Losing ground

The U.S. is not even still in the top ten with regards to economic freedom. This is not entirely fair, since the top ranks are filled by countries with much smaller economies than ours, but it is troubling that Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland and even Denmark are beating us in the economic freedom game. It was not always that way. They have come up, while we have gone down.

It is clear that economic freedom is related to other good things. The top countries on the list are all ones where people want to live. The bottom includes shit holes like North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe and Iran.

The bottom feeders are also instructive. Its hard to believe that North Korea was the richer of the two Koreas when they were divided. Cuba used had one of the highest standards of living before the Castro gang seized power. Zimbabwe was relatively rich and exporter of food. Venezuela is a continuing tragedy, but was once a place where people wanted to live. Iran is heir to the ancient Persian culture. Stupid and pernicious rulers can ruin the richest places.

I don't think the U.S. will go much farther down this perdition highway. We did manage to stop Obama from the worst of his excesses. But we should always keep in mind the example of Argentina. It is a place blessed by nature, with an intelligent and educated people who have all the skills needed to be happy and prosperous - except the ability to choose competent leaders. They have been poorly served for more than a century and this long and sad list of dummies has made this once very prosperous country into a place of perpetual crisis. Argentina, BTW, is #166 and getting worse.

Well, we have three more years of Obama and we can hope to limit the damage he can do and then repair it.

Posted by Christine & John at January 14, 2014 5:51 PM
Comment #375653

This Korean thing is almost as sad as the Vietnam situation. Korea had fought with Japan and divided by the axis powers, N. Kor to Russia. China went from supporting US to commie. Truman foresaw the domino theory coming. Syngman Rhee boasted that he was going to attack North Korea and the North attacked. Russia and China have enjoyed having a divided Korea and still do.

Cuba was little more than casinos and brothels with a few sugar plantations as I recall. Morally bankrupt and looking for a handup, they chose Russia. Were Cuba to become westernized they would, IMO, become a land of casinos and brothels almost overnight. Movers and shakers on the mainland are patiently waiting - - -

Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, was a British colony. The Brits treated the natives only somewhat better than Belgium treated natives in the Congo/Zaire. True, the white ruling class were well off. After independence strongman Mugabe took over and has led the country to ruin.

Venezuela best meets your description of a country doomed by stupid and pernicious. Chavez has played to Cuba, Iraq, and Iran to put a stick in the eye of the West, causing a considerable drop in quality of life for those folks.

Argentina received a good number of Nazi Germans from the aftermath of WWII. It seems that country will be forever stigmatized from that war. It seems like there is a flaw in their heredity that I can’t explain.

Can’t see that Obama has anything to do with our ranking. We’ve been working hard on going down since the Reagan era of ‘greed is good’ and so on - - -

I think a lot of our demise stems from the fact that we spend a huge chunk of wealth on other countries perceived needs. This is done, IMO, primarily to allow US corporations access to foreign resources, commerce, trade, peace and so on - - - just keeping a Navy presence in the Mideast is a big chunk of change. Now, we’ve got to pick up on a China front to keep the Asian rim from being scared and so on - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 14, 2014 10:10 PM
Comment #375654

Hmmmmmmm CJ—Maybe we should have a fuehrer here, Is thatun your gest? A poop-throwing despot?

Posted by: simpleheaded at January 15, 2014 7:19 AM
Comment #375655

Simpleheaded, we already have one of those…

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 15, 2014 2:19 PM
Comment #375656

BTW, the rankings are even worse if we use Canada’s Fraser Institute’s rankings.

Throughout most of period from 1980 to 2000, the United States ranked as the world’s third-freest economy, behind Hong Kong and Singapore. As Exhibit 1.5 indicates, the chain-linked summary rating of the United States in 2000 was 8.65, second only to Hong Kong. By 2005, the US rating had slipped to 8.21 and its ranking fallen to 8th. The slide has continued. The United States placed 16th in 2010 and 19th in 2011. The 7.74 chain-linked rating of the United States in 2011 was nearly a full point less than the 2000 rating.

What accounts for the decline of economic freedom in the United States? While the US ratings and rankings have fallen in all five areas of the EFW index, the reductions have been largest in Legal System and Property Rights (Area 2), Freedom to Trade Internationally (Area 4), and Regulation (Area 5). The plunge in Area 2 has been huge. In 2000, the 9.23 rating of the United States was the ninth highest in the world. But by 2011, the area rating had slid to 6.93, placing the United States 38th worldwide. The 2.30-point reduction in the Area 2 rating of the United States was tied with Venezuela as the largest reduction among the countries rated.

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 15, 2014 3:11 PM
Comment #375668

While the US may have fallen on the conservative Heritage Foundation’s economic freedom index, it advanced upward 2 positions on the more comprehensive Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum. The top ten ranking nations for 2013-2014 are as follows:
1. Switzerland 5.67 (—)
2. Singapore 5.61 (—)
3. Finland 5.54 (—)
4. Germany 5.51 (+2)
5. United States 5.48 (+2)
6. Sweden 5.48 (-2)
7. Hong Kong 5.47 (+2)
8. Netherlands 5.42 (-3)
9. Japan 5.40 (+1)
10. United Kingdom 5.37 (-2)

Posted by: Rich at January 16, 2014 11:17 AM
Comment #375669

The third significant index is the Ease of Doing Business index issued by the World Bank. On the most recent report for 2013-2014, the US ranked fourth behind Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand. The US had slipped from 3rd to 5th in the period 2008-2011 but regained a position to 4th in 2012 and retained that position for the 2013-2014 period.

So, while the US may be falling on the Heritage Foundation index, it is advancing on the other two major comprehensive economic world indexes.

Posted by: Rich at January 16, 2014 11:34 AM
Comment #375673


We used to be number one or two on all these indexes.

I don’t yet consider it a matter of national emergency, but I think that our great country should still be the world leader in all of these things.

Posted by: CJ at January 16, 2014 6:24 PM
Comment #375675

From the report: “Over the 20-year history of the Index, the U.S.’s economic freedom has fluctuated significantly. During the first 10 years, its score rose gradually, and it joined the ranks of the economically “free” in 2006. Since then, it has suffered a dramatic decline of almost 6 points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending. “

This is laughable. We became economically free in 2006, at the beginning of the downturn into the worst Recession since the Great Depression, leading the world into Recession as well. If that’s economic freedom, you can keep it. It does speak truth though, that less regulation may be more economic freedom but, then reality does a U-Turn collapsing the economy. The Report goes on to add this important bit,

“Substantial expansion in the size and scope of government, including through new and costly regulations in areas like finance and health care, has contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom. The growth of government has been accompanied by increasing cronyism that has undermined the rule of law and perceptions of fairness.”

Note that the reduction in economic freedom is directly linked to the efforts and regulations that were put into effect FOLLOWING the Great Recession, as measures associated with our recovery. Note also that new regulations in health care are providing economic freedom to millions of Americans who could not afford health care previously.

Lastly, note quote regarding increased cronyism, which should be associated with events like ChrisGate, and the rise of all out partisan warfare on the part of the Tea Party preventing policies which would increase economic freedom for millions more Americans.

Of course, the study’s website doesn’t define their terms, so a lot is left to be read into their definitions.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 16, 2014 6:57 PM
Comment #375676

Rich, you also have to take into account what is being measured by these indexes to understand which one is important for the discussions taking place.

The Heritage Foundation and Fraser Institute rankings are showing a huge decline, but the World Bank and World Economic Forum show a different story.

Why are those four rankings so different?

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 16, 2014 6:58 PM
Comment #375677

“Why are those four rankings so different?”

Good question, Rhinehold. C&J alluded to one of the reason: “This is not entirely fair, since the top ranks are filled by countries with much smaller economies than ours..” When this factor and others are controlled, the rankings can change significantly. For instance, the Ease of Doing Business report of the World Bank provides for filtering by such variables as income, population, region, etc. When the population filter is used, the US is ranked #1 for large population countries. When filtered for OECD high income countries, the US is #2 after New Zealand. So, when comparing apples to apples, the US turns out to be quite competitive.

The other clear factor is bias of the study authors in their selection of criteria, weighting and measurement.

Posted by: Rich at January 16, 2014 9:21 PM
Comment #375678

Rich, it seems you have a bias in believing the studies that you agree with. You also leave out that the World Bank doesn’t take many items into account in their rankings because they don’t see them as important to ‘freedom’. Things like the demonstrable decrease in private property rights in the US since 2000, as pointed out by Fraser.

Lies, damn lies and statistics…

Tell me, why do you give weight to the organizations you do and not for the other organizations?

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 16, 2014 11:16 PM
Comment #375679

“Tell me, why do you give weight to the organizations you do and not for the other organizations?”


I don’t think that I did. I simply pointed out that other well respected indexes put the US at higher rank than the Heritage or the Fraser. I also think that I fairly pointed out that the US had slipped in the Global Competiveness ranking a few years ago but has begun to rise again in ranking over the past two years.

Posted by: Rich at January 16, 2014 11:40 PM
Comment #375694
President Obama doesn’t merely claim ignorance of the IRS’ targeting of politically conservative groups or the Department of Justice’s targeting of journalists: according to The New York Times, Obama was also ignorant of the extent of NSA surveillance. According to the Times, “aides said Mr. Obama was surprised to learn after leaks by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, just how far the surveillance had gone.” David Plouffe, Obama’s advisor, said, “Things seem to have grown at the NSA. I think it was disturbing to most people, and I think he found it disturbing.”

President Obama has repeatedly claimed ignorance on scandals plaguing his administration.

In October, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said Obama didn’t now about failures of Healthcare.gov. In May, Obama said he knew nothing about the IRS scandal: “I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press.” That same month, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama had no clue that the DOJ was targeting the Associated Press: “Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP.”

In November 2012, Obama said he knew nothing about the scandal surrounding then-CIA Director David Petraeus. Carney denied in June 2012 that Obama knew anything about the Fast and Furious scandal: “[E]veryone knows the President did not know about this tactic until he heard about it through the media.”


Best comment, “The most ignorant President in history”

Posted by: DSP2195 at January 17, 2014 2:50 PM
Comment #375695

Please take the truthrevolt tripe some where else. This is a coherent discussion of the United States of America’s economic capability of coming back from a terrible recession that cost a lot of Americans their savings and jobs and was started by a Republican administration that sought to put our economy so far in the toilet that the Democratic administration that followed would not survive it’s first term. Post your ignorant comments about our President on a thread that might be a more meaningful soapbox for you as this one is not. Oh and by the way, is our current sitting President the most diabolically smartest person ever because he has got to where he is by being the most ignorant President in history or is it because you just can’t stand it that he was re-elected? I will remind you again that he is not running for re-election you big dummy.

Posted by: Speak4all at January 17, 2014 3:19 PM
Comment #375696

“Lastly, note quote regarding increased cronyism, which should be associated with events like ChrisGate, and the rise of all out partisan warfare on the part of the Tea Party preventing policies which would increase economic freedom for millions more Americans.

Of course, the study’s website doesn’t define their terms, so a lot is left to be read into their definitions.”

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 16, 2014 6:57 PM

David, what does Christie have to do with economic freedom? Btw, I’m GLAD that the left, especially the media, are hanging onto this story (whose newsworthy life-cycle ended a day or so after Christie’s mea culpa news conference).

This hyper-focus on Christie, and the amount of time spent discussing it on most news channels (especially MSNBC), Op-Eds and blogs, is beyond belief! It reveals a few things about many people and many news organizations.

There have been some major stories since then, however, the same tired, hypocritical hacks won’t let go of Christie’s leg. And why is his weight open for criticism from all quarters? Imagine the right commenting on Hillary or Michelle Obama’s appearance and the fallout that would ensue.

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at January 17, 2014 5:10 PM
Comment #375697

David & Kevin

To the extent that the problems of Chris Christie are relevant, they prove again the danger of letting government become too powerful. This was an abuse by government exercising a power it really should not have.

Posted by: CJ at January 17, 2014 5:13 PM
Comment #375700

People in the NYC/NJ metro area think the world revolves around them. In addition, a lot of the MSM are based in NYC. We’ll hear about the CC scandal until our ears bleed.

That isn’t to say it isn’t newsworthy to some degree. CC was a potential presidential, and possibly the best one the GOP had to offer. Now, it turns out the rumors about him were true. There were rumors about his being a political bully, and it seems that talk was true. Romney’s campaign vetted him as a VP candidate in 2012, but when the CC people refused to answer a lot of questions, Romney’s camp realized CC was a scandal waiting to happen. Dodged a bullet on that one!

Posted by: phx8 at January 17, 2014 7:40 PM
Comment #375704


I am not disagreeing with you re the Romney choice, but I do wonder how the “dodged the bullet” since they lost the election. Would it really have mattered if Christie on the ballot had caused president Obama’s margin to be 52% instead of 51%? Elections are zero sum and binary.

Posted by: CJ at January 17, 2014 8:28 PM
Comment #375706

Excuse me Speaks4shit, I’m sorry I peed all over your continued praise and worship of the messiah Obama.

Obama got where he is because everyone wanted to be able to say, “I’m not racist…I voted for the black dude”. How’s that working for you now? There’s a lot of socialist democraps running from Obama this year. Only you socialists on he blog sites are still defending him, LOL.

Posted by: DSP2195 at January 17, 2014 8:54 PM
Comment #375710

Rhinehold, perhaps the Heritage foundation and Fraser Institute use some ideological voodoo in rating the countries. Both of these think tanks are extremist in their defense of ideology. Remember those that run these studies are paid to support a particular viewpoint. With Obama in office one can expect, and Heritage demonstrates this, political bias. When you team up with Rupert and the WSJ you lose credibility IMHO. In fact it is kind of a sad joke to thing Heritage is teaming with a rights abuserand spouting about property rights.

BTW what property rights are they talking about? I recall the SCOTUS decision that allowed corporations to take over individual’s properties for corporate benefit and tax dollars but that was 2005 and all was well according to Heritage.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 18, 2014 10:57 AM
Comment #375711


There is always disagreement about any study done on social or economic interests and there exists no “correct” answer always and everywhere. So what I think works best is a simple common sense test. Look at the broad sweep of these studies and ratings. Do you find that the top countries are places you might want to live if you could no longer live in the U.S.? Now look at the bottom ten and ask the same question.

Unless you would prefer Zimbabwe to Denmark or North Korea to Australia, you have to admit that they clearly have something here.

You always attack the source of information w/o thinking about it. I ask you to think for yourself on some occasions and be a little less knee jerk ideological. In other words, be more like Rich or Warren and not like some others who we need not name.

Posted by: CJ at January 18, 2014 11:23 AM
Comment #375712

C&J, I attack the source when I consider the source to be a problem. To use one of these studies without considering the source is a perfect example of not thinking for ones self. Why would you think I have expressed any ideology by pointing out the ideological bias of Heritage when think tanks are paid to promote ideological viewpoints. The World Economic Forum, and please correct me if I am wrong, doesn’t appear to be a think tank that has a particular axe to grind. Why not consider this when using the different studies that show different results?

You used the Heritage study to blame Obama for the continued slide of the US as they have shown, a great example of political and ideological bias, IMHO. Yet you tell me to think for myself! Seriously!

While you paint a nice picture of “no correct answer” thinking you also have been the knee jerk reactionary by blaming Obama, perhaps it is time to practice what you preach.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 18, 2014 11:47 AM
Comment #375714


I read the source and compared the results with my experience. As I said, I find that the top countries are generally places where I might want to live and where I know it is easy to do business, while the bottom are the opposite. Do you disagree?

I have been watching this index for several years and I find it has been reliable and useful for decision making. And it tracks with other data. For example, I have been reading about reforms in Canada, New Zealand and Australia. This tracks with their places on the list.

So please tell me where you disagree. We know you dislike the source. So if Heritage tells you it is generally warmer in Washington in July than it is in January, would you reject the whole idea?

Posted by: CJ at January 18, 2014 11:59 AM
Comment #375715

As a corollary to DSP2195’s comment, I came across this ‘Letter to the Editor’ in my local newspaper on Thursday.

It’s not eloquent; however, it makes for a very powerful argument:

What does the word ‘racist’ mean anymore?

“Nowadays, if you are racist, you’re probably a Republican” says TV host Bill Maher, citing Republican and conservative political disagreements with President Obama. In essence, if the right says anything about Obama, it is because he is black. Suppose our next elected presi­dent is Dr. Ben Carson, a black conservative. Is it possible that liberals and progressives will accept all of Carson’s policies and not say a word? If they dis­agree with Carson’s policies, will they remain quiet, for fear they might be labeled racist? If they do not remain quiet, but complain or criticize, will it be because Carson is black? Will the left then be racist instead of the right?

Are black presidents infalli­ble, and if so, beyond criticism? Are black people infallible and beyond criticism? Can blacks be criticized by blacks, but not by whites?

Or are only black messiahs infallible and beyond criticism by whites? I wish I understood the rules of this game.

Do racists change or switch sides, depending on who is presi­dent? Is the word “racist” a per­sonal characteristic, or a situa­tion in time? Isn’t racism a state of mind?

Doesn’t it have something to do with blind hate? How could you possibly know if I hate someone unless you are able to read my mind? What am I think­ing about right now, Mr. Maher? …..uh huh, that’s what I thought.

“Racist,” like “truth,” is dead and meaningless in this society, we are all racists; and being called a racist no longer scares me.

Armand Carreau


Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at January 18, 2014 12:11 PM
Comment #375716

Racism is gone in the sense we used to think it. Today the most racist policies are those of Eric Holder.

There is an interesting article about how the Obama folks mandate racism - http://news.yahoo.com/obama-administration-mandates-racism-schools-080000319.html - they demand that they treat different behaviors the same. That is racist.

Posted by: CJ at January 18, 2014 12:39 PM
Comment #375721

I saw that report….very troubling. It will create more divisiveness, not inclusiveness. Besides, the teachers will end up being caught in the middle of a no-win situation.

Holder recently came out with new guidelines as to how the FBI and CIA can track terrorists (they will not be allowed to take the religious background into account as a factor).

Namely, those of the Muslim faith.

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at January 18, 2014 5:31 PM
Comment #375723

Holder has done a lot of damage to America, and will continue to do so. It will take a long time to clean up the mess that this hateful and dishonest man has made. We can only hope that he pushes too far on this disparate impact and gets slapped down. He has been avoiding court cases that would strike down this racist policy. Let’s hope he slips.

Posted by: CJ at January 18, 2014 5:54 PM
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