The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that the economic freedom of the United States. The 2017 Index of Economic Freedom was recently released, and it did not have good news for the United States. It ranks the United States in 17th place and says the U.S. is among the “mostly free” nations. This ranking is the lowest for the nation in the 20 year history.
The Index has been measuring economic freedom for the past twenty years and giving clear and concise analysis. The information is available on their web site for both research and education. The Index covers 10 freedoms in 186 countries. This site describes economic freedom as follows.
Economic freedom is 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.
Anthony B. Kim at The Heritage Foundation is the research manager of the Index of Economic Freedom, which is produced by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Kim’s article titled “US Economic Freedom Has Hit a Historic Low.What Happened?” explains the why this new ranking is a problem. He says that the Index “compares countries’ entrepreneurial environments” and “highlights the urgent need for the U.S. to change course. For the ninth time since 2008, America has lost ground.”
Kim writes that the U.S. is now in “the second-tier economic freedom status” and has been there since 2010. The U.S. ranks behind Switzerland (fourth), Australia (fifth), Canada (seventh, and the United Kingdom (twelfth). He says that the Index measures the commitment of a nation to “limited government and free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100.” It evaluates “four critical policy pillars, including rule of law and regulatory efficiency.”
These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity, and social progress. Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment, and deteriorating social conditions.