Global Competition; Trends in Economic Freedom

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 15, 2005 | Go to article overview

Global Competition; Trends in Economic Freedom


Byline: William Peterson, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

How the mighty have fallen. And even if the fall is not all that big, consider that it's happened to a so-called superpower. Were you looking for the "land of the free" would you try Iceland? Or Ireland? Or how about Estonia?

These three countries made it to the top 10 in the Heritage Foundation's "2005 Index" in terms of economic freeedom, along with Hong Kong (No. 1), Singapore (No. 2), and then in descending order, Luxembourg, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Denmark and Australia.

Surprise, America for the first time in 11 annual issues did not make the top 10. It slipped to No. 12. Why? Edwin Feulner, head of Heritage and an editor of this volume, explains disquietedly: by the United States conceding trade leadership through relatively higher government spending and some protectionist measures.

Or as Mary Anastasia O'Grady, another of the book's editors and a senior editorial page writer at the Wall Street Journal, puts it: "By replacing duties and quotas with antidumping action, the United States is weakening its moral authority as a trade leader and unintentionally encouraging its trading partners to join in the practice."

How do Heritage and the Wall Street Journal, you may ask, measure economic freedom? They update data on 161 countries against a list of 50 independent variables divided into 10 broad empirical factors:

* Trade policy

* Fiscal burden of government

* Government intervention in the economy

* Monetary policy

* Capital flows and foreign investment

* Banking and finance

* Wages and prices

* Property rights

* Regulation

* Informal market activity

So this book shows two trends at work. One lies in the dynamics of global competition for rising betterment of mankind, including the enhancement of world peace, terrorism aside. The other, a counter-trend, lies in ongoing political pressures to stifle this trend through protectionism, especially through tariffs, import quotas or other forms of anti-globalism.

CNN has gotten into the act through its nightly business program under TV anchor Lou Dobbs. For months Mr. Dobbs has been firing torpedoes at what he and his producers call "Exporting America" or "outsourcing" jobs. Heritage senior research fellow James Jay Carafano here takes CNN and Mr. …

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