Live High and Free – The Newnan Times-Herald

The Newnan Times-Herald

Newnan resident Lawrence W. Reed is Chairman Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education. His most recent book is “Was Jesus a Socialist?” He can be contacted at [email protected]

If you follow world politics, you know that Emmanuel Macron is the President of France. Did you know that he is also an elected monarch?

The French elected him president, but simultaneously Macron serves as an unelected prince of another sovereign nation. Can you guess which one?

The country is the 16th smallest in the world in area. Its 181 square miles are barely twice the size of Boston. About 77,000 people live there. At 1,000 meters above sea level, its capital is the highest in Europe.

This country – Andorra — is one of Europe’s seven “micro-states”, tiny nations that are political remnants of a distant past. Andorra is landlocked and sandwiched in the eastern Pyrenees between France and Spain.

My most vivid memories of my visit in 2004 are the simmering kettles of flavorful and aromatic paella; the spectacular views and dry mountain air; and world-class shopping at discounted prices.

Microstates are fascinating and are some of the freest enclaves in the world. Their small size plays in favor of their freedom. A government made up of neighbors you know can naturally be more accountable than distant bureaucrats and politicians you don’t know.

Tourists to Andorra vastly outnumber the local population – over 10 million a year. Skiing in winter and shopping in summer are mainstays of the local economy.

Andorra’s origins are rooted in the 8th century conflict between the Christian kingdoms to the north and the Muslim-controlled territories to the south. Charlemagne, who proclaimed himself the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 800 AD, ensured the protection of Andorrans against Muslim attacks. His son, Louis, recognized the place as an autonomous political unit and entrusted the responsibility to the first Count of Urgell. Urgell was a principality of neighboring Catalonia.

The Counts of Urgell ruled Andorra from 805 to 988, when the Bishop of Urgell was appointed co-prince. In 1278, the power of the count passed to a principality in present-day France, then in 1608, to the head of the French state.

So today the country is a very unique “parliamentary co-principality” with the President of France and the Catholic Bishop of Urgell as ceremonial co-princes. Governance is exercised by a unicameral legislature in a competitive, multiparty system. A prime minister is chosen by the legislator.

Freedom House ranks Andorra in its highest category – a “free” country with an impressive score of 93 on a 100-point scale, higher than its immediate neighbours. “The legal and regulatory framework,” reports its survey, “is generally supportive of property rights and entrepreneurship, and there are few undue barriers to private commercial activity.”

Andorra’s economy is a free market, which produces the greatest wealth because the government does not bribe voters by promising to rob Peter and pay Paul and pocket a hefty sum to do so. Per capita income is above the European average.

The country enjoys some of the lowest tax rates in the developed world. The top personal income tax rate, as well as the capital gains rate, is only 10%. Corporate income tax is only slightly higher and is half the US rate. Real estate is totally exempt from inheritance tax.

Well done, Andorra!

Newnan resident Lawrence W. Reed is Chairman Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education. His most recent book is “Was Jesus a Socialist?” He can be reached at [email protected] .

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