The very thing that made America the most economically advanced country, arguably ever—a relatively free market—is quickly fading away. The absence of regulation and corporate welfare (bailouts, subsidies, grants), coupled with the presence of objective universal laws made business thrive in America, while the market (millions of regulators called consumers) placed their capital in the best businesses and products possible. Voila, you have unheard of innovation, invention, and advancement in the standard of living for the whole population, not just the inventors, investors, and businessmen.
But unless our government can take a major turn in how economics are handled in this country, those days of economic freedom, and therefor economic prosperity, are over. According to the Wall Street Journal, America has dropped off the top ten list in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, which measures the most economically free countries, using “fiscal soundness, government size and property rights” among other factors. What makes this news more compelling is that it is not simply a subjective list thrown together.
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.
Though logic and countless pieces of anecdotal evidence, as well as measurable economic trends, have long suggested the economic benefits of a free market, this is one of those rare evaluations that show the measurable results of freer markets, looking at the long term effects on countries. On the other hand, America’s departure from the list should raise red flags, not only because of the freedom historically valued by Americans, but because of the recent downturn in America’s economy, and counterproductive economic interventions Keynesians continue to promote.
And in an unabashed attempt at self promotion I would like to note the agreement of the list with my own analysis of the economically damaging policies of Venezuela. In fact looking at this list should make it obvious which way the U.S. should trend economically. Do we want to be more like North Korea, last on the list, or Hong Kong, first on the list of economic freedom? Should we trend towards the likes of Iran and Cuba, or should we strive to be more like Switzerland and Australia, economically speaking? Greece and Cyprus registered lower in economic freedom than when the list was created 2 decades ago, and just look at the economic mess each country is in.
Some of the countries that top the list of economic freedom are arguably not as free in other areas, but this list measures only the economic policies and results of those policies. The U.S. is now ranked twelfth on list and the United Kingdom fell to fourteenth.
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.
Yet despite the regulation, criminals in the financial industry are not prosecuted. A bailout is already in the works for health insurance companies, while cash confiscated through taxes was wasted on an incompetent crony firm that designed the Obamacare website. Energy loans continue to be lost to sham companies that have fundraising ties to the Obama administration. Taxpayers lost billions on the GM bailout, saving a company that still makes terrible cars that not enough people buy. Taxes are increasing on individuals and investment, curtailing available funds to invest which would grow companies, and create new ones. Corporate tax rates, the costs unloaded on consumers, drive businesses overseas, and continue to fuel a loss of American capital, jobs, and industry.
Restrictions on drilling and processing American oil make us dependent on foreign governments, while the oil subsidies discourage use of alternative energy and private sector investment in advancing alternative fuels. It’s overwhelming, for the individual to think about, and for a company to deal with. I can’t fathom the size of the blinders that people have to wear in order to still argue for higher taxes, more regulation, and more government intervention in the economy. Despite the fact that the government doesn’t produce food, clothing, shelter, or other necessities, somehow people still think the government could spend America out of a recession! The government can employee everyone in the U.S., and we can all starve and freeze to death together making six figures. Things must be produced in order to be consumed—sounds obvious, but few voters actually understand this.
We need to stop this utter economic insanity! People need to be confronted with facts when they blindly spout rhetoric about the dangers of a free market. National figures need to bring the debate to the front and center by championing free market values, instead of being crony capitalist apologists as every mainstream Republican currently is, as well, obviously, as every Democrat. For too long the right has conceded to the left that some managing of the economy is acceptable and appropriate. Well it is not acceptable, it helps no one but corrupt Washington insiders, and its time people heard the truth. This is where we get when we allow a big lie to permeate the reality of our formerly great, and free, economy.