So what was/is the most finanically libertarian government ?

So politically discussions inevitably comes down to pointing out examples of past or current left-wing or right-wing governments, and their strengths or short-comings (more often the latter).

Thats all well and good. But has libertarianism ever actually been tried in practice ? What is the most finianically libertarian government today ? What is the most libertarian government in history ?

Rhode Island under Roger Williams was founded as a breakaway colony to avoid religious dogmatism in Massachusetts; don’t know about its economic policies, though. Chile under Pinochet in the 1970s-80s, advised by “the [University of] Chicago Boys,” was very freewheeling/libertarian economically - but on the social justice/personal liberty side of things, um, not so much.

United States 1800-1933.
Unasked-for political addendum: And you can see how well that worked. At least for the plutocrats.

Early Icelandic settlement was pretty libertarian, 872-1000. Taxes were almost non existant and laws were recited each year at althing by lawsayer. They were pretty simple because remembering a lot was too hard. Anyone with gold could make currency (it was blended by a legal formulae) and law and order was privatised to the extent that most punishment was handled by legal private bounties. Worked rather well until christianity kicked in.

Christianity had the effect of creating an oligarcy of a warrior caste (xian tax reasons), which really meant large scale battles decimating the population and ultimately the takeover of the Norwegian King.

Really the most libertarian places in the world now should be a country where taxes are low and the government can be easily bought of. Russia would be one. has a chart of the countries with the most economic liberties that Im not really impressed with, even thought Iceland hits #5.

1 Estonia
2 Ireland
3 Canada
4 Switzerland
5 Iceland
6 Bahamas
7 United Kingdom
8 United States
9 Cyprus
10 New Zealand
11 Luxembourg
12 Chile
13 Australia
14 Hong Kong
15 Finland
16 Lithuania
17 Austria
18 Uruguay
19 Netherlands
20 Latvia
21 Germany
22 Denmark

Milton Friedman often cited Hong Kong (under British rule) in the 20th Century as the best living example of an economically liberal state. Not that it was “libertaria”, per se, but the closest thing.

The Heritage Foundation compiles an “Index of Economic Freedom” every year which ranks countries on their economic “libertarian-ness”. Hong Kong does indeed rank #1, as of 2008. According to the Foundation,

I know of no such ranking from earlier eras, and it would be difficult to compile one retrospectively, as economic statistics become less reliable and the impact of restrictive laws and regulations become harder to assess in the past. How would one assess the impact of guild restrictions, feudal dues, serfdom, or slavery?


Cite? Or is it your preference to post an unsourced WAG accompanied by an asinine drive-by political dig?

I’m trying to figure out whether I deserved this whacking. It’s true, I introduced a non-objective political dig, but I did label it as such.

And I think it could legitimately be argued that the USA in the time period mentioned had a minimum of laws regulating business and personal economic conduct, and a quite low overall tax burden, and was, in fact, a quite libertarian society.

The conclusion I draw from US history is that the untrammelled operation of the free market tends to result in wild swings of the economy, with frequent depressions, anticompetitive monopolistic behaviors, and the concentration of power in the hands of a few people, with the masses getting little.

But alas, I have no cites for this.

You’d do well to read better history books if you think this is an accurate description of American history. The economy in that era did have fewer regulations but it was far from libertarian. Many businessmen (quite a few of those whom you would probably label as “robber barons”) worked hand in glove with the government to squash competition, extract subsidies from taxpayers, fleece consumers, and do a variety of other things that are universally condemned by libertarians. Just because a policy may be “pro-business” does not make it “libertarian.”

Tariffs on imported goods were also high for much of that period of American history, to “protect” domestic manufacturers, which is not exactly a libertarian approach to the economy.