The Cato Institute, in partnership with the Fraser Institute in Canada, has released the annual report, Economic Freedom of the World. The report shows where each nation across the globe ranks on various economic factors, such as the size of government, the legal system, respect for private property rights, sound money, free trade, and regulation.
Here is a brief summary of the report from Cato:
Global economic freedom bounced back slightly in this year’s report. After falling for two consecutive years following a long trend of increases, the average score rose from 6.79 in 2009 to 6.83 in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available. In this year’s index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom, 8.90 out of 10 (down slightly from 9.01 last year). The rest of this year’s top scores are Singapore, 8.69; New Zealand, 8.36; Switzerland, 8.24; Australia, 7.97; Canada, 7.97; Bahrain, 7.94; Mauritius, 7.90. Finland, 7.88; and Chile, 7.84. Bahrain and Finland are new to the top 10 — replacing, notably, the United Kingdom (fell to 12th) and the United States (a sizable drop to 18th).
The United States, long considered the standard bearer for economic freedom among large industrial nations, has experienced a substantial decline in economic freedom during the past decade. From 1980 to 2000, the United States was generally rated the third freest economy in the world, ranking behind only Hong Kong and Singapore. After increasing steadily during the period from 1980 to 2000, the chain linked EFW rating of the United States fell from 8.65 in 2000 to 8.21 in 2005 and 7.70 in 2010. The chain-linked ranking of the United States has fallen precipitously from second in 2000 to eighth in 2005 and 19th in 2010 (unadjusted ranking of 18th).
The stagnant economy is sure to be on the minds of voters as we get closer to the fall election. President Obama’s campaign is doing everything it can to distract voters from the dismal unemployment rate, depressing budget deficits, and looming tax hikes.
Recently, Veronique de Rugy, an economist at the Mercatus Center, noted the job creation numbers under presidents dating back to 1945. While Obama claims that the economy has created some four million jobs since taking office, the truth is that Americans have seen the worst job creation numbers under the current administration than any of his predecessors dating back to Truman.
And while his fixes haven’t worked as sold haven’t worked as promised — and there was no question that they would fail before they were even passed, President Obama is trying to sell more snake oil to Americans by pushing crippling taxes hikes. Nevermind that the share of income taxes paid by higher-income earners has gone up since the passage of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and nevermind that even Keynesian economists will tell you that raising taxes in an economy is a bad idea.
The Obama Administration is still touting the Affordable Care Act — also known as ObamaCare — as some sort of law that will magically cut healthcare spending for both the budget and Americans. While they’re basing this “savings” off of a recent Congressional Budget Office reports weighing the impact of limited Medicaid expansion — thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in June — and House Republican proposals to repeal the law, the reality is, as explained recently by the National Taxpayers Union, that scrapping ObamaCare would actually save taxpayers money.
There are also costs outside of the federal budget that have to be weighed. Sally Pipes, President of the Pacific Research Institute, notes that ObamaCare “will, in the long term, lead to higher costs and reduced access to insurance coverage.” That are other impacted costs, such as the mandates on businesses to comply with ObamaCare. These costs will no doubt trickle down to consumers rather than impacting a companies bottomline. For example, John Schnatter, founder of Papa Johns, explained that the healthcare law will cause his campany to raise pizza prices:
“Our best estimate is that the Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis,” Schnatter said.
“We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry. But our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare,” he said.
On Thursday, the United States Senate shot down so-called “cybersecurity” legislation in a mostly party line vote. Many Senate Democrats tried to hype up the bill as something that could prevent a worst-case scenario, but Republicans were concerned that it would put too much on businesses.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) noted that the bill was a trojan horse, explaining that “In its current form, the Cybersecurity Act does not sufficiently safeguard Internet users’ privacy and civil liberties, nor would it create the correct incentives to adequately protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber threats.” Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, also explained that all the cybersecurity legislation would have done is create a headache for business and, as Wyden noted, put privacy at risk through data sharing with the federal government:
With President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats eager to raise income taxes on higher-income earners — despite the fact that they already shoulder a substantial sum of the tax income burden, a new report shows that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32 trillion put away in off-shore accounts:
Wealthy individuals may have been hiding as much as $32 trillion offshore at the end of 2010, according to Tax Justice Network, a U.K.-based organization that campaigns for transparency in the financial system.
The estimate is almost three times the organization’s last estimate of $11.5 trillion in 2005. Fewer than 100,000 people own $9.8 trillion of offshore assets, according to the research, carried out by former McKinsey & Co. economist James Henry.
There is a “huge black hole in the world economy” of untaxed private wealth, Henry said in a statement. “The lost tax revenue implied by our estimates is huge.”
The amount held offshore means that 139 countries with external debts of $4.1 trillion at the end of 2010 would be creditors to the world, if as much as $9.3 trillion of cross- border holdings of their wealthiest citizens were taken into account, according to the research.
Remember that time when President Barack Obama said the “private-sector is doing fine”? Apparently, the private-sector hasn’t received that memo. According to new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers posted the fewest number of job openings in five months:
The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings fell to a seasonally adjusted 3.4 million in April, down from 3.7 million in March. The March figure was the highest in nearly four years.
The decline could mean employers are growing more cautious about adding workers in the face of financial turmoil in Europe and slower growth in the United States. Job openings can take one to three months to fill.
There were 12.5 million unemployed people in April. That means there was an average of 3.7 people competing for each open job. In a healthy job market, the ratio is usually around 2 to 1.
Openings have risen by almost a third since the recession ended in June 2009. But they are still below pre-recession levels of about 5 million per month.
April’s decline in openings has coincided with a sharp slowdown in hiring. Employers added an average of only 73,000 jobs in April and May. That’s down from an average of 226,000 in the first three months of this year.
I was sitting at home Saturday night and Stossel was on Fox Business Channel. I watched. What a shock! A libertarian watched Stossel!
However, I witnessed something I never would have thought I would see, and that was honesty from a pro-regulation lobbyist.
The segment in question was about a proposal which would require taxis in Washington D.C. to have a medallion system like New York. For the record, per Stossel’s segment, a NYC medallion costs around $1 million per pop. A lobbyist in favor of medallions in D.C. said on Stossel’s show that it was in fact about squeezing out the little guy.
Many of us who are anti-regulation cite how more regulations make it more difficult for the small operator to function. As a small business owner myself, I can tell you that more and more government regulations only make life more difficult. I am currently seeking two full time employees, but only because of a profound need. I would seek out four or five employees if it weren’t for the spectre of ObamaCare - to say nothing of other regulations out there - that could make my life even more difficult and thereby override the benefit of more employees.
The lobbyist’s candor, that the measure he proposed and that a D.C. councilman actually introduced was really about squeezing out the small businessman was unique. However, it’s not really a shock for many of the pro-liberty movement. It was a shock for me though.
While I will often cite the problems of regulations and how they impact the small businessman, I never really thought there was as much of a concerted effort to break the small businessman as there apparently is. Oh sure, I figured Walmart supported an employer mandate because it would hurt Target, but I didn’t really think they gave a damn about the mom and pop store.
Now, I have to step back and rethink that.
We’ve often wondered why President Barack Obama and his administration have had such a hostile view of oil companies. He insists that drilling up during his term, but Obama is taking credit for policies enacted by his predecessor. But much like his attacks on higher-income earners, Obama has targeted the oil industry and speculators with harsh rhetoric in attempt to distract Americans from his own failed energy policies.
We know that Obama’s own Energy Secretary is on record supporting higher gas prices. Obama has said himself that he didn’t have a problem with the cost of gas, rather that they rose too quickly. So we know where the rhetoric and proposed regulations are coming from. But there is something deeper here?
Via the Heritage Foundation, a video has surfaced where a regional administrator from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that the treatment of oil companies in the regulatory agency is “kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean: they’d go into little Turkish towns somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they’d run into, and they’d crucify them and then, you know, that town was really easy to manage over the next few years”:
Growing up in the South, you’d often hear stories about how kids in rural areas had to get up in the morning and help around the family farm before heading off to school and hitting the books. While those stories aren’t as frequent now that the agriculture industry has declined, this is still somewhat the case in many places in the United States.
But due to child labor laws, the Department of Labor is weighing a ban on kids working on their family farms:
A proposal from the Obama administration to prevent children from doing farm chores has drawn plenty of criticism from rural-district members of Congress. But now it’s attracting barbs from farm kids themselves.
The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land.
Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work “in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.”
“Prohibited places of employment,” a Department press release read, “would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.”
Rossie Blinson, a 21-year-old college student from Buis Creek, N.C., told The Daily Caller that the federal government’s plan will do far more harm than good.
“The main concern I have is that it would prevent kids from doing 4-H and FFA projects if they’re not at their parents’ house,” said Blinson.
“I started showing sheep when I was four years old. I started with cattle around 8. It’s been very important. I learned a lot of responsibility being a farm kid.”
While it’s not a thorough victory for property rights, the Supreme Court did beat back overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a unanimous decision issued on Wednesday that will give property owners recourse when they are threatened with fines for alleged environmental damage:
The Supreme Court has sided with an Idaho couple in a property rights case, ruling they can go to court to challenge an Environmental Protection Agency order that blocked construction of their new home and threatened fines of more than $30,000 a day.
Wednesday’s decision is a victory for Mike and Chantell Sackett, whose property near a scenic lake has sat undisturbed since the EPA ordered a halt in work in 2007. The agency said part of the property was a wetlands that could not disturbed without a permit.
In an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court rejected EPA’s argument that allowing property owners quick access to courts to contest orders like the one issued to the Sacketts would compromise the agency’s ability to deal with water pollution.
“Compliance orders will remain an effective means of securing prompt voluntary compliance in those many cases where there is no substantial basis to question their validity,” Scalia said.
In this case, the couple objected to the determination that their small lot contained wetlands that are regulated by the Clean Water Act, and they complained there was no reasonable way to challenge the order without risking fines that can mount quickly.