[COLUMN] Big Government Killing Economic Freedom In USA

World Map of Economic Freedom

The Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation published its 2014 Index of Economic Freedom last week and the results, while not surprising, portend a dire future for the United States and liberty if we continue down President Barack Obama’s path to poverty.

This year’s report (http://j.mp/Ldrr5X) is the 20th anniversary gauging the economic freedom of various nations. The Index covers 10 freedoms — from property rights to entrepreneurship — in 186 countries.

So what is economic freedom? According to the report:

“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.”

In the report, the United States has fallen out of the top 10. In 2008, the United States was ranked sixth, a “free country.” Now, after five years of Obama, the United States is ranked 12th, or a “mostly free” country. A precipitous drop for a nation that once stood as a beacon of liberty in a world of tyranny. The old cliché, “It’s a free country,” is quickly losing any relevance thanks to big government lovers who would rather sell themselves into slavery in exchange for some future hope that Big Brother will take care of them.

The report is an indictment big government generally and the Obama administration specifically. According to the report on the United States:

“During the first 10 years, its score rose gradually, and it joined the ranks of the economically “free” in 2006. Since then, it has suffered a dramatic decline of almost 6 points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending. The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years. The overall U.S. score decline from 1995 to 2014 is 1.2 points, the fourth worst drop among advanced economies.

While Hong Kong was ranked No. 1 for the 2oth straight year, Singapore came in second and Australia is No. 3. Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada round out the six “free” countries.

Yes, Canada.

While the United States has seen the fourth worst drop among advanced economies, Canada has seen dramatic increases in economic freedom:

“Over the 20-year history of the Index, Canada has advanced its economic freedom score by 10.7 points, the third biggest improvement among developed economies. Substantial score increases in seven of the 10 economic freedoms, including investment freedom, fiscal freedom, and the management of public spending, have enabled Canada to elevate its economic freedom status from “moderately free” 20 years ago to “free” today.”

It also helps that Canada’s conservative government is on track to balance its budget next year. What leftists don’t seem to understand but financial realities demonstrate is that economic responsibility leads to economic freedom and, by extension, a better life for all, even the poor.

That is right. The best way to fight poverty is not huge government welfare programs. Since the war on poverty began 50 years ago this month, the poverty level has gone from about 19 percent to about 16 percent today, depending on which measure you want to use. The trillions of dollars spent in the last 50 years has essentially not budged the percentage of Americans living in poverty.

No, the best way to fight poverty is economic growth. And the best way to spur economic growth is economic freedom, because economic freedom, indeed, freedom in general, brings greater prosperity. Yes, the rich will get richer. But the poor also get richer. This is shown throughout our own history. The gap between rich and poor is lowest during periods of great economic growth and greatest during periods of recession.

Of course, those who loathe economic freedom — we call them Democrats and liberals in the United States — will reject this quantifiable evidence just as they reject history and all other evidence that big government and false philanthropy equal economic ruin and tyranny.

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