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Why “Developing countries” are not developing

July 9, 2012

We frequently hear and see the term “developing countries.” It is the politically correct term for countries that used to be called third world or fourth world countries. For the most part, I contend that the term “developing countries” is actually being applied to those countries that are not developing. This is done to encourage “developed countries” to help them. But the reason that some countries are not developing is that they are mostly socialist or totalitarian, that is, they lack essential ingredients for long term development, such as the rule of  law, protection of private property rights, protection of contracts, protection of individual rights, and free markets.


In the mainstream media today there is a kind of warm and fuzzy notion about what constitutes “developing countries.” We have visions of hard working people who are headed in the right direction but simply need more in the way of help from the developed countries, such as loans, foreign aid, Peace Corps volunteers, etc. It is instructive to remember that the United States did not prosper because it had foreign aid or international welfare from the “more developed” countries. Neither will any other country prosper in the long run with this strategy. The United States prospered because it had freedom.


Why is this so difficult to see? If we have learned anything from history it is that freedom works and big government doesn’t. One need only compare North Korea and South Korea, East Germany and West Germany, Cuba and Florida, plus countless other examples, for evidence of this historical fact.


In spite of this historical lesson there are only a few places in the world where the people are restraining the growth of government through such ideas as privatization and lower taxes. And, for every one of these positive examples, there is a Hugo Chavez in Venezuela or a Vladimir Putin in Russia taking the opposite approach by increasing the size and scope of government.


For developing countries to become developed countries they simply need a large dose of liberty. The United States should show them the way. We were once a wonderful example to the rest of the world of how freedom works but, as we have allowed our government to grow at home and to build an empire abroad, we have lost the moral high ground. We need to get it back.


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