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Let's put aside the specific instance of Gates/Stallman and extend your argument to the general case. People in the philanthropic-billionaire camp usually only exist in countries with basic rights that roughly approximate those in the civil liberty camp. Consider the wealthiest charitable foundations [1]. The only outlier is a foundation from the UAE (whose endowment is a relatively small percentage of the sum). This is only a basic analysis, but I hope you get the gist of my argument: you can't naively separate the contributions of businessmen and civil rights activists; it is a mutualistic relationship.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wealthiest_charitable_f...




I don't know, but it seems more likely to me that the causal relationship runs in the other direction: a society is likely to become more free as the median resident becomes more prosperous.

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Well, in that case, you're stubbornly wrong about things.

The US was and is far more liberal than most countries, and prosperity has followed liberalism (not democrat/republican liberalism, dictator/freedom liberalism) in every case where freedom has been allowed to prosper.

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