Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Comparing like with like - and how unlike they then became

Comparing like with like - and how unlike they then became

When in my teens, in the 1960s, I wondered what rules were best for governing the world, and the nations in the world. Comparisons like this (featured by Tim Worstall at the ASI blog today, he having come upon it here) helped me to decide:


As Tim Worstall notes:

[T]he countries are matched as to rough starting point before the communist armies marched, matched roughly as to culture and so on, and yet after that series of communist experiments we see the same result everywhere.

Exactly. It was the matching of like (to start with) with like that was most telling. And before 1990, we also had the damning comparison between East and West Germany (very near to my English home) to contemplate.

So, said contemporaries who were drawing more nearly opposite conclusions, you want sweatshops like they have in South East Asia? With growing confidence, I learned to say: yes. If people in South East Asia now have sweatshops, that's a pity. They must be very poor. But how will shutting down those sweatshops make them any less poor? You're saying poor with hope of escape is worse than poor with no hope at all. That sounds downright wicked to me.

That time proved me, and all who argued as I did, right was one of the big reasons for communism collapsing where it did collapse, and trying to insert capitalism into itself where it did not.

Some libertarians now live in dread of a time when such comparisons will no longer be possible, because the entire world will be equally stagnant, and nobody except them will be able to see this. Some people are determined to be miserable.

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