In pledging last year to give his $1.4 billion fortune to charity, Joseph Craft, head of Tulsa-based Alliance Resource Partners, said: “Opportunity presented by private enterprise and buttressed by a system of economic freedom allowed for my financial success. My hope is that this opportunity is available to anyone who choose to embrace it in America.”
That economic freedom is still there, but it’s slipping. The United States is now No. 10 in the world in the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual ranking compiled since 1995 by the Heritage Foundation in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. The United States was ninth last year, and has seen its economic freedom slip for five straight years.
The Heritage index considers countries’ rule of law, open markets, regulatory efficiency and limited government. The United States fared poorly in regulatory efficiency — gee, what a surprise under the Obama administration! — with declines in business freedom, monetary freedom and labor freedom. Increased government spending hurt our cause as well.
Heritage, a conservative think tank, said entrepreneurial growth in America “is stifled by ever-more-bloated government and a trend toward cronyism that erodes the rule of law.” Getting back toward the top of the economic freedom rankings will take significant policy reforms, “particularly in reducing size of government, overhauling the tax system, transforming costly entitlement programs and streamlining regulations.”
With Barack Obama in the Oval Office for another term, that climb is going to have to wait.