The topic for this Freedom Friday is economic freedom. The Index of Economic Freedom - The Link Between Economic Opportunity and Prosperity has ranked the nations of the world on their economic freedom for the past sixteen years. The Index uses ten criteria to judge each nation: freedoms related to business, trade, fiscal matters, monetary matters, investment, finance, labor, government spending, property rights, and freedom from corruption.
The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom covers 183 countries but ranks only 179 across the 10 specific areas of freedom. The United States ranked sixth in 2009, but it dropped to number eight in 2010. The top ten nations in 2010 are: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, United States, Denmark, and Chili. (Just for your information, the bottom ten are: North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Eritrea, Burma, Venezuela, Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkmenistan, and Solomon Islands.)
John Stossel pointed out that this Index covers the last six months of the Bush Administration as well as the first six months of the Obama Administration; therefore, the problem belongs to both Democrats and Republicans.
“The index demonstrates…: Economic freedom leads to prosperity. Also, the best places to live and the fastest growing economies are among the freest, and vice versa. A society will be materially well off to the extent its people have the liberty to acquire property, start businesses, and trade in a secure legal and political environment.”
Stossel quoted Bill Beach, director of the Heritage Foundations Center for Data Analysis, which compiles the index with The Wall Street Journal, as saying that the index defines “economic freedom” to mean: “You can follow your dreams, express yourself, create a business, do whatever job you want. Government doesn’t run labor markets, or plan what business you can open, or over-regulate you…. For the first time in 16 years, the United States fell from the `totally free’ group to the ‘mostly free’ group.”
It appears to me that Thomas Jefferson was correct once again when he said, “I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty.” Our government is spending too much money and hitting businesses with too many regulations. The figures from the index show that the United States must make government smaller and free businesses to do what the private sector does best – make money. If the oppression of businesses continues to increase, we can expect more companies to move to countries that offer them more freedoms. Economic freedom is a necessity if the United States is to move back to the “totally free” group of nations.