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Craig
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:49 pm    Post subject: Economic freedom = high quality of life Reply with quote

The United Nations measured the quality of life of most countries on earth and these were the rankings for 2005...

1 Norway
2 Iceland
3 Australia
4 Luxembourg
5 Canada
6 Sweden
7 Switzerland
8 Ireland
9 Belgium
10 United States
11 Japan
12 Netherlands
13 Finland
14 Denmark
15 United Kingdom

Not surprising a study done in 2006 ranked countries according to economic freedom. These were the results...

1. Hong Kong
2. Singapore
3. Ireland
4. Luxembourg
5. United Kingdom
6. Iceland
7. Estonia
8. Denmark
9. Australia
10. United States
11. New Zealand
12. Finland
12. Canada
14. Chile
15. Switzerland

Where is Cuba on those lists? Hmmm. There seems to be a strong correlation between economic freedom and quality of life. Yet, some people cling to this utopian notion that socialism is the answer to all of your problems.

Incidentally, this is how economic freedom is defined...

* Corruption in the judiciary, customs service, and government bureaucracy;
* Non-tariff barriers to trade, such as import bans and quotas as well as strict labeling and licensing requirements;
* The fiscal burden of government, which encompasses income tax rates, corporate tax rates, and trends in government expenditures as a percent of output;
* The rule of law, efficiency within the judiciary, and the ability to enforce contracts;
* Regulatory burdens on business, including health, safety, and environmental regulation;
* Restrictions on banks regarding financial services, such as selling securities and insurance;
* Labor market regulations, such as established work weeks and mandatory separation pay; and
* Informal market activities, including corruption, smuggling, piracy of intellectual property rights, and the underground provision of labor and other services.
FF_Canuck





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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the correlation is all the more strong, considering that some of the UN criteria that increase 'quality of life' ratings decrease 'economic freedom' ratings.
Donald Hughes





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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have met people who have claimed, in all seriousness, that "white" Germanic and Scandinavian peoples are part of an advanced race and culture that is very successful when it comes to quality of life. They can point to the same UN quality of life rankings and note that, say, 14 out of the top 15 roughly fit their idea of a "white"-dominated country. The other, Japan, is a highly nationalist culture that severely restricts immigration and has often very racist attitudes. This is wrong (and awful) for many reasons, but it can often fit the superficial data. Such attitudes may seem bizarre to talk about, but were the leading opinions until recently and are still pervasive. Certainly people like Winston Churchill believed in a hierarchy of races in which it was okay to dominate and exploit the "weaker" ones. The fallacy involved goes deeper than "correlation is not causation", but is rather an ignorance of the history of exploitation and development. Instead of noting that perhaps some peoples are underdeveloped because they have been subject to centuries of murder and exploitation by foreign powers, all of that history is wiped away and a simple one is substituted: They are weaker.

As we have advanced it has shifted further away from the person and more towards the institution: They are poor because they don't have the same system we have. If they accepted the same systems we have then it would flourish overnight. When countries have this imposed on them through various levers, the problem is they didn't go far enough and gave in too popular pressure for things like food and water.
Craig
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donald Hughes wrote:
The other, Japan, is a highly nationalist culture that severely restricts immigration


Is it wrong to severely restrict immigration? Why?

Are all countries destined to become one homogenous mix of race, religion, and culture. Japan has a very distinct culture. Is it wrong that they want to protect that? So long as their immigration policy itself isn't racist then is it really wrong?

Wow. Can you say tangent? I was hoping to bait you into a discussion about socialism not immigration :)
FF_Canuck





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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donald,

I don't think anyone said there was a pure causation between the two. Its implied, but thats always the way when correlations are discussed. Certainly, colonialism and imperialism have played a part in the economic development of nations, but there comes a point when you have to stop blaming the past for your future...

I think you are too quick to disgard the notion that an economic system and culture that embrace the creation of wealth and supremacy of law will generate more prosperity than any other combination.

Take India for instance. India was a colony of Britain for many years, and was economically exploited by the British. They killed off all of India's royalty, and used the caste system to their advantage. Yet, following their independence they have transformed themselves into one of the world's fastest growing economies, with a skyrocketing quality of life. Most of this growth has occurred only recently as the country has begun to abandon some of its more communist/socialist policies, and embrace a culture of solid work ethic and effort-based rewards.

Contrast this with any number of tinpot African dictatorships formerly ruled in a similar manner. Some of them have an abundance of natural resources and human captial that would provide for an excellent economic base - yet they remain crippled. They are mired in cultures of dependancy fostered in equal part by their own socialist dicatorship governments, and sadly, our own failed attempts to assist them.

Cultures make a huge difference, and are by no means equal in that regard. A lot of this is rambling, hope I've made my point clear.
Donald Hughes





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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kerala made some of the most significant advances in terms of life expectancy and general health within India while remaining poor in terms of sheer buying power. They were dominated by a (democratic) Communist government for decades.
FF_Canuck





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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some other, random observations about the lists provided -

One, I just remembered that the UN still refuses to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. If they did, I suspect they'd displace at least one country in the top 15... I'm also suprised it doesn't appear on the second list - although its possible Taiwan is ranked somewhere in the 20s.

Two, I find it hysterical that Hong Kong, no longer a seperate sovreign nation, in #1 in terms of economic freedom. That tells you something about even China recognizing how socialist ideology has failed....
Donald Hughes





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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From wikipedia on Taiwan:
Quote:
The HDI report does not include data for "Taiwan, Province of China", the term used by the UN to refer to the domain of the Republic of China (ROC; which, given the country's political status, are not co-terminous): the UN does not recognize the ROC as a state. The ROC government calculated its HDI to be 0.910 for 2003 based on the following data: life expectancy of 76.1 years, adult literacy rate of 97.0%, combined gross enrolment rate of 97%, and GDP per capita (PPP) of US$23,911. If included among UN HDI figures, the ROC would rank 25th: behind Greece and in front of Singapore.
Also, it isn't the fact that the UN "still" refuses to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. The Republic of China held China's important seat at the United Nations for years, given that the US refused to even recognize the legitimacy of the People's Republic. Once it became obvious that Taiwan's plans to re-invade the mainland were off the table, and the US was mired in conflict in Southeast Asia, then the US decided to recognize the PRC and there was a diplomatic transfer of sorts from the ROC to the PRC. The government of the ROC considers itself an independent nation with respect to the PRC but still (AFAIK) considers itself the legitimate government of "China." Were Taiwan to drop this and consider itself a Republic of Taiwan, and were this recognized by a consensus in the international community, then I'm sure that Taiwan would be considered a sovereign state by the UN. What is stopping this is the widely held "One China" policy, rightly or wrongly.
FF_Canuck





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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donald,

Thanks for the info. I'm still suprised it ranks only 25th.

Regarding your view of Taiwan's situation with the UN, this is not information I've heard before but it sounds partially plausible... I do know that the "One China" policy is alsolicy held by the PRC, and that they have repeatedly threatened other nations with trade sanctions and other hostile actions if they were to formally recognize Taiwan as being anything other than a part of Communist China.
biggie





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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donald Hughes wrote:
The other, Japan, is a highly nationalist culture that severely restricts immigration and has often very racist attitudes. This is wrong (and awful) for many reasons, but it can often fit the superficial data.


I would venture to say that probably the single greatest reason they limit immigration is not racism - I put it to you that an island with such an incredibly high population density does not require any more people coming in - and those it does let it must be of sufficient quality to justify their entry.

I wish Canada were a lot more picky when selecting who to allow in. Just look at how much harder it is to enter canada from someplace like Russia or the Ukraine - or Israel or even Europe than it is from oh lets say... Lebanon.
Donald Hughes





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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I would venture to say that probably the single greatest reason they limit immigration is not racism - I put it to you that an island with such an incredibly high population density
No, in that case it is largely racism combined with highly insular nationalist beliefs, these are long-held policies. There is a small minority of Koreans and some Chinese, but often these people try to hide it and it can be a great insult to accidentally call a Japanese person a Korean. You point towards something that is correct, though: There are also many beliefs that many Japanese hold about their bodies and nation being different in important ways, but these are often just folk rationalizations for trade barriers. For example, Japan traditionally claimed that they grow and digest rice differently, so that imports had to be restricted. More recently they have taken comical positions like saying their snow is different and therefore there are trade barriers against European skiis.

Of course, this is not to denigrate the large majority of Japanese who either don't believe these things, accept some of them as inocuous folk wisdom, or find them humorous. But the fact remains that their immigration policy has made them one of the most homogeneous nations on Earth despite being neighbours with a very diverse range of people who would be very willing to move in were the legal and social conditions more inviting.
FF_Canuck





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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've got to support Donald on this point - I work in an area that brings me into contact with large numbers of Japanese nationals, both tourists and foreign workers.

The majority of Japanese tourists stay at a hotel that is owned by a Japanese banking conglomerate. They dine and shop almost exlusively at establishments owned by other Japanese. Some of the Japanese nationals I work with confirm that there is a narrow but very deeply held xenophobia in their culture. It is, however, very much less prevalent among the generation now in their 20s than in older generations.
Craig
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donald Hughes wrote:
There are also many beliefs that many Japanese hold about their bodies and nation being different in important ways, but these are often just folk rationalizations for trade barriers. For example, Japan traditionally claimed that they grow and digest rice differently, so that imports had to be restricted. More recently they have taken comical positions like saying their snow is different and therefore there are trade barriers against European skiis.


Muslims believe that pork is dirty. So what! I'm not sure what trade barriers or comical beliefs has to do with racism. Japan has a highly developed culture and wants to protect it. If some countries want to have open borders and some countries don't - so be it! There is no rule of law that mandates countries have to have high immigration levels.


Last edited by Craig on Mon Sep 11, 2006 11:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
FF_Canuck





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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be clear, I'm not critisizing Japan's immigration rules. As Craig says, they have every right to decide who gets into their country and how. Whether their immigration policy has roots in what I percieve to be deeply ingrained cultural xenophobia, I can't say.
biggie





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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2006 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FF_Canuck wrote:
I've got to support Donald on this point - I work in an area that brings me into contact with large numbers of Japanese nationals, both tourists and foreign workers.

The majority of Japanese tourists stay at a hotel that is owned by a Japanese banking conglomerate. They dine and shop almost exlusively at establishments owned by other Japanese. Some of the Japanese nationals I work with confirm that there is a narrow but very deeply held xenophobia in their culture. It is, however, very much less prevalent among the generation now in their 20s than in older generations.


Ever meet Koreans? Or Vietnamese? Russians? I know a lot of Russians/Ukrainians, its funny, they do the same thing... Many of the South East Asian countries don't allow many people in - why? Where are they supposed to put them? this is shown right away by the massive number of immigrants we get from these countries..
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