The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation released their 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, and, unsurprising to most of us, the United States has dropped out of the top ten most economically free countries. This is due in part to our escalating economic regulations and out-of-control debt, but it also has to do with growing freedoms in other parts of the world. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The most improved players are in Eastern Europe, including Estonia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. These countries have gained the most economic freedom over the past two decades. And it’s no surprise: Those who have lived under communism have no trouble recognizing the benefits of a free-market system. But countries that have experimented with milder forms of socialism, such as Sweden, Denmark and Canada, also have made impressive moves toward greater economic freedom, with gains near 10 points or higher on the index scale. Sweden, for instance, is now ranked 20th out of 178 countries, up from 34th out of 140 countries in 1996.
The U.S. and the U.K., historically champions of free enterprise, have suffered the most pronounced declines. Both countries now fall in the “mostly free” category. Some of the worst performers are in Latin America, particularly Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia. All are governed by crony-populist regimes pushing policies that have made property rights less secure, spending unsustainable and inflation ever more threatening.
I think it’s important for us to realize that the United States is being plunged into an economic quagmire that European and Eastern nations have already suffered through and are exiting. While we extol the virtues of government regulations, universal blah blah blah, and socialist utopias, former socialist states are abandoning these same ideologies in favor of the laissez-faire economic policies that traditionally characterized the US. And why are formerly socialist countries abandoning socialist policies? Because they just don’t work. I don’t know how long it will take for us to figure that out. How many other countries need to destroy themselves pursuing socialism before everyone just agrees that big government top-down economic controls paralyze economies and dissipate economic potential? Seriously. This is frustrating.