Friday, November 12, 2010
It is available here & I recommend it to my overseas readers to - the principle that economic freedom works transcends borders.
The best, or most awful according to taste, was his interviews with a number of British Labour politicians whom he asked to say how much the current national debt, which they had been responsible for doubling, was. None of them could. The worst flatly refused to give a figure, on saying that is a question for economists. The better ones made a guess at £150-£200 billion - they were probably thinking of the annual increase in it. Cathy Jamieson (MP, MSP & former Scottish Minister for Education & then Justice) has been the butt of sketches on Tadio Scotland which made her appear to be a particularly ignorant wee wifey eg "Aw Bernard (well known interviewer) Quantitative Easing you say. Ah'll tell ye about quantitative easing. When ma man gaes to the toilet he stinks the place oot for an 'oor wi' quantative easing." The real lady appears little better informed. It is difficult to criticise Chinese dictatorship when "democracy" here puts buffoons like that in charge.
While impressed with the programme I think he understated both problem & opportunity. The facts are that not only does the state spend 53% of the economy as he said but that government regulation destroys another 100% of our current economy. 75% of the cost of housing & electricity are due to government restrictions. As a general economic rule the cost to the regulated is 20 times the cost to government of employing regulators. The EU has admitted that their regulations destroy 5.5% of Europe's potential GNP. Taken together, without the parasites the total economy could double.
Much of the latter part of the programme was given over to a comparison with Hong Kong which has been the ideal of economic freedom.
That included an appreciation of the little known Scot (at least little known in Scotland though deeply respected in Hong Kong & China) Sir John Cowperthwaite.
At some point during our first conversation I managed to irk him by suggesting that he was chiefly known "for doing nothing." In fact, he pointed out, keeping the British political busy-bodies from interfering in Hong Kong's economic affairs took up a large portion of his time. Throughout Sir John's tenure in office, the British political elite tried to impose its own ailing socialist economic model on Britain's colonies, including Hong Kong. Sir John managed to quash all such attempts and Hong Kong benefited as a result. In 2004, the World Bank estimated, Hong Kong's per capita income adjusted for purchasing power parity (GNI PPP) was $31,510. Great Britain's 2004 GNI PPP was $31,460.Cowperthwaite attended Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh, Scotland, and later studied classics at St Andrews University and Christ's College, Cambridge. Whatever the ignorant buffoons running Scotland say he represents a deeper & longer lasting Scottish cultural tradition than their thieving parasitic "socialism" ever could.
I conjecture that it was Hong Kong's obviously successful experiment with laissez-faire that helped to steel the nerves of Britain's Iron Lady, Baroness Thatcher, as she prepared to rescue her once-great country from the socialist rot. Hong Kong, a colony, lit the way for Britain, the homeland. Moreover, Hong Kong's success was vital in convincing the Chinese Communist Party that socialism was a historical dead end. Capitalist countries lead best when they lead by example, and what better example for a slave society of over a billion people than an island of freedom and prosperity right on its doorstep? Turning Hong Kong into an example worthy for China to emulate -- that, I believe, is Sir John's greatest legacy.
What about Sir John, the man? One story, I think, says it all. As a senior civil servant, Sir John was once presented with a sum of tax-payer money to upgrade his residence in Hong Kong. He refused. He told me that he could not accept a housing subsidy since that was a largess denied to other residents of the colony. In his personal conduct, just as in his economic policies, Sir John set the standard for future generations of public officials.