Who is the freest of all?

Bob Bauman
The Sovereign Society

For the 10th year the Heritage Foundation in Washington. DC, together with the Wall Street Journal, has produced their ‘Index of Economic Freedom.’ They claim the 2004 index is an ‘annual survey of the world’s economies’ based on data available on foreign investment laws, taxes, tariffs, banking regulations, monetary policy and black markets. The
index also measures the degree of government intervention in the economy
of each nation.

The Index for the 10th year again picks Hong Kong, as the freest nation, just ahead of Singapore. As I’ve said before, I find it difficult to understand how these two city-states, both suffering from massive government intervention in their economies, can be praised for maximum freedom.

Both nations are restricted democracies, allowing little real political opposition to government policies imposed from above by a small group of oligarchs. Indeed, massive public protests for more democracy in Hong Kong have so far met with little success.

In another index of nations issued by the World Economic Forum, the US is said to have slipped behind Finland in overall competitiveness. That index is based on “macroeconomic environment, public institutions and technology.” Some of its conclusions also seem suspect.

There’s little doubt that the mainland Communist Chinese government controls Hong Kong, just as…Lee Kuan Yew…control[s] Singapore, as they have for decades. But the billions in cash flowing away from the financially restrictive nations of the EU (and from the US) seem to endorse the Heritage index and its choices.

Hong Kong and Singapore are the places where the flowing money now heads.
Freedom is under attack everywhere, particularly in the United States. The issue is whether terrorism or anti-terrorism poses the greater threat to liberty. Produce a true measure of this insidious anti-liberty trend and you’d have a truly shocking index. From the massive complacency I see in America, we badly need a shock to jolt us out of our somnambulistic political torpor.

That’s the way that it looks from here.

SDP’s note: For legal reasons, the article has been edited for this website.

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