Friday, March 13, 2009


"Elizabeth" posted the following comment regarding a recent post of mine:
Could you please provide a citation for the claim that "no country in the history of the world with a free market has ever suffered a famine"? Amartya Sen's traditionally misinterpreted statement is that "no substantial famine has ever occurred in any country with a relatively free press." The free market association, however, I've never heard.
Well, I don't have a citation, but I defy anyone to show me a famine in a country with a free market. If you look up the famine entry on wikipedia it discusses a number of prominent famines of the 20th century, the most infamous of which are those in Africa, China, Vietnam, North Korea and the USSR. The USSR, China and North Korean famines are all obvious examples of the failures of collectivism (although the USSR is also a product of Stalin's vengeance against Ukraine). Africa and Vietnam, meanwhile, did not have free markets.

The only possible exception is Indonesia, where there seems to be a debate over whether famine has/is actually occurring. I would note, however, that the Heritage Foundation's 2009 Index of Economic Freedom ranks the country at #131 and below average for the world. This article, meanwhile, also criticizes the country's lack of economic freedom and includes rankings from some other organizations.

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