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Old 11-30-2004, 04:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What are the worlds most liberal countries?

In the Netherlands it is legal to euthanize terminally ill babies, they have to rank up there...
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Old 11-30-2004, 04:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yeah the Scandinavian countries are pretty liberal. Of course, liberal is a tough term to nail down. But on a traditional left/ride scale, the most liberal nations by far are communist. Next up is generally socialist, then socially democratic.
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Old 11-30-2004, 04:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Perhaps you should be more specific. First, there is political liberal and idealological liberal (see www.politicalcompass.org) and then there is the matter of what certain countries are liberal about (i.e. can you smoke weed freely but be incarcerated for adultery). It's hard to think of what the most liberal country overall is I'll wait for some of the responses. I'm also interested to see if non-US people see the same countries as liberal as the US TFPers do.
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Old 11-30-2004, 04:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The problem with asking what are the most liberal countries is that there is really two different scales of liberality. There's economic liberality and social liberality.

Economically, the scale runs from Communism on the far left to strict lassiez-faire capitalism, with socialism and the U.S. form of semi-managed capitalism somewhere in the middle.

Socially, the scale is more about freedom of action and expression.
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Old 11-30-2004, 06:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GMontag
The problem with asking what are the most liberal countries is that there is really two different scales of liberality. There's economic liberality and social liberality.

Economically, the scale runs from Communism on the far left to strict lassiez-faire capitalism, with socialism and the U.S. form of semi-managed capitalism somewhere in the middle.

Socially, the scale is more about freedom of action and expression.
i think that lassiez faire is right at about the center actually further to the right you see facism where the government takes direct controle of the economyis about as far right as you can go which is just about the same as a communist nation controling the economy

as you can see if things aren't defined no one can give an answer cause we all look to define our limits

/Shrugz
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Old 11-30-2004, 06:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by fuzyfuzer
i think that lassiez faire is right at about the center actually further to the right you see facism where the government takes direct controle of the economyis about as far right as you can go which is just about the same as a communist nation controling the economy

as you can see if things aren't defined no one can give an answer cause we all look to define our limits

/Shrugz
actually lassiez faire is socially liberal, not centerist. Fascism is neither right or left, but actually in extreme opposition to (the equally extreme) laissez faire or Libertarian. (It's not the same scale as the economic left-right scale). You are making the mistake of equating Fascism (a social creation) with Collectivism/Communism (an economic structure). Communism's reciprocal entity is Libertarianism (not to be confused with Libertarian the social structure) where there is virtually no governmental control and everyone pretty much fends for themselves economically (a sort of economic Darwinism, I suppose.) Didn't mean to jump on you Fuzy, just trying to clear things up.
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Old 11-30-2004, 07:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilow
Perhaps you should be more specific. First, there is political liberal and idealological liberal (see www.politicalcompass.org) and then there is the matter of what certain countries are liberal about (i.e. can you smoke weed freely but be incarcerated for adultery). It's hard to think of what the most liberal country overall is I'll wait for some of the responses. I'm also interested to see if non-US people see the same countries as liberal as the US TFPers do.
I'm really talking about idelogically liberal, I should have specified. So even a Libertarian state could qualify.
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Old 12-01-2004, 12:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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From what I understand probably some of the Scandinavian countries are among the most socially liberal.

As far as accepting people into society from all walks of life, I would imagine that the U.S.A. is among the most liberal.
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Old 12-01-2004, 05:41 AM   #9 (permalink)
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As far as accepting people into society from all walks of life, I would imagine that the U.S.A. is among the most liberal.
We're definately high up there, but we have more than our share of problems.
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Old 12-01-2004, 09:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Economically, Sweden is a short step from Socialism. They have the strongest welfare state in existance (judging by the information I gathered last semester for several reports,) but in order to do that, everyone is taxed very heavily. If you believe in high taxes, government handouts, and a socialized economy, Sweden is the place for you. If, like me, you're a Libertarian (or if you're economically conservative,) run away from Sweden.
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Old 12-02-2004, 06:13 AM   #11 (permalink)
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You should say 'Nordic Countries' and not 'Scandinavia' since Finland is not (for reasons I've forgotten and don't have time ti look up now) part of Scandinavia.

And yes, we're quite ideologically Liberal here. Hard to explain, one would need to live here for some time. I think 1) Sweden 2/3) Finland, Norway 3) rest of Nordic countries
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Old 12-02-2004, 06:24 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Switzerland.

Assisted suicide is legal there and that strikes me as a "liberal" law.
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Old 12-02-2004, 07:39 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Man, when you start slinging the labels around, nobody can agree what they mean. But I should point out that some of these high-tax, high-government socialist countries are among the most economically productive out there, particularly the Nordic countries and Finland. In other words, socialized medicine and free government services does _not_ mean national bankruptcy and loss of personal initiative -- if you do it right. Here's a thread that covered that topic:

http://www.tfproject.org/tfp/showthr...nd+competitive

And here's a NY Times article lifted from that thread:

Scandinavian economies thrive despite high taxes

By Elizabeth Becker The New York Times

Thursday, October 14, 2004
WASHINGTON Forget the stereotypes about Scandinavian socialism and how its high taxes and expensive public health care system are destroying private enterprise.
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It turns out nothing could be further from the truth.
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The Nordic countries have bested some of the world's hottest economies and dominate the top ranks of the list of most competitive economies in the world in a new ranking of the best places to do business.
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In the World Economic Forum's annual global competitiveness rankings released Wednesday, Finland retained its hold at the top of the world's economies, with Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland winning the third, fifth, sixth and 10th spots respectively.
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In the World Bank's Doing Business Report, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland were ranked in the top as well.
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Less surprising was that the United States was ranked No. 2 on both lists.
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So why are Denmark and Finland absent when talk turns to development success stories or good financial bets?
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"It's that old myth that social protection requires more business regulations and hurts business," said Caralee McLeish, a co-author of the World Bank survey. "In fact, we found that social protection is good for business, it takes the burden off of businesses for health care costs and ensures a well-trained and educated work force."
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The World Economic Forum came up with the same answer, although it was couched in economic terms.
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"The Nordic countries are characterized by excellent macroeconomic management over all," said Augusto Lopez-Claros, director of the global competitiveness program of the World Economic Forum. "They are all running budget surpluses, they have extremely low levels of corruption, with their firms operating in a legal environment in which there is widespread respect for contracts and the rule of law, and their private sectors are on the forefront of technological innovation."
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Strong, honest, transparent public institutions fits with the clichés about the Nordic countries. But one of the keys to the business success is their supposed Achilles' heel: taxes.
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The governments' philosophy is to leave businesses alone, taxing them at some of the lowest levels in the world so they are competitive and efficient. They then levy the high taxes on personal incomes to pay for those social services that underwrite their labor force, according to Simeon Djankov, the co-author of the World Bank study.
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"You have to look behind the numbers, ignore the Nordic reputation for tax burdens and you'll see they have established a system that does not distort production, that gives people an incentive to invest in businesses and in stocks because the taxes are so low," he said.
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Asian countries round out the ranks of success stories in the competitive line-up.
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Taiwan, Singapore and Japan were in the top 10, a particular jump for Japan which just three years ago was ranked 21st in the world. China dropped to 46 from 44 on the list.
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These Asian countries at the top of the list share some of the same attributes as the Nordic countries. They, too, place few obstacles for business enterprises and offer strong protection of property rights. They also place a high premium on education.
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Jukka Valtasaari, Finland's ambassador to Washington, said that his country's 140-year old emphasis on education, promising the same opportunity regardless of wealth or geography, underpins much of his country's success. It is a big reason why Finland has done so well in research and development, especially in telecommunications.
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"The ultimate economic statement we can make is to say we tap all of our talent," Valtasaari said.
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Old 12-04-2004, 07:52 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MrSelfDestruct
Economically, Sweden is a short step from Socialism. They have the strongest welfare state in existance (judging by the information I gathered last semester for several reports,) but in order to do that, everyone is taxed very heavily. If you believe in high taxes, government handouts, and a socialized economy, Sweden is the place for you. If, like me, you're a Libertarian (or if you're economically conservative,) run away from Sweden.
Yes, we have high taxes here, on the other hand that means free university education, free healthcare and such things americans (For instance) pay a lot for. My girlfriend is from the US, and I do believe that if you summed up what americans pay for taxes, insurance, healthcare and so on compared to our swedish taxes, we don't pay that much more actually. Not that I think Sweden is perfect in any way, but we're doing pretty well...
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Old 12-06-2004, 09:11 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I recall reading that back when Hong Kong was not under Chinese authority, it's criminal laws were almost nonexistent. It had crime rates almost as low as nearby Singapore, which had draconian laws (remember the caning of an American grafitti artist, no chewing gum, etc...)
Hong Kong also allowed free market trade, and as a result, they were very rich and happy and did not steal much stuff. (well except for Hollywood movies)

A very Libertarian state. Don't honestly know what it's like there now, though.
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Old 12-06-2004, 11:31 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by connyosis
Yes, we have high taxes here, on the other hand that means free university education, free healthcare and such things americans (For instance) pay a lot for. My girlfriend is from the US, and I do believe that if you summed up what americans pay for taxes, insurance, healthcare and so on compared to our swedish taxes, we don't pay that much more actually. Not that I think Sweden is perfect in any way, but we're doing pretty well...
I used to work on a few water treatment projects in Europe with a fellow from Sweden. I believe he was fairly wealthy or at least he lived a great lifestyle.
On each of his trips to the states he would load up on computers, appliances, clothes, etc.. to take back with him. He said they cost 2 or 3 times more in Gotenburg. He even imported a Mercedes. They escaped paying Swedish duty because they claimed the items were for business use. I'm not knocking the Swedish system because I don't know much about it.

He wound up marrying an opera singer from New York. When their first child was born he got to take off more than a year at something like 95% of his salary. Something about encouraging people to have more children to pay for the social programs. I was so jealous, LOL.
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Old 12-12-2004, 04:20 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I would argue that communism (at least in its incarnations on Earth) is a right-wing political arrangement.
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Old 12-12-2004, 05:39 PM   #18 (permalink)
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A good left-right axis is how do you believe rewards and power should be concentrated, under their ideals (if not their practices).

On the far left, communism theoretically believes that the good of the individual people in the society is the #1 concern.

At the far right, fascism theoretically believes individuals are irrelivent, and the power of the society as a whole is the #1 concern.

This particular left-right axis has the nice property that communism and fascism are on opposite ends of the spectrum. It places socialism on the left side, and free-market capitalism -- or even libertarianism -- on the right side, but neither as far as fascism.

Free market capitalism, with ideal markets, has the property that it maximizes the total wealth of society. Communism, ideally built, prevents any person from exploiting another.

Practically, both the far-right and the far-left do not live up to their ideals.

Those that run Fascist societies end up running the society for their own benefit, and those that run Communist socieities end up running the society to maximize the glory of the society (and hence themselves).

On the other hand, there are so many different axis along which you can compare political thought, left-right makes very little sense.
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Old 12-12-2004, 08:48 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The simplest you can get with the political spectrum is left=neo-liberal (referred to as "liberal") and right=conservative/classic liberal (referred to as "conservative.") A good step up is to leave that axis to deal with economics, and an up/down axis, up=authoritarian and down=libertarian, to deal with social issues.

-liberalism will be defined as the philosophy that the state should look out for individuals, and that high taxes, government control of industry and means of production, and redistribution of wealth are an appropriate way to accomplish this.
-conservatism is the opposite of Liberalism, preferring to leave the means of production to private entities, and to tax as little as possible, leaving charity to private organizations.
-authoritarianism is the belief that the state is more important than the individual, and therefore restriction or removal of rights and liberties is an appropriate way to accomplish this. This philosophy is often coupled with the belief that people are inherently bad and incapable of self-government.
-libertaranism (lowwercase "l") is the belief that the individual is the most important unit, and that the state should respect this, regulating behavior only to the extent that is necessary to disallow harming another individual

The two-axis system places Communism in the upper left (authoritarian, liberal); Socialism in the lower left (libertarian, liberal); Libertarianism (uppercase "L,") in the lower right (libertarian, conservative); and fascism (lowercase "f") in the upper right (authoritarian, conservative)

Another axis that can be added is Isolationist/Globalizationalist (I think I just invented a word.) To respond to Jizz-Fritter's post, Ideal Communism would most likely be authoritarian/liberal/isolationist.
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Old 12-13-2004, 07:55 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Another way of looking at the economic left-right axis is that those on the right believe that whatever people get from their activities in the market economy is deserved whereas those on the left believe that people's contribution to society should play a part in the benefit they gain from that society.

So on the right you would have no problem with the salaries of executives rising from 30% to 300% of average salaries over the past few decades, as that is how the market reawrds them, whereas those on the left would question whether the contribution to society has increased and might raise the taxes on high earners, undoing the redistributive effects of market forces.

On the right you wouldn't have a problem with people having to work 2 jobs just to pay the rent but on the left you might rather have everyone who is willing to work be able to afford shelter, food and healthcare to reflect their contribution to the society as well as to the market economy.
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Old 12-13-2004, 09:31 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sty
And yes, we're quite ideologically Liberal here. Hard to explain, one would need to live here for some time. I think 1) Sweden 2/3) Finland, Norway 3) rest of Nordic countries
Indeed, unless you count our alcohol politics etc. though they are strict in every nordic country. Though personally I'm rather happy to live here in Finland and certainly don't see USA as a liberal country, even though it might differ what state one is referring into. Rather regulated economically and heavily taxed than regulated morally with a large percentage of the population living in poverty.

By the way - about Scandinavian countries - non-scandinavians often see Finland and Iceland as a part of Scandinavia as the term is somewhat more liberal outside the nordic countries.
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Old 12-13-2004, 03:52 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Let's all keep in mind that whenever Amnesty International rates countries on their "Freedom Index", listing those countries whose citizens have the most civil liberties, that the good old USA, land of "freedom", doesn't ever make the top ten.

If I ever get the chance to travel abroad, I'm telling people I'm Canadian.
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