published Sunday, February 5th, 2012

United States falls again in rankings on economic freedom

It is a matter of great concern to all Americans whenever our hard-won liberties are threatened -- whether the liberty in question is freedom of religion, property rights or any other right guaranteed by the Constitution.

So it should give us pause to learn that the United States has again slipped in an important ranking that gauges economic liberty worldwide.

Not only did the United States fall this year from ninth to 10th in The Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, but we do not enjoy the distinction of being labeled a truly "free" economy. We are categorized in the second-best category of "mostly free," economically speaking. And this is the fourth straight year our ranking has dropped.

Finishing ahead of the United States, in descending order from first through ninth, are Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Mauritius and Ireland.

It seems we have forgotten some of the key factors that made the United States of America the greatest, freest and most prosperous nation in history: things such as low taxes, clean and limited government, avoidance of unnecessary regulation, and the upholding of private property rights and the rule of law.

Indeed, the Index of Economic Freedom says the United States' economic ranking suffers precisely because our nation has turned away from too many of those principles.

Part of our drop reflects massive, unsustainable increases in government spending, and part is related to the explosion of heavy-handed regulations -- largely in finance and medical care. Regulations put in place just since 2009 cost the American people about $40 billion last year alone. That is money that cannot be productively invested in our economy.

What is even more troubling, though, is the rising -- and painfully justified -- view that government favoritism, if not outright corruption, is spreading.

The Heritage Foundation noted the public's appropriately dim view of huge, costly, taxpayer-funded bailouts of failing but politically well-connected companies, as well as the special regulatory breaks granted to certain companies. For example, well over 1,000 companies were exempted from some of the provisions of ObamaCare.

"Corruption is a growing concern as the cronyism and economic rent-seeking associated with the growth of government have undermined institutional integrity," the editors of the index pointed out.

Our $15.2 trillion national debt, meanwhile, has surpassed the total size of our gross domestic product -- all that our country produces in a year.

Given those alarming circumstances, it is perhaps not too surprising that last August our nation's credit rating was downgraded by Standard & Poor's for the first time in history.

We are going in the wrong direction!

These disturbing warning signs will herald real national decline if we as a people do not begin to elect lawmakers and a president who will chart a different course. It is long past time to return to the free-market, limited-government principles that made our country and our economy the envy of the world.

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onetinsoldier said...

Yada Yada yada, We are in bad shape because of stupid spending on useless wars that were never funded under the repugnant party and george the terrible. It isn't because we feed the poor with food stamps or take care of the elderly. It is because the real welfare recipients are Corporate benefactors. It isn't a matter of whether you fix the debt, it is a matter of how, and the average guy in either party or independents are only given a red or blue pre approved corporate choice to vote for. You don't have a Democracy anymore, we are all endentured to share holders, and corporate puppeteers.

February 5, 2012 at 1:07 a.m.

Freedom to starve! Freedom to die from lack of health care, or go into bankruptcy to pay for it! Freedom to be enslaved! Freedom to be arrested for carrying a few grams of a common plant!

While, like onetinsoldier says, corporations get protected and sheltered, with the full force of American might. Heck, have you ever once mentioned Halliburton's corruption? EVER? No? Why not?

February 5, 2012 at 8:49 a.m.
nucanuck said...

The financial deregulation and tax cuts, begun in the '80s and ramped up in the '90s, set up the massive debt collapse that is underway. And as ots says above, a huge over-weighting toward unproductive military spending has deprived our economy of the reinvestment in infrastructure necessary to remain competitive.

We shouldn't expect a real reversal of the US downtrend without seriously refoming the financial sector and completely revamping the military wordwide over-reach.

February 5, 2012 at 9:06 a.m.
jesse said...

FREEDOM IS A MYTH!

every body on the planet has a diff. opinion on WHAT freedom is!

just look at the opinions on this forum!

at least as long as humans are running things!

there is NO SUCH THING as FREEDOM!

February 5, 2012 at 10:17 a.m.
conservative said...

Our lowest score was was on government SPENDING, which was a dismal 46.7 out of a possible 100. As this side of the paper has often noted we have a SPENDING problem. SPENDING creates debt, witness the record SPENDING under Obamination. We have got to defeat these Lieberals at the poles if we are to regain our "free" economy status.

February 5, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.

Spending preserves infrastructure. If you stop spending on food you starve.

February 5, 2012 at 7:49 p.m.
Plato said...

"It seems we have forgotten some of the key factors that made the United States of America the greatest, freest and most prosperous nation in history: things such as low taxes, clean and limited government, avoidance of unnecessary regulation, and the upholding of private property rights and the rule of law."

  • Low Taxes - Real Corporate taxes are at 12.1% the lowest in 40 years and personal income taxes are the lowest since the 1950s.

  • Clean and limited government- funny I don't feel any dirtier or more constrained now, than when Bush was president. I'm wondering what this actually means?

  • Avoidance of Unnecessary Regulations - I here this repeatedly from Republicans but when you ask for examples the room always gets very quiet. Are their regulations we probably don't need? sure and president has gotten rid of many of them, but the Bush recession following an economic meltdown was not caused by too much regulation.

*Upholding private property rights and the rule of law - What rights are they talking about that were taken from us? Are they saying we are a lawless nation?

"Part of our drop reflects massive, unsustainable increases in government spending, and part is related to the explosion of heavy-handed regulations -- largely in finance and medical care."

massive spending? on what? the stimulus plan not only kept us out of another depression it kept 3 million people on the job paying taxes instead of collecting unemployment. 300 Billion of the stimulus was tax cuts. ObamaCare spending has not even kicked in yet but until proven otherwise has been scored revenue positive. The deficits are primarily being caused by having 10 million more people unemployed than under normal times, and not paying taxes.

Heavy handed regulations? Oh you mean Dodd/Frank which most regard as a weak effort to prevent another catastrophe meltdown of the financial industry? - yea that's really hurting us.

This is all from the Heritage Foundation, an agenda drive, conservative think tank that opposes everything that has anything to do with Democrats and this President in particular. This editorial is nothing more than a high distorted mishmash of right wing hyperbole with little in common with reality.

February 5, 2012 at 10:28 p.m.
rolando said...

"Unproductive military spending". I love that phrase. We must be firing $100 bills out of those cannons, machineguns, fighters, bombers, etc. Why, that cash is paper mached into tanks, HumVees, etc. We must be lining flak vests with cash. Then when a shell hits, a bomb drops, etc that money is just left there for the taking.

So just accept the above and forget about who is really getting the cash...very highly skilled American workers, for instance. All who work in those beaneries, etc around the factories. All those arms manufacturers who sell to us peons trying to protect our families from the coming disaster, and so on.

Yes, even the CEOs and other corporate executives who spend the money on mansions [built by illegals who send the money across the border, but why quibble], yachts, airplanes, Bugatti Veyrons, etc.

So who ya gunna call when outlay exceeds income and the devil comes a'knockin'? The loser 99-percenter Occupiers? Now that's funny.

February 6, 2012 at 5:51 p.m.
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