Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The United States and the Economic Freedom of the World

The latest Economic Freedom index report is out, and the clear talking point is that the United States dropped four spots in the rankings. What that talking point omits is that the United States is still ranked No. 10 out of 141 nations. In other words: Our economy is still incredibly free, despite the socialist designs of President Barack Obama.

Still, even if one believes the United States is trending in the wrong direction, it's interesting to contemplate the nations ahead of us on the chart. Hong Kong comes in at No. 1; Singapore comes in at No. 2. These are not nations (ahem) noted for their political and civil liberties; the former is under the control of the People's Republic of China, while the latter is, well, Singapore. Tea Partiers have spent the last couple of years suggesting that economic liberty—freedom from regulations and burdensome taxes—are, perhaps, the foundational part of personal liberty. But the Economic Freedom Index suggests the two are easily separated.

Two other countries ahead of the United States on the list: The UK and Canada. These, of course, are the tyrannic socialist hellholes we were warned against becoming if the United States adopted a healthcare system anywhere close to ones run by those countries. Apparently they're also good places to do business.

I'm trying not to be snarky, and failing. The point is that much of the political rhetoric we've heard the last two years has suggested the United States is sliding into an anti-freedom morass of taxes, regulations, and central planning. Relative to the rest of the world, however, we're extraordinarily free—both economically, and with regards to our political and civil liberties. It's good to be vigilant in defense of freedom, but a little perspective helps.


deregulator said...

You're correct. This snapshot does offer some perspective. It's a snapshot, however. It does not and cannot look forward, and that's where the troubles will soon arise.

Looking at the list, the UK and Switzerland could plummet because of the pending meltdown of Europe.

Chile may stay strong because it privatized its pension system (thanks for reminding us of that, Herman Cain).

Australia and New Zealand look pretty good, too, as they have been more receptive to privatized public services than have Europe and the U.S.

Canada may hang in there as well, as it used the financial crisis to bring its fiscal situation more in order (and its single-payer health system has been under fire by free-market reformers for awhile, so good for them).

We're relatively free, but there's always room for improvement. And even some of our "betters" may not stay that way unless they're willing to rethink their public sectors.

deregulator said...

But then there's this: