Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sister City Report

The mayor has posted her first non-biographical entry on her blog, http://www.ellenmoyer.blogspot.com/. The mayor visited Rochefort, France on July 16. We learn that this city is near the water, that shipbuilding is important, and that they 'brew' cognac there. How excellent.

Everyone should have a vacation, and the mayor's decsription of the city reminded me in a nostalgic way of my recent trip to Spain. The thing is, I went for 10 days during Thanksgiving--a time when not much work gets done anyway and me being gone only affects me--and the mayor is gone for 60 DAYS!, and her being gone affects some 30,000+ citizens, at least theoretically. For example, on the day when the mayor was learning the above facts,

-there were 122 calls to 911
-6 people were arrested
-we were in a traffic jam on forest drive, or west st., or near park place, or on chiquapin round rd.
-the air conditioning problem at market house still has not been solved
-there is no director of public works
-i slammed my finger in my car door, and it hurts

Oh well, nothing we can do about it now. Even if there was an emergency, the mayor has a no-air-travel policy so she wouldn't be back to help anyway.

Most of the post was somewhat mundane, but this particular section caused some alarms to sound:

I also learned that in Annapolis we rely far more on private contributions to support the simple things that bring pleasure in life like fireworks, gardens, art, celebrations like Charter 300 and major efforts in preservation. Public dollars are the major and sometimes only source of investment here.

Make no mistake, Annapolis spends a lot of $$$ on things that should be left to the private system. For goodness sake, we had better spend less than the French do. See, the thing is, the more you rely on the private market, the better you are.

Let's look at this very crude data:

Corporate Income Tax Rate: 33.33%
Individual Income Tax Rate: 10% - 48.09%
Per Capita Gdp (a measure of wealth): $30,693 (2006 est)
Unemployment: 8.1%

United States:
Corporate Income Tax Rate: 35%
Individual Income Tax Rate: 0%-35%
Per Capita Gdp: $43,444 (2006 est)
Unemployment: 4.5%

Tax Rates are a reasonable signal of how much the government is involved in the economy. In france the government does more, and the economy is worse. In the United States, the private market does more, and the economy is better.

Let's get a little more scientific.

In 1989, two World Bank economists studied 106 countries for 34 years, and found that:

-For manufacturing based countries, those with higher than average use of free market principles averaged 5% annual GDP growth, and those with lower than average use of free market principles had 3.9% annual GDP growth.

-For natural-resource based countries, those with higher than average use of free market principles averaged 5.5% annual GDP growth, and lower than average use of free market principles: 4.7% annual GDP growth.

Free market = better than socialism, but only if you want more wealth (or more political freedom).

Also, in 1995 two Harvard economists concluded that the way for poor countries to get wealthier and perhaps catch up to rich countries was to have a more open trade and protect property rights. Imagine that: a place where the government doesn't interfere with business, rights are protected, and laws are enforced. Brilliant!

Now, the mayor was probably not considering these things, but I think it shows the fundamental difference in political philosophies between liberals and conservatives, and in my opinion that conservatism is superior. Superior based on fact and data.