Posts tagged with: economic freedom

Not the Chinese government, which should come as no shock.  But what about the United States?  As this Weekly Standard blog post points out, two prominent Hong Kong democracy advocates recently visited Washington in an attempt to secure American support for political reform there, but to little avail.

The people of Hong Kong have long enjoyed economic freedom, often ranking at the top of the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom.  Since moving from British to Chinese rule in 1997, Hong Kong has maintained much of its economic freedom, but is now under pressure to choose from among “Beijing-approved” candidates.  Hmm.  Makes one wonder about the status of religious freedom there as well.

Who better to ask than Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kuin, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, outspoken advocate for religious freedom in mainland China, and one of the speakers at an upcoming Acton conference  “Faith, State, and the Economy: Perspectives From East and West”?

The conference will take place on April 29 in Rome and is the first in a series called “One and Indivisible? The Relationship between Religious and Economic Freedom.” For more information visit the conference series webpage.

After a week filled with heated media discussions on religious liberty, Mollie Hemingway provides a devastating critique of how, legislation aside, our media and culture appear bent on diluting and distorting a freedom foundational to all else.

The piece is striking and sweeping, deeply disturbing and yet, for those of us in the trenches, somewhat cathartic in its clarity. Whether politics is downstream or upstream from culture, it appears rather clear that this battle is not a figment of our imaginations. Back and forth and back again.

I encourage you to read the whole piece, but her concluding paragraphs helpfully crystalize why, regardless of your political perspective, your religious beliefs, or your personal position within the social and economic order, diminishing religious liberty will result in road-blocks aplenty on the path to human flourishing:

Religious liberty is a deeply radical concept. It was at this country’s founding and it hasn’t become less so. Preserving it has always been a full-time battle. But it’s important, because religion is at the core of people’s identity. A government that tramples religious liberty is not a government that protects economic freedom. It’s certainly not a government that protects conscience rights. A government that tramples religious liberty does not have expansive press freedoms. Can you think of one country with a narrow view of religious liberty but an expansive view of economic freedom, freedom of association, press freedoms or free speech rights? One? (more…)

Michael J. Totten has a new piece on his travels through Cuba, this one focused on rural Cuba. “Most of the Cuban landscape I saw is already deforested,” he writes. “It’s just not being used. It’s tree-free and fallow ex-farmland. I’ve never seen anything like it, though parts of the Soviet Union may have looked similar.”

Economists refer to this sort of thing as “the tragedy of the commons,” and nobody does it well as the communists.

Parts of the travelogue are surreal:

Castro’s checkpoints are there to ensure nobody has too much or the wrong kind of food.

Police officers pull over cars and search the trunk for meat, lobsters, and shrimp. They also search passenger bags on city busses in Havana. Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez wrote about it sarcastically in her book, Havana Real. “Buses are stopped in the middle of the street and bags inspected to see if we are carrying some cheese, a lobster, or some dangerous shrimp hidden among our personal belongings.”

If they find a side of beef in the trunk, so I’m told, you’ll go to prison for five years if you tell the police where you got it and ten years if you don’t.

No one is allowed to have lobsters in Cuba. You can’t buy them in stores, and they sure as hell aren’t available on anyone’s ration card. They’re strictly reserved for tourist restaurants owned by the state. Kids will sometimes pull them out of the ocean and sell them on the black market, but I was warned in no uncertain terms not to buy one. I stayed in hotels and couldn’t cook my own food anyway. And what was I supposed to do, stash a live lobster in my backpack?

The full essay is here.

In my blog post yesterday about our statist healthcare system and the need for more economic freedom, I referenced a NYT piece by Scott Gottleib and Zeke Emmanuel and argued that if their rosy view of America’s healthcare future has any chance of coming true, we’ll need far more economic freedom in the system than currently exists. Now Greg Scandlen has a sobering essay at the Federalist challenging the NYT piece, taking particular issue with their pointing to Massachusetts as a hopeful model and for suggesting that nurse practitioners will help make up the difference once Obamacare starts driving up demand for healthcare services.

Gottleib’s and Emmanuel’s argument had other elements, including a call for increased economic freedom for the healthcare industry, but on the Massachusetts point, Scandlen’s response appears devastating. In a nutshell, he notes that Massachusetts passed Obamacare-style reforms beginning seven years ago and now has much longer appointment waiting times than the rest of the country, despite having far more physicians per capita than the national average. Read the piece and the helpful data tables here.

In today’s Acton Commentary I explore how our hyper-regulated and increasingly statist healthcare system is chasing off good physicians.

A recent article in Forbes by Bruce Japsen provides some additional support for that argument:

Doctor and nurse vacancies are approaching nearly 20 percent at hospitals as these facilities prepare to be inundated by millions of patients who have the ability to pay for medical care thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

A survey by health care provider staffing firm AMN Healthcare shows the vacancy rate for physicians at hospitals near 18 percent in 2013 while the nurse vacancy rate is 17 percent. That vacancy rate is more than three times what it was just four years ago when vacancies for nurses were just 5.5 percent in 2009 while vacancies for doctors were 10.7 percent.

It’s not all doom and gloom. In an earlier Forbes piece, Scott Gottlieb, an internist and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, argues that technological and organizational innovation will allow quality health care to be delivered using fewer physicians.

If allowed to proceed, these innovations may actually increase market freedom in one area. Physician organizations and medical schools often have replicated a pernicious feature of the traditional guild, namely, finding ways to limit the number of new physicians not purely as a quality control measure but, beyond this, as a way to ensure that existing physicians are in high demand. (more…)

Acton On The AirSamuel Gregg, Acton’s Director of Research, continues his radio tour of America in support of his latest book, Tea Party Catholic, and we continue to round up those interviews for your edification. This one took place on September 24th, on WLEA in Hornell, New York. Another intelligent interview; you can listen via the audio player below.

Acton On The AirSamuel Gregg made yet another radio appearance this morning in support of his latest book, Tea Party Catholic, this time on 570 WBKN in Youngstown, Ohio with host Dan Rivers. It was another fine discussion, and even included time for Sam to take a few calls from listeners. You can listen to the interview using the audio player below.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
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EFW-Map-300x217The Canada-based Fraser Institute has released the ninth edition of its annual report, Economic Freedom of North America 2013, in which the respective economic situation and government regulatory factors present in the states and provinces of North America were gauged.

After ranking 2nd in 2000, the U.S. falls to 17th in this year’s report. As the authors explain:

Unfortunately for the United States, we’ve seen overspending, weakening rule of law, and regulatory overkill on the part of the U.S. government, causing its economic freedom score to plummet in recent years. This is a stark contrast from 2000, when the U.S. was considered a bastion of economic freedom and ranked second globally.

A PDF version of the report is available here.

Acton Director of Research Samuel Gregg continues his radio rounds today with an interview in support of his new book, Tea Party Catholic, on WOCA 96.3FM in Ocala Florida. You can hear his discussion on AM Ocala Live! via the audio player below:

Economic-freedomThe wide differences in economic freedom that we observe at the country level can exist at the subnational level as too (e.g., residents in Texas and Florida have greater economic freedom than those in California and New York). But until recently, there were no local indices comparable to the national and global rankings. In a recently published study for the Journal of Regional Analysis & Policy, Dean Stansel, professor of economics at Florida Gulf Coast University, shows that greater economic freedom in metropolitan areas corresponds to higher incomes and lower unemployment in these localities.

Here are the most and least free metro areas in America:

(more…)