It is a sad day in Sweden. Johnny Munkhammar, an author and politician who was a devoted friend of liberty, has unfortunately passed away from cancer. He will be remembered as one of the most vibrant champions of free markets and free societies in Sweden. During his life span, which was cut short before his 38th birthday, he managed to write influential reports and books at the free market think tank Timbro, as the president of Munkhammar Advisory, and as research director at the European Enterprise Institute in Brussels.
Amongst his many books, perhaps The Guide to Reform: How Policymakers Can Pursue Real Change, Achieve Great Results and Win Re-Election will stand out as the most influential. Johnny toured the world discussing not only the benefits to society of free-market oriented reforms, but also how governments that strived towards reforms could benefit from challenging the status quo bias. As late as April 2011, already struggling with cancer for several years, Munkhammar visited Washington DC to spread the message at the Brookings Institute, at the American Enterprise Institute and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His co-traveller was Anders Borg, the Swedish minister of finance.
His friends and family will miss Johnny Munkhammar as an extraordinarily kind, intelligent, and positive person. Although many knew him better, and for a longer time, than did I, I had the privilege of becoming Johnny’s friend. I co-authored one of my first reports with Johnny, and continued working with him on a few future projects. I am sure that he could have found a more experienced author than me when he first suggested that we work together. Then again, he was not only kind; he also sought to actively encourage young people to develop their writing.
Only months before he passed away, I was helping Johnny to write a paper for the American Enterprise Institute about the fallacies of Obama’s stimulus policies. It is astonishing that Johnny found the time to write the report, whilst serving as member of parliament, and fighting a dangerous disease. Shortly before, he had published his first children’s book, which also carried a message of liberty. Only recently Johnny discussed writing a new book with Fredrik Segerfeldt, a Swedish author who was one of Johnny’s closest friends. The point is not only how good Johnny was at his job, or how much he strived towards a free society. Of course, we can admire him for all of that. Most astonishing is how much positive energy he had at such a difficult time. For this we should all admire him.
Undeniably, Johnny Munkhammar will be missed sorely by his friends and family. Our thoughts go to his wife and two young daughters. He will also be missed by all of those who followed his message of liberty, both in Sweden and abroad. He will continue to inspire all of us to strive for individual achievement, by learning from the positive energy and optimism that seemed to dominate his life.