The banter continues about the Republican Party being pushed to the right by “ideologues.”
Working Americans’ interest in politics is motivated by how to make their lives better. They don’t care about how one set of intellectuals or pundits thinks the world should be against some other set of ideas of ideology. They care about the facts. How the world really is and acting accordingly.
Two principles often labeled as “right-wing ideology” are that as a society we are better off with limited government and individual freedom and that as individuals we are better off being married. Is this wishful thinking of ideologues, or is this reality?
Two publications just out provide factual substantiation backing up both these principles.
Economic Freedom of the World, now in its 16th edition, is an annual index published cooperatively by 70 think tanks from around the world. This team has developed measures of economic freedom and then correlates these measures with economic performance in every country in the world.
What, according to this publication, is economic freedom? The core principles are “personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete and security of privately owned property.”
They look at five areas to measure if these conditions exist: size of government (expenditures, taxes and government enterprises), legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade and regulation of credit, labor and business.
The result of the analysis – using the measures of economic freedom and looking at 141 nations around the world to examine the correlation between economic freedom and prosperity – leads to a clear conclusion. More economic freedom correlates with more prosperity and higher quality of life.
Breaking down 141 nations into four quartiles, running from the least free quarter to the most free, shows the following: The highest quartile – the most free – has an average per capita income two-and-a-half times higher that than the average of the second quartile, four-and-a-half times higher than the third quartile, and nine-and-a-half times higher than the least free quartile.
Average life expectancy in the most economically free nations is seven years higher than the second quartile, 11 years higher than the third and 20 years higher than in the poorest.
The index also shows that nations that are more economically free are more likely to be politically free – they have more political rights and civil liberties – than those not economically free. And individuals in the most economically free nations report the highest levels of “life satisfaction.”
How about marriage?
A new paper published by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation examines data in our own country and shows with clarity that the more likely a household is headed by a married couple the less likely that household will be poor.
Thirty-six percent of children living in households headed by a single mother are poor. Six percent of children living in households headed by married parents are poor.
Among black families, 38 percent of single-parent households are poor compared to 13 percent of households with married parents. Among white households, 22 percent of single-parent households are poor compared to 3 percent of households with married parents.
As Rector notes, when President Johnson announced the War on Poverty in 1964, 93 percent of babies born in our country were born to married parents. Today 59 percent of babies born in the United States have married mothers.
If you accept my definition of ideologue, that it’s someone wedded to a set of ideas, independent of facts, who are the ideologues?
We have overwhelming factual evidence that the more economic freedom individuals have in a country, the more likely that nation will be prosperous, with a high quality of life. We also have overwhelming evidence showing that the more likely a family is headed by a single parent, the more likely that household will be poor.
Looking from the other side, we have overwhelming evidence that government spending does not reduce poverty nor does big government create prosperity.
So who are the ideologues and who are the realists?