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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.

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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