Kevin Williamson writing at NRO has a great article on the fruits of economic freedom. You should read it all twice. He starts with some of the economic and technological wonders of the modern world and then the other side:
Perhaps you’ve had the experience of clicking a link to a video or a news story and taking a second to realize that what you’re seeing is real life — life as we knew it in 2018: horrifying hunger in Yemen and South Sudan; police-state repression in Venezuela and North Korea; migrants in Libya captured like animals and sold as slaves; monarchies that still take themselves seriously.
The world has made great strides in reducing poverty through economic freedom in the past few decades but when we look at the Heritage map of economic freedom there is much to be done. Only six countries are classified as free and all are small in population so less than 60 million souls out of seven plus billion are free. When we look at the list of countries with the largest populations, only one (US) of the top ten makes it on the Heritage list of mostly free.
How come? Here is where we are not entirely in agreement with Kevin. He notes that lots of rich folks from other countries come to the US and other places because the risk of staying at home is considerable. He also pokes W’s statement about everybody wishing to be free. Then he generalizes:
How proud is Pakistan, really? I guess they showed those Hindus a thing or two, maybe, but nobody gets up in the morning thinking: “I wish my country were more like Pakistan!” Not Pakistanis, surely. [Emphasis added]
We disagree. We think the Pakistanis (not everyone but as a group) are satisfied with their country. We admit that the limited political freedom there makes alternative hypotheses possible but we are convinced they are satisfied.
Sidebar: the negative net migrants for China, India, etc compared to the positive net for the US support Kevin’s point that some are voting with they feet but these are small percentages. And why does mostly unfree Russia (#107 on the Heritage list) have positive net migrants? End Sidebar.
It is not that Pakistanis wouldn’t like to be free and have the fruits of freedom but their priorities are elsewhere and Pakistan meets those other priorities. We think W was in part right when he said that everyone yearns to be free but sometimes their first priority is to take away another’s freedom. So we agree with Kevin’s critique of America (and everywhere else):
And it’s not like we don’t know what made us rich and blessed us with relative domestic tranquility. But we happy Americans are not immune from the darker desires. We have not been liberated from hatred, envy, or resentment, and we are just dumb enough to act on those impulses, politically, every now and then.
It is easy for envy and the rest to become a greater priority than freedom because freedom means everybody is free. MWG and Kevin come to the same conclusion: It is always a time for choosing and we should choose freedom. We should choose economic and political freedom. That’s a good resolution for 2019.