Our month-long series chronicling 100 years of communism continues; this week we compare island nations with command economies to ones with market economies. There is something about the self-contained nature of islands that invites comparisons. For good measure, we contrast liberal US cities and states with conservative ones.
Communist Cuba, a brutal dictatorship, has a failed economy; its GDP ranks 137 and its freedom index 171. Most Cubans’ take home pay is $30/month. It is a nihilistic society where one-third of all pregnancies are terminated. Socialist Greece, constantly being bailed out by its neighbors, is a failed state. Uber-liberal Puerto Rico is bankrupt; it owes $75 billion in bonds and $40 billion in unfunded pension liabilities – equal to $100,000 per household. People are rapidly fleeing this crime-riddled wasteland.
Singapore is rich; less than 20% of its economy is in the public sector and taxes are half that of the US. It ranks #2 in the world for economic freedom. The #1 place for economic freedom is affluent and capitalist Hong Kong. Taiwan, a vibrant free market democracy, ranks high in both wealth and freedom. A mere few generations ago all six of these places were desperately poor. Today, the ones (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan) that chose freedom and capitalism are all rich. The ones (Cuba, Greece, Puerto Rico) that chose collectivist, anti-market schemes are impoverished hellholes.
Deep blue states (California, New York, Illinois) are hemorrhaging people with 1,000 each day abandoning them for deep red states (Texas, Florida, Utah). They move to escape blue states’ confiscatory taxation, job killing minimum wages, forced unionization, welfare fraud, choking regulations, green energy mandates and social pathologies. As humans always have done, they gravitate to places with economic freedom where household income is $10,000 higher and people are happier.
Many cities have been governed by progressive politicians, often for more than a half century; Detroit, Newark, Cleveland, Chicago, and Washington come to mind. The legacy of such liberal stewardship is bankruptcy, shrinking population, failed schools, high taxes and crushing debt. They are dismal, dangerous and dirty places. If liberal policies worked, they should be thriving magnets showcasing progressive ideas and the failure of free market capitalism. Instead, contrast these failed cities with successful ones such as Dallas, Houston or Salt Lake City. Whether it be islands, states or cities, it is clear that more liberty and less government works and that socialism fails.
As I oft have written, liberalism (and every one of its collectivist cousins) is a lie. They promise Utopia, Xanadu, Nirvana, Elysium, Valhalla and Zion but what they give you is death and desperation as in Venezuela, Cuba, the USSR and North Korea. Economist Ludwig von Mises nailed it nearly 75 years ago when he wrote:
“The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent on abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want the government to be omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into one gigantic post office with every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau.”
Red October continues next Sunday with “Socialism, Sweden and Scandinavia”.