Posts Tagged Freedom
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.
Sliding Farther Down the Freedom Scale
It’s becoming an annual lament: Once the United States was among the most economically free nations on the planet, but now we barely crack the top 20. According to the 2013 Economic Freedom of the World report, now co-published by the Cato and Fraser Institutes, we rank not only behind the usual leaders Hong Kong and Singapore, but Jordan and the United Kingdom as well. Jordan? Are you kidding us?
Apparently they’re serious, and a key reason for the decline is the ever-growing role of our government in shaping the economy. At the turn of the century, the United States was generally just behind Hong Kong and Singapore atop the rankings, but that was before the size and scope of government grew thanks to the 9/11 terrorist attack and its resulting “enhanced” security measures, new and exploding entitlement programs, and — particularly in the last five years — a new regulatory state in response to economic crisis. “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system,” said George W. Bush in 2008, and with that our economic freedom continued its plunge.
One piece of good news, if any can be found, is that the U.S. has stabilized its ranking at 19th after plunging eight spots from 10th to 18th between 2009 and 2010 — the current edition of Economic Freedom of the World is based on 2011 data, which is the latest available. The value assigned by the study showed we actually improved our lot from a 7.70 score (out of a possible 10) in last year’s report to 7.74 this time. But that’s a long way from the 8.65 rating we attained in the year 2000, and it may be at least a half-decade before we claw our way back over the 8-point barrier.