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Report: Economic Freedom in US Lowest Since 2000

By    |   Monday, 16 September 2013 08:39 AM

Economic freedom in the United States is at its lowest point in more than a decade, according to conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.

The United States scored 76 on The Heritage Foundation's 2013 Economic Freedom Index, the lowest score since 2000 and 10th out of the 185 nations examined.

The index, created in partnership with The Wall Street Journal, measures the impact of liberty and the free market in different countries around the world. The Index demonstrates the strong connection between prosperity and economic freedom, with metrics related to government spending, trade freedom and the rule of law.

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Hong Kong received the highest rank, 89.3, followed by Singapore (88), Australia (82.6), New Zealand (81.4) and Switzerland (81). The worldwide average was 59.6.

The U.S. score has been declining for five consecutive years in terms of economic freedom. Only Ireland has posted a similar decline the past five years.

"On a worldwide basis, the advance of economic freedom has ground to a halt," the report states.

"The overall stagnation observed in worldwide levels of economic freedom has coincided with significant setbacks in countries previously regarded as leaders in economic freedom.

"In particular, the United States and Ireland, which had risen in previous years as high as fourth place in the rankings, have seen their scores drop substantially in recent years. Both suffered declines in economic freedom again this year."

Overall, the index is basically flat from last year, and down from its peak in the middle part of the past decade.

In all, 91 nations, including Georgia, Colombia, Jordan, Poland and Indonesia, improved. Others, such as Japan and Western Europe, regressed.

"In previous decades, the world could count on America to pick up the slack, but that is no longer true," writes Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot in the report's introduction.

"The political left and neo-Keynesians have run U.S. economic policy since the last year of the George W. Bush presidency. Their theory is that government spending, temporary tax cuts, regulatory interventions and easy money will reignite growth. They haven’t done so."

Writing in a blog for The American Thinker, commentator Sierra Rayne criticized the Index for ranking undemocratic countries higher than democratic ones. For instance, the Index, as well as a list from the Fraser Institute, has ranked Hong Kong and Singapore higher than democratic nations despite having authoritarian regimes or flawed democracies.

"You cannot have economic freedom without actual freedom," Rayne wrote. "Governments structure the economic environment by which citizens, companies and foreign investors do business. If a nation's citizens cannot express themselves democratically to determine the economic policies under which they live, they do not have true economic freedom."

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Economic freedom in the United States is at its lowest point in more than a decade, according to conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.
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Monday, 16 September 2013 08:39 AM
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