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Season 3 - Episode 3
Helping think tanks change the world

Brad Lips is the CEO of the Atlas Network, a non-profit organization connecting over 400 free-market think tanks across the globe. His articles have appeared in numerous publications including Forbes and the American Spectator, and he speaks widely on free enterprise as a solution to poverty and on the work of Atlas Network partners around the world.

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Freedom waxes or wanes first and foremost because of the ideas that hold sway over people’s imaginations. Think tanks therefore have the power to further the cause of freedom by explaining and disseminating the economic and moral case for letting people live their lives with relatively little interference. In this engaging interview, Brad Lips talks about helping think tanks around the world do just that.

Many of the planet’s most vulnerable people have risen out of dire poverty in recent decades thanks in part to expanding economic freedom, a good-news story that is too often forgotten. Yet regulations and other legal impediments remain rampant everywhere, keeping private enterprise from achieving its full potential. “In many societies, you have entrenched interests that benefit from rules and regulations that inhibit competitors from entering the marketplace,” says Lips. The benefits to those entrenched interests are concentrated, while the costs are dispersed, which is why you need people who believe in the principle of individual liberty to be vigilant in opposing such market distortions.

With economic freedom generally comes other freedoms as well, despite the existence of counter-examples like China which have so far been able to mix authoritarianism with capitalism. Brad Lips is skeptical that this kind of situation can persist, however. “If you can unleash economic activity that empowers individuals, establish property rights, and align those incentives correctly, you’re going to have societies that inevitably demand press freedoms and political freedoms.”

Discussing the work of Atlas Network partners in South Korea, Argentina, South Africa, and elsewhere, Lips is adamant that supporters of economic freedom should not be apologizing for the institutions that uplift the poor and make societies healthier and wealthier. Friends of freedom have the moral high ground, he insists, and they should claim it unabashedly.

Links of interest: Atlas Network | Brad Lips

Watch these related FMS interviews
- Michel Kelly-Gagnon - The role of think tanks
- Michael Walker - The Freedom Index

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