Repost from February 11, 2011:
Economics 101 from the Center For Freedom and Prosperity:
For a lesson in how prosperity can be unleashed when government is restricted to doing those things a government ought to do and little of what it ought not do, see The Wisdom That Built Hong Kong’s Prosperity, by Nancy DeWolf Smith in The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 1997. It’s only available by searching the WSJ archives and paying a fee of $4.95 for 90 days of viewing, but of course you can make a copy for your own use also. It’s well worth the fee to read the story of Sir John James Cowperthwaite (1915-2006), financial minister of Hong Kong from 1961-1971. The wisdom that built prosperity was Cowperthwaite’s policy of “positive nonintervention” with the free market.
Cowperthwaite was a man imbued with 18th century enlightenment ideas of laissez faire economics and wholly unversed in the 20th century’s fad for socialism. The British utopian socialists had already put the U.K. on a path to economic ruin and accused Cowperthwaite of “doing nothing.” He countered that while doing nothing is easy, positive nonintervention is constant hard labor — to resist the temptation to “do something” under pressure by unrelenting critics convinced they know how to spend public money better than the public does, and preferably without the public’s permission.