Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Poverty's negative correlation to Freedom

Mary Anastasia O'Grady reports:
The 2008 Index of Economic Freedom also reports that the freest 20% of the world's economies have twice the per capita income of those in the second quintile and five times that of the least-free 20%. In other words, freedom and prosperity are highly correlated.

The annual survey grades countries on a combination of factors including property rights protection, tax rates, government intervention in the economy, monetary, fiscal and trade policy, and business freedom.
Top 5
Bottom 5

1. Hong Kong
153. Burma
2. Singapore
154. Libya
3. Ireland
155. Zimbabwe
4. Australia
156. Cuba
5. United States
157. North Korea

Unrated: Congo Dem Rep, Iraq, Montenegro, Serbia, Sudan

NOTE: I think there's some long-term risk of Hong Kong reverting towards China (ranked near the top of the lowest quintile, at #126). And Bryan Caplan recently noted a notable exception to the freedom in Singapore:

Singapore has conscription. Two years of mandatory military service. Or as I see it, hell on earth. It's not just state slavery. It's state slavery in an especially unpleasant line of work. Even in peacetime, my best-case scenario for military service is that it's like full-time Physical Education.

I'm happy to waste 11% of GDP on unnecessary health care expenditures, and live with another percentage point or so of unemployment, to keep myself and my sons from involuntary military service. And frankly, the purported "social benefits" of the draft - greater social cohesion, egalitarian mingling, and the fostering of patriotism - horrify me as well. Hey, I never claimed to be normal.

Maybe one day a key member of the exceptionally economically literate elite of Singapore will re-read a standard textbook critique of conscription. Or maybe he'll come across David Henderson's great article on "The Role of Economists in Ending the Draft." And then he'll suddenly say: "What were we thinking? Conscription is really inefficient." It would be nice if he'd add, "Oh, and monstrous too," but I don't ask for miracles. Until that day comes, the policies of the U.S. remain the lesser evil.

UPDATE: Don Boudreaux has more:
But unleash people from the countless foolish and rent-seeking constraints imposed by government and from constraints imposed by their own superstitions and they will create resources. They will flourish and prosper, not only materially but also culturally and intellectually. A free people can and will build a dynamically prosperous society in even relatively barren and inhospitable places such as New England, Arizona, and Hong Kong. An unfree people will languish in poverty even in lush paradises such as much of Central and South America and in lands teeming with 'natural' resources such as Congo and Russia.

No comments:

Post a Comment