Once again, republics shown to be statistically superior to monarchies

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Publius looks at the national indices once more to prove even more conclusively that republics are statistically superior to monarchies.
David Flint’s most embarrassing moment has just arrived. We saw previously he fell for the classical statistical fallacy that correlation equals causation. But now he has shown that he does not understand the role standardisation plays in the datasets he uses. He compares apples with oranges.

But, firstly, let me just say Flint has claimed I lack "courage" for using a nom de plume. Remember my point on free speech — that republicans believe in free speech – and remember “Publius” from the Federalist Papers, David? Don’t you get the allusion? Perhaps  you should read the obiter by Clarence Thomas in OhioElections Commissioner, 514 U.S. 334, 341-45 (1995) where he observesthat anonymity adds to free speech because it allows for a diversity of views since it  enables people to make comments on matters that may not be made if anonymity weren’t available? Furthermore, using original intent as a proxy, he said anonymous speech must be free speech as the Federalist Papers were written under the pen name Publius! Sure, you can argue you have the courage to take account for what you say, but I have the courage to question your fallacious assumptions, which your general audience does not. In any event, shoot the message David, not the messenger.

We should note in his latest post David does not answer this key question: if monarchy is the key to success, why isn't everyone becoming a monarchy over night? That is, if monarchy is the key to prosperity, why aren't governments and people revolting, transforming themselves into monarchies with a vengeance? Also, why are Tonga, Thailand, the Solomon Islands, Cambodia, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Grenada all so underdeveloped compared to countries in their regions? Why is Spain experiencing 21% unemployment, or Belgium on the verge of splitting itself into two, while Switzerland remains united? Why has the UK been declining in its rank in the UN HDI rankings? David, of course, ignores Karl Popper's theory of falsification — whereby many observations can add to a theory, but only example can entirely disprove it. Popper observed, we can make general rules, but not laws. The prosperity of the monarchy myth would not, I think, even constitute a general rule under Popperian terms. Why? Because, David, the data, after standardisation, shows us monarchies, when compared to comparable republics, are nothing special.

Flint claims there is “no index” in which republics do better. That’s correct…if you suddenly change your definition! Now, rather than simply emphasising who dominates the top 10 or 20 on any index (bearing in mind that republics won hands down on the index I gave), Flint has now changed his criteria to examine to which extent monarchies are represented in the top 20 (versus all possible republics) of all indexes I previously cited compared to the existence of all monarchies in the world. This allows us to expose the other side of the monarchist myth: Flint implies that monarchies are clearly the key to prosperity (even ignoring the Popperian falsification theory, this would be easily disproved) because constitutional monarchies make up a small percentage (15%) of all the countries in the world, and given they are overrepresented in these surveys cited, then they must be superior! Flint is now cherry-picking definitions, and deploys a bogus statistical technique (as we will see).

Of course, most countries are republics, including several island nations and African countries, which mean republics will, by definition, be overrepresented on the quantity side. And if, using a small dataset on your side, the best performers are clustered in, say, Europe or the Northern Hemisphere (Japan, Canada), and if they do well, this is enough to prove republics are inferior without ‘standardisation’.

To remedy this bias, we need a common theme or proxy, that compares politicians' monarchies with comparable republics (at least, for now, qualitatively so). One proxy is comparing monarchies and Republics in the regions where they are – Europe should be compared with Europe; Africa with Africa – sizes – a country with 100 000 people would obviously do better on per capita wealth than one with millions as less resources can achieve the same end – cultures – language, history – and institutions – parliamentary monarchies and parliamentary republics. This would be more sensible as it allows for sensible comparisons: African politicians’ monarchies should be compared to African Republics. Nordic Parliamentary republics (a comparable sample size of 2) should be compared to Nordic politicians’ monarchies (2 or 3 of those). Comparing Norway, Belgium, Sweden, or several Caribbean states, to numerous African states is hardly objective or analogous given the variables involved. Comparing Cape Verde with Lesotho or Swaziland is respectable, but it is disingenuous to compare Lesotho to Liechtenstein, Switzerland or Iceland. If monarchies are better than they should be above average; they should lead the pack compared to republics in all jurisdictions. In the indexes I cited, we should expect Finland, Iceland to perform poorly compared to Norway and Sweden. Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark to do better than Switzerland, France and Austria and so forth (and this is ignoring the sheer size of France).

Keeping this in mind, let us compare his superior approach with comparable monarchies and with comparable parliamentary pepublics.

1.  Innovation and Education

Firstly, Flint looks at the 2008 Global innovation index.  There are two tables on the link he gives us. One is “small and large countries”. On this measure, 12 of the 20 are Republics. In Asia, Singapore (1st) and South Korea (2nd), and Hong Kong (6th) are mentioned. Malaysia is at 21 (beating Australia) and Japan is 9th – beaten by three Asian Republics just cited. Although Thailand rates a mention at 44, it is beaten by China (24) and there is no Bhutan, Brunei and Cambodia (it did not even make it onto the list). There is no Solomon Islands (it is so dry and un-innovative did not even make it onto the index), or Tuvalu (also absent from the list). So far as Asia is concerned – even for countries only a few kilometres away – republics do far, far, better—despite similar ethnic, religious, cultural underpinnings. It is worth noting that when this index was taken, Nepal was still a monarchy and the republics were not finalised (it was 98). So, Asian politicians’ monarchies are nothing special. It is amazing the results you get when you compare apples with apples.

US Justice Clarence Thomas

Let us go to Western Europe: Switzerland (3rd), Iceland (4th), Ireland (5th Finland (7th) and US (8th) (note of the top 10, 8 are Republics and although America is diverse, it is mostly of European descent). Note, there is no Sweden, Norway, Belgium or the UK; or for the Americas: Jamaica or St. Kitts and Nevis. Again, if monarchies are so superior for innovation, why do Nordic republics do better? Why does the US do better than Canada (another multicultural country)? Why does Ireland do better than the UK? Go further you have Israel (16th), Austria (17th), Germany (19th), France (20th). Why does Israel do better than the Saudis? Why do the Germans do better than Liechtenstein? Why are Germany and Denmark neck and neck, while Austria beats Denmark?  Also, 12 of the top 20 are republics: South Korea (1st), US (2nd), Germany (8th), France (9th), numbers 13 to 20 are all republics: China, Italy, India, Russia, Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil respectively. Flint makes no attempt to set out a comprehensive criterion of variables to consider (race, culture, tradition, geography) and it is ridiculous to correlate everything with monarchy. Clearly, comparable republics do better than comparable republics in the same region on innovation.

Same point with education. Using the Programme for International Student Assessment, we see for 2009 for maths that of the top 10, 7 are republics: Shanghai, China (1st – the sample took a region view), Singapore (2nd), Hong Kong (3rd), South Korea (4th), Taiwan (5th), Finland (6th), Switzerland (8th). Compared to China, Taiwan and South Korea, where is Japan (Tokyo) or Cambodia? Where is Bhutan, Brunei, Malaysia when compared to Singapore or Hong Kong? For Nordic countries, where is Sweden or Norway? The same points apply for 2006 for science: 11 of the top 20 are republics. Once you put republics with constitutional monarchies with a similar culture, history, sometimes language, region, and racial characteristics, population sizes, Republics do better.


2. Health

Flint then proceeds to discuss the UN Mortality Index.  11 of the top 20 are Republics:  Iceland (1st), Singapore (2nd), Hong Kong (6th), Finland (7th), Czech Republic (8th), Switzerland (9th), South Korea (10th), France (12th), Germany (14th), Austria (16th), Israel (20th). 11 are Republics. Again, I ask Flint where are comparable monarchies in the region? Why aren't Sweden and Norway leading the Nordic pack? Where is Brunei for Asia? Surely, they should be clustered at the top, beating sister Republics? The difference is bleeding obvious for African Republics versus African monarchies: on this survey, Swaziland is LAST and Lesotho is fourth from the bottom! African monarchies are worse for life expectancy! The worst! Thus, standardisation reveals clear results: comparable Republics, certainly parliamentary republics, do better than comparable politicians' monarchies in analogous jurisdictions.

Now, he also cites the CIA Infant Mortality Index.  Here, 13 are republics of the top 20! Singapore (1st), Macau (6th), Iceland (7th), France (8th), Finland (9th), Malta (12th), Andorra (13th – the President of France is a co-Head of State and the local priest has clear executive powers), Czech Republic (14th), Germany (15th), Switzerland (16th), Israel (18th), Slovenia (19th). Again, the same issues arise: comparable republics do better than comparable monarchies in this survey.

3. Other Indices

I could go on and on with all the indexes I cited, especially the fact Nordic Republics beat Nordic monarchies on gender (which I noted in the original article) and freedom of the press, and Central European Republics lead on wealth. But the same points arise: comparable Republics on average do better than constitutional monarchies. Comparable monarchies are not outstanding in any of the surveys I cited; monarchies in Europe, Asia or Africa are nothing special i.e. they are not "better" than comparable European, Asian or African Republics in the above surveys. The change in tactic by Flint simply does not deflect my key point that, on all measurea, comparable Republics do better than comparable monarchies in the indexes I have cited. Nor does he explain the causation of why monarchies do better (which, clearly, is not true once you standardise the data).  My above analysis accords with that of Mr Holdens: on average (averages and medians are useful to deal with large versus small datasets) Parliamentary Republics do better than constitutional monarchies, who on average do better than executive Presidencies. Why doesn’t Flint use averages to add up all the monarchies and divide them by all the Parliamentary Republics to give an impression across the board? Why arbitrarily stop at the top 20? These are some other issues in addition to the standardisation point I have made.


4.  Knowing History

Flint then attacks me for not knowing history.  If only!

Illustration of Saint Marinus, the founder of the Republic of San Marino, and prominent cultural figure

Firstly, the world’s oldest continuous democracy is The Republic of San Marino. It is curious Flint attacks San Marino, despite it having the oldest constitution in the world still in effect (1600) and a constitution that provides for election since then, along with a Captain Regent elected by its Parliament. The people of San Marino, who repulsed their last would-be conqueror in 1739 (unless you count the retreating German Army and pursuing American Army in 1944, which amounted to no more than armed trespassing), continue to live in peace and prosperity. But if the people of San Marino voted for communism (Flint refers to this as “communist rule”), so what? There was no revolution. No coup, but they were elected through free and democratic elections. To suggest otherwise is to show a loathing, indeed contempt, for the democratic will of the people of San Marino. Perhaps they are so small that such a society might function in a way it could not in Russia. The communists were democratically elected, and continue to be an active force in politics today. Flint makes the point that they were briefly influenced by fascists rule; sorry, but that is because of a constitutional monarchy at the time, right next to San Marino – called Italy – that gave way to Mussolini. Furthermore, San Marino is in the top 10 GDP per capita and has been a democracy since 1600 — democracy carried on in the times Flint cites, even when the Communist Party remained in power. Flint forgets that Napoleon thought of invading San Marino, but refused, saying:
“Why would I do that? It is the most ideal Republic!”

Similarly, Abraham Lincoln, an honorary citizen of the country, described it as proving that:
“...government founded on republican principles is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring”.

Secondly, Flint attacks Switzerland for having a brief civil war (no more than 37 died) when in fact more have died fighting the British (wars, revolutions, terror attacks, and frontier wars), British concentration camps in South Africa, and other excesses of imperialism. He fails to mention a) Switzerland has not been to war internationally since 1815 (what other country can make that claim?) and b) why is it so stable since 1848? (Hint: think direct democracy and federalism). Other countries have had ongoing battles, due to the excesses of Imperialism and ethnic divisions. The Swiss model is the only model that has been successfully exported in various guises — without it resulting civil war, revolutions or prolonged coups as the Westminster system has.

Thirdly, Flint attacks America for having civil wars, ignited by judicial fiat. But this is what I meant by “endurance” – written constitutions still in existence. It was not torn up the way the constitution of Fiji was.

Fourthly, the Norwegian constitution has been in operation since 1815. It was amended in 1905, as Flint noted, to accommodate Swedish independence, and hence was why I included Norway.

Clearly, of the 4 oldest constitutions in the world – all of which are ‘democracies’ – 3 are Republics. If you include the fact Iceland since 1874 has had free, democratic rule, culminating to the 1904 constitution where Administer was directly responsible to Parliament, then it too is a democracy even though nominally part of Denmark and of course became a Republic in 1944. If you include the full franchise as a democracy, Finnish republicans under its principality were first to push and attain proper democracy, i.e. where men and would could vote and be elected to Parliament. A lot of independent states had democracies, but they have been absorbed by modern democratic republics (like the US and Finland). It is worth noting the longest running Parliament was created in the republican state of Iceland in the 900s: this was discontinued in its union with Denmark many centuries later.

Of course, this is all assuming, that compared to Switzerland, you regard what we have a “democracy”. David Flint is a classic case of what Rousseau characterised as the “lay” Englishmen:
“The English believe themselves to be free; they are seriously mistaken, for they are free only during elections of Members of Parliament, and in the time between those elections the people are in slavery…. In the brief moments of their freedom, the English use it in such a way that they deserve to lose it.”

I have long argued for citizen initiated referenda (the peoples' veto) and for the recall. Of course, under the current politicians’ monarchy CIR is probably unconstitutional. Yet why shouldn’t the prerogatives of the Crown become privileges of the people? Indeed, it is worth noting 65% of Australians (23% are undecided) support that we should adopt Swiss institutions of direct democracy — a vote of no confidence in a politicians’ monarchy. Similar results emerge throughout Europe, especially in the politicians’ Belgium, where a staggering 85% support CIR.

The UN HDI is ridiculed by most economists and takes arbitrary criteria of well-being. I also observe UN HDI projections till 2030, 11 of the 20 shall be Republics: Australia is one and do you seriously think the UN in calculating these projections considered what system of government (e.g. parliamentary republic) we had when determining these projections? Of course not. Lesotho also does poorly in the 2010 survey (ranked 141st), well below over several comparable Republics like Cape Verde and bordering South Africa (110th).  This is without considering margin of error on the index, and the fact it omits nearly a dozen constitutional monarchies in its index!

Consider Southern Africa. When it comes to GDP per capita (PPP), Botswana – a parliamentary republic @ $15,489 PPP per capita – is richer than South Africa – a parliamentary republic @ $10,243 PPP per capita – which is richer than Namibia – a parliamentary pepublic @ $6,952 – which is richer than Swaziland – transitional constitutional monarchy @ $5,780  – which is richer than Lesotho – a constitutional monarchy, @ $1,299 – which is richer than Zimbabwe – semi-Presidential executive pepublic, @$395. Sorry, David, but comparable monarchies in the same region as comparable Republics are nothing special and reinforces my point parliamentary republics do better than your average politicans' monarchy.

And the contingency issues I raised on the other indexes Flint cites are also ignored: some years Republics do better, some years monarchies do in the indexes we both cite.

As for the "Best Cities in the World Index" – which David demeans as a "coffee table" survey – I have news for him: they use datasets on a range of factors that can be measured: education, quality of transport (lateness, cost etc.) and subjective satisfaction (broader happiness, even if subjective). He demeans rigorous empirical analysis to "coffee table" survey. Curiously, the same company produces the Personal Safety List: 4 of the top 5 are Republics.


The objective evidence in favour of the superior performance of comparable republics with comparable politicians’ monarchies is, my dear David, overwhelming. This is without even discussing the most successful system of government in the world: Switzerland – which is wealthier  and more stable than Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden – and whose system of Government has also  been adopted in several US states, that use the CIR device in constitutions dating back to the 1890s. The argument made by Flint presupposes the Australian people are not mature enough – like the Finns, Austrians, Icelanders, Singaporese, etc – to chuck out the monarchy and become a Republic without collapsing on all respectable indexes.

(Please note: I have not classified "Crowned Republics" as Republics in my analysis.)  
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