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Nestled in the North East: Economics at the AIER

Picture of Justin de Vries

Justin de Vries

2023 Mannkal Scholar

Situated in the serene and unassuming town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) represents one of the nation’s most esteemed intellectual treasures. Nestled amidst the Berkshire mountains, AIER is located in an area graced with natural beauty. However, the essence of life at AIER extends far beyond its picturesque surroundings. Historically, AIER has been a bastion of intellectual rigor and a source of pioneering insights into the realm of liberty. As I recount the highlights of my experiences so far, it’s clear that life at AIER extends far beyond its idyllic surroundings, offering a unique blend of academic rigor and community also.

Emphasising the expanding epistemological foundations of liberty, AIER has enriched my understanding of the complex dynamics of freedom within the marketplace and the global arena. Through seminars spanning an array of subjects, from economic history and the Austrian School to the principles of the Gold Standard and fiscal policy, my knowledge base has substantially broadened. Tracing back to the seminal works of John Locke and Adam Smith, I have delved into the foundational history of economics and classical liberal philosophy, gaining an appreciation for the critical role of individual liberty and free markets in driving innovation, prosperity, and social harmony. This exploration has revealed to me how these libertarian principles challenge the overreach of governmental powers, advocate for minimal state intervention, and underscore the importance of personal responsibility and voluntary exchange as cornerstones for a free, prosperous society.

Engaging with distinguished experts such as Samuel Gregg, Ryan M. Yonk, and Thomas L. Hogan, alongside enriching discussions with my peers, has invigorated my intellectual curiosity, inspiring contemplation on the application of these ideas within the Australian context. This scholarly dialogue has not only deepened my academic comprehension but also stimulated vibrant discussions on subjects like monetary policy, and the viability of monetary freedom as a policy in both the United States and Australia. Through reflection on my learning journey, I am persuaded of the numerous ways I can contribute to Australia’s prosperity. By championing reduced governmental interference and promoting a model of responsible citizenship marked by virtuous conduct, I envision a pathway toward enhancing national prosperity.

Justin with the AIER intern crew

My experience at AIER has transcended mere intellectual engagement, unfolding into an appreciation for the natural beauty surrounding us and fostering meaningful friendships among the interns. The AIER staff are notably approachable and eager to cultivate relationships, leading to regular communal outings to the local steakhouse and friendly rivalries over table tennis. Moreover, the time spent with the eight other interns and graduate fellows has significantly enhanced my stay, creating a sense of camaraderie and a homely atmosphere that enriches the AIER experience. And as an admirer of God’s magnificent creation, I have found such great joy in exploring the surrounding natural wonders. With destinations such as Monument Mountain and Bash Bish Falls, the opportunities for exploration are boundless. The weekly snowfall transforms the landscape into a breathtaking frozen winter wonderland unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It has been a blessing to witness such divine beauty on Earth.

My tenure at AIER so far has been an invaluable amalgamation of academic enrichment and personal growth, set against the backdrop of Great Barrington’s natural beauty and a vibrant, supportive community. This journey has not only broadened my intellectual and philosophical horizons but has also deeply ingrained in me the principles of liberty and the appreciation for the world we inhabit, promising enduring impacts on my future endeavours in politics.

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