Economic freedom in promoting happiness
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.