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America: Land of the 'mostly free'

Published in Blog on July 17, 2017 by Convention Of States Project

When measuring which nations are the most economically free, you expect America, "land of the free," to finish at or near the top. But in a new study, it didn't.

For the last 21 years, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal have collaborated on the annual Index of Economic Freedom, which ranks the economies of 178 nations from the most to the least free. These range from famously free-wheeling economies such as Hong Kong (No. 1 on the index) and Singapore (2) to oppressive states like Zimbabwe, Cuba, and North Korea (ranked 175th, 177th, and 178th, respectively).

Since 2008, economic freedom has been steadily declining in the United States. In last year's index, America fell from the ranks of the world's ten freest economies. Our score improved slightly in the 2015 edition, but we're still stuck in 12th place, right behind Denmark.

I'm happy for the eleven nations who finished ahead of us, but the fact remains that there is no reason we can't be doing better. A lot better.

A country's ranking is based on several indicators of how freely citizens are allowed to buy, sell, build businesses, and live their lives without undue burdens from the government or lawlessness. How strong are property and labor rights? What's the size of the government? How high are taxation and spending, and how much corruption is there? These are judged via our published methodology, independent of the editors' opinions on one country or another.

The reasons for America's long economic stagnation are as familiar as our government's refusal to address them: a massive regulatory state that slows innovation, grant programs that pick winners and losers in the marketplace, and a Byzantine tax code as long as seven copies of War and Peace stacked together.

Too many corporate interests manage to escape the tangled web of big government only by virtue of their political clout: Lobbying power wins these companies special tax carve-outs and subsidies, as well as a role in helping bureaucrats craft regulations. Their smaller competitors -- and the taxpayers -- aren't so lucky.

Click here to read more from Real Clear Policy.

America is less free than Denmark and 10 other nations besides. What happened?

A Convention of States can put the federal government back in its place. Amendments proposed at a Convention can scale back the regulatory monstrosity and limit D.C.'s ability to ruin our economy.

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