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Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom – US Drops to 17th for 2017

The U.S. currently ranks a disappointing 17th on the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. That’s down from 6th when President Obama took office in 2009.

The Heritage Foundation has been publishing this index since 1995. Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital, and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.

Based on these, each country gets an overall freedom index score, which then can be ranked against other countries.

Economic freedom brings greater prosperity. The Index of Economic Freedom documents the positive relationship between economic freedom and a variety of positive social and economic goals. The ideals of economic freedom are strongly associated with healthier societies, cleaner environments, greater per capita wealth, human development, democracy, and poverty elimination.

“The affirmative link between economic freedom and long-term development is unmistakable and robust,” the report notes. “The higher a country’s level of economic freedom is, the higher its income per capita also is.”

The good news is that economic freedom worldwide has been inching up for the past two decades. It went from a low of 57.1 in 1996 to 60.9 today.

The bad news is that it’s been on the decline in the U.S. since 2008, when it stood at 80.7. Since then, it has dropped every year but one under President Obama, and now measures 75.1. That’s the lowest score for the U.S. since Heritage started this index 22 years ago.

As a result, the U.S. now ranks behind Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan, the U.K., Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Even Lithuania currently has more economic freedom than the U.S.

“The substantial expansion of government’s size and scope, increased regulatory and tax burdens, and the loss of confidence that has accompanied a growing perception of cronyism, elite privilege, and corruption have severely undermined America’s global competitiveness,” the report finds.

In other words, the U.S. index was dragged down by Obama’s anti-growth war on businesses, investors and other productive elements of the economy. Not surprisingly, the past eight years have also been characterized by historically low economic growth rates, with annual GDP growth never once hitting 3% under President Obama.

About The Index
For much of human history, most individuals have lacked economic freedom and opportunity, condemning them to poverty and deprivation. Today, we live in the most prosperous time in human history. Poverty, sicknesses, and ignorance are receding throughout the world, due in large part to the advance of economic freedom. In 2017, the principles of economic freedom that have fueled this monumental progress are once again measured in the Index of Economic Freedom, an annual guide published by The Heritage Foundation, Washington’s No. 1 think tank. For over twenty years the Index has delivered thoughtful analysis in a clear, friendly, and straight-forward format. With new resources for users and a website tailored for research and education, the Index of Economic Freedom is poised to help readers track over two decades of the advancement in economic freedom, prosperity, and opportunity and promote these ideas in their homes, schools, and communities. The Index covers 10 freedoms, from property rights to entrepreneurship, in 186 countries.



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