Click graph for more legible image.

So depressing… The red line in the chart above chronicles the steady erosion of America’s economic freedom, the fountainhead of its prosperity. The United States’ score has fallen seven years straight, from one of the Top 10 freest economies to No. 12, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom published by the Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Wall Street Journal. Canada now has a freer economy than the United States. Egalitarian socialist icon Sweden has almost caught up with us.

What have we gained in exchange for the loss of freedom? More economic prosperity? Hardly? More social justice? Not if you believe President Obama. More political power concentrated in Washington, D.C., to be exercised by liberals and progressives? Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.


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18 responses to “Depressing”

  1. Tysons Engineer Avatar
    Tysons Engineer

    I took a spit take I found this so laughable. So an extremely biased organization which is basically a front for the enactment of certain economic policies that favor corporate interests is reporting America is losing economic freedom under a Democratic president

    I’m shocked, shocked I say.

    Where were they when all of those freedoms were being stripped by Bush as the middle class took a backseat?

    Best part about this is they are comparing us with Canada (a fairly socialist country as far as the tax structure and public programs they carry out). And while Sweden currently has a more conservative than traditional government in charge, their centre right is essentially in line with democrats as far as social services, tax rates, and all the other stuff that makes democrats in this country “liberal”.


  2. Tysons Engineer Avatar
    Tysons Engineer

    The logic of this report is also confusing. So Heritage, I assume, wants “less regulation on industry, less worker rights, no min wage, yada yada” all the stuff that conservatives usually want. Yet… the countries that have gained ground and overpassed, in their view, towards economic freedom are those which enacted socialist policies which they oppose.

    By this logic, we should definitely stop listening to conservatives and start being socialist. Then maybe we would gain ground on Sweden and Canada and Germany, etc.

  3. Take a closer look at the numbers. Heritage measures several things: property rights, freedom from corruption, business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom, government spending, fiscal freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom and financial freedom. Sweden, Canada, Germany, Denmark and the like aren’t as “socialist” as commonly perceived.

    1. Tysons Engineer Avatar
      Tysons Engineer

      Neither are most center left people in the US… doesn’t stop the far right wing from calling them that though.

      PS, regardless of the degree to which those countries are left. As a relative scale they are far more left than the general political movement in our country… so what is the point of this study as far as the Heritage Foundation is concerned. I still think it shows that the bogeyman they paint center left policies of being continues to be disproven in reality, and instead they just obfuscate and blur the big picture.

  4. No surprise – I’m with TE – in no small way because the way the argument changes depending on context.

    for instance, we are told over and over by the right that the fight-to-the-death political battles in the US (to include health care) is to prevent us from succumbing to European style socialism that is on a slippery slope to Greece …

    I predict the Heritage “criteria” are going to be overhauled ..

    It IS worth noting that Estonia, Mauritius and Chile also outrank the US and all 3 of them provide universal health care.

    If you talk many on the right in this country – they characterize any country that mandates paying for health care as not a truly “free” country …. and
    that by govt operating the health care apparatus instead of the free market that – it harms people economically and health wise.

    One would think, that forced health care would significantly hurt the concept of “economic freedom” – as least the way many Conservatives define it.

    Has Heritage become a bunch of closet liberals?

    1. Tysons Engineer Avatar
      Tysons Engineer

      I would also add that in Europe they support non-SOV transportation and non-combustion forms of energy. Both are elements that help economic mobility and freedom by providing necessary infrastructure to business to communicate and do business in a modern format and to reduce costs for energy in the long run after the initial recovery period. We hail germany for some magical economy as if they are busy north pole elves (their productivity numbers are less than US employees btw) but what we ignore is how they got from where they were in 92 to today.

      Investment in alternative energy and alternative transportation as well as reforms to social programs that were common sense, removed waste, but still increased the benefits received by the avg resident as a safety net.

      In this country that is cause for filibuster by idiots from Texas evidently; perhaps said dunce should talk to the mayors of Houston, Dallas, and Austin to ask why they have lead the charge in employment and middle class growth in the state, while the red regions of Texas have plummeted to high unemployment, high poverty, and low education. I’ve talked to city planners of each, they did it through what some would call “agenda 21” and others would call “planning”.

      Hmmm, hmmmm, hmmmm

  5. universal health care is also economic mobility. Picking your employment based primarily on wages instead of “benefits” … anytime you want to – without regard to insurance – empowers the individual … and removes a hook that the employer has you impaled on.

    we’re slowly fixing the pension problem for public employees by making them more and more defined contribution … and the teacher “union” problem is going to be transformed if teachers can obtain health insurance that is independent of the employer.

    In Virginia, many who teach, do so, because that’s the only practical way they can get health insurance for their family especially if the spouse is working in trades or small businesses, etc.

    health insurance mobility = job mobility.

  6. DJRippert Avatar

    It seems to me that economic freedom can be summarized by the percentage of GDP consumed by government spending. While all countries have governments that consume some percentage of GDP there is a wide difference between one country and the next as to percentage.

    Zimbabwe spends 97.8% of GDP on government. Cuba spends 75%. The US spends 38%, Canada 39%, Japan 37%. Switzerland spends 32%. Singapore spends 17%.

    Given that US government spending as a percentage of GDP has been steadily rising I understand why some will think that our economic freedom has been steadily declining.

    1. And the overhead is passed along to those with lesser educations and skills generally. Those at the top pass many of their costs along to those below them.

      The short-term thinking of major corporations continues to be a drag on the entire economy. And there are many more CEOs than competent CEOs. Too bad, they are all rewarded similarly, especially in the “Financial Sector.”

      Les, don’t you think most people are generally better off financially working for a large or mid-sized corporation? The number of start-ups and small businesses that are comparably profitable is probably fairly small. I’m not arguing against small businesses, as without them, we’d have no big ones. Staying put likely ensures a cap on earnings, but that cap might be significantly larger than what someone can do elsewhere.

  7. I think there are some data issues at heritage

    look at this charge for government spending comparing Canada, Singapore, the US and world average.

    The US and Canada are shown below the world average and Singapore way above the world average.

    Singapore is shown as “mostly free” and Canada and the US as “repressed”

    govt spending as a percent of GDP is probably not a very good measure given the fact that govt spending increases when the economy decreases…
    less revenues and more safety net spending…

  8. Les Schreiber Avatar
    Les Schreiber

    I checked out a list on the Forbes website that had Ireland as number 1 and the US at 14. Some interesting things do emerge.
    All of these countries have solved their health insurance problems in ways that insure all. How many businesses are not started in the US because individuals are afraid to leave themselves or family. It will be interesting to see if labor mobility rises in the US as a result of the ACA
    Most of the countries in the Forbes list are Northern European with a reputation in the US as being “socialist” My friends in Holland often referred to the US as “cowboy” capitalism. In most Northern European countries there is more of a compact between labor and management. In Germany,unions are guaranteed votes on the board on their corporate employers.
    During the last several decades ,the US went through a period when corporations were judged on a quarter by quarter earnings report.This is a type of system that does not allow managements a long time horizon for planning. Meeting wall street expectation for quarterly earnings became the most important measure of executive performance. In reviewing some of the literature concerning the crisis ,
    this mentality was often cited as one of the causes of the melt down.Finance plays a much bigger role in the American economy than in others.
    Of course others could spend hours concerning the educational systems of others,but those problems are out there in many forms.

  9. I actually think health care is driving the unemployment rate as well as the rising disability claims for SS disability.

    people who lose their job that has health care will not take a lower paying job that has no health care for fear it will lock them into that kind of job permanently so they stay on unemployment rather than taking a lesser job. People go on SSD because if they qualify for 2yrs, they get Medicare even if they are younger than 65.

    I think a great deal of our current economy is companies who don’t want to pay additional health care benefits and people who try to find alternative health insurance if they cannot get it through an employer.

    there’s actually a theoretical way to fix this without ObamaCare.

    Give people refundable EITC-type credits for insurance and out-of-pocket health care – if they have a job

    We give those with employer-provided – tax free insurance plus they can itemize out of pocket whereas those on the bottom tiers have no similar options.

    Why not let people – no matter their employment benefits – write off their health insurance and out of pocket expenses? everyone – all citizens get the same tax deal?

    what do some of us get very favorable tax treatment on health care and others at the margins actually discriminated against on tax preferences.

    so let the country decide if they want everyone to have tax preferences for health care … or not.. but if we want to talk about economic freedom – the current system is not as economically free for those disadvantaged.

  10. I’d rather give tax credits to individuals than have a revenue guarantee for big insurance companies. Watch that issue confound Congress (the revenue guarantee, that is).

  11. re: Obamacare vs an alternative.

    well, we’re still on the “let me count the ways I hate ObamaCare”

    rather than:

    “he’s what we should do instead”

    OR even better!

    here’s what we can do to correct ObamaCare’s flaws AND make it BETTER!

    every nation that beats us on economic freedom has universal health care which provides one of the best kinds of economic freedom – job mobility.

    I think the opponents are so focused on their opposition that they’re not seeing what is going to happen with people who suddenly are free to pursue any job without regard to “benefits”.

    this will have a profound impact on our economy and for businesses which depend on benefits to keep employees… from leaving – those businesses are going to have to scramble to keep their good people.

    I think the GOP is literally and figuratively whistling Dixie!

    1. How many times do I need to write this? Congress needs to grandfather everyone who has insurance such that they can keep it and their companies can continue the relationship so long as they both are happy. The feds’ jack-boot tactics cannot be permitted. If Obamacare offers desirable attributes, people can elect to join on their own. If companies want to offer insurance, they can continue to do so. I’d give workers an option to take the money spent and use it in an ACA pool if the employer’s plan doesn’t meet the ACA standards. I’d repeal the guarantee of revenue for the insurance companies. And celebrate on January 20, 2017 when our worst-ever president retires.

      1. and I’ll continue to say this – if there is only opposition and no alternatives, how do we get there?

        the fed is no more jack-booted today than under Reagan who himself signed the Medicare Catastrophic legislation that ultimately was repealed – AND replaced with Medicare Part C – the subsidized advantage program.

        if you spend from now til 2017 blaming Obama.. you’ve done nothing… where are the alternatives? this is a massive fail on the part of the opponents – not Obama… this is a failure to govern on the part of those who oppose.

  12. Obama got his plan. He is responsible for it and must take the licks. Could you imagine Harry Truman dodging responsibility?

    Would a bill that grandfathered all existing insured and plans that passed the House even get a vote in the Senate? It’s Obama’s mess 100%.

  13. not about Obama.. it’s about those who would repeal but have no alternatives.

    it loses .. in the longer run.. come 2017.. the opponents are going to be a relevant as the Benghazi complainers.

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