Economic Freedom Report Knocks U.S.
Canada’s Fraser Institute recently released its 2013 Economic Freedom of the World report, and the results are discouraging for the U.S. First, the definition of economic freedom: “Individuals have economic freedom when (a) property they acquire without the use of force, fraud, or theft is protected from physical invasions by others and (b) they are free to use, exchange, or give their property as long as their actions do not violate the identical rights of others.” As ideal as that sounds, it’s becoming more difficult and rare.
It wasn’t that long ago that the U.S. was a world leader in economic freedom. According to the report, “Throughout most of period from 1980 to 2000, the United States ranked as the world’s third-freest economy, behind Hong Kong and Singapore.” However, “By 2005, the US rating had slipped to 8.21 and its ranking fallen to 8th. The slide has continued. The United States placed 16th in 2010 and 19th in 2011,” the latest year considered in the report. It’s worth noting that the decline began under George W. Bush, though it has accelerated under Barack Obama.
The report notes in ranking states and provinces that Canadian provinces fair better than U.S. states. The top two in North America are Alberta and Saskatchewan, and four of the top seven are Canadian provinces. Delaware is the highest ranked U.S. state at number three; Texas and Nevada are the next highest U.S. states. It’s telling that the states with no income tax tend to score higher. Unfortunately, the trend is going in the wrong direction, and Canada is not winning by becoming more free but by not being as bad as the U.S. The prescription for our sluggish economy is obviously to get back to the fundamentals of economic freedom.