Its official title is “2017 Index of Economic Freedom.” But you could also call it “President Obama’s Report Card.”
At least when it comes to the United States. The index contains scores and ranks for almost every country, after all. And the news for the rest of the world, on balance, is good. Economic freedom is up again. Many countries have taken steps to ensure greater liberty for their citizens to make, spend and invest their money as they see fit. But not the United States.
Economic freedom isn’t the same as political freedom (though the two often go hand in hand). I’m not talking about free speech; I’m talking about how free are we to earn without being overtaxed and overregulated. How hard it is to start a business and keep it running. How much our government spends. How easily we can trade with other countries.
Our economic liberty has a profound effect on our daily lives. It influences how much money we make, what kind of work we do, how high prices and unemployment are — even what kind of appliances we can buy.
So where does the United States fall on this year’s index? Our global ranking is No. 17, with a score of 75.1 (on a 0-100 scale, with 100 being the freest).
On the list of 180 countries graded in the 2017 index, that’s not bad. But that’s 10 slots below where we finished in 2008. Indeed, the United States was once a regular top-10 finisher when the index was first published in 1995. Now we’ve been eclipsed by the United Arab Emirates, a newcomer to the global top 10.
This piece originally appeared in The Washington Times