"We’re No. 9, we’re No. 9!" isn’t exactly a cheer that would resonate through sports stadiums in this country. But that’s where the United States stands on the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom, released Wednesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal
The index indicates countries' commitment to the free enterprise/capitalist system by measuring 10 categories of economic freedom: fiscal soundness and openness to trade and investment, government size, business and labor regulation, property rights, corruption, monetary stability and financial competition.
“For the U.S. and the U.K., the Index of Economic Freedom confirms what those countries' voters already knew, that there is an urgent need for real change,” Terry Miller (pictured)
, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for International Trade and Economics, writes in The Journal.
“The U.S. dropped to ninth place in the 2011 Index, with its lowest economic freedom score in a decade, and the U.K. fell all the way to 16th place. Those who fear we are losing economic vitality and leadership to Asia have cause for concern.”
That’s because Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand rule the top of the economic freedom ratings. Economic growth rates in those countries averaged 6.8 percent in 2010.
“On the diplomatic front, U.S. economic leadership is being seriously challenged for the first time since World War II,” Miller notes.
“U.S. pleas for more government spending and tighter market regulation have fallen on deaf ears at recent meetings of the G-20. And many countries around the world, particularly those whose economies have emerged from the deprivations of communism, show no desire to return to the government domination of the past.”
The good news, especially for the world’s poor, is that economic freedom is rising around the world. “Countries gaining economic freedom have done a much better job over the last decade in eliminating poverty,” Miller writes.
“They've been more efficient at protecting the environment, better at improving health, and better even, as a new Index study demonstrates, in enhancing life satisfaction and overall happiness. That's a slam dunk for economic freedom.”
And politicians are either stepping up to the plate or losing to opponents who get the message, Miller says. “The proven path to prosperity is the path of freedom,” he writes.
“Individuals want control of their own lives. They want governments that facilitate, not czars that coerce or command. Fortunately, the process of reclaiming economic freedom has already begun. Our economic recovery depends on its rapid success.”
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