Early this week, the South Africa Daily Maverick published an op-ed titled, “It’s not Zuma that we need protection from, it’s the market.” While the author rightly calls out the role of cronyism in destroying ordinary South Africans’ economic mobility, she doesn’t seem to make a distinction between economic freedom and crony capitalism.
This spotlights a crucial misunderstanding in the ongoing battle against capitalism in South Africa, and across Africa.The values of freedom will continue to take a back seat as anti-market forces demand more state control of the economy against “corporate” interests.
The Benefits Seem Unattainable
How is it that perceptions of the market are so negative on a continent with such a rich tradition of economic freedom?
It can be alleged that the arguments for capitalism have become too utilitarian to appeal to a continent that has been ravaged by the effects of slavery, colonialism, kleptocracy, ethnic genocide, crony capitalism, and extreme poverty. Indeed, in his 1999 book “Development as Freedom,” Harvard Professor Amartya Sen argued,
The discipline of economics has tended to move away from focusing on the value of freedoms to that of utilities, incomes, and wealth. This narrowing of focus leads to an under appreciation of the full role of the market mechanism, even though economics as a profession can hardly be accused of not praising markets enough.”
Read more at FEE Online
Nothing is really changing politically in Berlin. To begin with, Germany’s socialists are currently in a coalition with the conservatives, forming an immense majority in parliament. The coalition has slowed down public spending cuts and reforms enacted by the previous government. The German Left is at risk of fading into irrelevance as its choices regarding coalitions are limited: it’s either Merkel once again or going down the road of a three-party coalition.
In this post-crisis economy, Berlin shouldn’t be interested in who organizes a government reshuffle in September, but should instead be concerned with how a freer economy can unleash the potential of hard-working Germans.
Germany’s historic free-market champion, former conservative politician Ludwig Erhard, should serve as a role model for the ideological emptiness of contemporary German politics. Erhard is known to be responsible for the most extensive period of economic deregulation in modern times. Instead of following the temptation of slowly moving towards more economically interventionist policies, Berlin should follow Erhard’s example who believed that, instead of central planners, individuals should decide a country’s future.
Continue reading at FEE.
Twenty-five years after the fall of the Soviet Union, one of its former states will receive a major liberal badge of honor. Latvia, a Baltic Sea nation of two million people, will officially join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Membership in the OECD, a group of developed nations, carries great symbolic value. Latvia’s status as the group’s 35th member is certainly worthy of recognition—and a look back at how it arrived.
Latvia is one of the major post-communist success stories. GDP per capita in 2016 was $22,460 in PPP-adjusted U.S. dollars, just slightly below European averages. This level of wellbeing is all the more remarkable because it only had a quarter-century of national sovereignty to achieve it. With the exception of its Baltic neighbors, most former Soviet states have not seen such substantial growth—and some, such as Ukraine, have seen no net growth at all.
Read the full article at Economics21.
This week, a proposal by the Finnish government to give its citizens a universal basic income (UBI) made headlines across the world. A UBI is exactly what it sounds like — a sum of money given by the government to every citizen regardless of wealth or need.
Finland seems to be getting pretty serious about this radical new approach to welfare. Not only do a majority of Finns approve of the concept, the government has commissioned a study into its plausibility and plans to experiment with it in 2017.
Considering European countries are Americans’ favorite to compare policies to, Finland’s proposal raises the question of whether such an idea would work in the U.S., considering the sad state of America’s welfare system.
Read the rest on Rare here.
The latest Young Voices podcast features Dr. Diana Thomas and Daniel Pryor. Today they will explore some of the issues raised in Diana’s ‘Economics & Liberty’ segment of the new ‘Liberty 101’ course.
Topics discussed include basic libertarian economic arguments, reasons to be sceptical of government power, crony capitalism, and the importance of a vibrant civil society.
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