There are more people living in the city of Los Angeles than live in New Zealand. Yet the small country in Oceania beats out the the U.S. in several key areas, such as on the production of movies about hobbits, ratio of sheep to humans (9 to 1), and . . . economic freedom.
And the Kiwis aren’t the only ones. Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and six other countries have more freedom to control their own labor and property than we do. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, an annual report released by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, the United States has continued it’s half-decade of decline:
Registering a loss of economic freedom for the fifth consecutive year, the U.S. has recorded its lowest Index score since 2000. Dynamic entrepreneurial growth is stifled by ever-more-bloated government and a trend toward cronyism that erodes the rule of law. More than three years after the end of recession in June 2009, the U.S. continues to suffer from policy choices that have led to the slowest recovery in 70 years. Businesses remain in a holding pattern, and unemployment is close to 8 percent. Prospects for greater fiscal freedom are uncertain due to the scheduled expiration of previous cuts in income and payroll taxes and the imposition of new taxes associated with the 2010 health care law.
Restoring the U.S. to a place among the world’s “free” economies will require significant policy reforms, particularly in reducing the size of government, overhauling the tax system, transforming costly entitlement programs, and streamlining regulations.
Still, there are 134 countries that are even less free. So while we’re not free as folks in Denmark or Chile, we’re not as bad off as Cubans or North Koreans either. I guess that’s something to be thankful for.