by Anna Manning
John Locke Foundation’s Mitch Kokai writes for Carolina Journal‘s Daily Journal:
The index measures freedom in five areas: government size, property rights, sound money, free trade, and regulatory burden. Once Lawson and his colleagues examine 42 variables under those broad categories, they rank 162 countries from top to bottom. The country with the most economic freedom ranks No. 1.
Hong Kong has occupied the top spot since rankings began. “The top tax rate in Hong Kong is 15 percent,” Lawson explained. “There are no property-rights problems. In fact, they have one of the greatest court systems in the world.”
“There are no inflation problems,” he continued. “There are no tariffs or quotas into or out of Hong Kong. It’s complete, absolute free trade.”
As for government red tape? “It takes 30 days to start a business in the United States — it takes one day, according to the World Bank, to start that same business in Hong Kong.”
Both Hong Kong and world No. 2 Singapore remind us that economic freedom doesn’t correlate exactly to political freedom. But most of the rest of the top performers could be characterized as “our liberal democracies,” in Lawson’s words. “We’re looking at Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland, the United States, … the United Kingdom, Australia,” he said. “These are countries that are both market economies, … and they’re also good, sound, liberal democracies with freedom of speech and religion.”
On the other end of the scale sits Venezuela, which chose a socialist path in electing the late Hugo Chavez as president 20 years ago. Current leader Nicolas Maduro continues to follow Chavez’s policies.
Out of a possible 10 points for economic freedom, Venezuela scores 2.88. “I believe 2.88 is the lowest score on the economic freedom index ever recorded by any country ever,” Lawson said. “Even Zimbabwe I don’t think ever got down that low 10 or 15 years ago when it was at its bottom.”
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