Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of Economic Freedom

Tonight watching football and eating snacks on the couch was replaced with watching President Bush's annual "State of the Union" address and reading through my mail.

As I listened to the speech I read an op-ed by Mary Anastasia O'Grady which summarized the annual "2007 Index of Economic Freedom" which is co-published by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. The full index can be reviewed at -- www.heritage.org/index

The two partner organizations use a set of economic criteria (regulations, taxes, labor unions, etc.) to rank a total of 157 countries in terms of their overall economic freedom. Readers can review the full index for themselves so let me focus on the "top 5" and the "bottom 5" countries in this year's index:

1. Hong Kong (note - China itself was ranked #119)
2. Singapore
3. Australia
4. United States
5. New Zealand


153. Burma
154. Zimbabwe
155. Libya
156. Cuba
157. North Korea

Now granted, perhaps I missed it since I was reading my mail so maybe President Bush mentioned this index in his speech but I doubt it. I feel strongly that utilizing such an index would have helped him illustrate to the US Congress and world leaders who will focus on the speech's content the need for greater free trade in the world and an overall reduction in the role governments play in macroeconomics.

Ask yourself -- where would you rather open a business and/or raise a family? Australia (economically free) which has a high per capita income/quality of life or in Zimbabwe (economically oppressive) which must now rely on food aid to feed its citizens but was once a net exporter of food?

President Bush needs a TANGIBLE tool like this index to show when progress has been made in the march to freedom versus his current, intangible rhetoric about bringing democracy to Iraq.

Maybe next year,


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