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A free press is one of the bulwarks of a modern, democratic society. Thomas Jefferson himself famously preferred newspapers without a government to government without newspapers. Yet there is an underappreciated link between freedom of the press, on the one hand, and economic freedom, on the other.
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Western media interpreted the Arab Spring as a drive for democracy, but protesters were mainly motivated by lack of opportunity and jobs in dead crony-capitalist and crony-socialist systems. Tunisia's economy has gotten worse since the Arab Spring, beset by strikes, a tourist industry hobbled by terrorist attacks, and failure to make meaningful reform.
The lessons to draw from the Danish model are clear, even if they're not the ones Bernie Sanders would like us to draw. The Danes benefited from low taxes in order to get rich, and they remain fairly well-off thanks to a light regulatory touch, but their extensive welfare state is not the great success it's cracked up to be.
Despite the courageous and tireless efforts of many members of Tunisia's civil society, real democratic stability will fail in Tunisia unless economic policy shifts from milking an impoverished state and stifling economic freedom to creating conditions for meaningful productive employment for all.
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Unlike the iron fist of communism, capitalism's incidents of harm (recall the mugging in Central Park) result not from government oppression but from the nature of freedom itself. Misguided newspaper columns notwithstanding, in theory, practice and historical record, between capitalism and communism, there's no comparison.
The recent killing of two Canadian soldiers by self-professed, radicalized young men who became enamoured with a violent interpretation of Islam will bring up multiple assertions about the "root cause" for such attacks. Economic freedom and the institutional "pillars" that undergird it matter.
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The real solution to the flood of illegal immigrants from Central America is not higher walls or more guns to combat gangs, but to follow the path of Chile. Increased economic freedom, open to all not just the elites, would give youth an alternative to gangs and create the prosperity, opportunity, and calm that will keep people at home.
With the recent Russian-inspired tragedies in eastern Ukraine and the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, much of the world is understandably focused on those regions. But another continent, Asia, is worth watching, particularly Chinese government action vis-à-vis Hong Kong.
One critical difference between a well-functioning city-state on the periphery of East Asia -- or a country like Canada -- and China, is the degree to which rules are predictable and enforced. Obvious or not, those tempted to bend or break the rules should recall such distinctions, as should the rest of us.
In a few days the "fiscal cliff" deadline will arrive and potentially bring massive automatic spending cuts and tax increases to the U.S. Even if Congress and the President agree to avoid the cliff, the next crisis awaits.
It has long been said that when the U.S. sneezes, Canada catches a cold. So why have these debt-related ailments in the U.S. not afflicted the Canadian government? The answer is that Canada has been practicing what the U.S. always preached. That is why we Canucks are not jumping off cliffs or smashing into ceilings.
On a recent trip to Kenya, my friend and his family crashed head on into an example of why some developing countries cannot grow and prosper.
As they were about to board their flight from Nairobi, the clerk at the exit gate said there was a problem with their boarding passes. Before she returned them and before they could board the flight, they were told they must pay $800 to correct the "problem."