Friday, November 21, 2014

Individual Freedoms Are Undeniably Linked to Overall Prosperity ... So Who's in Charge? ... We the 'Stupid' People Operating in a Free Market or Elitist Government Officials Acting as the Omniscient Ones

Lots has been written about our U.S. economic woes and those of the rest of the world as well. In much of the rest of the world, citizens have few individual freedoms. Unlike us, they are unable to write their own life stories or own the property on which they live.

At the same time, there has been far too little discussion concerning the strong linkage between individual freedoms and a nation's overall prosperity. In general, prosperity and the individual freedom to choose life's path are integral pieces of a free market based economy whereas poverty and a lack of personal freedoms are the norm in government controlled societies.

The conclusion is unmistakable and straightforward --- absent anarchy and assuming that the rule of law prevails, the more freedom individuals have in any society, the more economic prosperity they and that society will enjoy as well.

So we can think of freedom and prosperity versus government intrusion and control as a pendulum with anarchy at one extreme and totalitarianism at the other. Things are always in flux and the pendulum is constantly moving back and forth, albeit hopefully always closer to where individual rights are the norm rather than government dominance.

To repeat, as government influence grows and those in power assume more control for decision making, individual freedoms and a nation's prosperity suffer. And when individual freedom of choice is missing, poverty abounds, except for those few who run the government.

A healthy society is one where individual freedoms flourish and private property owning citizens and entrepreneurs are acting freely in a market based economy. Then poverty will drop, the middle class will prosper and government will be restricted to protecting the private property rights of individual owners, maintaining order and keeping the citizens safe and secure. It's really that simple.

Singing About Fighting Poverty, Slightly Off-Key is subtitled 'Concerts to help the poor are fine, but too bad no one sounds a note about freedom. That's the path to prosperity:'

"Two crowds gathered on opposite sides of the world (recently). The first crowd was for the celebrity concert in New York's Central Park featuring Jay Z, Beyonc√© and Carrie Underwood, fighting against global poverty. The second crowd consisted of citizens of Hong Kong who are still staging a sit-in protest, fighting for their freedoms against a recent decision in Beijing to deny them previously promised free elections for Hong Kong's own government.

The sad thing is that the crowd for the first cause in Central Park showed little awareness or sympathy for the cause of the second crowd in Hong Kong. . . .

There is a kind of apartheid in economic-development efforts in the West that perceives people in the Rest as only having material needs, but not also having aspirations to realize their rights. The view is tragically misguided, because prosperity and liberty are inextricably linked.

Pro-democracy demonstrators gather in front of embattled leader CY Leung's office in Hong Kong on Thursday.                
Pro-democracy demonstrators gather in front of embattled leader CY Leung's office in Hong Kong

Those who focus on global poverty don't bestir themselves about the Hong Kong demonstrators because Hong Kong citizens already enjoy material comfort. Yet Hong Kong is more prosperous than the rest of China precisely because of its relative freedom from Beijing's interference; how safe is that prosperity if China now interferes much more?

Many believe that the discussion of poor countries should focus only on poverty, not oppression, without considering whether the second might contribute to the first. Thus the development establishment of celebrities, policy wonks and aid agencies is eloquent on material poverty—with China even hailed as a poverty eradicator—while remaining silent on freedom, as in Hong Kong, where China is the enemy of democracy and individual rights. . . .

Extreme poverty in China has been reduced over the past few decades precisely because Beijing permitted the freedoms of a market economy to infiltrate a communism-blighted society. If the regime's repression now worsens, count on the end of the country's high growth rates. . . .

Yet freedom is arguably central: first, as an end that people want for themselves, and, second, as the most well-proven path to escaping poverty. . . . It is time that celebrity fighters for material economic development started also singing the praises of liberty."

Summing Up

The more government intrudes into the lives and free decisions of a society's citizens, the less freedom the members of that society enjoy.

The less freedom individuals have, the less prosperous are both the overall society and its individual members.

A free society values the ownership of private property, and displays proudly the signs of a nation of private property owning individual risk takers.

On the other hand, the governing elite rule an autocratic society, and government dominates and poverty reigns throughout the land.

So let's be very careful when wishing that our government would do something about fixing what ails our U.S. economy. Hasn't it done enough already?

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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