Young peo­ple seem to be ig­no­rant of his­tory

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Opinion -

Are­cent sur­vey con­ducted by the Vic­tims of Com­mu­nism and polled by YouGov, a re­search and data firm, found that 70% of mil­len­ni­als are likely to vote so­cial­ist and that one in three mil­len­ni­als saw com­mu­nism as “fa­vor­able.”

Let’s ex­am­ine this tragic vi­sion in light of the Fraser In­sti­tute’s re­cently re­leased an­nual study “Eco­nomic Free­dom of the World,” pre­pared by Pro­fes­sors James Gwart­ney, Florida State Univer­sity; Robert A. Law­son and Ryan Mur­phy of South­ern Methodist Univer­sity; and Joshua Hall, West Vir­ginia Univer­sity, in co­op­er­a­tion with the Eco­nomic Free­dom Net­work.

Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore main­tained their lead as the world’s most eco­nom­i­cally free coun­tries — although China’s heavy hand threat­ens Hong Kong’s top rank­ing.

Round­ing out the top 10 are New Zealand, Switzer­land, the United States, Ire­land, the United King­dom, Canada, Aus­tralia and Mau­ri­tius. By the way, af­ter hav­ing fallen to 16th in 2016, the U.S. has staged a come­back to be­ing in the top five eco­nom­i­cally free coun­tries in the world.

What sta­tis­tics go into the Fraser In­sti­tute’s cal­cu­la­tion of eco­nomic free­dom? The re­port mea­sures the abil­ity of in­di­vid­u­als to make their own eco­nomic de­ci­sions by an­a­lyz­ing the poli­cies and in­sti­tu­tions of 162 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries. These in­clude reg­u­la­tion, free­dom to trade in­ter­na­tion­ally, size of govern­ment, sound le­gal sys­tem, pri­vate prop­erty rights and govern­ment spend­ing and tax­a­tion.

Fraser In­sti­tute scholar Fred McMa­hon says, “Where peo­ple are free to pur­sue their own op­por­tu­ni­ties and make their own choices, they lead more pros­per­ous, hap­pier and health­ier lives.” The ev­i­dence for his as­sess­ment is: Coun­tries in the top quar­tile of eco­nomic free­dom had an av­er­age per-capita GDP of $36,770 in 2017 com­pared with $6,140 for bot­tom quar­tile coun­tries. Poverty rates are lower. In the top quar­tile, 1.8% of the pop­u­la­tion ex­pe­ri­enced ex­treme poverty ($1.90 a day) com­pared with 27.2% in the low­est quar­tile. Life ex­pectancy is 79.5 years in the top quar­tile of eco­nom­i­cally free coun­tries com­pared with 64.4 years in the bot­tom quar­tile.

The Fraser In­sti­tute’s rank­ings of other ma­jor coun­tries in­clude Ja­pan (17th), Ger­many (20th), Italy (46th), France (50th), Mex­ico (76th), In­dia (79th), Rus­sia (85th), China (113th) and Brazil (120th). The least free coun­tries are Venezuela, Ar­gentina, Ukraine and nearly ev­ery African coun­try with the most no­table ex­cep­tion of Mau­ri­tius. By the way, Ar­gentina and Venezuela used to be rich un­til they bought into so­cial­ism.

Dur­ing the Cold War, left­ists made a moral equiv­a­lency be­tween com­mu­nist to­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism and democ­racy. W. E. B. Du Bois, writ­ing in the Na­tional Guardian (1953) said, “Joseph Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th cen­tury ap­proach his stature.” Wal­ter Du­ranty called Stalin “the great­est liv­ing states­man … a quiet, un­ob­tru­sive man.”

Ge­orge Bernard Shaw ex­pressed ad­mi­ra­tion for Mus­solini, Hitler and Stalin. Econ­o­mist John Ken­neth Gal­braith vis­ited Mao’s China and praised Mao Ze­dong and the Chi­nese eco­nomic sys­tem. Gun­ther Stein of the Chris­tian Science Mon­i­tor also ad­mired Mao and de­clared ec­stat­i­cally that “the men and women pi­o­neers of Ye­nan are truly new hu­mans in spirit, thought and ac­tion.” Michel Ok­sen­berg, Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter’s China ex­pert, com­plained that “America (is) doomed to de­cay un­til rad­i­cal, even rev­o­lu­tion­ary, change fun­da­men­tally al­ters the in­sti­tu­tions and val­ues,” and urged us to “bor­row ideas and so­lu­tions” from China.

Left­ists ex­empted com­mu­nist lead­ers from the harsh crit­i­cism di­rected to­ward Adolf Hitler, even though com­mu­nist crimes against hu­man­ity made Hitler’s slaugh­ter of 11 mil­lion non­com­bat­ants ap­pear al­most am­a­teur­ish. Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor R.J. Rum­mel’s re­search in “Death by Govern­ment,” from 1917 un­til its col­lapse, the Soviet Union mur­dered or caused the death of 61 mil­lion peo­ple, mostly its own cit­i­zens. From 1949 to 1976, Mao’s Com­mu­nist regime was re­spon­si­ble for the death of as many as 76 mil­lion Chi­nese cit­i­zens.

To­day’s left­ists, so­cial­ists and pro­gres­sives would bris­tle at the sug­ges­tion that their agenda dif­fers lit­tle from that of past tyrants. They should keep in mind that the ori­gins of the un­speak­able hor­rors of Nazism, Stal­in­ism and Mao­ism did not be­gin in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s.

Those hor­rors were sim­ply the re­sult of a long evo­lu­tion of ideas lead­ing to a con­sol­i­da­tion of power in the cen­tral govern­ment in the quest for “so­cial jus­tice.”

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