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Britain at the root?

CB suggested that we take a look at Megan McArdle's piece in the Atlantic which claims-

When you see the map, it becomes radically apparent just how firmly Britain was the root of the Industrial revolution. With the lone exception of Japan, the darkest places on the map are either next to Britain, or former British colonies.
Some readers disagree with McArdle's thesis, suggesting that a picture may not be worth a thousand true words. We observe -
Britain's innovative thinking and inventions were at the root of our modern world with clean water and sanitation, medical care and longer lifespans, inexpensive clothing and agricultural improvements, trains, ships, steel and phones, jet planes, free trade and telecommunications, to name a few.

But what made the innovation and invention possible in the first place? James Bennett says it's partly due to "the Common Law, respect for private property, continuous representative government, a culture that nurtures civil society and entrepreneurial enterprise" (Albion).

In the 20th century, people didn't understand how essential those intangibles are. Today, increasingly, they do, though not the EU or any other despotic state.

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