How ironic is it that the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor just occurred, (kicking off a worldwide fight for freedom and democracy), simultaneously with the negative talk these days about the America and the democratic process we know as the recent election. My tour of the Arizona Memorial for the first time, as well as seeing the USS Missouri, upon which the enemy combatants signed the surrender document, prompted me to think that it might be an appropriate time to compare America to the other nations of the world, especially with all the anti-Trump, anti-democracy protests. (Disclosure: My father was in the U.S. Navy as a rear gunner on a Hellcat dive-bomber and my uncle Herb Suerth received a purple heart fighting for our freedom against Nazi Germany, as documented in the Band of Brothers movie that he consulted for with Tom Hanks.)
And so I call attention to young people today. Look around the world. What nations are at the top of the economic pyramid? The U.S., India, United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Germany, and others. Have the protestors bothered to understand that their freedom to protest and what they are protesting is the very empowerment that gives them their economic freedom to protest?
Now ask yourself, what is the common denominator in nations that generate outsized economic performance? The answer – democracy, along with economic freedom and political freedom. Take Russia and China, previously very closed countries, which were small in economic output until communism fell in Russia and China started to open up its economy too. While not yet democracies, they are moving significantly in the right direction (albeit slowly) with more economic freedom than they had under communism and as a result, their GDP has grown substantially.
However, the most obvious examples of success or failure comes from Germany (east and west before reunification) and North and South Korea along with Cuba. Communist East Germany lagged generations behind in economic growth compared to its neighbor with the same culture, language, and geographic attributes. Then, once East opened the Brandenburg Gate and merged with West, overall growth in Germany (particularly the old east) accelerated. Likewise, with the Koreas; same culture, same language, same geography, but South Korea outperforms North Korea by lightyears; all because of democracy.
Cuba is another prime example. Held back by communism and dictatorship, Cuba is literally frozen in time, with its pre-1960’s cars, buildings and consumer goods. Cuba stopped growing with communism, after having one of the best performing, most modern society’s in the world pre-communism. Even in spite of massive financial aid and trade with the USSR and other communist countries, Cuba could not grow or achieve a higher level of GDP when they continued to repress freedom.
Meanwhile, another island country physically similar to and more remote than Cuba, Japan, became one of the highest GDP nations on earth, due to democracy being installed after World War II. (Note that all the countries that America and many that Great Britain assisted are doing well, such as India, Japan, South Korea, and others.) A small nation like Japan even outperformed massive countries like Russia and China, until those countries opened up their economies and started to provide some amount of ever growing freedom.
Even inside the U.S., there is strong evidence that local economies that are more open to new ideas and more accepting of others perform better. Take Texas, which has experienced significant growth in recent years due to its lower regulation approach.
Attention young people – there is no better political system (democracy) or economic system (capitalism) than what we have right here in America. If you’re not sure of that, I encourage you to travel the world as I have and find out for yourself. I’m confident that you’ll come running home after a while!
Read my blog at RedState, under “Up Against the Wall” or under my name. Be sure to spell it correctly.
Up Against the Wall is a monthly column written by Terrence Wall and reflects his views and opinions, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Middleton Times.