac index is not so hard to swallow | Jasson Urbach | The Star
Feb 17 – One man, one rate: Flat tax the way to go | Jasson Urbach | Pretoria News
Feb 17 – One size tax system fits all | Jasson Urbach | The Star
Apr 5 – Creating a gap for the jobless | Eustace Davie | The Star
May 10 – Waving certificates, not placards | Eustace Davie | The Star
May 24 – A weakened rand will bring only disaster | Eustace Davie | The Star
Jun 21 – Freedom is key to economic health | Temba Nolutshungu | Cape Times
Aug 24 – Unions: Enemy of the poor | Jasson Urbach | The Star
Sep 24 – A bump or U-turn? | Leon Louw | Financial Mail
Oct 5 – ‘Free health care’ will cost SA | Jasson Urbach | The Star
Oct 19 – Authorities must reconsider credit law | Gavin Ray | The Star
Nov 17 – Key to unlock poverty’s chains | Jasson Urbach | The Star
Save these dates
Apr 20 – Brian Kantor, Professor of Economics, University of Cape Town, to speak at FMF
Jun 1 – John Blundell, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Institute of Economic Affairs, to speak at FMF
Jun 9 – FMF’s “independent electricity grid” conference
Jun 29 – Richard Pike, Chief Executive Officer
& Loane Sharp, Labour Market Analyst, Adcorp Holdings, to speak at FMF
Jul 27 – Dawie Roodt, Chief Economist, Efficient Group, to speak at FMF
Oct 20 – FMF’s “intellectual property rights” indaba
Words of wisdom this quarter…
2 Feb – Temba Nolutshungu addressed the FW de Klerk Foundation on Our symbiotic relationship as a force for unity
17 Feb – Leon Louw participated in a Mensa debate on There is no such thing as market failure
22 Feb – Leon addressed SAICA on Political economy of South Africa: Can we compete?
1 Mar – Leon attended and participated in a SACCI bilateral with the South Africa Reserve Bank
2 Mar – Leon spoke at the Energy Indaba on The economics of energy alternatives
4 Mar – Leon presented Ideas for a free society to students at the Midrand Graduate Institute
17 Mar – Leon attended and participated in a SACCI bilateral with the Competition Commission
18 Mar – Temba presented Ideas for a free society to students at the University of Cape Town
24 Mar – Leon addressed the software piracy convention on Software piracy hampers growth
28 Mar – Leon spoke on the Political and economic outlook for 2011/12 at a management committee strategy session
31 Mar – Leon addressed Amcham on Nationalisation
On March 30 at the launch of the 2011 edition of the International Property Rights Index (IPRI) John Kane-Berman, Chief Executive Officer, SA Institute for Race Relations spoke on Property rights: New threats, lost opportunities, and new challenges. He identified some of the threats to property rights in South Africa, examined the relationship between property rights and the labour market, and explored some constitutional issues around property rights. His excellent paper can be read here: http://www.freemarketfoundation.com/DynamicData/Event_34.doc.
Hernando de Soto says of IPRI, co-published annually by the FMF: “Now in its fifth edition, the IPRI remains the most comprehensive measurement of property rights around the world; the 2011 Index has grown to examine 129 countries. The 2011 IPRI emphasises the connection between countries with the greatest economic strength and countries with the strongest protections of property rights. The Index continues to show advancements in property rights protection around the world, while drawing attention to improvements that must be made. Weak property rights are most commonly seen in the developing world. As the citizens of these countries are in the greatest need of economic growth, it is crucial that their physical and intellectual property be granted protection.”
Software piracy convention
On March 24, the FMF and ITA (Information Technology Association) co-hosted Reducing software piracy: Good for business, good for growth. The two hour convention contended that software piracy is threatening the growth of the IT industry in South Africa and worldwide and gave delegates insight into: (1) the size of the revenue opportunity associated with a reduction in software piracy; (2) industry best practice to reduce piracy; and (3) what the South African government is doing to support the industry in reducing piracy.
Speakers were drawn from both the IT industry and the DTI. The DTI representatives/officials spoke about government’s policy and legislation, education campaigns, as well as enforcement and capacity building. Charl Everton, Chairperson of Business Software Alliance, quoted from research showing that five steps are required to reduce software piracy: (1) Legislate, (2) Educate, (3) Enforce, (4) Collaborate (between the industry and government and intra-industry), and (5) Lead (by example). These steps, when followed in Russia for example, resulted in a dramatic reduction in software piracy. Leon Louw pointed out that respect for property, including intellectual property, is a prerequisite for innovation and economic growth.
Full report available at: http://www.freemarketfoundation. com /DynamicData/Event_33.pdf