Why being kind may be cruel to poor countries

Article by John Blundell in The Scotsman

NO DOUBT Saddam Hussein will lose much in the next few days and weeks. Yet I see another tragedy about to be imposed on the people of his blighted country. They are going to be engulfed in "aid". Kindness can be pernicious.

What Baghdad needs is what all cities need: the rule of law and functioning markets. Afghanistan's economy has been stalled by the aid agencies' benevolence - but property rights have not yet been secured in Afghanistan let alone freedom of contract.

The Heritage Foundation, the Washington policy brokerage, publishes an annual report in collaboration with the Wall Street Journal which I might hope would get on every college's reading lists. The Index of Economic Freedom calibrates the free market virtues of every nation. It is a fascinating study. It reveals the recipe that makes for the Wealth of Nations. It is very much as Adam Smith prescribed.

You might guess that Hong Kong and Singapore come out top - ahead of even the US. Both are anomalies. Hong Kong is now only an autonomous zone of China. Singapore is an island swamp that seceded from Malaya only a generation ago. It is easy to see why they prosper so mightily. Both have near