What's this, a conservative columnist in Aspen? 

Odds are good that, while strolling the streets of upscale Colorado resorts like Vail and Aspen, you are far more likely to encounter a celebrity somebody from the Left like actor/environmentalist Robert Redford than, say, Rush Limbaugh or Herman Cain. So what a pleasant surprise it is to discover Melanie Sturm at the Aspen Times.

Sturm is new columnist who writes from a conservative/libertarian perspective. She's good, too, a fact that was pointed out at a recent conference by no less a luminary than The Wall Street Journal's John Fund, who knows a thing or two about what it takes to write great columns.

Sturm's latest effort looks at a study on the popularity of free market capitalism among the populations of the world's major countries. When the survey was done a decade ago, the U.S. ranked first in terms of the esteem with which the free market was held by Americans.

And now? Well, I'll let Melanie lay it out for you:

"If you assume that Americans are still first, Think Again. The 2010 survey reveals faith in the free market is at a low (59 percent) in the world's biggest economy placing the U.S. fifth behind Germany (68 percent), China and Brazil (both 67 percent), and Italy (62 percent)," she writes.

"Intriguingly, American support for free markets dropped 15 points in just the last year resulting in an astonishing nine-point advantage for the Chinese.

"Undoubtedly, Chinese confidence in free markets is high because 450 million Chinese were lifted out of poverty as the government liberalized the economy," Sturm said.

But despite that amazing fact, Sturm notes that China has other significant obstacles, most notably that "the Chinese do not enjoy the inalienable rights accorded Americans, China materially lags behind the U.S. in other living standard metrics including civil liberties, life expectancy, infant mortality, child labor and a clean environment."

The result, Sturm notes, is that, "according to the World Bank, China's national wealth trails America's in terms of GDP per capita ($7,570 versus $47,020)."

You can read the rest of Sturm's piece here. Might not be a bad idea to bookmark her, too.

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Mark Tapscott

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