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Anti-Democratic Thought for the Day

Fractional Reserve Banking fro... Insurance or Mass Delusion?...

From Patri Friedman.

Only without political freedom can economic freedom thrive (see Hong Kong, Singapore). With political freedom (democracy) comes a welfare state and loss of economic freedom.

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CATEGORIES: Political Economy

COMMENTS (18 to date)
Vova writes:

Mogden, Patri did not deny that possibility. Lack of political freedom is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for economic freedom.

jeff writes:

With political freedom (democracy) comes a welfare state and loss of economic freedom.

Why does Mr Friedman equate "political freedom" with "democracy"? I suspect this would have caused some indigestion at the Anti-Democratic Lunch.

mgroves writes:

I think Friedman's seasteading idea really is onto something: frontiers make competitive government possible (if you haven't listened to the EconTalk episode with Friedman, I highly recommend it). I don't think seasteading is going to deliver the necessary frontiers, but Orson Scott Card touched on this concept as a possibility with space travel and colony planets in "Speaker for the Dead", which none of us will certainly live to see.

My question is: at what point does competitive government (via new frontiers) become ideological segregation? Wouldn't that be a probable outcome, and would that be a good thing?

P.S. I'm not joking or making fun when I say that the seasteading concept would make for some outstanding fiction.

I disagree. It seems to work on paper but without political freedom some class or group get's absolute power which always corrupts and then they have to stifle creative thought to hold on to their power.

RL writes:

This ain't your grandfather's political theory...

Kurbla writes:

It doesn't make much sense. Democracy can decide to apply any kind of economic system and dictatorship can decide to apply any kind of economic system as well.

Kien writes:

Good news for Patri Friedman. If political freedom is a necessary condition for economic freedom, there are many countries Patri can move to, including Russia and Saudi Arabia. But stay away from Singapore and Hong Kong. Those countries have acquired political freedom over time, and will likely become even more free in future.

Oh why do we have to contend with such bankrupt intellectuals? Why does EconLog bother posting such quotes?

8 writes:

It's a cultural argument. The King of England, American protests aside, allowed a wide range of economic and political freedom. If "freedom" is the freedom to choose your leaders, then the monarchy failed. But if freedom is measured by violation of rights, the British monarchy and two former British colonies were and are among the most free places on the planet.

Are there any examples of Anglo-Saxon nations restricting the rights of people, or restricting rights more than the pre-conquest government? And no matter what form of government exists, do Anglo-Saxon nations and former colonies tend to allow greater individual liberty?

Mensarefugee writes:

As long as the vote can be restricted - but egalitarian.

You dont get the vote, unless you meet these conditions, where the conditions arent impossible, eg you must be white is unmeetable for nonwhites, but you must be at least this rich, or have been in military combat maybe, are meetable.

Then we have a nice sane compromise.

Give the vote to any Tom Dick or Harry, or more importantly (in my unrepentant view) to any Sally, Jane or Mary and you get restrictive government and a welfare state.

mensarefugee writes:

I hasten to add...
The biggest most obvious condition should be:
Raise the damn voting age to 25. We dont need to give any more drug cocktail injecting, brain dead rockstars any more causes or projects.

Tom writes:

"But if freedom is measured by violation of rights, the British monarchy and two former British colonies were and are among the most free places on the planet."

Unless you are Catholic.

Chandra writes:

Whenever, I read the word ‘Democratic’, my mind thinks about what the great poet Walt Whitman said in 1900 “One’s-Self I sing—a simple, separate Person;
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-masse. ”

renminbi writes:

Electoral politics presents the problem of rational ignorance on the part of the electors-the people they elect are their agents, and as anyone who has ever dealt with an agent knows they are in a great position to benfit themselves at the expense of those they represent.

Second and perhaps bigger problem-the public starts to view the treasury as Santa Claus-this eventually makes any "democratic" system unviable. I see Argentina,which is in the process of seizing private retirement accounts, as the future of most democracies.

Patri Friedman is on to something.

Drew writes:

I'm not a fan of her phrasing, but I think that's why the US has the Constitution. US founders never seemed to want a pure democracy.

fundamentalist writes:

That's why the founders wanted a republic. The US has moved toward a democracy as politicians promised more power to the people and broke down the walls of the republic that protected property. The President and Supreme Court were supposed to protect the Constitution, but instead betrayed it at every opportunity. Now we are a democracy and have lost our freedom.

The Snob writes:

Well, at this point in Boston I am getting neither freedom nor democracy, if by democracy one means the option to vote for various people.

On my ballot this morning, I had a half-dozen choices for President, a Republican or Libertarian running against John Kerry, and the rest of the elections from the House on down were uncontested for the Democrats.

Given that Kerry's race was contested only in the sense that his opponents wouldn't be forced to fight each other to the death in the Boston Garden afterwards, and that the presidential outcome was no less certain (though the popular vote has some PR value), the only reason to show up was for the three ballot questions, at least two of which were on the ballot in 2002 and lost. And even those don't matter because the legislature here has proven able to refuse to implement referenda it dislikes, even when Mitt was governor.

George writes:

A couple minor but relevant facts:

1) Walt Whitman died in Camden, NJ in 1892.

2) Patri Friedman is male.

3) It's not so bad being Catholic in Britain nowadays; the anti-Catholics there have moved on to being completely anti-religion.

Patri Friedman writes:

I'd just like to note that my argument is purely empirical. One can find theoretical reasons for it, but they come to justify an empirical observation. If you look at the Heritage Foundation 2008 economic freedom index, the top two (Hong Kong and Singapore) are non-democracies.

It is something Milton Friedman was puzzled by and lectured about in the last years of his life. (So, Kien, if I am a bankrupt intellectual, so is he!)

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