The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama Era has dragged the United States out of the top 10 list of countries that are economically free, and that ought to be unacceptable to Americans. As Terry Miller writes:
For 20 years, the index has measured a nation’s commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. 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. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability.
Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment and deteriorating social conditions. For instance, heavy-handed government intervention in Brazil’s economy continues to limit mobility and fuel a sense of injustice.
Specifically what has changed in the United States is important to consider, and for that purpose, see the interactive chart from Heritage that allows you to visualize up to three countries versus the average, overall and by category of freedom. (I found it useful to compare the United States with Canada and Mexico.)
For the cronyism file, note that the United States has not slipped much when it comes to business freedom or trade freedom. Where we’re losing ground are areas of taxes and government spending, as well as financial, monetary, and investment freedom. Most disturbing, though, might be the decline in the two freedoms in the category of “rule of law”: property rights and corruption.
Coming across this index the day that the Obama-administration FBI lets it be known that (surprise! surprise!) it doesn’t foresee criminal charges in the case of the Obama-administration IRS’s targeting of conservatives is almost too appropriate.
The index is a view from high up, but it appears that we’re losing ground in the very areas that make it possible for families to forge their own futures and to advance, bringing the economy with them.