Imagine twin nations. The climate, terrain, soil, flora, fauna and natural resources of the two lands are all comparable. The people of both countries are basically the same. They speak the same language, observe the same traditions, live the same culture and possess similar genetics. The only considerable difference is with their systems of government.
One government assumes responsibility for the welfare of its citizens, ensures basic needs, and tries to promote equity among the people. To accomplish these objectives, this government consolidates control of services, industries and commerce into a central ruling authority and establishes a uniform code of conduct for the citizens. The citizens are secure in their lives and livelihoods so long as they comply with the government issued regulations and procedures.
The citizens of the other nation maintain responsibility for their own lives and welfare. They look to the government only to provide civil order and protection from threats to life, property, and exercise of conscience. Industry, commerce and services are primarily determined by private initiative and enterprise. The citizens are free to make the best, or worst, of whatever situation they may be in, so long as they don't infringe the lives and pursuits of others and they bear responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
The question is: Over the course of time, how will each nation fair? The answer is known. The scenario, to various degrees, has already played out in multiple settings. One striking example we can see today is on the Korean peninsula.
South Korea is a crazy commotion. Pulsing with life, the people hustle about pursuing their self styled interests. They chart their courses in a landscape booming with opportunities. They dream, try, often fail, occasionally succeed, and always gain something - if only character-building experience. The people are engaged, curious, innovative and striving. The streets are busy. The character of the nation is defined by the remarkable productivity of the people. While the civil leadership is virtually unknown to the outside, the businesses are well known worldwide.
North Korea is a dreary prison where innocents languish in a state-induced stupor. It is an obscure expanse of cloaked potential unrealized. No spark, little motion, large empty roads, just there - nothing more. The people are good, educated, faceless and unknown. Individual achievements are discouraged. The people act and react at the accord of those who rule them or suffer at their hands. Life is rigid and fearful. The people are surfs to a noxious elite. There is no personal identity and the national identity is that of its drab leaders.
How can two such similar countries be so different? How can it be that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea chills under devastating famines while, at the same time, the Republic of Korea revels in excessive opulence? It would be practically unimaginable if it wasn't really so.
One nation is prosperous, the other impoverished. One is vigorous, the other paranoid. One is attractive, the other repulsive. One respects individuality, the other fears authority. One nation is free, the other tyrannical... and what a difference it makes!
It seems there is a relationship between the life of a nation and its system of government. Vitality and growth is proportional to the extent of freedom that is held by the people. Free people are active, creative, innovative, inventive and productive. Central control and planning stifles progress, deadens development and defeats the human spirit. We, as free people, should take note.
Chancing Responsibility & Freedom