Let’s just hope the crony commies don’t end up crushing the gem.
British rule returned after the surrender of the Japanese in August 1945. Two years later, a young Scottish civil servant named John Cowperthwaite arrived in the colony to oversee its economic development. Some 50 years later, I met Cowperthwaite in St Andrews, Scotland, where I was a student and he was enjoying his retirement. As he told me, “I came to Hong Kong and found the economy working just fine. So, I left it that way.”
Cowperthwaite talked to me about low taxes, a business-friendly regulatory environment, a lack of state subsidies, tariff-free trade relations with the rest of the world, and other policies he promoted during his tenure as colonial financial secretary. Of all the policies that we discussed, one stands out in my mind. I asked him to name the one reform that he was most proud of. “I abolished the collection of statistics,” he replied. Cowperthwaite believed that statistics are dangerous, because they enable social engineers of all stripes to justify state intervention in the economy.