Thursday, January 06, 2005

Aristotle's Ownership Society...and W's

Is Marx a "great thinker"? In terms of influence on world history--yes. In terms of the sophistication of his ideas--yes. In terms of accurate analysis of reality--Marx was about 2100 years behind the times. Aristotle in his Politics (Book II) had already explained why private ownership of property was essential for a just society. And much of planet earth has spent the last century and a half painfully learning why Aristotle (at least on this issue) was a step ahead of his revered teacher Plato.

But the world is catching on. The Wall Street Journal posts its economic freedom rankings--and for the first time the US has dropped out of the top ten (USA is at number 12). This is less because of regression under W than because other nations are moving rapidly ahead.

1 Hong Kong
2 Singapore
3 Luxembourg
4 Estonia
5 Ireland/New Zealand
7 United Kingdom
8 Denmark/Iceland
10 Australia
11 Chile
12 Switzerland/United States

Having spent much time in Britain, I'd sure like to know how Tony Blair's UK moved past President Bush's USA. But as much as I'd like to question the ranking, there must be something that the UK did to suggest this to the WSJ. The full article is here:

The WSJ writes: "Most alarming is the U.S.'s fiscal burden, which imposes high marginal tax rates for individuals and very high marginal corporate tax rates. In terms of corporate taxation as an element of economic freedom, the U.S. ranks a lowly 112th out of the 155 countries scored, and its top individual tax rate ranks only slightly better at 82nd. U.S. government expenditures as a share of GDP increased less in 2003 than in 2002, but the rise since 2001 is what explains the U.S.'s decline in score over the period."

W has his work cut out for him here. A generation ago much of the world heading down what von Hayek called "The Road to Serfdom". Now Estonia, Luxembourg, et al are moving ahead, and leaving the USA behind. It's time to get things together inWashington.


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