by Don Boudreaux on October 18, 2011

in Country Problems, Video

… or “O Canada”….  or ‘Eventually the U.S.’s legacy from economic freedom will expire unless it is replenished.

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Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 12:47 am

I’m optimistic that, over the long term, economic freedom and the country’s wealth will increase.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 9:27 am

Greg, would you like to make a wager (philosophical not monetary) as to your best guess as to what will change to break us out of this poor economy. Ideally using unemployment/population ratio as the best indicator of the economy…. unless you have a favorite?

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm

George, I am not sure what a “philosophical wager” would be. I hope this is not the Lesvician type of wager where you make some idiotic promise only to weasel out of it when the condition is met and it’s time to settle up.

your best guess as to what will change to break us out of this poor economy.

President Obama and the Democrat Party dominated Senate will be voted out of office. Then, if the Republicans don’t immediately go back to being a “me too” big-government party, they will cut marginal tax rates, reduce government spending, eliminate burdensome regulations, and put pressure on Mr. Bernanke to stabilize monetary policy. Also, Tim Geithner’s idiotic idea to help the EU with its financial crisis will be scrapped. These sound policies will cause private individuals to invest, which creates economic growth that causes businesses to employ more people (i.e., lowering the unemployment ratio). These policies have worked every time that they have been tried. Any questions?

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm


Just a gentleman’s handshake of a bet. Or I’ll buy you a beer type of bet. You are wrong. Austerity measures that you suggest will help are exactly what got us here and will only make things worse. Republicans are far worse fascist than most democrats. The Bush administration and his willing senate and congress showed us just how easily they would sell off this country to make themselves a profit. With things like Haliburton, the Homeland Security Act and Blackwater we were dangerously heading towards an authoritarian fascist regime. Republicans if anything would only be more bold and cause even more damage were they to get re-elected. Taxes are already lower than they’ve been, there are no significant new regulations any of you can point to that support this talking point Fox News has drilled into your heads and the Fed is already controlled by Wall Street and republicans will only help that along. Also the current situation needs NO changing as far as corporations are concerned. They’ve had two quarters of record profits and don’t want people like you messing with that. They obviously have no need to “invest” in the real economy because the rent seeking republican economy has them swimming in the dough.

So if nothing happens or what you suggest happens I predict you will not see any improvement in the unemployment/population ratio. It might even get worse or we might have a full on depression. Could even devolve into a military state as protestors come out in greater numbers only to be met by Republican leaders Guns to their heads.

If we see significant policy changes that reign in lobbyist, global finance and so called free trade such that middle class incomes rise and our trade deficit improves THEN you will see our employment numbers improve along with other pertinent economic indicators. The policies that lead to these changes will NOT be subtle so I will clearly be able to point them out to you and you will clearly see an economy that is improving and a society that is stabilizing.

My best guess is that what will happen is nothing until the point that things get worse and worse. Maybe an EU collapse or their banks get a huge bailout again and the shit hits the fans and society teeters on collapse with some seriously awful violence and confrontation.

I’m not optimistic in the short term but hopeful further down that power will eventually return to the people. But guys like you supporting the Kings don’t make it easy.

Lee October 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Why is it always the lobbyist that gets the bad wrap. Why don’t we blame the politicians that allow the lobbyist to influence them, or better yet the overreaching hand of the federal government, that makes it PROFITABLE for a corporation, charity, or groups to send lobbyists to DC. Just so you know, there is one man in Washington D.C. that the lobbyists don’t even bother to go see because they know that he votes consistently every time.

Greg Webb October 20, 2011 at 12:13 am

George, you said, “Just a gentleman’s handshake of a bet. Or I’ll buy you a beer type of bet.”

In other words, you have no faith that you are, in fact, correct since your cowardly won’t put anything of value at stake. That says it all.

Then, you make your normal conclusory statements, straw man arguments, outright prevarications, and personal attacks. And, you rely on those type of silly debate tactics because you know that you are wrong.

For the economy (millions of individuals) to thrive, the government must be put on a diet. The government, through onerous taxes, wasteful government spending, and unecessarily burdensome regulations, have protected and rewarded political cronies, which has led to huge mal-investment in residential real estate and in green energy. (How’s that Solyndra working for you?).

To fix these problems and get the economy growing again, the Voters will oust President Obama and the Democrat Party-controlled Senate. The Republicans will, at least for awhile, implement the voters’ wishes by reducing marginal tax rates, decreasing wasteful government spending, eliminating some burdensome regulations, and pressuring Fed Chairman Bernanke to implement sound money policies. The unemployment rate will fall slowly at first, but more rapidly as people gain confidence that abusive government has subsided at least temporarily. These policies have worked every time that they have been tired and will do so again.

You said, “Could even devolve into a military state as protestors come out in greater numbers only to be met by Republican leaders Guns to their heads.”. Truly your statements are overly-emotional and illogical nonsense. I really wish that you would bet something of value because I’d surely win. How about $1,000?

You also said, “The policies that lead to these changes will NOT be subtle so I will clearly be able to point them out to you . . .”. How surprising! So, you admit that you don’t have any policies.

You said, “and society teeters on collapse with some seriously awful violence and confrontation.”. That won’t happen., Easy Money.

You said, “But guys like you supporting the Kings don’t make it easy.”. LOL! I see that your knowledge of history is as weak as your knowledge of economics. You want bigger government, and, in 1776, the King was the government. And, the King always wanted more tax money to foolishly spend and more regulation to ensure that no one could get enough power to challenge the Kng. Thus, your statement is inaccurate as you are the one supporting bigger government much as the King did.

GiT October 19, 2011 at 3:19 am

What a ridiculous video.

We made an indicator.

This indicator correlates with things.

Therefore, it causes these correlations..

Yes, I’m sure economic regulation explains the difference in per capita GDP between the DRC and the US. It all just comes down to that. I’m sure it explains the life expectancy difference too.

And of course ‘economic freedom’ explains the difference between Norway (ranked 30, GDP approaching 100k/yr), the US (ranked 9th, 46k/yr), and France (ranked 66, 41k/yr).

But if we hack up some big sounding numbers and make a fancy chart, that’s pretty much equivalent to demonstrating causation right? Who cares if the indicator breaks down among similar countries and is confounded with dozens of other salient variables.


vidyohs October 19, 2011 at 9:55 am

What a lame and ridiculous critique, and an even more lame counter argument.

Your comment is just more proof that a looney left broken brain isn’t even correct twice a day.

Miles Stevenson October 19, 2011 at 11:17 am

Why is his comment “lame and ridiculous”? Do you disagree that correlation does not equal causation? Or do you feel the video provided hard evidence of a causation? And the “looney left broken brain” bit is a tad dramatic and unnecessary in my view.

At any rate, GiT, you are right, correlation is not causation. But what did you expect in a 2:43 video blurb? Do you think it reasonable to expect expect every bit of evidence for free markets to be presented?

If you don’t believe that economic freedom increases the general wealth of a nation, I’d be interested to hear your interpretation of how Hong Kong went from one of the poorest countries in the world, to one of the wealthiest and fastest growing.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

Hong Kong is not a country. If you want to compare the wealth of Hong Kong to something compare it to another city like New York… but don’t pretend it’s an independent nation.

Miles Stevenson October 19, 2011 at 11:53 am

For the purposes of comparing economic freedom in one region to another, defining Hong Kong as a country is perfectly valid. Economic freedom compares the political policies of people in one region of the world to another. Hong Kong, often described as a “city state” or a “special administrative region”, has a different political system from China. Different rules, policies, and regulations. When making a comparison between policies, rules, and regulations from people in one geographic region to another (which is what the economic freedom index does), considering Hong Kong a separate and unique region from China is appropriate.

Darren October 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm

“County” or “state” or “city” are just words. What matters is what policies were in place in that region.

GiT October 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Actually, no, that’s false. There is nothing ‘perfectly valid’ about comparing economic freedom scores across countries or regions without controlling and accounting for other salient differences between the countries which can confound any attempt at explaining their differences.

Hong Kong has a number of features which make it quite distinct and unique compared to most countries. This makes generalizing from it difficult.

Muirgeo is right. If you were to compare Hong Kong to other, similar city-states or specially regulated port-cities, there are prima facie grounds for being much more confident that economic freedom actually explains something.

Economic Freedom October 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm

@ GiT:

Hong Kong has a number of features which make it quite distinct and unique compared to most countries.

A high degree of economic freedom being one of them.

Economic Freedom October 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm

“Hong Kong is not a country.”

It’s not a city either. It’s a “city-state”, formerly a British colony, and now a “Special Administrative Region”, or “SAR”, of the People’s Republic of China. Nothing wrong with comparing it to any other kind of political entity. If you object to comparing it to a sovereign country, then compare it to a sovereign state within the U.S. For example, compare the economy of Hong Kong with the economy of Michigan.

Under British rule, Hong Kong had no minimum wage laws and no coercive labor unions or labor legislation. By the end of the 1970s, when the US was suffering under the combined incompetence of the Nixon and Carter administrations — with high unemployment, high interest rates, high inflation, wage and price controls, and gasoline rationing — the unemployment rate in Hong Kong was effectively 0% and there was little political turmoil.

Miles Stevenson October 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm

GiT, you seem to be confused. Perhaps I could have worded my comment better. I wasn’t making the claim that this particular economic freedom index was or was not taking into account all of the necessary casual variables that might have an impact on GDP or some other measurement of well-being. You may be right, perhaps this index is completely useless because it misses something. But that’s not the point I was making.

I was making the point that *in the context of this study, which may be a good study or a bad study*, using Hong Kong as an example is just as valid as using other nations as an example, because what this study is taking into account are political characteristics, such as regulation and centralization. For the purposes of comparing the political processes of one geographical region to another, (regardless as to whether or not you think such a comparison is useful) it is just as valid to include Hong Kong in such a comparison as other nations, because the political processes in Hong Kong are just as distinctly separate from China as say, Denmark from Norway. That is all I’m saying. I’m not making any claims as to the value of this index or any kind of conclusions that can be drawn from this index, I’m simply stating that the study is looking at distinct political systems, and Hong Kong is in fact a distinct political system.

Now I’ll ask you again, since my original question has not been answered. If you believe that economic freedom does not have a huge impact on wealth/well-being, what do you think was responsible for such an increase in wealth for Hong Kong? I’m not asking Hong Kong should be compared to some other country or city or whatever. I’m simply asking you to look at Hong Kong as an example. They have experienced a tremendous amount of positive growth in the past 30 years. What do YOU think are the primary causes of this growth and why?

GiT October 20, 2011 at 12:46 am

EF – Yes, and that’s the point. It is one of many factors. How do you know it’s the causal factor? ‘Because it fits with my ideology’ is not an answer.

Miles – I’m not bringing up any problems with the index. I am not arguing the index is useless. The index measures something, maybe even something useful to measure. The question is whether it explains life expectancy or GDP. I don’t object to saying Hong Kong and China have different policy regimes. I do object to saying that this explains their difference in growth. I especially object to comparing central African states to the remnants of the British Empire and claiming economic freedom explains the difference.

As to Hong Kong and what explains their growth, well, being a British protectorate, being a port, being a city-state, being the chief conduit for Anglophone access to China. I’d say all of those have quite a bit to do with their distinct outcomes.

But that’s beside the point. The salient question is do the comparisions used in the video offer any good basis for inferring that economic freedom explains the bulk of the differences in outcomes. The answer is no, it does not. In fact, it picks examples that exaggerate the appearance of an effect while in fact having very slim grounds for any comparison whatsoever because of the large number of confounding variables between the two samples.

GiT October 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm

What I expect in a 2:43 minute video blurb is not to engage in blatantly deceptive and abusive use of data, like implying that the difference in life expectancy between Zimbabwe or the DRC and the US or Canada has much of anything to do with levels of economic regulation.

vidyohs October 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm

@Miles Stevenson
“Why is his comment “lame and ridiculous”? Do you disagree that correlation does not equal causation?”

Sorry partner but it is obvious that correlation does not equal causation, but his comment is lame and ridiculous because it assumes cherry picking over a small set of data, when in fact the folks at economic freedom have the data of all 204 sovereign nations to look at and correlate, so lo and behold correlation is not causation, but causation makes damn good correlation.

Even a casual knowledge of history reveals that those nations in the past, as well as those current nations, that reduce the regulatory burden placed on their economy will experience a growth of wealth and general all over improvement of their citizen’s living standards; and, it shows that those nations in the past, and current nations as well – including the USA, who have chosen to increase their regulatory burdens on their economies show decline in growth, general stagnation, and an over all degeneration of living standards among their citizenry. Now, good sir, if I refuse to list nations out one by one, go read your history yourself. The proofs slap you right upside the head.

Or do you feel the video provided hard evidence of a causation?”

Hard evidence? Yes. Hard enough to make their point. Did they list all 204 nations in terms of economic freedom side by side with data on the quality of life? No. People with a decent education in history already are aware of the over all effect of free trade as opposed to restricted trade, why does any one here have to make the point anew with every looney left broken brain that wanders onto the site?

“And the “looney left broken brain” bit is a tad dramatic and unnecessary in my view.”

Tsk Tsk, It is an absolute dead on description of the socialist religion and its adherents, and I will continue to use until the looney left makes a concerted effort to clean up their language in reference to any opponent. Now why the looney left? I’ll explain one more time for you. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is an indication of insanity.Couple that wisdom with the knowledge that socialism has failed miserably in every single time it has been implemented, in every nation, during any time frame you choose to look, and you have the current crop of loonies praying fervently to implement here in the USA, and completely convinced that this time they can avoid the degeneration of character and standards of living brought by socialism in the past, that they can avoid the financial disasters brought by stealing the wealth from the producers and giving it to the nonproductive, and that they can avoid sinking the USA into a quagmire of hopelessness that we have witnessed in every socialist society throughout history. So as they are insane, in effect the time old word “lunatics”, and they acknowledge the label leftwing, in my lexicon they are looney lefties. Got it, good sir. Don’t expect me to shy away from it or to give a rat’s butt whether you like it or not.

Why is his counter argument lame? Throwing in Norway in particular, as if no one is supposed to know why Norway’s GDP can be shown to be higher than the USA’s – enormous oil wealth shared by a small population kind of makes that one obvious.

Miles Stevenson October 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm


Fair enough. As much as I agree with most of your conclusions, I get really tired of all the assumptions you make on the way toward those conclusions. I’ll be more specific.

“…It is an absolute dead on description of the socialist religion and its adherents, and I will continue to use until the looney left makes a concerted effort to clean up their language …”

This comes across as categorizing anyone who identifies as being “on the left” as being a religious socialist. Maybe it’s just the Austrian influence in me, but I just don’t see the value or utility in aggregating other people’s world view to this degree. Aggregates and broad generalizations can be useful, until, as Don Boudreaux put it in a recent EconTalk, “they hide more than they illuminate”.

“his comment is lame and ridiculous because it assumes cherry picking over a small set of data, when in fact the folks at economic freedom have the data of all 204 sovereign nations to look at and correlate, so lo and behold correlation is not causation, but causation makes damn good correlation.”

I’m happy that you have discovered exactly what points of data for those 204 nations are the correct data to pay attention to, and know which data to throw out:

“… as if no one is supposed to know why Norway’s GDP can be shown to be higher than the USA’s – enormous oil wealth shared by a small population kind of makes that one obvious.”

Hayek would be impressed, considering even he didn’t figure that one out. Maybe you should publish your list of the correct data to look at so we can all crunch the numbers and come up with the same conclusion. Although I’m pretty sure someone somewhere will come up with a list of things you missed, and then you will explain why those things are unimportant, and this cycle will go on and on and on…

I think Russ has been putting a lot of effort into convincing us that data and statistics are flawed, that bias and ideology are big factors in how we interpret data, and that it’s important to keep in mind how difficult it is to draw any conclusions from studying systems as complex as a world economy. Apparently, some of us do not agree, and think they pretty much have everything figured out to the point that listening to conflicting theories and evaluating them based on their merit is a waste of time which could be better spend writing insults and sarcastic remarks.

vidyohs October 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm

@Miles Stevenson

“I’m happy that you have discovered exactly what points of data for those 204 nations are the correct data to pay attention to, and know which data to throw out:”

Oh please, gimme a break. Only two points were needed for EconomicFreedom to make its case. Free economy and standard of living, not a big freaking mystery there, does the evidence show that free economies provide a higher standard of living than controlled economies and do we see that evidence today as well as in history, well yes, and I think Hayek could have digested that pretty easily.

““…It is an absolute dead on description of the socialist religion and its adherents, and I will continue to use until the looney left makes a concerted effort to clean up their language …”

There is no assumption there, it is dead on truth. I have never seen any one who is a “little” socialist just as I have never seen any one who is a “little” dead. For instance I totally reject on grounds of reason that no one can say, “I am a fiscal conservative, and a social liberal.” It is bullshit. If one believes as a social liberal than one must believe accepting, promoting and in funding social programs or else one has no reason to be a social liberal. Period, you can’t get around that.

Now if one is a fiscal conservative, one knows that funding social liberal programs is insanity. Period, you can’t get around it.

Looney lefties hate the guts of any one who opposes them and will not hesitate to rain violence, destruction, and death on opposition, and you’re dumber than a box of rocks if you haven’t realized that yet. My God, the evidence is all over the MSM in language, all over places like Wisconsin, New York, L.A., Chicago, in union sponsored looney left riots, threats, and even actions.

You soft pedal the looney left, go for it. I am not.

GiT October 19, 2011 at 11:56 pm

That’s a lot of words with very little sense.

They did cherry pick their data. They picked the 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranked countries and compiled averages based on them alone. That is not a representative sample. It’s a deliberately misleading and deceptive tactic. The lowest and the highest countries in their list covary across a number of variables.

You pick two groups of countries that are, within each group, highly similar, and, between each group, highly dissimilar, across a vast array of qualities other than economic freedom, and then infer that economic freedom is the reason for this intra-group similarity and inter-group difference across two measures of well-being. That’s just horrible, polemical, unsound, manipulative analysis.

As to your ‘casual reading of history,’ one can read all sorts of causal explanations into history. That doesn’t make them true. That you think your ‘casual reading of history’ proves your thesis is ridiculous and a testament to your own ignorance. One might even venture you casually read history looking for confirmation of the beneficent effects of deregulation. Hasn’t there just been a series of posts on this? I’m sorry, but your bias is showing.

As to Norway, that’s the entire point. Many of these countries’ outcomes are affected by causal factors not at all controlled for in the study. And that’s the problem. Norway is oil rich. Hong Kong is a port city and a financial center. It’s being a financial center is not disconnected from it being a port city and it being a British colony, which is not simply something that imparts a certain set of government policies but also something that imparts things like being the natural hub for British trade in China (like, say, Mumbai in India. And of course we could draw a parralel to dozens of strategically located colonial hubs that have since turned into quite wealthy areas.)

Note the odd characteristics of the top performing countries. We have 3 small British Imperial trade centers (Singapore, Hong Kong, Mauritius), 4 British or British Settler countries (UK, US, Aus, NZ, Can), and then Switzerland and Chile. Perhaps I should conclude speaking English causes economic freedom? (That’s actually not that unreasonable, since these Anglo-Saxon colonies share, historically, a particular type of institutional design and a common culture of government.)

And we’re comparing them to 9 destitute central African countries and Venezuela (which, by the way, has a rather high life expectancy (74 yrs) and has seen a huge increase (nearing 300%) in GDP/capita since the economically illiberal rule of Chavez. Of course, I would never say Chavez caused that, because, unlike you, I don’t like to run around claiming my ‘casual’ knowledge of history explains complex phenomena.

If you don’t see what’s wrong in presenting that comparison as ‘evidence’ then you are nothing but an ideologue.

vidyohs October 20, 2011 at 7:40 am

LMAO! You looney lefties are just so sorry on logic and reason.

“They did cherry pick their data. They picked the 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranked countries and compiled averages based on them alone.”

So, they cherry picked did they. Tell me fool, if they didn’t have the data on each of the 204 nations and their subsequent ranking as to position on the list, how were they able to determine which were the top 10 and which were the bottom 10?

What they did fool, was report on the top 10 compared to the bottom 10, both categories determined after all 204 nations were subjected to the examination of economic freedom and living standards.

“Hong Kong is a port city and a financial center. It’s being a financial center is not disconnected from it being a port city and it being a British colony, which is not simply something that imparts a certain set of government policies but also something that imparts things like being the natural hub for British trade in China (like, say, Mumbai in India.”

Actually fool, Hong Kong being a port city had little to do with its being a financial center. The reason Hong Kong became a financial center was because of the less restricted economy that blossomed under the British. Hong Kong being a port city in relation to mainland China meant nothing in history as long as foreigners had access to mainland ports from which to trade. For instance Shanghai held a far superior position for trade and finance than Hong Kong and its financial wealth and place as a port was dominant until foreigners were driven out by wars. Hong Kong then became the position of preference for foreigners as it was the only reasonable fall-back.

Even today, when it comes to shipping, Hong Kong is still not a preferred port from which the Chinese choose to ship. No one in commerce, real commerce, is stupid enough to ship to Hong Kong, and then turn around and have to forward goods from Hong Kong to the rest of the world. They ship direct, and Shanghai has again become huge in that respect, but Shanghai is not exclusive as a shipping port anymore, China’s coast line is very long and many ports are operating in international shipping today. Hong Kong is still a financial center and only because of the freer economy that the Chinese were intelligent enough to realize was to their benefit not to their detriment, so the Chinese didn’t muddle it up too much when Hong Kong passed back to them. However I think Shanghai is probably more of a financial center again as the money going through there is huge.

Get an idea of just how huge, at one time about five years ago I read in our local paper that of all the world’s towering construction cranes designed to erect tall buildings 65% were in the city of Shanghai. 65% in one Chinese city!

As a place in the top 10 Hong Kong is there because of its unique correlation of economic freedom and high living standards, it isn’t there based on trade or finances separately. Shanghai can top Hong Kong in in finances but its living standards aren’t as high, nor is its economic freedom as good as Hong Kong’s.

Your original critique I say again was ridiculous and lames.

GiT October 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm

See, there you go, now you’re actually starting to provide a compelling case.

You’ve provided two locations that have much in common and are inferring the reason for the differences in outcome on the basis of a dimension in which they have chosen different policies. That’s a sort of natural experiment and it’s a good basis for doing a comparative analysis. Is it sufficient? No, and if you understood Miles’s posts you’d get why. But your dogmatism isn’t going to help with that.

Now, to the cherry picking point. You see, this is where you are being especially dense. Yes, the index ranks countries. But that ranking is not a sufficient basis for inferring causation. That ‘economic freedom’ picks out a large difference between central African states and the remnants of Imperial Britain is entirely unsurprising to me, because central African states and ex-Brittania are incredibly different for a vast array of reasons, only one of which is economic freedom. The question that matters is whether or not economic freedom consistently explains differences in outcome for countries that are similar, or for which we have controlled for their other significant differences.

Averaging the top ten and bottom ten is not a good way to do that. It is a good way to get exactly the result you want to show without providing any good scientific basis for believing the result you demonstrate accords with the answer you’d like to give.

Why offer the most compelling case at face when it’s the least compelling case on basis of scientific standards of inference? Because you’re a partisan hack, trying to confirm the biases of dogmatic true believers who could care less about what good science looks like.

This is no different from the accusations peddled against climate scientists. But of course, you’re blind to your own hypocrisy.

Neither climate scientists nor the Koch brothers pet project is wrong because of their use of faulty methods, but the methods they use are wrong regardless of whether or not their conclusion is right.

Using poor methods to prove a correct conclusion does no one any favors.

Yes, I know you have your pet causal mechanism that you will defend to the death regardless of what reality says. I don’[t care.

vidyohs October 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm


As a looney lefty your hatred of economic freedom will dictate to you that any avoidance of the truth is to be valued over simply recognizing that evaluating 204 nations for economic freedom and evaluating those same 204 nations on standard of living is the point and then pile on top of that an entire history of the same revelation of truths you found when you did the evaluation of the 204, makes a damn conclusive case that the more free an economy, the higher the standard of living. All the other crap you try and throw into the game is what the legal profession calls “nonresponsive” which means it doesn’t have meaning to the point. The point I remind you was economic freedom = higher standard of living. The case was made, you just don’t like it and refuse to accept an obvious truth.

It is funny how the true looney just has to bring the Koch brothers into any discussion, as if the non-socialist world marches in lockstep like the looney left world does.

You creatures are truly pathetic.

GiT October 22, 2011 at 4:31 am

I mentioned the Koch brothers because, if you go to the site in question, in the “About” section, one finds…

“Because of the immense benefits greater economic freedom has for the overwhelming majority of people, the Charles Koch Institute runs the Economic Freedom Project to advance understanding of the conditions that create improved quality of life in society — especially for the most vulnerable.”

This is to say that I brought up the Koch brothers because, hey look, their name is stamped on the source.

Now, to the actual substantive points:

“t. The point I remind you was economic freedom = higher standard of living.”

Actually, the point has nothing to do with equivalence, it has to do with implication. The ‘point’ is ‘if economic freedom, then a higher standard of living.’ Of course, the problem is to go from a logical implication, which only demonstrates correlation, to a causal implication.

And you have not done that, and the points you emphasize (that economic freedom generally correlates with living standards) does not explain anything.

I’m not interested in whether or not US policy is better than that of Chad. I’m interested in how it compares to Canada, Germany, France, Britain, and so on. I’d like to know whether economic freedom reliably explains differences in similar countries, not highly differentiable ones, because when the countries are highly differentiated there are a whole host of reasons which go into explaining their differences in outcomes. Without controlling for those salient differences, just as not controlling for inflation in analyzing GDP over time, one has no real idea of what they’re looking at.

So even when Canada and the US are compared, if all you’re comparing is GDP and Economic freedom, I have no idea what other relevant factors are at work in fueling the change in GDP, as clearly there is more to the picture than just ‘economic freedom.’

But all that is to skip the very crucial point that while the census presented by the site, as a whole, at least provides a good basis for looking into causation, the highly biased sample picked out by selectively pulling out the top ten and bottom ten countries defies any honest scientific principle and is a classic example of how to lie with numbers.

GiT October 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Do you know a single thing about causal inference or statistical analysis?

That you think my critique is ridiculous or lame or broken says much more about you than it does about me.

vidyohs October 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm

What makes you think any one needs to have an excellent education in statistical analysis, or even causal inference, when a decent education and good street smarts lets the common man see through your crap.

You guys on the left just love the shit out of your disingenuousness, but it doesn’t fly too well here.

GiT October 20, 2011 at 12:04 am

You’re quite prone to invective and claims to your ‘common sense knowledge of history,’ but very weak on anything approaching logical argument.

Funny, given what’s supposed to fly here. Color me unsurprised that what you let fly is more often bullshit than sound analysis.

Greg Webb October 20, 2011 at 12:15 am

Vid, thanks for the logical arguments! It is quite refreshing after a conversation with Dr. Quackers.

W.E. Heasley October 19, 2011 at 6:27 am

“History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition“. – Milton Friedman

Capitalism and Freedom, University of Chicago Press, 1962, Milton Freidman has over one-half million copies in circulation. If one has not read the book, regardless of ideology, one should endeavor to come up with ten dollars and experience mutually beneficial gain at the point of exchange. You will find you multiplied the value of your $10 by many fold.

Greg G October 19, 2011 at 7:28 am

You have got to be kidding. These guys purport to measure national economic freedom to one hundredth of one percent. And they purport to be able to tell which is the 133rd most economically free country from the 134th most economically free country????

And you are the folks who like to lecture on the pretense of knowledge? This really is an irony free zone here.

Methinks1776 October 19, 2011 at 9:14 am

I don’t know if you’ve notice, Greg G, but this is one methodology of addressing the question of economic freedom. The methodology can certainly be challenged – as can the methodology concocted by the WHO of ranking health care system the left seems to accept without a second thought. Correction, without any thought.

Do you have specific complaints about the methodology or are you just generally bitching because they found that more intrusive governments lead to less freedom (duh), which runs counter to the left’s rhetoric that freedom is living at the expense of someone else we are all serfs of the State?

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 9:35 am

“…as can the methodology concocted by the WHO of ranking health care system the left seems to accept without a second thought.”

Yeah…stupid things like lifespan…


vidyohs October 19, 2011 at 9:58 am

Idiot. Address m’lady’s point. Which was not WHO rankings but the blind willingness of the looney left to lockstep accept graphs and data that try to make their case, while denying vehemently all data in opposition to their(your) case.

Her point is valid and your response sets it in concrete.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 11:49 am


Her point would be a blt more impressive if we were number 1 in longevity… maybe even if we were #10 but we are # 34…. all those ahead of us have national health plans… yeah yeah correlation causation … I understand it is your only defense and that the only time you like nuance is when the data tells you how starkly wrong you are…. WHATeveaaar..ahh.

vidyohs October 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm

As usual, dodge away.

Ken October 19, 2011 at 11:15 am


Lifespan can be tricky if it’s not controlled for properly. Many people come to the US because they know they will die in the country in which they live due to the crappy medical system. Is this accounted for? The US also has a much higher levels of immigration than any other country in the world. Those born in other countries, like African and southeast Asia, are typically exposed to more disease as children and thus die earlier; however, many of these people move to the US and are counted just the same.

Then there’s the differences in how countries calculate death. As funny as it seems death is defined differently in different countries, particularly what constitutes a live birth, which lowers the death rate (and increases life expectancy) in some countries even if the same thing occurs in all countries.

Comparisons across countries only mean something if the definitions are uniform. But seeing how you have problems with even the most basic math, I’m sure this is far above your head.


muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 10:16 am

“…as can the methodology concocted by the WHO of ranking health care system the left seems to accept without a second thought.”

Yes.. and other stupid things like infant mortality, neonatal mortality and the difference between them. ( Which factors out for supposed varying definitions of neonate and live birth.)
Were # 33 we’re #33 YEAH!!!

Now yes if you can see it in yourself to ignore the poor then maybe WE’RE #1 WE’RE #1 ….. maybe. Definitely #1 in cost. But many of us find it less than convenient to ignore the poor…. but that’s just us.


Greg G October 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm


One of the things I really like about this site is that you guys are very quick to spot a bad argument or the pretense of knowledge when it is used against you. One of the things I find endlessly amusing about the site is that that rarely works the same way when the shoe is on the other foot. If I wanted to do a parody of that I couldn’t do better than to try and measure national economic freedom to two decimal places. Good luck with that.

Methinks1776 October 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm

So, in other words, you have no substantive objection and you just want to moan. Why didn’t you just say so?

I also find your complaint amusing coming, as it is, from a guy who wants the owners of this blog to “acknowledge” Keynes’s “brilliant insight” that during recessions politicians suddenly gain wisdom and knowledge unattainable by the rest of the millions so they can make superior investment decisions. But, only during recessions.

Greg G October 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

No Methinks, I did not ask “the owners of the blog to acknowledge Keynes ‘brilliant insight’ ” about the wisdom of deficit spending in a recession. First of all asking, such a thing might cause someone to bust a vessel and I certainly don’t want to be responsible for that. The term “brilliant insight” was your sarcastic attribution.

You got my point completely ass backwards. There is abundant acknowledgement here almost every day that Keynes supported deficits in recession. My point was that you rarely see it acknowledged here that Keynes wanted surpluses in times of strong economic growth so that fiscal policy would be net balanced over the long term.

I suggested that, in light of the spectacular failure of you guys or anyone else, to curb deficits anytime, getting more attention on Keynes’ views on what fiscal policy should be during times of health growth would make a lot of sense.

Darren October 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm

economic freedom to two decimal places.

That is a bit ridiculous. I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s been a while. But, if you divide 5, for example, by 2.5 you get 2, not 2.0 and certainly not 2.00. That’s a common mistake, usually forgivable. But it is still incorrect.

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I’m not sure I get your point entirely, but a propagation of errors can tell you what an appropriate number of significant figures should result from any operation on measured values. And commonly, no more significant figures are used to express a number than would be appropriate for the presumed error in its measurement.

Computers simply hold as many figures as their 64 or 128 bit (or whatever) format allows (as well they should). And people then just pick whatever number of resulting figures pleases them. That’s fine if they also present an estimate of the error.

But propagation of errors is often a tedious algebraic task, even as a first order approximation. You can use a powerful symbolic manipulator, or write software that parses a complicated expression as a tree of basic preprogrammed operations (with their first and second derivative expressions also built in), but many folks outside a physics lab would not think the effort worth merely estimating an error.

Greg G October 20, 2011 at 10:14 am

I love it. Precisely measuring national economic freedom? No problem. Measuring life expectancy? Way too hard.

Just when I thought this couldn’t get any funnier.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 7:53 am

Apparently having lowered our taxes, avoiding national health care, busting up unions, deregulating banking and signing on to all those free trade agreements didn’t help our economic freedom numbers…weird.

Just Another Mike October 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Apparently having lowered our taxes manipulated the tax code to give advantage to pay off their friends, avoiding national health care 2000+ pages of behind closed doors “we need to pass it before we know what’s in it” central planning take over of “health care”, busting up unions bail out of unions (GM) and unconstitutional use of force against business (NLRB vs. Boeing), deregulating bankingcreating massive moral hazard then socializing losses of the resulting TBTF crony corporations and signing on to all those free trade agreements engaging in protectionist behavior ( see unions above) then double down when others do the same didn’t help our economic freedom numbers…weird.

Fixed that for you.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 8:16 am

Libertarianism = Igotminenowyougetyoursatarianism

Martin Brock October 19, 2011 at 9:27 am

That’s about right, and I don’t have a problem with it, but a legitimate question remains. What is mine, and what is yours? What is property? Proudhon famously asked this question and concluded “property is theft”, but when he considered the question again, with different assumptions about what constitutes “property”, he concluded “property is freedom”, and Proudhon valued freedom very highly.

So rather than joining a mindless chorus in the “great debate” over how a tiny handful of remote playwrights will direct hundreds of millions of actors, how the authorities will author lawful interaction, why not consider this question yourself?

Property, a forcible standard of propriety, is a creation of the state, and it comes in many forms, some more classically liberal than others. Getting “property” right is certainly critical to the success of a society governed primarily by otherwise voluntary exchange of property rights, but handing more authority to the most central authorities seems unlikely to address your concerns. The most central authority has grown continuously throughout my life, and the problems concerning you only increase.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 9:57 am

I totally agree Martin. Getting property “right” is critical. Society / civilization has been working on the idea of property for millennia and philosophers debating it just as long.
Unfortunately it is not so simple as libertarians might claim. Libertarianism is the lazy mans approach to society or the rich man’s justification of it…. neat and clean no matter how flawed and unsupported by real world evidence. I used to claim to be one myself then I thought it through a bit more.
Do you think a libertarian (which itself needs defining from the heterogenous mob that claims the title) society necessarily increases merit over privilege? I suggest there is absolutely no proof to support this and much real world evidence to the contrary. Further, any basic logical thought experiment will lead to the same conclusion on libertarianism.

So yes how much is it worth for billionaires or even upper middle class people like myself to have the rest of society protect their property and to keep society civil? I think the people in the street are evidence enough the rent is underpaid. It’s costing many many people way too much to protect others wealth. We apparently do not still have property well defined.

vidyohs October 19, 2011 at 10:08 am

The problem with the people in the streets is not that other people have managed to accumulate a lot: The people in the street have a problem because they never had the ambition or ability to accumulate anything except hand outs.

As long as the mob got handouts they were quiet, now the handouts are threatened and they grow vicious.

Rome had the same problem with the losers in its society, and like the Roman mob, our present day can’t see one inch beyond their own noses and believe that government can continue waving a magic wand and create wealth out of thin air.

I feel one consolation over the current situation. I can look around the world at the mobs in other nations and feel content that America doesn’t have an exclusive claim to a stupid population. It does seem true that where ever the socialist religion has taken place, it has bred stupid people.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 10:20 am


The people in the streets are in the streets the same reason the revolutionaries were in the streets in 1770…. they were not being represented by their government. And yes back in the 1770′ people like YOU also disparaged the people in the street. YOU would have made a fine Tory King George Loyalist back in the day. Learn some history pal.

They don’t want handouts they want a government that is NOT for auction. If you’d put down your hate you might see you have much in common with them.

vidyohs October 19, 2011 at 10:50 am

This is where your hypocrisy is so telling. People were in the streets in 1775 because of an abusive government, people are in the streets today because government is not guaranteeing their handouts and absolving them of personal responsibility. ((A loan never requested is a loan never made: A loan never made is a loan not owed: A loan never made is a loan that can not be manipulated: A loan never made will never bring foreclosure))

And the grandest hypocrisy of all, government being auctioned.
The only authority that has the power to offer government for auction, is government. People only buy what is already for sale.

You’re too stupid to recognize that a powerful government being auctioned is a government that will have more power to auction if you increase the laws, rules, regulations, and SWAT teams.

You choke on the common sense of that truth.

vidyohs October 19, 2011 at 10:53 am

I gotta go practice my beloved capitalism in Beaumont, please feel free to spew your garbage to an absent superior.

Martin Brock October 19, 2011 at 10:41 am

“Libertarianism” is a sequence of fourteen letters. The label represents the lazy man’s approach to society or the rich man’s justification of it in your mind. It represents something else in mine.

Ron Paul has announced that, if elected, he’ll work to repeal much of the Federal planning apparatus (for planning Energy, Education and Housing and Urban Development for example) and replace it with nothing, thus leaving this planning to other levels of the state sector or to the market. He’ll also work to repeal much of the military-industrial complex, but he promises a hands off approach to the welfare state, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while pursuing the larger agenda of shrinking the most central authority. Paulis have also encouraged and participated in Occupy Wall Street.

How do these facts square with your caricature of “libertarianism”?

Martin Brock October 19, 2011 at 10:45 am

And if you think “Energy” means green or “Education” means less costly college for your kids, think again. The Department of Energy is largely responsible for nuclear weapons development, and the Department of Educational gave us No Child Left Behind, a program that according my wife, who is a public school teacher, is almost universally despised by teachers, students and parents.

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Understanding what property is, it is extremely hard to imagine that it did not precede the state.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Progressivism = IgotmineandIwillgetyourstoo.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Progressivism = IgotmineandIwillgetyourstoo.

Come on Greg get it right….

Progressivism = IgotmineandIwillgetyourstooIVISM.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 11:27 pm

George, if you are going to correct a minor error then at least get it right:

Progressivism = Igotmineandwillgetyourstooism.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I want Ron Paul to be the Republican nominee more than anyone because he seems honest and principled. I think this nation has to have this debate. But I think the overwhelming majority of Americans see a greater roll for government in defining the rules.

The one big failing I see with Ron Paul is EXACTLY the reason he will NOT get the nomination…. moneyed interest will NOT have it. I’m not sure what his position is on things like money as free speech and corporations as people but if he doesn’t address those issues he’ll get no where passing any agenda against the banks rent seeking or against the military industrial complex. If he does support money as speech then he deserves not to and will NOT get the nomination.

With out a constitutional amendment separating money and state and getting peoples represented more than corporations things will not change much.

Martin Brock October 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm

No one can get through the vested interests to the center of authority, and the center of authority must play a greater role in defining the rules to solve the problems concerning you.

I see why you’re so upset. The predicament you describe is definitively hopeless. Maybe you’re right.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I am not convinced it is hopeless. The protest around the world give me hope. Society is in need of its next big advancement along the lines of the Birth of Humanism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, Industrialization and Democracy. It will have to happen. It won’t happen easily as ever before.

Darren October 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm

In general, it’s almost impossible to separate government from the rich. So far, I think federalism is the answer. I have yet to come across anything that would dispute this conclusion. Rather than having a single central authority from which all else flows and where it would be easier to focus influence, break that power up into many different power centers as much as possible. This would be better for the people and make it harder for the wealthy to control government. Competition between these power centers is what would keep runaway exploitation of workers by those who might pursue this in check. Not reliance on the benevolence of a central authority. A central authority may be necessary for some things, but it should be an option *only* as a last resort.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm


There was a time when separation of church and state also seemed unlikely so I hope you are wrong. While I do appreciate your point that it could be hard to achieve a true separation of “money and state” I remain hopeful it could happen. There is just NO good resin people or corporations should be allowed to bribe politicians under the false idea that money is speech. Money is bribery and speech is what comes out of our own mouths.

The idea of federalism is certainly the most likely compromise option that might be most agreeable to everyone but Im not so sure it did’t already fail with what we call the Civil War. The modern economy is problematic in that global corporations and global finance can undermine the rules of any state creating a death spiral competition where one state is played off another in the so-called race to the bottom. I also concede I’ve not thought this through in detail. As Californian’s I sometimes think we’d have lots to gain from federalism since we pay such a disproportionate share to other states and our 40 million people only get 2 Senators to represent us same as Wyoming’s 0.5 million.

Captain Profit October 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm

“the so-called race to the bottom”

Assuming that the bottom is not a desirable place to be, why would there be a race to get there? Consumers seek value. Producers seek to be the guy consumers get it from. If the point where they meet is what you refer to as “the bottom” it doesn’t sound like such a disagreeable place after all.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Because when you have excess labor pools you can ratchet down their wages just to the level were they may or may not die….doesn’t matter… there are more in the pool to recruit and all your buyers are captured and monopolized.

There’s this thing called history…. in it are well described outcomes of unregulated capitalism. You should read about it.

Go here;


And press on the play button under the Feb 08, 2008 post.

From A clip from a great course from The Teaching Company, Legacies of Great Economist, Lecture 5 Karl Marx and Socialism by Timothy Taylor

Captain Profit October 19, 2011 at 9:01 pm

“There’s this thing called history….”

Yeah, I’ve heard of that. It’s my understanding that most of it took place in the past. I believe the subject had something to do with states competing for the favor of modern global corporations before you decided to take your little sojourn into the slums of 19th century London.

Economiser October 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm

> There is just NO good resin people or corporations should be allowed to bribe politicians under the false idea that money is speech.

Your solution is to give the government enough power to prevent lobbying. Our solution is to give the government so little power that it’s not worth lobbying.

We’re not that different, you and I…

Methinks1776 October 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm

We’re not that different, you and I…

Perish the thought. The devil is always in the details.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Yeah we aren’t that different…. Just that my solution would work and yours wouldn’t.
We do always reduce are differences to this key point. But if we logically walk through your solution we will see it filled with far more flaws.

kyle8 October 19, 2011 at 9:16 pm

except that you have demonstrated that logic is completely foreign to you.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 11:30 pm

We’re not that different, you and I…

Yes, you really are quite different.

Joe Cushing October 21, 2011 at 7:16 am

Whatever that link was, my employer’s internet has censored it. So I can’t see it. You’ve got to love internet filters.

“Access Denied. (policy_denied)

Your system policy has denied access to the requested URL

For assistance, contact your network support team”

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