The Global Communication Network is proud to announce the return of Mr Austin J. Jack to the board of directors. Mr Jack previously sat on the board of the Lucha Institute, an organisation that co-founded this network, and his efforts in creating a liberal bridge between the United States of America and Montenegro are of exceptional value.
Back in 2018, Austin J. Jack organised the first Montenegro Economic Forum in Phoenix, Arizona. The forum hosted eminent speakers from all around the United States of America who discussed potential benefits of doing business in a country 10,000km far away. Mr Jack possesses valuable experience in working for pro-liberty organisations. Besides sitting on this network’s board, he is Chairman of America’s Future Foundation in Phoenix, Chief Executive Officer of Jack Development Strategies, a limited-liability company, but also Chief Development Officer of the Goldwater Institute, a think tank. As a successful entrepreneur and investor, he is also associated with Global Ties Arizona, Scottsdale Gateway Alliance, Mindful U, and Empowerment System.
We seized the occasion to talk with Mr Jack about the current pandemic crisis and how it could afflict economic, political or civil liberties. Also, we discussed models which could bring both countries’ [the United States of America and Montenegro] cooperation to a much higher level.
The contemporary global events represent a threat to the status of liberties. In which ways economic, political or civil liberties could be afflicted?
AJJ: As a country and globally, we are already experiencing the loss of our liberties in the name of “safety”. Collectively we are explicitly suffering from governmental abuse to our economic and civil liberties. Politically we will continue to see a growing divide among governments with opposing viewpoints. I predict plenty of teeth-gritting throughout this crisis.
The most significant violation of our economic liberties – ordering businesses to cease operations – are being touted as necessary measures to save lives. Yet we do not see the excessive numbers of infections and deaths like they originally predicted. Instead, these politicians have and continue to use the covid-19 as an excuse to push the boundaries of our freedoms closer to socialism.
Infringing our rights for these so-called solutions only intensifies the perceived need for government assistance. We’re living the economic and civil fallout – millions out of work and unable to gather together without the threat of fines or jail. It is an endless cycle of government intervention destroying economic, political and civil progress toward freedom. Yet non-liberty-minded individuals are convinced the government can be their saviour. Governments globally are placing their economies on a path of destruction. Their citizens – like you and I – will be the casualties.
Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump announced funding suspension of the World Health Organisation. Do you believe that the crisis could be avoided if there was a more severe and prompt approach by the World Health Organisation?
AJJ: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been ineffective. That has not been a secret, and the feeling is not unique. President Trump has just been the first to say and do something. He flipped the table on the WHO by pointing and calling out the current situation.
The WHO is often seen as the boy who cried wolf, so I am sceptical and don’t believe they could have prevented this with a more severe approach. The nature and livelihood of a virus is to spread and conquer. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the covid-19 had a big head start – so the WHO could not apply a one-size-fits-all solution.
The WHO cherrypicks the data that matches their agenda. We see that in continually changing the covid-19 models and guidances. We are seeing a different outcome – one that is riddled with increasing centralised power and freedoms restricted.
According to some estimates, the U.S. economy will suffer trillions of dollars as a result of the global pandemic crisis. What are the first responses from the U.S. leadership? Could it be enough to keep the markets healthy and sustainable in this post-pandemic transition?
AJJ: We notice very responsive markets as a result of this global pandemic – and the response is a sudden, skidding halt of activity. We see market dives with occasional lifts of confidence in a time of uncertainty and fear. We shall, yet, see inflation.
The current administration is not responding to market signals, unlike the U.S. leaders of the past. Once again, they are infusing the economy with so-called stimulus cash, fueling a long-term debate by economists of differing theories. This may be, in part, because of political pressures coming from both Democrats and Republicans. We have the historical data to know how government intervention has afflicted the U.S. economy, which, in theory, informs our future. Unfortunately, we see a lot of the same mistakes repeated.
The U.S. leadership has been off-balance while trying to maintain healthy markets and a sustainable post-pandemic transition. In the short term, specific industries will be kept afloat, perhaps by Small Business Association (SBA) loans like the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP). Still, I believe consumer behaviour will be the ultimate deciding factor. Eventually, this “free money” will stop flowing from taxpayers via government action. Taxpayers should not be bailing out failing corporations. Instead, these industries and companies should evolve if they genuinely deserve to survive.
On the positive side, we have seen the suspension of occupational licensing laws for medical professionals across state lines. Regulations have been loosened to increase the production of life-saving materials like PPEs and face masks. In early April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded blood donations to include LGBTQ individuals if specific criteria were met. There is increasing research on using plasma from recovered covid-19 patients to develop new treatments. The FDA has also leaned heavily on private enterprise to establish and administer covid-19 tests and to research and create effective antivirals and vaccines. Many of these regulations have proven to be arbitrary.
However, these actions are not typical. They are rare examples of positive government intervention, oftentimes clouded by political and personal interests. From a classical liberal perspective, the intervention has only added to the recovery time for our nation and globally. What needs to happen now is early intervention with testing and screening to better serve the public and maintain the spread of the virus. There is no indication a cure will be developed soon; therefore, we need to be more proactive in identifying who has and has not contracted the virus. It is more of a healthcare intervention than one that has to do with maintaining, what was, a strong national economy.
For many leaders around the world, present times and challenges represent an ideal opportunity to suppress economic, political and civil liberties. What do you think should be a liberal/libertarian response?
AJJ: As a human being, not just a libertarian, preserving our freedoms should be our first value to guide us correctly toward a post-covid-19 world. The path to recovery entails the expansion of freedom of thought and actions. I would also like to see a voluntary response among people without requiring a nanny state telling us how to behave and think. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Just as well, occupational licensing is something needing to be discussed and reformed. When it is time to return to the workforce, Americans need to be ready to earn an income. They should not have to worry about training and certification hours required to complete a job they’ve always done.
Additionally, many European countries seek an alternative in China and its rising economic domination. What could be an American answer to this? How to keep some vital European countries from not falling in the hands of China?
AJJ: Removing the regulatory barriers is single-handedly the best way to compete with China and its economic domination. As regulations invite entrepreneurs to participate, our countries can focus on establishing domestic manufacturing and production. Initiatives like Saudi Vision 2030 will also enable diversification of our resources like plastics and rubbers and improve global partnerships.
Global and national agreements are in the way of growth toward independence from a dominant economic power like China. European countries should follow a free and open market concept to be successful without China.
In 2018, you were an organiser of the Montenegro Economic Forum in Phoenix, Arizona. Do you think there could be greater cooperation between Montenegro and Arizona?
AJJ: Yes, I do believe there could be more cooperation. Arizona has done extraordinarily well in revitalising communities to spur sustainable economic growth. Just as well, Montenegro has attempted to do the same but failed because of political pressures. On my last trip to Budva, I discussed many ideas for revitalising local municipalities to grow existing businesses and inspire communities to focus more on servicing the local economy and consumers. Montenegro has historically, been far too reliant on government services and employing their citizens through the government. There needs to be more interaction between private companies and consumers. It is where Arizona could help. Bringing new franchises and businesses to the region would help service local consumers and allow Montenegro to rely on private enterprise for tax dollars. I think cooperation with U.S. franchises could pose an entirely new stream of revenue for the country and employ more workers who would otherwise work for the government. We can do this through strong relationships with groups like Global Ties Arizona, Sister Cities, and the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program of which few leaders of Montenegro have already gone through. There are also business councils throughout the world willing to help other countries find more sustainable means of revenue generation for local communities. So much can be done.
Montenegrins must be willing to put in the effort to work with Arizona and other states, for that matter. Tourism dollars are not sustainable, and we see that first hand with covid19, there need to be additional revenue generators. Without tourism, Montenegro’s economy is threatened. Developing more robust relationships with private businesses – local and global – will sustain economic growth in the region, and there are businesses and individuals in Arizona willing to make such investments, they just need to be asked. Talk to them.
In the last few decades, Arizona experienced sustainable growth and progress. What could be lessons for Montenegro and the Western Balkans region?
AJJ: Montenegro and the Western Balkans region can excel with a limited government viewpoint by relying less on government assistance. They could innovate and expand business freedom by replicating the franchise business model that has been so successful in the United States. They could also place a greater focus on meat and dairy manufacturing backed by local farmers rather than requiring international trade. This would ensure a stable infrastructure for essential products like food and paper materials. In fact, Rep. Thomas Massie recently introduced the bi-partisan PRIME Act which would allow farmers to sell directly to consumers and grocery stores. Making these changes with the USDA could preempt any potential food shortages and production line failures without being dependent outside our country. It is the action we need to take now before we see food lines akin to Venezuela. Montenegro and the Western Balkans could benefit from similar regulatory rollbacks.
Do you have any message for our younger readers who are usually active contributors to the positive changes in society?
AJJ: Youth is power. Young people across the globe have the innate ability to be more innovative than any generation before us. As the world’s most significant transfer of wealth begins, I encourage any young person developing an interest in economics to look at historical trends in various economies in Eastern Europe and compare them to what is happening in the United States, Asia and the Middle East. These regions are developing innovative ways of thinking, developing new technologies, and healthcare treatments at speeds we have not seen before. This spur in innovation will yield new opportunities for investment and exchange between businesses in all nations. Take advantage of this. Start relationships with people in industries you genuinely want to learn more about and partner with those people.
Lastly, regrets are born of paths we choose not to take. We must seek to challenge the status quo in our daily lives. For if we don’t, our future will be selected for us from past generation’s mistakes and reliant on their successes.
Work together, compete, and expand capitalism across the globe. That should be our mission.