US No Longer in Top 10 Prosperous Countries

Prosperity.com reports that the United States of America has dropped to #12 in the prosperity index. The index includes 8 different categories, and the US ranking dropped in all 8 between 2011 and 2012. While #12 in the overall index, the US is only #20 in the economy and 27 in Safety and Security.

I’m not familiar with the organization that publishes this index, The Legatum Institute. Their motto is “Building a More Prosperous World Through Liberty and Responsibility” and their web site states “Based in London, the Legatum Institute (LI) is an independent non-partisan public policy organisation whose research, publications, and programmes advance ideas and policies in support of free and prosperous societies around the world.” These things sound ok (depending on what the institute considers ‘responsibility’ to mean,) but the statement on their web site “each of us as individuals has a responsibility to serve others and our communities” is ominous. Nevertheless, the index, and our place in it, deserves at least a little bit of our attention.

I suspect that the index is biased towards Fabian Socialism. The leading countries in the index, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, all share this form of government. Fabian Socialism is essentially Communism, but it is arrived at gradually rather than through revolution. Knowing what Communism did to its citizens, it’s not someplace anyone wants to go either faster or slower. However, if we look at only the “Economy” category of the index, the US comes off even worse at #20. Using the Wall Street Journal Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, the US comes in only 10th. The Cato Institute ranks the US 18th in economic freedom.

The Cato Institute concludes:

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).

It is sad to see the nation that introduced the world to economic freedom has been willing to give away so much freedom for a small amount of security and safety. The state of the world’s economies shows that as economic freedom declines, so does prosperity. Despite the protestations of our academic and intellectual elites, it is economic prosperity that provides the foundation for life’s other pleasures, be they art, pure scientific research, or leisure time to spend as we please. A casual peek at subsistence farmers anywhere in the world will show that life “close to nature” is a grinding, grueling existence where pursuit of happiness consists of scraping the next meal together. Unfortunately, as we give away more and more of our freedoms, we get closer and closer to this existence.

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