The world is a freer place than it has even been before, but unfortunately the United States is bucking the trend. While other countries and governments recognize that economic freedom is the path to prosperity, our own government saddles business with ever more onerous, expensive and unproductive regulations.
Today the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal released their annual ranking of the nations of the world, on the scale of economic freedom, based on ten factors. The big news this year is that the United States has slipped out of the top ten:
It’s not hard to see why the U.S. is losing ground. Even marginal tax rates exceeding 43% cannot finance runaway government spending, which has caused the national debt to skyrocket. The Obama administration continues to shackle entire sectors of the economy with regulation, including health care, finance and energy. The intervention impedes both personal freedom and national prosperity.
But as the U.S. economy languishes, many countries are leaping ahead, thanks to policies that enhance economic freedom—the same ones that made the U.S. economy the most powerful in the world. Governments in 114 countries have taken steps in the past year to increase the economic freedom of their citizens.
Here are the 20 freest countries, as ranked by Heritage and the Wall Street Journal:
Note that Canada, at number six, now outranks the U.S. It is no coincidence that for the first time in history, the average Canadian is wealthier than the average American.
The Obama administration obviously bears considerable blame for eroding our freedoms, but I am afraid the problem goes deeper than that. Far too many Americans fail to appreciate what used to be universally understood, that free enterprise is the foundation of America’s prosperity. Systematically misled by academia and the entertainment industries, millions of Americans have become cynical about freedom. As a result, they are getting poorer.