The Heritage Foundation just released its 2016 Index of Economic Freedom. America isn’t even among the top 10 most economically free countries anymore. Though we were ranked at sixth place when President Obama assumed office in 2009, we’re now teetering at eleventh place.
What’s the ranking based on? In part:
Explosive government spending, now totaling close to $30,000 per household.
A national debt that has escalated to some $19 trillion.
Major disruptions—and not very positive ones—that have occurred in the healthcare industry, all thanks to government involvement.
Bailouts and regulations that have impeded both investment and job opportunities.
The highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, driving new jobs overseas.
Crippling costs associated with regulatory compliance.
To a lot of people, things could be much worse. That’s true, in the sense that most of us would still rather live in America in 2016 than any other place or time. Innovation and prosperity have, on the whole, continued. But they are waning. They are eroding. Even in a “recovery,” the economy no longer grows at 4 percent a year, as it used to, or 8-10 percent a year, as it might or should. We talk about the struggling and the poor, and they are the ones first privy to these trends. Honest people in these lower income groups would be happy to settle for entry level jobs, but they cannot find them. Minimum wage laws are skyrocketing throughout the country, and such laws, in effect, make entry level jobs illegal. The alternative? The government dole. That’s why government spending and debt is so high. While it’s good news for the power-hungry politicians many of us claim to despise, it’s bad news for economic growth, which ultimately means bad news for real, live people.
Obama and people who support his policies should have to answer for this. “Why are we less economically free than ever; and how do you defend this as a good thing?” I don’t hear Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or any of the other candidates doing so. I hear a lot about personal attacks, and about the urgent importance of preserving traditional marriage, but not about what really matters: Making America great again by making America fully free again. This includes economic freedom. Economic freedom is the right to make money, to attain willing customers for your products and services and—as a customer—to pay what you consider worth it, based on your budget, for products and services which enhance your life or survival. Economic freedom means the freedom to do with your body, and your mind, what you judge in your interests, unencumbered by government threats, coercion or manipulation. Being free means being fully free, in every sense of the word. You should be free whether you have nothing, or whether you have a billion dollars; and it’s in everybody’s interest that you are.
To hear supporters of Obama’s policies talk, those socialist policies saved us from economic calamity. But if that’s true, why does America rank # 11 in economic freedom, rather than # 1, # 2 or at least # 6? How long can we go on as an economically prosperous country if we’re not an economically free one? Just once, people on that side should have to defend or explain themselves.
Some people claim that government spending helps people. But that’s not the case. If government spending helped people, then people would already be spending money this way without the force of government. Businesses would find it profitable to do so, and consumers would as well. Instead, government increasingly sets our priorities for all of us—collectively, as in education and health care—and imposes a one-size-fits-all policy on everyone.
Economic freedom is not everything. But it’s arguably one of the most important things. Without a prosperous society, people begin to act desperate, anxious, paranoid and angry. Those concerned about those growing social problems would do well to consider more economic freedom, rather than more and more socialism. Socialism is what got us into this mess, and only a dramatic, 180-degree reversal offers any hope of getting us out of it.
Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump … are you listening?
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