wealthiest nations and city states according to most sources are Luxembourg,
Hong Kong, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands,
Austria, the USA, Canada, and Singapore. (Excluded are the tiny monarchies of Monaco and Liechtenstein and the Arabian
nations that are wealthy from oil.)
Wealth is measured by per-capita GDP,
adjusted for purchasing power parity.
What do they all have in common? All are
capitalist and have property rights and the rule of law, and five have inherited
English common law and Enlightenment ideas of individual rights.
Also, all but the USA, Canada
are small countries in landmass. (Large swaths of Canada
are sparsely populated and rich in natural resources.)
Furthermore, with the exception of the USA, all have
relatively small populations.
And, most interesting and politically
incorrect, 11 of the 12 are racially homogenous, with at least 90% of their
population being white or Asian. The
one exception is the USA,
which is 65% white (non-Hispanic white). The
population is 15% Hispanic (of various races), 13% black, 4.4% Asian, .9%
Native American, and 2.3% mixed race.
It would appear that with the exception
of the USA,
the formula for wealth from capitalism, property rights and the rule of law is
= Smallness + Racial Homogeneity
Conversely, it would appear that
largeness and diversity are handicaps, except for the USA.
Wow, does that ever go against the
conventional wisdom of the right and left: the right, because it goes against
the belief in military might that comes from size; the left, because it goes
against diversity dogma and multiculturalism.
stands to reason, though. After all, history shows that large, diverse
countries are difficult to keep from coming apart, even with authoritarian rule
(e.g., the Soviet Union). This is especially true for empires. And many poor
countries are poor because they are riven by tribal, racial and sectarian hatreds;
or, in the case of much of Latin America, by
the Spanish legacy of aristocracy, one-party rule, and widespread corruption.
What makes the USA an exception among wealthy
countries? In addition to pluralism and constitutional rights, it has had the right
balance between (a) a central government limited in power and responsibilities
but strong enough to enforce rights and defend the country; and (b) a founding
federal principle of decentralization in which the states retained considerable
power and reflected local values and culture.
Even public education, which used to be
the purview of states and local school boards, has become increasingly
centralized at the federal level, so that curricula, text books, pedagogical
theory, and union control are similar across the land, thus producing a
conformity of thinking--and a backlash of home schooling and charter schools by
those who have different values.
Moreover, until the last several decades,
has valued individualism over collectivism, equal opportunity over equal
outcomes, true market competition over corporatism and mercantilism, savings
and frugality over debt and consumption, and self-reliance over welfare and
What has kept the country together is
being upended. Where people with different values were able to find their own
psychological and physical space in the past--to live and let live--they are
now being forced into a one-size-fits-all culture and central government, ruled
by remote plutocrats and elites who are dramatically different from them and
who stir up class and racial tensions to further their own agendas.
A diverse nation the size of the USA cannot hold
together and stay solvent in the face of this onslaught. The future becomes even more problematic if
immigrants from Latin America hold on to their
Spanish legacies of class, corruption and one-party rule. (Let’s hope that what
happened in Bell, Calif., is not a bellwether for the nation.
Bell is the
poor and predominately Latin city of 40,000 residents where the city manager
was being paid $787,000 and where eight city officials were arrested for
Advocates of the welfare state and
nationalized medical care like to use other wealthy countries, especially the
Nordic ones, as models of what the USA should be like in order to
improve academic results and reduce poverty, crime and medical costs. They don’t point out that these countries are
racially homogenous and small in population and landmass. Citizens share
common values and trust each other, knowing that most of their fellow citizens
have a sense of responsibility and won’t rip off each other. (Muslim
immigration and low birth rates of the native population are changing the
culture in the Netherlands
Will the USA continue to overcome its
handicaps of racial diversity and size? Not if the nation’s intelligentsia and
ruling elites are afraid to even ask the question.
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an
writer who can be reached at email@example.com.