Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Changing With Tide

Reading these lines from an Economist article on the prospects of India and China made me think what a feckless thing political ideology is :

It used to be a platitude of Western—and Marxist—analysis of China that wrenching economic change would demand political reform. Yet China’s economy boomed with little sign of any serious political liberalisation to match the economic free-for-all. The cliché fell into disuse. Indeed, many, even in democratic bastions such as India, began to fall for the Chinese Communist Party’s argument that dictatorship was good for growth, whereas Indian democracy was a luxury paid for by the poor, in the indefinite extension of their poverty.

This other article tackles the question of correlation between political and economic freedom with some data going back to 1991 - which seems like a very short window to consider in making any conclusions.

The chart tells a striking story: the countries that are economically and politically free are underper­forming the countries that are economically but not politically free.

The author believes that democracies will loose out to dictatorships in the end because the later are not hamstrung with having to deal with voter preferences and respect for individual freedom. As a result they are able to do what needs to get done without meeting any resistance. It would be interesting to see the charts with a happiness index or some other indicator of quality of life measured alongside the two freedoms. Maybe the results would be a little different leading perhaps to a more nuanced conclusion.

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