Daniel Mitchell, who seems to be a bottomless pit of crazy blog posts, recommends an item by Kevin Hassett (yes that Kevin Hassett) making the case that dictatorships outperform democracies economically because they’re “not hamstrung by the preferences of voters for, say, a pervasive welfare state.”
The chart tells a striking story: the countries that are economically and politically free are underperforming the countries that are economically but not politically free. For example, unfree China had a growth rate of 9.5 percent from 2001 to 2005. But China was not the whole story — Malaysia’s GDP grew 9.5 percent from 1991 to 1995, Singapore’s GDP grew 6.4 percent from 1996 to 2000, and Russia’s grew 6.1 percent from 2001 to 2005.
In fact, the story the chart tells is that the set of economically and politically free countries is a set heavily weighted to very rich countries, whereas the other set is weighted to substantially poorer ones. Strikingly Hassett even recognizes the glaring flaw in his argument, acknowledging that “nearly all of the unfree nations are developing countries” which “grow faster, at least for a while, than mature nations.” But he decided to write the column anyway!