Sunday, March 27, 2011

Property Rights and Economic Freedom

A good friend and fellow defender of liberty Nonoy Oplas gave me a copy of this book, International Property Rights Index 2010 Report. An index of ratings of different countries and how well they do on policies regarding physical and intellectual property rights.

IPRI 2010 Report

His think tank Minimal Government Thinkers, Inc. is actually a partner organization of Property Rights Alliance, those who commissioned the creation of this book, along with many other think tanks and organizations all over the world that are shown on the photo below. Shows that the classical liberal ideology is really growing and getting organized.

Different think tanks and organizations that are partners with the Property Rights Alliance

IPRI philippines
We have a really low ranking in my opinion with property rights and legal and political environment. This is something I have witnessed and experienced as a citizen in this country. So many red tapes, requirements, fees, and regulations regarding personal property and the exchange or transfer of these properties. The legal and political environment is also very bureaucratic, inefficient, and corrupt. And yet the social liberals/social democrats/progressives still want to expand the gov't and give them more power and more money and allow them to make more regulations.

pirate bay
The book is not limited to only ratings and rankings and statistics of different countries. There are also many case studies that are in defense of property rights. I was actually amused that there is an actual case study about The Pirate Bay and torrents (something that is quite a relevant part of my life). I do understand that there is a divide among libertarians about intellectual property rights. I don't really know how to react about this. Many of my skills with softwares, photography, video editing, learning more about libertarianism through documentaries, getting to study films by downloading movies etc. I've been learning so much because of "file sharing" and it's really quite heartbreaking to think that it's possible that this might be against the principles I am advocating. But I remain undecided for now, perhaps because I am biased or maybe I just need to learn more about this first.

The index of ratings in the IPRI book reminded me of another index created by The Heritage Foundation, an organization that focuses on conservative policy research and analysis. They made an online index of economic freedom that can be found here:

economic freedom philippines
They rank the Philippines as 115th most economically free in the world. They base this on different kinds of freedoms that are on the photo above such as freedom in business, trade, fiscal, etc. To get the full information on the economic freedom of the Philippines go here:

economic freedom index
Here's the top 20 economically free countries. I do believe that economic freedom is positively related to the peace and prosperity in a country. We were actually able to discuss last night a country like Bahrain, 10th most economically free, and yet recently we saw how people were rallying on the streets and demanding for democracy. This is because civil liberties are just as important as economic freedom. We were actually also able to discuss the "good governance" of Singapore. I'm really planning to write about that soon.

I'm actually invited to attend this sort of conference about taxation in Bankok. I am really considering it and hope I get to go. I am always interested in learning more about individual liberty and how we can defend it. I also got a copy of Nonoy's book Health Choices and Responsibilities that I will be blogging about as soon as I get to read it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

How I became a Libertarian

I'm glad I have recently been introduced to the ideas and writings of Ludwig Von Mises. A friend and fellow libertarian gave me a copy of his book The Anticapitalistic Mentality. I brought it with me to my house in Laguna (where I don't have cable TV or internet) and have gotten a chance to read it whenever I'm there. It started out very draggy but eventually became more and more interesting and eventually every sentence becomes so striking and enlightening.

Ludwig Von Mises

The book explains why people are such state-worshipers or why individuals like me who have libertarian-leaning ideologies are marginalized and deemed as anti-poor or anti-reason when actually it's the opposite. It's so frustrating that my unpopular positions on many topics will always be scrutinized.

Before being introduced to Mises, I was introduced to the idea of individualism by Ayn Rand's book "Anthem". This was back in high school. This was also a time when I was heavily researching the arguments for and against the prohibition of drugs. Lately I've been learning that there is a rift between objectivists (those who follow the philosophies of Ayn Rand) and libertarians. I don't really see much difference or reason for hostility though as both seem to value individual liberty and argue against the oppression of big interventionist government.

Then during the 2008 US presidential elections I discovered Ron Paul while watching one of the Republican debates. I admired how he wasn't afraid to stick to his principles even when everyone was against him. I actually first wrote about him here in my old blog. There's a lot of premature ideas there in my old blog, some even statist and socialistic in nature, things I just might discuss here further.

I learned that Ron Paul was a fiscal conservative or a libertarian conservative, completely changing my mindset of what conservative ideology is. I learned the difference of the words "liberal" and "conservative", the first commonly used in place of progressive, social democrat, or social liberal as opposed to a classical liberal who's for smaller government and free market. These are words that are usually misinterpreted or misused by people, even me before I started learning more about it.

Of course, aside from learning about these terms, I also learned more about the US founders and how they envisioned a limited government that will not be able to intervene with the liberties of individuals.

Eventually I started reading more and more about "libertarianism" and started learning more about people like Hayek, Milton Friedman, or Murray Rothbard and learned more about the merits of a free market.

Even after all this, I am still humbled at how little I know (a sentiment I don't ever notice among progressives/social democrats/social liberals). After watching a documentary a few nights ago about the US financial crisis, I realized that there's so many terms I don't know and that I must learn more about them in order to increase my credibility and contribute more to spreading the ideas of liberty.
"A man who publicly talks or writes about the opposition between capitalism and socialism without having fully familiarized himself with all that economics has to say about these issues is an irresponsible babbler." -Ludwig Von Mises, The Anticapitalistic Mentality

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