Michael Ubaldi, January 26, 2005.
The erudite Claudia Rosett explains one of the many practical benefits from what some call the "lofty" aspirations in President Bush's second inaugural address:
When Mr. Bush opened his second term last week with a call for global freedom, he made no particular mention of poverty. His main message was that both on principle and in the interests of its own security, America must work toward "the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." In laying out the foreign-policy agenda that dominated his speech, Mr. Bush spoke not of economics but of politics. He told the democratic dissidents of the unfree nations of the world: "Where you stand for liberty, we will stand with you." He made no mention of global economic growth, development goals or international financial aid.
Yet to whatever extent Mr. Bush's agenda plays out in practice, one of the main results would be a richer world for all — with the most dramatic benefits reaching those who are now among the poorest. One of the truths wrested at great cost from the grand social experiments of the 20th century was that the prerequisite for prosperity — if we are speaking of wealth for the many, not just for a ruling few — is freedom. It is not only by smothering free speech or jailing loyal opposition that dictators keep control. It is also by decreeing — in ways that suit the pleasures of the ruler, not the ruled — the rules and conditions under which people may seek work, earn money, own property and buy what they need to feed their families and otherwise pursue happiness. With every reasonable choice that gets cut off by dictatorial rule, with every payoff that must be made to authorities who exist for no other purpose than to please themselves and collect tolls, more human energy and talent and knowledge goes to waste.
Tragically — but vitally — the president will surely invite harsh criticism from those who have invested their lives in captive charity. A fine line separates mission from indenture, and in the 20th Century the West saw many hospitalers become so infatuated with their work that they now ignore or, worse, resist ways in which to release those whom they aid from the circumstances requiring their presence in the first. It is malignant pride, not care, that lets a splinted limb shrivel. This delicate enslavement must be challenged and supplanted with good works that are intended to one day render themselves unnecessary. Good works made possible, of course, by a country's liberation and guided orientation towards democratic sovereignty.
MORE: As to Rosett's main point, I've written on potential wealth creation by a democracy's free market twice before, here and here (second-to-last paragraph).