As a former left-wing-communist-dupe-type, I hadn’t realized, until reading Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s oped in this morning’s WSJ, that Hong Kong, apparently for several years now, stands at the very top of all countries (or city states, in its case, I suppose) in the annual Index of Economic Freedom published by the Journal and the Heritage Foundation. Silly me–I thought HK was now under the lock, at least to some extent, of Red China. But evidently the Chicoms themselves continue on their merry way toward relegating Marxism-Leninism-MaoTseTung-Thought to the memorabilia market. According to the WSJ: Notable gains were made by China; it is still a “mostly unfree” economy but moved up 16 places and is continuing a trend toward liberalization.
It’s obvious to see why, if you buy Ms. O’Grady’s concluding graph: Policy makers who pay lip service to fighting poverty would do well to grasp the link between economic freedom and prosperity. This year the Index finds that the freest economies have a per-capita income of $29,219, more than twice that of the “mostly free” at $12,839, and more than four times that of the “mostly unfree.” Put simply, misery has a cure and its name is economic freedom.
Of course, the elephant in the room is whether there is a correlation between economic freedom and social freedom. The presence of Hong Kong and Singapore as one-two at the top of the list would tend to make one skeptical. But I am not so sure. In the long run, the market seems to be rushing on and up–as is social freedom. Like the Dow and the Nasdaq.
PS: It will be interesting to watch the case of “miracle” Estonia, now number four. It is trying to join the EU where many of its freedoms will be restricted.