NEW YORK– “The Land of the Free.” The mantra that has been sustaining our country for more than two centuries has come into question with the release of the Heritage Foundation’s new 2014 Index of Economic Freedom. The report, says Deseret News, uses “measurements of each nation’s commitment to the rule of law, property rights, open markets, and small government with minimal regulations, among other things.”
The United States–now out of the comfort of the top 10–ranks 12th on a scale of more than 175 countries around the globe. This ranking falls into the “mostly free” category, which houses slots seven through 34. The U.S. now falls behind Canada, its neighbor, by nearly eight points, but remains above Mexico at a healthy nine points. The top most free countries include Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada.
While the U.S. still remains more than 15 points above the world average, this slipping score elicits concern. As the Heritage Foundation reports, “the U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom over the past seven years. The overall U.S. score decline from 1995 to 2014 is 1.2 points, the fourth worst drop among advanced economies.” This means that comparable countries in regards to political and economic systems are securing more economic freedoms while the U.S. slowly sacrifices some of hers.
Experts and journalists from every angle are buzzing about the report and the U.S.’s performance. Terry Miller from the Wall Street Journal expresses grave concern and discontent: “It’s not hard to see why the U.S. is losing ground. Even marginal tax rates exceeding 43 percent cannot finance runaway government spending, which has caused the national debt to skyrocket.” Miller also targets increased government intervention.
Others, however, question the validity of a scale that measures all countries with one yardstick. As the Drucker Institute presents in Time Magazine, concepts such as good governance and economic freedom take wildly different shapes depending on the circumstances. Hearkening back to American management consultant, educator and author Peter Drucker, the Institute poses that failing to understand the need for objectivity causes countries to sadistically impose their ideals onto other societies. “The Western world, for example, found it almost impossible to understand that capitalist economic freedom was not freedom for the Balkan peasant,” Drucker wrote, insinuating that the Economic Freedom Index may not objectively capture all that encompasses or defines economic freedom.
Despite the U.S.’s drop in ranking and the ensuing political and economic disputes, the Index in fact brought good news for most countries around the world. “For much of the world, the news is good,” assures Deseret News. “The index’s overall global score is the highest it ever has been. Four nations—Colombia, Poland, United Arab Emirates and Indonesia—have made impressive gains.” Hopefully the Index challenges nations to take a closer look as to what it would take to secure more economic freedoms.
– Mallory Thayer