With Love From Russia

People often think of the U.S. as a bastion of economic freedom. In the 19th century there could be little doubt that it was. With a strong commitment to the rule of law and property rights, low taxes, moderate tariffs, and almost no federal regulation of commerce, no place on Earth better-exemplified the “natural liberty” of a free market for which Adam Smith so passionately argued.
Today, the U.S. is no longer conspicuous for its economic freedom. Sure, we have drifted closer to a command-and-control economy than many thought possible. But perhaps more importantly, the rest of the world has caught on to Adam Smith’s timeless lesson: economic freedom leads to economic prosperity. Hong Kong, Ireland, Estonia, the United Kingdom and even Chile have all undergone remarkable market liberalization in the last few decades. Not coincidentally, all have prospered–outpacing their neighbors in almost every measure of economic well-being.
In the last few years, even the former communist nations have caught on. Latvia, Estonia, Lithuanian, Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, and Romania ALL have flat taxes! Two weeks ago, Russia took one further step and abolished its death-tax.
Many of these nations have been slow to develop a strong commitment to the rule of law or property rights. And indeed, these prerequisites for prosperity are some of the more difficult to establish (sadly, they seem difficult to maintain, even here). Nevertheless, we could learn a thing or two from our former enemies.