A 2017 report about economic freedom around the world shows that countries that allow entrepreneurs to apply their ingenuity to offer products and services that people really want and need exhibit much better economic growth than highly restrictive nations that desperately need an Independence Day similar to the one celebrated in the United States each July 4.
Countries that need the greatest infusion of freedom include North Korea, which ranked 180th and last among those on the list, Venezuela, ranked 179th to become the second worst among the nations included, and Cuba, which finished in the third worst spot to take 178th place. Ample evidence exists of the dynamic gains that flow from greater economic freedom, both for individuals and for societies, the Heritage Foundation report found.
The top 10 countries that provided the most economic freedom in the 2017 report are Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Estonia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Ireland and Chile. The United States ranks 17th and ironically fell behind 16th-ranked Lithuania, which is one of a number of former Soviet bloc nations that have adopted policies aimed at promoting economic freedom and growth.
The policy agenda in Washington has been defined in recent years by well-connected special interests that have severely undercut economic freedom for ordinary hardworking Americans, the report’s authors wrote.
“Beyond the walls of the backrooms where deep-pocketed elites secure favors from their friends in government, almost no one in Washington had seemed to be listening to the American people,” according to the authors. “The election of Donald Trump has clearly disrupted that deplorable status quo.”
Whether President Trump and Congress can implement the kind of economic policies and reforms needed to boost the United States remains unknown during the first year of his administration but many other nations clearly are making progress, despite much less history of freedom. Former Soviet bloc countries Georgia, 13th, and Latvia, 20th, are two examples.
They are among a number of countries whose advancing economic freedom is reflected in their rising scores, the study found. The authors, Terry Miller and Anthony B. Kim, wrote that the “human spirit is the real wellspring of economic prosperity.”
Each country’s path to growth and development must be tailored to its own culture, history and unique conditions, but nations with higher degrees of economic freedom prosper because they tend to capitalize more fully on the knowledge and ability of all individuals in society, the authors found.
“Given a chance, the free-market system provides a framework for organizing, without coercion, the skills, talents, and effort of individuals toward the production of the goods and services most in demand by their fellow citizens,” according to the report. “For society as a whole, this generates dynamic economic growth and promotes innovation through the efficient allocation of resources.”
A key theme in human history has been resilience and revival. The country profiles featured in the 2017 Index provide many such examples of countries that have accelerated their economic and social progress.
The lesson is that their successes can be emulated by other nations. It also is a reminder that America’s sacrifices of the past to achieve its independence and become a world-leading champion of freedom need to be recalled not just once a year on Independence Day but on each day as government leaders make decisions that will affect generations to come.
Paul Dykewicz is the editorial director of Eagle Financial Publications, editor of StockInvestor.com and DividendInvestor, a columnist for Townhall and Townhall Finance, a commentator and the author of an inspirational book, “Holy Smokes! Golden Guidance from Notre Dame’s Championship Chaplain,” with a Foreword by legendary football coach Lou Holtz. Visit Paul’s website at www.holysmokesbook.com and follow him on Twitter @PaulDykewicz.