Maybe it was when my wife and I were getting our picture taken in front of the soon-to-open Lamborghini showroom here in Manila; and the fact that my nephew (who works as a programmer for Chevron here) told us that there was a Maserati showroom that would open up a little way down the street. Just three hours earlier, I was getting a haircut and pedicure (yes, pedicure) at a small barbershop a block from our family compound. And the cost of my haircut and pedicure? Just over four bucks.
Welcome to the Libertarian paradise, where libertarian economic theory can and does work, enabling achievements that would be frankly impossible in America.
The Philippines isn't perfectly libertarian; as with perfect democracy or perfect communism, perfect libertarianism is not an achievable result but rather a philosophical goal. The barber shop is a good example: of the six people working there, three are openly gay, two are transvestites, and the manager is a woman whose biggest challenge, I'm told, is preventing catfights among the workers. One of the transvestites was giving my son a haircut at the time and it bothered my son not at all, but he did tell me that almost anyone back at high school in Washington would never have set foot in the place because of the peer-enforced cultural fear of LGBTs. But cultural tolerance of LGBTs is a libertarian tenet, is it not? Outside of certain religious lines in the sand (abortion and birth control), the Philippine people are about as tolerant of others as it gets.
As with their culture, the Philippine economy embodies many libertarian tenets. In the article referenced, I asked if libertarianism leads to a happier population. But now I am exploring the obvious success of a significant portion of the Philippine economy. For those readers of this article who live in a major city, look outside and count the construction cranes you see being used to build skyscrapers and high-rise condos. How many do you see? Four? Five? Maybe even ten? In Manila, there are at least a hundred construction cranes in use right now; I daresay probably more than in any entire American state! For instance, there's a suburb of Manila called Fort Bonifacio Global City. It's a little over the size of downtown Seattle (you know, the home of Boeing, Microsoft, and Starbucks, and where, in good years one can see maybe five construction cranes at one time) But Fort Bonifacio is a planned city of skyscrapers and high-rise condos and gorgeous landscaping, very clean and orderly, no homeless, a first-class city that would be the pride of any state in America.