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Economic Growth Isn't All Democracy Has To Offer


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ECONOMIC GROWTH ISN'T ALL DEMOCRACY HAS TO OFFER

Your article "Is democracy bad for growth?" (Economics, June 7) is laudable in that it tackles a difficult and complex issue, but it does that issue a disservice by simplifying the discussion into a kind of "capitalism equals democracy" boosterism.

There is no substantial evidence that capitalism inevitably brings democracy to a country. Singapore is a perfect example. Other countries that have managed economic success without becoming liberal democracies include Taiwan, Malaysia, and--the best example--China. In his book The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama is optimistic in the long run about the triumph of liberal democracy. But he points out that economic "efficiency" may in fact be more easily achievable through the path already being followed by those authoritarian states of Asia mentioned above.

Kenneth P. Hutchison

Executive Director

Asian-American Free Labor Institute

Washington

Your article bemoans the stagnant economic growth rates of the industrial democracies and speaks with awe of growth rates of a few totalitarian nations. You didn't question how sustainable some of these mther growth rates are, and you didn't bother to mention that growth is not the only measure of economic well-being.

The industrial democracies enjoy a standard of living unequaled in the world as measured by per capita income, consumer purchasing power, working conditions, and many other important yardsticks.

It is pointless to ask whether democracy is bad for growth. There is no amount of economic growth that could be a worthwhile substitute for freedom. If any economist seriously wants to offer us growth instead of liberty, Patrick Henry has already answered best: "Give me liberty or give me death."

James Stillman

New York


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