When Barack Hussein Obama was elected president in 2008, he vowed that he would “fundamentally transform” America.
Most people either didn’t believe him or simply didn’t bother to think about what “fundamental transformation” means.
Since the United States was founded on the principles of limited government, individual freedom, and free-market capitalism, Obama’s “fundamental transformation” must mean a drastic (“fundamental”) change (“transformation”) from:
- Limited to unlimited government, the most unlimited being a totalitarian state, wherein the all-seeing state reaches into every niche and cranny of our lives. (See the NSA’s tracking and recording of our every phone call, email, and financial transaction.)
- Individual freedom to political tyranny, whether government or the cultural tyranny of “political correctness.”
- Free-market capitalism to big-corporate socialism (fascism) or communism.
Put simply, the third transformation is the diminution or loss of economic freedom.
What is “economic freedom”? From the Fraser Institute, a Canadian libertarian think-tank:
Economic freedom has been shown in numerous peer-reviewed studies to promote prosperity and other positive outcomes. It is a necessary condition for democratic development. It liberates people from dependence on government in a planned economy, and allows them to make their own economic and political choices.
The classic definition of economic freedom is:Individuals have economic freedom when property they acquire without the use of force, fraud, or theft is protected from physical invasions by others and they are free to use, exchange, or give their property as long as their actions do not violate the identical rights of others. An index of economic freedom should measure the extent to which rightly acquired property is protected and individuals are engaged in voluntary transactions. (James Gwartney and Robert Lawson et al., Economic Freedom of the World: 1996 Annual Report)
Interestingly, nations that are economically free out-perform non-free nations in every indicator of well-being — those of average per capita GDP, average income of the poorest 10% of the population, life expectancy, and political and civil liberties.
Every year, the Fraser Institute undertakes a measurement — an index — of the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The results are published in an annual report, Economic Freedom of the World.
The index of each country is derived from 42 data points that are used to measure the degree of economic freedom in 5 broad areas:
- Size of government: expenditures, taxes, and enterprises
- Legal structure and security of property rights
- Access to sound money
- Freedom to trade internationally
- Regulation of credit, labor, and business
According to the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World 2014 Annual Report, President Ebola can claim great success in “fundamentally transforming” by greatly reducing the economic freedom of Americans.
Here’s a screenshot I took of page 172 of the 2014 Report, on the economic freedom of the United States from 1980 to 2012:
Click image to enlarge
- Size of government: The U.S. ranked 49th in the world in 1980, and 46th in 2012.
- Legal system and property rights: The U.S. ranked 1st in the world in 1980, but 36th in 2012.
- Access to sound money: The U.S. ranked 5th in the world in 1980, 1st in 2005, but plummeted to 38th in 2012.
- Freedom to trade internationally: The U.S. ranked 7th in the world in 1980, but fell to 29th in 2012.
- Regulation: The U.S. ranked 4th in the world in 1980, 6th in 2005, but 10th in 2012.
Overall, when all 5 areas are summarized, in 1980 the U.S. ranked 3rd in the world in economic freedom, falling to 9th in 2005, then worsened further to 14th in 2012.
The top 10 countries in economic freedom are:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United Arab Emirates
- Chile/Finland (a tie)
The 10 least economically free countries are:
10. Myanmar (formerly Burma)
9. Democratic Republic of Congo
2. Republic of Congo
And the least economically free country in the world is actor Sean Penn’s favorite country:
1. The late Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela
North Korea wasn’t rated.
Read the report for yourself, here.