Every January for the last 16 years, the conservative Heritage Foundation has published an Index of Economic Freedom, ranking the world's nations based on the think tank's arbitrary judgments. Lately, Heritage hasn't been terribly impressed with the United States on this front -- we've slipped from 6th to 10th in recent years.
Hong Kong and Singapore, meanwhile, continue to dominate, which is curious given the governmental frameworks.
But what I find especially interesting about the annual study is what the countries ahead of us have in common. Zack Beauchamp recently noted:
The report defines the concept of "economic freedom" in misleading right-wing terms, but even by those standards, it appears that universal health care systems far more expansive than Obamacare aren't "fundamentally inconsistent with liberty." In fact, the ten "freest" economies in 2013 by Heritage's lights range from mandating individuals save a certain amount of money for health care to almost the entire health care system, including hospitals, being owned and operated by the government.
Yes, it appears that the "economically free" countries, according to the Heritage Foundation, tend to favor socialized medicine. Many of them impose higher taxes, too. Indeed, it's hard not to notice that Heritage is more impressed with Denmark and Canada -- two countries the right is not traditionally fond of, especially when it comes to the economy and welfare states -- than the U.S.
As Walid Zafar joked a while back, "What gives? It's almost as if the Index of Economic Freedom is an arbitrary exercise and not really about economic freedom at all."