Monday, March 23, 2015

The greatest dictator of the 20th century

That's how Commentary describes Lee Kuan Yew, the former leader of Singapore, who died today at age 91.  He eschewed democratic values and replaced them with what he called "Asian values" which pressed for stability and growth above all.  As bad as this might sound to freedom-lovin' Americans, it's hard to argue with a guy who transformed a country that was once earning a per capita income of $1.50 a day:
As other Asian economies in the 1960s and 1970s were plagued by social and political upheaval, Mr. Lee’s comparatively stable government was able to establish industrial zones, training colleges for workers, first-class infrastructure and business tax breaks, notably for electronics companies, powering the city-state’s growth as an export hub.
Hundreds of Western companies set up regional headquarters there, with Hewlett-Packard Co. and General Electric Co. among the early investors. Gross domestic product per capita, which stood at $512 in 1965, grew to more than $56,000 in recent years—similar to levels in the U.S. and surpassing those of Japan and Germany.
So the good news, Singapore, is that you have one of the best economies in the world.  Bad news: step out of line and it might be time for a caning.

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