Since Walter Block (my most excellent college professor) and coauthors James Gwartney and Robert Lawson put together the Economic Freedom of the World Report fifteen years ago, economists continue to find that economic freedom is associated with many good things. But do these positives come at the expense of bad outcomes such as violence and crime? Sociologists Wenger and Bonomo write that “The relationship between crime and the terminal crisis of capitalism has become the subject of considerable debate….[But] the debate does not concern the role of capitalism in producing crime—to all but the reactionary or the naïve, such questions have long been settled.”
Noam Chomsky also wrote that, “there are consistent libertarians, people like Murray Rothbard– and if you just read the world that they describe, it’s a world so full of hate that no human being would want to live in it.” This runs contrary to economists such as Frederic Bastiat or Murray Rothbard himself who argue that the market creates a harmony of interests.
Who is right? In recently published The 2010 Economic Freedom of the World Annual report, John Levendis and I have a chapter that looks at international data and that finds countries with more economic freedom actually have significantly lower rates of homicide. Touché Chomsky!
Not only do classical liberals have well-thought-out theories of why markets increase peaceful interaction, but their theories are consistent with the facts. If the relationship holds, one of the best ways to decrease crime is to move towards laissez-faire. Read all about it in our article: “The Relationship Between Economic Freedom and Homicide.”