ReasonTV recently uploaded a video titled, "How Free are You?" The video features John Stossel speaking about the latest freedom rankings from the Fraser and CATO Institutes:
Every year, researchers at the Fraser and CATO Institutes compare economic freedoms like the freedom to trade, amount of regulation, tax levels, plus personal freedoms like women's rights and religious freedom. They publish the results in the Human Freedom Index. It compares countries according to how free they are. So, is America the freest country? No. We came in 17th this year, well behind many other countries.
Stossel speaks with Ian Vasquez of the CATO Institute who co-authored the Freedom Index. Vasquez notes that the United States "used to have one of the freest economies in the world" before "government started to grow." Stossel adds, "And regulate more, and tax more."
Stossel continues, examining countries that rank higher on the index, like Switzerland and Hong Kong:
Why does Switzerland rank first in the world? Because it has comparatively little regulation, low taxes, a free press, and other freedoms.
... A good ranking matters – not just because it's good to be free, but because freedom allows people to prosper. Look what happened in Hong Kong – number two on the list. Not long ago, people in Hong Kong were among the poorest in the world, but now they're among the richest. Prosperity happened because Hong Kong's government put few obstacles in the way of trying new things like starting a business.
Stossel then recounts that when he attempted to open a business in Hong Kong several years ago, all it took was a simple form. It was a "stupid business," but he opened it to show how easy it was to compete in a free marketplace.
He then goes on to talk about some of the least free countries:
By comparison, India ranks much lower because there, to start a business, entrepreneurs may have to wait years while bureaucrats like these debate the merit of your idea. Good ideas die waiting on these shelves. That's a reason India stays poor.
... Second least-free country, Venezuela, was once the richest country in Latin America. Then socialists promised they'd spread the wealth. Now, Venezuelans fight over bags of flour.
Speaking of Ireland, ranked number four on the index, CATO’s Vasquez says, "They reduced taxes; they reduced spending; they reduced some regulations; they opened up to trade."
Stossel concluded with the following: "It's too bad of the U.S. is now only 17th in the rankings, but the good news is that we are 17th partly because in recent years, other countries became more free."
Check out the entire video here: