Here’s an interesting variation on the “No True Scotsman” fallacy: people who are anti-free market will try to rule out typical examples that libertarian/free marketers bring up. The common examples are Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Ireland as nations that pursued free market policies. See Dan Mitchell’s post on economic convergence here.
So what’s going on here? It’s that these people don’t want to admit that less government works a lot better than big statism – so they will backwards rationalise and try to find ways in which these countries are “not a perfect pristine free market therefore you can’t use that example”. So for example with Singapore, they will say:
Singapore has government owned media, airlines, public transport, investment firm, property developers, power companies, telecoms & internet (fibre to the premises), cleaners (highest # cleaners per capita in the world), every square kilometer of land is centrally planned decades in advance and most of it is Government owned, most people live in public housing, and almost everyone has a public education.
How would a libertarian respond? By pointing out that despite all the above, Singapore is still one of the most free market countries in the world. See Heritage index.
The real truth is that even in the USA, which is typically seen as the world’s most ‘obvious’ example of capitalism – the USA is still highly regulated and controlled / “crony capitalist”. They have centrally controlled money and banking, IP laws, huge occupational licensing laws, very heavy health care and health insurance regulation just to name a few. The USA is arguably less free market than HK and Singapore!
When we’re trying to do these comparisons, here’s what we should be paying attention to: Did the country move towards a free market or towards big government? Compare that against countries that moved towards big government, and look at the results. See Dan Mitchell’s blog post comparisons here:
And if you want some real-world examples of how nations with good policy “de-converge” from nations with bad policy, here’s a partial list.
* Chile vs. Argentina vs. Venezuela
* Hong Kong vs. Cuba
* North Korea vs. South Korea
* Cuba vs. Chile
* Ukraine vs. Poland
* Hong Kong vs. Argentina
* Singapore vs. Jamaica
* United States vs. Hong Kong and Singapore
Want to ‘win’ a debate? Just impose an impossibly/arbitrarily high standard for the other person and deny any possible examples they bring up. Now if you’re actually interested in the truth, then perhaps drop the ego and honestly examine the examples.
For the record, I do think HK is a better example than Singapore as it is closer (but still not perfectly libertarian). Anyway, you’ve now got some of the data and history here, so have a look for yourself and decide.