Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sir John Cowperthwaite 1915-2006

I am deeply saddened by a story in today's edition of South China Morning Post:

"Sir John Cowperthwaite, the former financial secretary credited with launching Hong Kong's economic success by introducing laissez-faire government, has died in Scotland."

It is no exaggeration to say that Sir John singled-handedly laid the foundations for a free market economy here in Hong Kong. It is depressing to see Hong Kong officials betraying his memory by slowly but steadily taking apart the very foundation that Sir John laid. A slew of interventionlist policies that are already in the pipeline include sales tax, anti-trust law, minimum wage, maximum hours...

Milton Friedman recalled in 1997:

I met Cowperthwaite in 1963 on my next visit to Hong Kong. I remember asking him about the paucity of statistics. He answered, “If I let them compute those statistics, they’ll want to use them for planning.’’ How wise!

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