European Resource Bank Update | Citizens Against Government Waste

European Resource Bank Update

The WasteWatcher

Since 2004, Citizens Against Government Waste has been attending the European Resource Bank (ERB) Meeting.  This year’s annual meeting of free-market think tanks was held in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, hosted by the New Economic School in the Republic of Georgia.  Even though the ERB was originally planned to be held in Georgia because of the free-market reforms pushed by the country’s prime minister and president, Mikheil Saakashvili, events preceding the meeting (the Russian invasion) gave it even more urgency.

The three-day program included two days on policy, listening to free-market leaders from around the globe share their expertise and experiences.  The third day was reserved for workshops designed to get down to the nitty-gritty of building media networks, messaging, and lobbying. 

Matthew Elliott, president of the British TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA), gave an insightful speech on messaging.  He said that most UKers overwhelmingly trust television as their source of information.  He also suggested that the “right” needs to adopt some of the same strategies as the “left,” such as stunts and events.

The general secretary for the Taxpayers Association of Europe (TAE), Michael Jäger, talked about lobbying the European Parliament in Brussels.  The tactics, techniques, and obstacles of lobbying in Brussels sounded eerily similar to what it takes to lobby Washington, D.C.

The similarity is a stark reminder of the fact that bad ideas initiated by the United States government can spread across the globe.  The Microsoft antitrust suit exemplified that problem.  The company was first sued by the United States for antitrust violations, and the European Union (EU) quickly followed suit.  Despite a U.S. settlement in the case, the EU keeps pressing forward.

The ERB reminds us that America’s problems are not unique.  For example, a week after the United States passed a $700 billion financial bailout plan, the United Kingdom and Germany announced economic bailouts of their troubled financial institutions.  The price tag for the UK bailout alone is 70 billion pounds. 

If only we each country would publish a Pig Book or a similar compilation of wasteful spending such at the TPA’s Bumper Book of Government Waste, then progress can be made in the worldwide war on waste.

  -- David Williams


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