A Freer World is a Better World
Why do I automatically cringe when I see a headline like this? I mean I like freedom, it's a good thing. Yet, somehow I have a feeling I am going to get as much "freedom" from this article as I get "reason" from reading Reason.*
By John Stossel
This week's newspapers are full of predictions of an impending recession, and maybe they're right. But the great untold story is the good news: the worldwide boom in economic growth.
This is really good to know, because growth is an excellent measure of the economic health of the country. Distribution is totally irrelevant, growth, that’s where it’s at. I hear it all trickles down anyway.
"I think one of the best kept secrets is that the world is in the midst of an economic boom, and it is largely driven by increases in economic freedom," says economics professor James Gwartney, director of the Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education at Florida State University. "The world has become more free, and, at the same time, growth is soaring to new highs. During 1995 to 2005, the growth rate of per capita GDP in 99 countries for which data are available has increased to 2.2 percent, nearly twice the rate of recent decades. Since 2000, the annual growth rate of per capita GDP has been even more rapid, 3.2 percent."
WHAT?! James Gwartney, of the “
As the world gets freer, says Gwartney, it gets richer.
He should know. For years, Gwartney and Robert Lawson of
Hmmmmmm… this is so compelling actual data is unnecessary. I will just go on the word of John Stossel, former 20-20 investigator who doesn’t believe in global warming, but does believe in the magical panacea of the free market.
The story the index tells couldn't be clearer: Economic freedom produces high living standards.
It seems I have heard this somewhere before.
This insight shouldn't come as news, but unfortunately it will because prejudice against the profit motive and property rights leads many to believe that government coercion is better than free markets at making life better.
What is economic freedom exactly? As the report puts it, "individuals have economic freedom when they are free to use, exchange, or give their property as long as their actions do not violate the identical rights of others."
The researchers ranked countries according to five criteria: size of government, security of property, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally and level of regulation.
The top five freest countries in 2005 were
God damn the
The next five are the
It's hard to miss the point: The freest countries are far more pleasant places in which to live. Countries with little or no economic freedom make life hellish for all but the politicians or dictators in charge (and even for some of them).
This is LITERALLY the funniest argument I have ever read. Everyone ready now: John Stossel believes life is bad in the Republic of the
I hate you so much John Stossel. I also hate you James Gwartney.
The good news, says Gwartney, is that economic freedom is increasing. "The average rating of the 99 countries for which data are available continuously since 1980 has increased from 5.5 in 1985 to 6.6 in 2005," he says. "The primary factors underlying this increase are lower top marginal tax rates, more stable monetary policy, lower tariffs and less regulation of international trade and some relaxation of restrictions on the movement of capital."
Good news, rich people will by paying less taxes. This will be good for everyone. Remember, there is no poverty in
Gwartney's data also show the relationship between economic freedom and income. As countries get freer, per capita GDP rises. The least-free nations have a per-capita GDP of about $3,300. The next group up the freedom ladder has a per capita GDP of about $6,100; the next, $10,773. The freest group of nations comes in at more than $26,000.
Gwartney's data show that it's better to be poor in a more-free country than in a less-free country. In the freest countries, the poorest 10 percent earn on average more than $7,300 a year versus $905 in the least free countries. And, of course, in a free society, people often move out of the poorest groups.
Whoops, John Stossel finally realizes part of the problem with his argument. But only part of it. I mean serious, yeah it sucks more to be poor in the
Finally, the study also finds a strong correlation between economic freedom and environmental quality.
I am trying to acquire this study, I find this very very difficult to believe, unless they are counting the fact that some of these countries simply don’t have modern sewage systems, you know because of tariffs.
It is beyond dispute. Economic freedom leads to good things, while government coercion leads to poverty and oppression.
Complete beyond it, irrefutable. Here’s you Nobel Prize, MacArthur Genius Grant and The Mayor McCheese McDonaldland Citizen of the Year Award.
It's stunning that some people still find the free market controversial.
It’s stunning that people publish your articles.
*Reason, if you don't know, is a totally inane, wrongheaded, libertarian magazine. I am sure that we will be discussing them in the near future. For those of you not already aware, the authors of this blog hate libertarianism and believe that those that espouse it are usually too dumb to realize its oversimplicity or too selfish to care.