I Didn’t Laugh: The Cato Institute’s latest bad joke

The Cato Institute (CI) is an alleged “libertarian think tank” where there’s not much thinking aside from helping the rich get richer, and is more about aryans than liberty.  It was founded by Charles Koch and other human filth in 1974 to justify extreme rightwing ideology.  It is affiliated with the extreme rightwing Fraser Institute in Canada which has a similar racist-and-rich outlook.

The CI has released its “freedumb” index for 2020 (PDF), ranking countries around the world.  The listings shows where its priorities lie: “Where can the richest people get richer with the least difficulty and most protection for themselves?”  Individual freedom, democracy and human rights are clearly not their priority.

The #1 spot is held by New Zealand.  You might mistakenly think, “Well, it is a democracy and..” but you’d be mistaken if you thought that was their priority.  For years, NZ has become the go-to destination for the wealthy hoping to escape international disaster, with expensive underground bunkers built for the disgustingly rich.  There are no exact numbers of how many bunkers exist, but US company Rising S claims to have built ten at a cost upwards of US$3 million each“If it’s good for the rich, it must be a free country!”

How New Zealand became an apocalypse escape destination for Americans

In Queenstown — a picturesque ski spot that often attracts comparisons to Aspen, Colorado — rumors about foreigners investing in apocalypse-proof bunkers have been swirling for years.

They’re referenced by local real estate agents: One recent listing advertised a house as a “billionaire bunker” for someone on a budget, for example.

[. . .]

For years, Queenstown has been an attractive destination for elite foreigners who may have reason to seek out a metaphorical bunker, safe from major political turmoil thousands of miles away. Notable US-based homebuyers include Silicon Valley billionaire and political firebrand Peter Thiel and disgraced former NBC News anchor Matt Lauer.

Now that the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc worldwide, Queenstown is once again sparking interest as the perfect place to escape catastrophe — with or without a secret bunker.

Third on the list is Hong Kong, where “personal freedom” is 8.53, the lowest of any country in the top 25, and “economic freedom” is 8.94, the highest in the world.  Clearly the stock markets functioning and international trade going through is what the CI calls “freedumb”, but human rights are not.  Or maybe the CI considers 2019 “ancient history” (re: the human rights abuses, kidnapping of Hong Kong citizens by China for sham trials, and HK cops raping and sexually assaulting women without consequences, etc.).

Interestingly, amongst the top 100 countries, the US had the biggest drop in 2020 according to the CI’s criteria, down nine places.  Was their “report” a commentary on Cheetolini losing the election?


  1. lumipuna says

    I never understood how a NZ hideout is supposed to be practical for billionaires who don’t actually live in NZ. For example, right now various California-based tech billionaires probably feel safe enough hiding in their California mansions, but they wouldn’t be allowed to go into NZ anyway. At least, I think so.

    Granted, some other kind of disaster might not immediately make you a persona non grate in terms of NZ immigration. But if shit gets so bad you can’t use your money to be safe in the US, will NZ be much better? If shit gets really bad really fast, will you be able to arrange transport for your family and favorite staffers?

  2. lumipuna says

    I see I typed “persona non grate” and I can’t even blame that on spellcheck.

    Mostly, I’ve been thinking about the billionaires who build actual apocalypse bunker compounds, especially in some remote place like NZ. These people seem to assume the disaster will come suddenly and then pass within our (their) lifetimes. I think realistically, if things get really bad (most likely related to climate/ecological collapse and consequent collapse of civilization), it will likely take a long time to get that bad, and a *very* long time to get better. Even if there’s a sudden nuclear war or something, the end result is not something you can just wait out.

    Outside of actual apocalypse prepping, but anticipating climate stress and degrading civilization, it probably does makes sense to prepare second and third homes in various countries and move your primary residence overseas if necessary. You never know which country will turn into a “disaster area” in near future, and NZ is one of the least likely to do so. In a relatively stable, healthy society, you can still enjoy “normal” life even outside of a gated compound, if you’re into that.