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Salinas-León: Debates as Laboratories of Democracy
To Roberto Salinas-León, the high-school debates in Dallas this weekend, sponsored by the Bush Institute in partnership with the St. Mark's School of Texas and the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance, represent an "investment in human capital." Speaking at a dinner gathering at the end of the first day of competition, Salinas-León, an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute and president of the Mexico Business Forum, addressed President George W. Bush, distinguished guests of and donors to the Bush Institute, and the young debaters who had been vigorously competing all Saturday morning and afternoon. Free markets are "a form of communication," Salinas-León noted, "an exchange of price information." They are "not a preconceived idea" but rather a "complex network" linking producers and consumers, based on a shared understanding of property rights and entitlements. They are "not a system but a process of discovery that benefits everybody." Essential to this process is the free exchange of ideas and information. And, as Salinas-León remarked, dialogue and debate play an important role not just in free markets but in democracy. "Free markets are about a lot more than economics," he noted. In this regard, the debates taking place this weekend in hundreds of closely contested sessions have been mini-laboratories of democratic communication. From this process of discovery, as President Bush forecast, will arise the leaders of tomorrow's America — perhaps even another president from Texas.