Eco­nomic free­dom in pro­mot­ing hap­pi­ness

Bhutan Times - - FRONT PAGE - Deki Lha­zom

The Eco­nomic Free­dom Net­work Asia Con­fer­ence in Thim­phu had ex­perts discussing about Eco­nomic Free­dom ul­ti­mately lead­ing to hap­pi­ness. As for Bhutan, ex­perts were of the view that en­hance­ment of eco­nomic free­dom would mean pro­mo­tion of Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness (GNH).

The found­ing part­ner of QED group Su­nil Rasily said that two pil­lars of GNH-sus­tain­able eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and good gov­er­nance were di­rectly re­lated to eco­nomic free­dom. He pointed out that other in­di­ca­tors such as en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture which were unique to Bhutan were also there but were not in­clu­sive of eco­nomic free­dom in­dex.

The Korean pres­i­dent of Eco­nomic Re­search In­sti­tute who was also a min­is­ter in prime min­is­ter’s of­fice in Korea, Tae Shin Kwon said many is­sues are cov­ered in GNH which aren’t cov­ered in GDP mea­sures. He added that en­hanc­ing eco­nomic free­dom would lead to speedy eco­nomic growth and fast poverty re­duc­tion thus sup­port­ing the GNH model.

He shared that eco­nomic pros­per­ity would not only bring about mon­e­tary pros­per­ity but also longevity.

Fred McMa­hon, who is mem­ber of Fraser In­sti­tute and man­ages the world eco­nomic free­dom net­work said GNH is much a bet­ter way to mea­sure hap­pi­ness for it doesn’t limit it­self in ask­ing if an in­di­vid­ual is happy and that it cov­ers other as­pects.

‘’ Hu­man beings are not hap­pi­ness ma­chines, there are so many di­men­sions of hu­man con­di­tions, free­dom, ed­u­ca­tion and will­ing­ness to help oth­ers are also part hu­man be­ing, ‘’ he said.

He said hap­pi­ness is pro­moted when eco­nomic

free­dom in­creases life con­trol fac­tors like trust, health, em­ploy­ment and ed­u­ca­tion.

He also said that cor­rup­tion de­creases hap­pi­ness and eco­nomic free­dom de­creases cor­rup­tion cit­ing an ex­am­ple where if more per­mis­sions are re­quired to do some­thing, there emerges a need to pay off some­one and if no per­mis­sion is re­quired there is no one to pay off.

Ex­perts said that role of the gov­ern­ment comes when eco­nomic free­dom is highly linked to hap­pi­ness through rule of law and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Tae Shin Kwon said it is nec­es­sary for gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene to main­tain se­cu­rity and en­sure that peo­ple abide by the rules. He said it be­comes eas­ier for busi­ness men to pro­tect their property against theft when gov­ern­ment make laws to pro­tect peo­ple, property and in­tel­lec­tual right. He added that it is the role of gov­ern­ment to give sub­si­dies and tax ben­e­fits for spe­cific ar­eas. So­cial­ist or com­mu­nist ide­ol­ogy could be the re­sults, he said, if gov­ern­ment in­ter­feres or tries to do much in busi­ness.

Ex­perts say that less in­ter­ven­tion of gov­ern­ment would pave way for more op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to carry out more eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties which would not only help in meet­ing their own needs but also of oth­ers’.

The Eco­nomic Free­dom Net­work ( EFN) Asia is a net­work of re­search in­sti­tutes, prac­ti­tion­ers, in­flu­en­tial think tanks, and in­di­vid­u­als with an ob­jec­tive of pro­mot­ing the ben­e­fits of the mar­ket econ­omy, civil so­ci­ety and in­di­vid­ual lib­erty to en­hance hu­man de­vel­op­ment and eco­nomic growth in Asia. The two day con­fer­ence was at­tended by 150 Bhutanese and 60 in­ter­na­tional par­tic­i­pants.

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