Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Abuse of Zimbabwe

Perhaps the only genre of writing more irritating than "The Diseases of Darkest Africa" is "Darkest Africa Shows Why Capitalism is Good."

Here is the most recent entry in this genre. It begins with a fair observation about economic collapse in Zimbabwe:
No one really has any accurate figures about what the GDP of Zimbabwe is these days but reasonable estimates put it down at $600 to $700 a year per capita. That's pretty much the level at which all of peasant humanity from Ur of the Chaldees to the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1750. In fact, it's poorer than England was at that start of the Industrial Revolution. Effectively, in the modern sense, Zimbabwe doesn't actually have an economy any more.
Fair enough. Mugabe's regime has greatly harmed Zimbabwean citizens. But then things turn ideological:
Venezuela tells us what happens when you destroy the price system and thus the market. A small hint here, everyone becomes much poorer. And Zimbabwe shows what happens when you confiscate all the productive assets from those who were being productive with them. In effect Zimbabwe has had a 100% inheritance tax with the tax revenue distributed to the President's cronies. Which is indeed a bit of a warning to those who complain so much about inherited wealth, isn't it?
This entire article was a setup to whine about Piketty like inheritance taxation schemes.