Is North Korea more free market than the UK?

Ridiculous question but the answer could be yes:

As much as three-quarters of the country’s household income now comes from the private sector, estimates Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul.

Given that the UK government is 45% or so of GDP that might mean that North Korea is actually more free market than we are.

8 comments on “Is North Korea more free market than the UK?

  1. That hardly makes it “free market” – especially with the requirement for the state enterprise umbrella. You can have a completely controlled market, with private sector providers generating income.

    In your usual context, it is probably moving it from dictator-owned to capitalist – given that the state enterprises are rent-seeking for the permission to run the ventures rather than claiming to own them.

    Still, a welcome change in one of the few remaining hold-outs of the C20’s biggest and most dangerous expression of mass stupidity.

  2. I doubt it. Are they taking into account the kickbacks and the payment of fees to the government department the person who is setting up the business belongs to. Not quite free markets if only those who have managers in the government who are willing to allow their employees to set up a business and who are willing to give the government (is it a tax?) money in return.

  3. But a lot of UK government spending is spent via market mechanisms. Buy from the lowest bidder (graft acknowledged).

    So you could theoretically have a 100% tax rate, with the government simply redistributing the money, perhaps according to Marxist needs, and still be completely “free market” (but non-capitalist) or have a 0% tax rate in a country where doing anything without a state license is punishable by flame-thrower execution, and be totally un free-market.

  4. That’s odd : I thought the free market would solve all problems.
    Like in Latvia> freedom from Red Terror>private property> mother of all property bubbles> mass emigration.

  5. As much as three-quarters of the country’s household income now comes from the private sector, estimates Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul.

    That doesn’t mean the North Korean market is free. Just that the North Korean State-run sector is a disaster.

    Also how do they define income? Stalinist economies usually tied the workers to the factory through welfare. The factory provided housing, schooling, medical care and even hot dinners – somewhat in short supply in North Korean I would guess. Which means even once you stop paying people, they still come into work. If only for the soup. But the cash economy exists outside the factory gates.

  6. If only the free market could actively get rid of socialism instead of merely surpass it in every way–except for lies, mass murder, torture and imprisonment in which socialism holds the all-time badge of achievement.

  7. Careful Tim, you are giving ammunition to the “Ah but it’s not really Socialism. It’s State Capitalism/a degenerated workers’ state/Fascist/a model Free Market economy.”

    After all the usual suspects claimed that Somalia was a Libertarian paradise

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