Democracy Looks Great on Paper, Until...

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by Simon Black: Why
You Need a Second Passport



After a long
trip up from Santiago and making stops in both Miami and Dallas,
I arrived to Vancouver last night a bit tired… but excited
for the the trip ahead. I’m leaving in just a few hours for
a 2 1/2 week, 11-country tour that includes Hong Kong, Singapore,
Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and much more.

[By the way,
I highly recommend the new Fairmont Pacific Rim if you find yourself
in Vancouver.]

Aside from
getting a lot of business done and inking a few deals that my partners
and I have been working on, I’m excited to just be spending
time in the region again. I enjoy strong, vibrant economies where
optimism and opportunity dominate the scene – not chaos and

There are a
lot of places around the world that fit this mold – their economies
are healthy and people are legitimately confident about the future.
From Estonia to Hong Kong to Andorra to Singapore, there are common
elements in these countries that have greatly contributed to their

1) They’re
2) They have governments that generally stay out of the way.

An obscure
20th century economist named Leopold Kohr wrote extensively about
these factors; my colleague Tim Price introduced me Kohr’s
writing last year, and his 1957 book The Breakdown of Nations has
proven quite prophetic.

In the book,
Kohr extols the virtues of ‘smallness’ and indicates that
most of the political challenges in the world – military over-extension,
debt, poverty, bureaucratic stodginess, etc. – are caused by
the unsustainable expansion of nations.

For Kohr, it
is simply a matter of scale. Once a country becomes too large, any
system of government will become oppressive.

Small countries,
conversely, don’t have the resources to wage wars or build
huge bureaucracies. They’re forced by circumstance to allow
the market to work and the private sector to flourish.

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