The slide that began in 2000 has become even steeper as, once again, the economic freedom ranking of the United States has sunk even deeper. There are now eighteen nations with freer economies than the United States, according to the just-released 2012 Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report. Our nation now follows behind such countries as Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Qatar, and Taiwan. How far we have fallen! Once we ranked as one of the three freest economies on earth, with Singapore and Hong Kong.
Obviously, the Obama Administration bears a lot of the blame. We can’t afford four more years of the Democratic presidential regime. Dr. Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute said it well: “as with so many disastrous legacies of the Bush era, Barack Obama took a bad thing and made it worse.” During just four years, the United States descended from seventh place to its present ranking of eighteenth.
But we can’t forget that the trend began and never stopped during both terms of the Bush Administration. By the end of each of four-year period we dropped two places among the nations. Yes, the number of nations taken into account varied slightly, but that isn’t a significant factor in our fall.
What is significant about the Bush Administration’s failure is that Bush was able to show economic growth during most of his terms, even while economic freedom was being eroded. This raises the strong possibility that the economic consequences of increasing debt, regulation, and the size of government–along with the erosion of legal protections to private property and exchange–all have a delayed effect. In other words, even if we began dramatic reversals right now we might have to face some hard times in the near future before experiencing prosperity again. Recall how Reagan had to deal with a severe recession during his first two years of his first term in office.
But we cannot afford to let this situation get any worse! Not only do we need Obama’s reign to end, we need to really push hard on the next administration to deregulate, decrease taxation, decrease the size of government, and reduce spending.
I don’t think that only the United States is at risk here. Let us not forget our global influence. During the 1990s, both China and India made real steps toward economic freedom. That progress has flat-lined since the beginning or middle of Bush’s second term. I’m sure there are multiple reasons for that shift, but the United States should be setting an example to the world, not falling behind European welfare-states!
Due to the banking crisis, and the refusal of the US government to allow Wall Street to fail, the GOP has permitted “deregulation” to become a dirty word—just as Democrats have always wanted. But the fake growth produced by fiat currency and artificially low interest rates has nothing to do with free trade and property rights. We need those back and we need a government that understands their importance.