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: http://bit.ly/13Q8BP

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: http://www.heritage.org/Index/Country/Philippines

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. 

Ludwig Von Mises

I was introduced to the idea of individualism much earlier through Ayn Rand's literature. "It is a sin to write this." goes the first line of the first Ayn Rand book I read, Anthem, and probably still my favorite book of hers. This was in high school. Interesting how this was also a time when I was heavily researching the socio-political arguments against the State-prohibition of cannabis sativa and the history thereof.

Mind you, libertarians are not necessarily Objectivists and vice versa; and as the title of this blog post suggests, I prefer to be the labeled with the former, if required have a label at all.

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 do love rooting for the underdog. I actually first wrote about him here in my old LiveJournal blog.  There're a lot of premature ideas in that old blog, some even statist in nature, and some senseless. But hey, little did I know that short clip of my man Ron Paul would help propel me to be part of a global movement.

This new found love for freedom got me binge reading, and rekindled an inner love for learning. I started connecting with random but like-minded people on social media. The book I mentioned on the first paragraph having lent to me by someone I had just met during the first libertarian meet-up in the country.

I learned buzzwords as I searched for my space in the sphere of political philosophy: fiscal conservative but a social liberal; classical liberal, some may find more inclusive and precise.

I learned about the US Founding Fathers, federalism, minimal government, John Locke and his concept of natural rights to life, liberty, and property. I learned more about non-interventonist foreign policy and free trade. I learned about the Cold War, Reagan, Thatcher, Gorbachev. I learned about Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Israel.

I learned about Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, Hong Kong, Chile, Singapore. I learned about economic freedom. I learned about the Austrian School, the likes of F.A. Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, et al.

And it's crazy how little I know and how knowing more will never be enough. This is because as I learne to love liberty, I also continue to gain a clearer perspective on the harsh realities of the third world: poverty, corruption, and injustice.

This is when your principles require you to turn philosophy into action, theory into fact, and all you end up doing is, well, blog about it. It's as humbling as it is frustrating.

I was just watching a documentary a few nights ago about the US financial crisis and I realized that there're 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 ideas of liberty.

That, if it makes sense, is a narrative of how I became a libertarian.