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Statement from Students For Liberty CEO Dr. Wolf von Laer on Covid-19

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Crises are times in which the voice of liberty, our voice, is tested. Right now, we have to curtail some of our freedoms in order to avoid spreading a virus that moves as quickly as we are. We cannot forget that liberty has to come with responsibility if we want to make it viable and attractive. 

Therefore, I am proud to see that our community and the liberty movement, in general, has stepped up and taken steps to start working remotely, to limit their interactions with people, and to implement best practices during these trying times. 

As unpleasant as this is, the more we do ourselves, the less opportunity we present for governments to overreach. And believe me, the government always does overreach. And what’s worse is that they never curtail their scope of power to pre-crisis levels. This is what I have found in my PhD research which is inspired by historian Robert Higgs’ “ratchet-effect.”  

We must continue the fight for liberty and we must warn other people about the dangers of the government during crises. But how can we achieve this when it seems that our opportunities are limited?

On a positive note, while Covid-19 is a lethal threat, we are somewhat lucky that we are facing a highly contagious virus in 2019/2020 and not in the 1980s. We have access to tools that can move most work into a remote environment. Many countries have allowed free markets in food delivery services, and even online pharmacies, which makes fast and easy delivery of essentials possible. 

We have more entertainment and possibilities to learn at our fingertips than ever before. It feels good to realize this, but it also points out the weaknesses of some other nations.

We have staff on every inhabited continent and we have been fully remote since 2016. While this is great, it gives me a unique window into how different countries face this challenge. Some just cannot. 

Venezuela, a country whose institutions cannot even provide for the essentials outside of any external threat, is hit even worse now than ever before. During normal times, people have to go through different supermarkets to get their groceries. They don’t have access to medicine during normal times, since the economy is managed by the government and not by the voluntary actions of millions of individuals. 

It is sad to realize that countries that are less free will see an even worse impact from the corona crisis than countries that allow for a free market to adjust to this new reality of quarantines, travel restrictions, and an insufficient supply of essential products and services. 

Crises will raise more and more voices that ask the government “to do something.” We need to resist this tendency, and therefore our message of liberty is needed now more than ever before. 

We, here at Students For Liberty, have started a task force to focus our efforts on bringing high-quality online content through Learn Liberty and providing the best tools, resources, and guidance to our students to move their activities online. We will be spreading liberty, not corona. Watch this space for our upcoming #SpreadLibertyNotCorona campaign. 

So please join us in warning the public about the detrimental effects of government overreach and we welcome you to share your insights on how our world is better prepared to face the Covid-19 challenge through free markets and civil society. 

If you are a student, now’s a great time to join our local coordinator program and become an active member of our community of thousands of volunteer students who work every day to spread the ideas of liberty. 

We have a strong message to send during these dire times, and I am proud to be standing alongside you to fight for a free and resilient society!

Please stay safe & stay home!

With peace, love & liberty,

Dr. Wolf von Laer

SFL staff from around the world participating in an online social

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