The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom has been published by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation. The Index can be a useful and objective tool for analyzing the economies of nations and shows how economic freedoms and historical data can provide principles and facts for anyone studying the fundamentals of economic growth and prosperity. The Heritage Foundation has a new guide entitled Using the Index of Economic Freedom that will help those using the Index in research, public policy, business, and advocacy.
The Heritage Foundation defines economic freedom as “the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital, and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.”
Throughout most of human history economic freedom and opportunity was rare, causing people to live in poverty and deprivation. We are fortunate today to live in “the most prosperous time in human history” with “poverty, sicknesses, and ignorance receding throughout the world.” All this has been “fueled” by nations using “the principles of economic freedom.” The most important result of economic freedom is “greater prosperity,” and the Index “documents the positive relationship between economic freedom and a variety of positive social and economic goals. The ideals of economic freedom are strongly associated with healthier societies, cleaner environments, greater per capita wealth, human development, democracy, and poverty elimination.” With these benefits, every nation should strive for total economic freedom!
The effort to measure economic freedom in 186 countries is “based on 10 quantitative and qualitative factors, grouped into four broad categories, or pillars, of economic freedom.” Those four groups are: “(1) Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); (2) Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); (3) Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom; and
(4) Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).” Each of the ten economic freedoms is graded on a scale of 0 to 100, with the average being the overall score for each country. The Index covers the period from July 2013 through June 2014.
“The Index of Economic Freedom considers every component equally important in achieving the positive benefits of economic freedom. Each freedom is weighted equally in determining country scores.”
So with all this information, how well do you think the United States of America did when compared to other countries we think of as “free”? The United States ranked twelfth. The countries considered to be “free” are: (1) Hong Kong, (2) Singapore, (3) New Zealand,
(4) Australia, and (5) Switzerland. The countries considered to be “mostly free” are: (6) Canada, (7) Chile, (8) Estonia, (9) Ireland,
(10) Mauritius, (11) Denmark, (12) United States, (13) United Kingdom, (14) Taiwan, (15) Lithuania, (16) Germany, (17) the Netherlands,
(18) Bahrain, (19) Finland, and (20) Japan – plus fifteen more nations including (25) United Arab Emirates, (29) South Korea, (32) Qatar, and
How do you feel about your nation – the home of the free and the land of the brave – being considered “mostly free”? I am disappointed and think we can do much better! We really do need to reduce the size of our government and stop spending ourselves into debt. We as citizens of what should be the most free nation on earth can do our part by becoming more self-reliant and requiring less from the federal purse. We can only do this if we can root the corruption out of our federal, state and local governments and elect good men and women who will stand up for us and protect our many freedoms.