Where Taxes Are So Low, Some People Might Actually Pay...

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by Simon Black: Get
Your Hands on the Government'sPlaybook

 

 
 

Do you remember
those days, 25+ years ago, when the Olympic games were an extension
of the Cold War? We heard stories about these Soviet athletes who
were groomed, practically from birth, to become champion athletes,
taken from their families at a young age to live and train nonstop
for the glory of the Communist Party.

Bulgarians
historically excelled at summer sports like boxing, wrestling, track
& field, and rowing, and today I worked out at a gym that used
to house the country’s up-and-coming athletes during Soviet
rule. It’s in a neighborhood of old Soviet-era apartment buildings,
all built in that concrete shoebox style that defined Communist
architecture.

Such neighborhoods
are a constant reminder of the days when they allowed their society
to descend into a totalitarian police state. A lot of Bulgarians
I’ve encountered seem embarrassed by these Communist remains,
brushing the entire period off as ‘experiments in socialism.’

They’re
looking to the future now, and they’re cautiously optimistic.

When you survey
the various countries in the former Soviet bloc, it’s a truly
mixed bag. East Germany, for example, enjoys a lavish economy after
being successfully reunited over 20-years ago thanks to an incredible
amount of aid and support from the West.

Slovakia has
spent the last two decades creating a manufacturing powerhouse for
the rest of Europe, and its citizens today enjoy a much higher standard
of living than before.

Estonia built
a very successful knowledge and services economy by establishing
a limited, low-tax, business-friendly government. When Mart Laar
took over as Prime Minister after Estonia’s independence in
the 1990s, the only economic text he had ever read was Milton Friedman’s
Free to Choose. It’s fortunate for his country that it wasn’t
Keynes.

Belarus descended
even further into totalitarianism; Aleksandr Lukashenko, the country’s
first democratically elected president since the fall of the Soviet
Union, has remained in power ever since, effectively seizing dictatorial
control over every aspect of the economy and society.

Ukraine continues
to vacillate between revolution, corrupt cronyism, and economic
collapse… yet the country still has a lot of potential thanks
to its resource wealth and talented young work force.

Bulgaria, from
where I write this letter, is an interesting case. As the poorest
member of the EU, there is a lot of opportunity at face value. Labor
is dirt cheap. Property is dirt cheap. Living costs are a joke.
English is widely spoken and is, in fact, more prevalent than Russian
in the capital city.

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