Are We Losing Economic Freedom?
The Fraser Institute published a paper titled, Economic Freedom Of The World: 2013 Annual Report, which shows how the US is in the slow lane on the Road to Serfdom, because we as individuals have lost economic freedom over the past 12 years. Economic freedom is nothing more than each individual deciding what to produce, consume, exchange, and save without anyone, especially Government bureaucrats, hampering or intervening in his activities. Individuals are less free today than they were in 2000.
Scroll down to page 148 in the report to see the statistics for the United States in different categories related to freedom, from 1980 to 2011. The report rates 154 countries on economic freedom, with a 10 being the highest rating. It also ranks each country in order of most free to least free. Our freedom rating and rank has dropped since our high in 2000.
CATEGORY (rate/rank) 80 90 00 11
Summary (rating/rank) 7.92/3 8.35/3 8.65/2 7.74/19
Size of Government 5.08/49 6.71/24 7.03/34 6.83/47
Legal System/Property Rights 8.35/1 8.35/10 9.23/9 6.93/38
Sound Money 9.22/5 9.68/7 9.78/2 9.30/36
Freedom Of Trade Inter. 8.77/7 8.77/11 8.78/22 7.92/30
Regulation 8.11/4 8.23/4 8.43/2 7.75/17
Below is Hong Kong’s summary rating and rank for economic freedom. Go to page 62 to see a more detailed report on Hong Kong.
HONG KONG 80 90 00 11
Summary (rating/rank) 9.02/1 8.59/1 8.86/1 8.87/1
Hong Kong was under British rule for 156 years until 1997 when it was turned over to China. Hong Kong has had more economic freedom under British colonial rule, and Chinese communism than the US has had under a constitutional republic with leaders elected democratically. People in Hong Kong have been protesting recently because it looks like China is going back out on its promise to allow democratic elections in 2015. The people in Hong Kong should take a look at the US to see what democratic elections have done to our economic freedom, before they go all in for democracy. Democracy is just one possible means for gaining individual freedom, but it is no guarantee of individual freedom. Read, Thomas Sowell Explains How Democracy And Freedom Are Not The Same Thing.
Three of the categories, listed in the above article, that the Fraser Institute rates and ranks countries on their level of economic freedom are; legal system/property rights, regulation, and sound money. The US has decreased in rate and rank in these three categories over the last decade.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is just one example of the thousands of pages of regulations, passed by congress and signed into law by the President, that take away economic freedom by imposing huge costs on businesses. Where does the Government get the power to interfere with an individuals right to make a contract with another party on how he chooses to pay for his healthcare? Nowhere in the constitution do politicians and bureaucrats have a right to do this. They’ve usurped the power from us, and the Supreme Court, which has turned into a nine seat legislature, uphold their lawlessness. Read Regulatory-Industrial Complex, by Lew Rockwell, at mises.org, for more analysis on what regulation does to economic freedom.
We could talk endlessly about how important sound money is for economic freedom, but here is the short version. When the Federal Reserve electronically prints counterfeit money, it is theft. What you produce each day at work is represented in the money your employer gives you in exchange for your labor. You in turn can demand goods and services with the money you are paid. The stable purchasing power of the monetary unit is what sound money guarantees. When the Federal Reserve electronically prints counterfeit money, it is decreasing the purchasing power of each dollar you have, and therefore stealing your production. If you or I counterfeit money it is theft. If the Fed counterfeits, it is still theft, it is simply theft that is sanctioned by the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of Government. Read, Is The Surge In Capital Goods Orders Do To Malinvestment, by Frank Shostak, at mises.org, to understand what happens when the Fed counterfeits.
Without property rights there is no economic freedom. If an individual has no assurances that what he produces or owns can’t be taken away, then economic freedom is just meaningless rhetoric by politicians. There is the obvious taking of property through eminent domain laws (Kelo vs. New London), civil asset forfeiture laws, federal taxes etc, and then there is the unseen taking of property through the cost of complying with regulations, and out right stealing it by electronically printing counterfeit money. Read “Human Rights As Property Rights, by Murray N. Rothbard, at mises.org, to see how property rights are the foundation of economic freedom.
As F. A. Hayek said, “the battle for freedom must be won over and over again, the socialists of both parties must be persuaded or defeated if they and we are to remain free men.” These words are more true today then when he wrote them.
-I found the, Economic Freedom Of The World: 2013 Annual Report, in this article titled, The “Land Of The Free” Ranks 36th In The World In Respecting Property Rights, at zerohedge.com.