Free Markets

Hispanola Island and Friedman

Early map of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, circa 1639.
Early map of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, circa 1639.

Milton Friedman would look at the Island of Hispanola and point to it as an example of the relationship of economic freedom and economic success. Friedman would call Island of Hispanola ‘a tale of two countries – Haiti and the Dominican Republic’.

One country has a democratic republic which encourages capitalism. The other a history of repressive military government and even slavery.

Governments which allow individuals to pursue their own economic interests generate greater economic well being and freedom to larger swaths of the general population. Governments that get too big and too powerful become oppressive to its people, reduce economic wealth and individual freedom.

Hispanolia is an excellent example of capitalism working and lack of capitalism causing economic hardships.

Economically speaking, Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. Contrast that with the capitalist Dominican Republic with the largest economy in Central America.

Haiti by contrast had a nominal GDP of 7.018 billion USD in 2009 with a GDP per capita of 790 USD, about $2 per person per day. Dominicans have a GDP of 9208 USD with exceptional economic growth rates around 10% per year over the past 2 years!

Haiti is an impoverished country, one of the world’s poorest and least developed. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s.

Haiti now ranks 149th of 182 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index (2006). About 80% of the population were estimated to be living in poverty in 2003. Most Haitians live on $2 or less per day. Poverty has forced at least 225,000 children in Haiti’s cities into slavery as unpaid household servants.

Contrast Haiti with the Dominican regarding tourism. The only figures I can find is $1.5 billion in 2007 for DM and no economic number for Haiti.

Friedman would summarize that, “Clearly capitalism works, just look at the Island of Hispanola” which shows in stark contrast a tale of a country that has prospered and another has failed miserably.

Haita Needs Economic Freedom
Allow the people to work unhindered and you will see Haiti become a top travel destination. The weather is beautiful year round. Haiti needs to help its people help themselves by turning oppression into economic freedom. Without Capitalism, Haiti fails over and over again. A man must be allowed to look out for himself without repression. He must be allowed to seek the labor he so desires without taxation or threat of violence. To be successful economically, he must be allowed to reap the rewards of his labor so he may contribute to the economy economically. Haiti needs a fair government of free people.

Let the capitalist rebuild. Perhaps someone will see value. Especially if the government becomes a democratic republic like its neighbor, DM.

And let this be a lesson to those in America that big government is exactly what we need to avoid. Smaller government means greater economic freedom. Be free and live.


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