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Political Freedom - Economic Freedom

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LandJ Posted: Thu, Aug 16 2012 11:30 AM

As I recently was introduced in Libertarianism, I have read many articles, surveys etc stating that economic freedom is extremely important for political freedom and reversely. I understood this after reading "Capitalism & Freedom" and "The Road to Serfdom". I figured out that as an economy becomes more free, citizens gain more political freedom. 

However, some friends of mine who favor military juntas and are supporters of the Greek Junta of '67, believe that this is not true, showing the example of Chile and Pinochet (*1)

Facts about Greek '67 Junta: Oppression of speech, imprisonment of active opponents, farmers debts deletion, subsidies for professional purposes with strict supervision (*2), foreign direct investments, FDI, came to Greece (*3).

 

*1 Q: Chile opened its economy due to Chicago Boys' suggestions, but Pinochet governed till 1990. So, in the meantime did Chile citizens gain more political freedom because of their more free market? Or all these Junta's years, 1973-1990, the market freedom did not help Chileans gain more and more political freedom? 

( Bonus irrelevant question: Surely Chile has the higher Income per capita( 15,000d) in Latin America, but still it is not a wealthy country, although it is 7th in the Economic Freedom Index according to Heritage.org. How can you explain this?)

*2 Q: What is your opinion about government subsidies for professional purposes (small & large industries openings, new jobs etc)?

*3 Q: I think that this era many West countries opened little by little their economies, and Democracies and Juntas. But do you think that a Dictatorship is prerequisite for FDIs?

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Some Greeks claim that a military Junta is necessary now, in order to eliminate corruption, to make decisions about reform policies like Public Sector & public spending reduction,  to confront groups that oppose to these reforms by oppressing opponents opinions and using the military etc. They believe that because a Dictatorship is powerfull, is strict and punisher. 

Q A: I personally wonder, how can we trust few people to give me them absolute power and authority to make these reforms?

They suggest a military Junta with Libertarian governors. But even like this, there is no quarantee that the Libertarian dictator will maintain his ideas after taking absolute power. What do you think?

Q B: A Dictatorship or Military Junta, isn't it a Big Government, a huge Public Sector itself?

 

 

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xahrx replied on Thu, Aug 16 2012 2:56 PM

 

Political freedom and economic freedom are the same thing.  Having so called economic freedom is meaningless if you are politically restrained, having so called political freedom is meaningless if you are economically unable to use your resources to better your situation in life.

"I was just in the bathroom getting ready to leave the house, if you must know, and a sudden wave of admiration for the cotton swab came over me." - Anonymous
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^What he said.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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DD5 replied on Thu, Aug 16 2012 3:53 PM

 I believe it is freedom from politics that we are after and not "political freedom".  Political freedom is an intellectual mistake.

Does not Political Freedom imply the existence of a political system,i.e, a government?  I think it does and those that usually talk about "political freedom" do tend to define it in this way.   But freedom and government are contradictions.  And so there can be no political freedom and we should not seek what cannot exist.   

 

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LandJ replied on Thu, Aug 16 2012 4:04 PM

So, the classic statement "I  prefer to have a high income due to economic freedom, even if my political rights are restrained", is a misconception?

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Bogart replied on Thu, Aug 16 2012 9:59 PM

YES!!!!  There really is no Political or Economic Freedom.  Individuals are either free or not free.  And when individuals are free they can do three things:1. Own property (most importantly themself), 2.  Use their property as they see fit without violence or the threat of violence, and 3. Plan for the future.  Many people, myself included, fell for the propaganda that people could be politically free or economically free.  The fact is that they can not do so.  Government either gets involved in all three aspects of freedom or it doesn't.  It is the degree to which it does that determines the long term wealth of society.

As for your questions:

1. Pinochet was a tyrant, he just gave the people in Chile a litte more room than the other nations in Central and South America to perform the three tasks above.

Also, Chile was not all that free relative to other nations under Pinochet and their accumulated wealth show it. 

And it does take a while to increase your capital that much.

2. Government should not subsidize anything.  Consumers will sort out their preferred suppliers.  And Milton Freidman was completely incorrect when he suggested that a developing nation have tariffs on products in some industries to allow them to develop.

3. Dictatorship is bad because the person in charge must use the resources of his place to keep himself in charge.  Democracy is awful as well.  The only stable social organization is one where NO person or group of persons has the right to use violence or the threat of violence.

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LandJ replied on Fri, Aug 17 2012 5:56 AM

So, when people are restrained in expessing freely their opinions, this will lead inevitably to their restrictions in managing freely their property, money, resources, businesses etc?

 

--------------------------------------------------

Yes, but what about Dubai?

It is a monarchy, and as far as I am concerned people have their freedom to express themselves, to operate businesses etc. UAE have income per capita 49,000 doll, inflation 0.9% (One may say that UAE are so wealthy due to oil deposits over there. However, I read that oil is only 7% of GDP of Dubai)

 

A friend of mine who lives there told me that the monarch governs his citizes with liberal ideas. There are no restrictions. There is strong Rule of Law and strict punishments, as well. 

a. So, how free are Dubai and UAE citizens, actually?

b. Is it possible, people to be free under a monarchy?

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(P.S.** I thought Friedman was in favor of Free Trade. How could he support tariffs for developing countries?)

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xahrx replied on Fri, Aug 17 2012 7:52 AM

 

So, when people are restrained in expessing freely their opinions, this will lead inevitably to their restrictions in managing freely their property, money, resources, businesses etc?
 
It doesn't lead to that, it IS that.  How you run your business and to what ends, to deliver what products or services, and to who, is functionally no different from expressing a political opinion.  As evidenced by the fact that some people choose to make a living doing just that; expressing political opinions.  Every restriction the government places on people essentially comes down to dictating how and for what they may use their own resources, including their ultimate resource which is their own body and time on this earth.  The divide between political and economic freedom is an artifical construct deliberately pushed by people who favor restrictions on freedom that, to their minds, fall under one of those classifications but not the other.
"I was just in the bathroom getting ready to leave the house, if you must know, and a sudden wave of admiration for the cotton swab came over me." - Anonymous
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bloomj31 replied on Fri, Aug 17 2012 8:25 AM

This has begun to seem a weird topical distinction to me lately because I've come to think less about the words and more about what we're conceptually talking about and I believe it is something like "what decisions should people be able to make for themselves and what decisions should be made for them." But then in political discourse those questions all get separated and thrown under the hood of two basic categories: political and economic.

As has already been pointed out, restricting freedoms economically and/or politically basically amounts to the same thing: you're telling people they can't do something they presumably would've otherwise done.

A better way to think of the divide, imo, is not in terms of some distinction between economic and political but simply in terms of what you want people to be able to voluntarily choose about and what you don't.  

Putting them into categories is nice for discussion's sake but it all amounts to the same thing in my mind.  You're either letting people do their thing or you're not.  Obviously the degree to which people are restricted moves along a spectrum.  Certain choices just seem to be more crucial to people than others and sometimes different groups have different ideas about which choices matter more to them.

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LandJ replied on Fri, Aug 17 2012 11:00 AM

I am sorry but I find it difficult to understand that there is no distinction between political and economic freedom. For me:

  • Political freedom is: supporting/opposing government, war, gay rights, religious rights, liberal or communist or fascist ideas, legalizing drugs and many more issues..., either privately either publicly, either in front of one single person either in front of a large audience.
  • Economic freedom is: Free market, free competition, no bureaucracy, no cronyism, low taxation, everybody chooses his profession, his suppliers-distributers-customers-resources, rights on property, money and many more...

One may say "You can do whatever want in your economic life, although your political rights are oppressed".

I would like some real-world scenarios/examples  proving that economic and political freedom is actually the same thing. 

The only example that made me understand this is the one that xahrx wrote about people who make their living by expressing their political opinions, journalists etc.. Definitely, here political and economic is the same, but what about the other professions?

 

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Bogart replied on Fri, Aug 17 2012 1:35 PM

The best example I can give is that of a lobbyist.  This person has their business to get members of the political class to behave a certain way.  Any political restriction on these folks is an economic restriction.

But that is beside the point.  All "Political Freedoms" you mention are simply people letting you do with yourself (Your property) and the case of relationships between another consenting person who is using their property.

The basic unit of property is the self.  If you own yourself and the results of your actions then there is no difference between political and economic freedom.  If you do not own yourself or the results of your actions then you are not free.

In the Dubai example the government is just choosing which uses of property it allows and which it does not allow. 

As for ideas, government can only control an individual’s ability to distribute them to other folks, which is to restrict the use of that individual’s property in this case their mouth.

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LandJ replied on Sat, Aug 18 2012 5:56 AM
  • Can anyone tell me if it is true that Hayek defended Pinochet? 
  • Did Hayek said "I prefer a Liberal Dictatorship from a corrupted Democracy"?

 

a. If it is true, I wonder how an intellectual of Liberty like Hayek could support a military Dictatorship?

b. Liberalism-Libertarianism, isn't it about Freedom of speech/expression, Human Rights etc?

c. How can Libertarian ideas be compatible with Dictatorships?

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LandJ:

I am sorry but I find it difficult to understand that there is no distinction between political and economic freedom. For me:

  • Political freedom is: supporting/opposing government, war, gay rights, religious rights, liberal or communist or fascist ideas, legalizing drugs and many more issues..., either privately either publicly, either in front of one single person either in front of a large audience.
  • Economic freedom is: Free market, free competition, no bureaucracy, no cronyism, low taxation, everybody chooses his profession, his suppliers-distributers-customers-resources, rights on property, money and many more...

One may say "You can do whatever want in your economic life, although your political rights are oppressed".

http://politicalcompass.org/analysis2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_spectrum

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LandJ replied on Sun, Aug 19 2012 10:02 AM

So, many researchs which show that market oriented free economies do not lead people to political freedom, are false?

 

Friedman once said that economic freedom is necessary but not sufficient for freedom.

By this, I understand that:

  • Economic Freedom and Political Freedom are not the same

and

  • Economic Freedom do not lead to Political Freedom (this was what I used to consider truth)

 

Q 1: To understand better, did indeed Chile had Free Market economy during Pinochet's authoritarian regime?
Q 2: How could Hayek - a Libertarian personality - support Pinochet's Dictatorship?

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Obviously economic and political freedom are highly interrelated, but to throw away any distinction between the two seems like a loss of substantive variation in terminology. Defining all freedom in terms of economic freedom involves presupposing certain political values. For instances the status of the individual. The legal equality of persons within a society is a matter of politics not economics. 

Conflating the two is a clear example of a “catdog” in my estimation. 

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Where can I get a catdog?

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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Easy, just re-categorize all dogs and cats into an animal called catdogs and then go get one. 

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Who Needs Economic Freedom When You Can Vote?

 

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