American People’s Crisis of Confidence in Big Government And Out of Control Spending and Taxes — Abandoning Both Political Parties — The Coming Of A Third Independent Party — Toppling Two Party Tyranny — The Wealth Creators Will Lead The American Renaissance — Videos
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Free Market Revolution -The Solution to what Ails America Today
The mission of the Financial Policy Council Inc. (FPC), a research think tank and educational institution, is to formulate and promote sound public policy based on the principles of free enterprise and wealth creation as envisioned by the ideals of the American Founding Fathers.
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Dr. Yaron Brook | Why Be Selfish? | Full Length HD
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Myths That Conceal Reality
- Americans’ confidence in presidency up four points, at 33%
- Thirty-two percent have confidence in the Supreme Court
- Congress retains the least confidence, at 8%
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ confidence in each of the three branches of the U.S. government remains low, with confidence in Congress and the Supreme Court near their all-time lows reached last year. Currently, 33% of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the presidency, 32% are this confident in the Supreme Court, and Congress is still well behind, at 8%.
While Congress has consistently received the lowest confidence rating of the three branches of government, the Supreme Court and the presidency usually track each other closely. This is apart from times when the incumbent president has been extremely popular, as in 1991 and 2002, or exceptionally unpopular, as in 2007 and 2008.
Gallup’s June 2-7 poll found confidence in the presidency rising slightly to 33% from 29% last year, which in turn was just four percentage points above the historical low of 25% in 2007. The uptick in confidence in the presidency this year is consistent with Americans’ higher job approval ratings of President Barack Obama since last fall.
Meanwhile, ratings of the Supreme Court and Congress, which had dropped to record lows in 2014, have barely moved.
Confidence in the Presidency in Obama’s Seventh Year Exceeds Bush’s
The president in office is not mentioned by name in the confidence in the presidency question, but Americans’ evaluations of the sitting president at the time are strongly related to how much confidence Americans place in the presidency as an institution.
Confidence in the presidency as an institution during each year of Obama’s presidency has generally been lower than the comparable year in the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. An exception is Obama’s first year, when Americans had greater confidence in the institution than in the first years of either Bush or Clinton. Also, in Obama’s current year in office, his seventh, confidence in the presidency is higher than the 25% found in Bush’s seventh year — the record low — but lower than the 49% in Clinton’s seventh year.
The highest confidence rating the presidency has ever received is 72%, in March 1991 during the administration of George H.W. Bush shortly after he had succeeded in pushing Iraq out of Kuwait in the Gulf War. However, by October of that same year, after the Gulf War was over, confidence in the presidency had dropped to 50%.
Average Confidence in the Three Branches Is Low, but Has Been Lower
The average confidence rating for the three branches of government combined is 24%, lower than most previous averages since 1991 and well below the high of 50% that year.
But the average of confidence ratings for the three branches of government has been lower — including in 2008 (23%) and 2014 (22%).
Americans’ confidence in two of the three institutions that make up the U.S. government — Congress and the Supreme Court — remains near their all-time lows reached in 2014, while confidence in the presidency, although low, is up marginally compared with last year.
For Congress, low confidence in the institution is nothing new to members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, who have also seen low job approval ratings in recent years. Individual members likely aren’t as interested in Americans’ collective opinions as they are in the views of the voters they must appeal to back home. But the public’s extremely low confidence no doubt weighs on Congress at some level.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, is not directly accountable to the public — and often defies public opinion completely. Although its unelected members serve indefinite terms, confidence in the court is not unsusceptible to a drop in confidence in government as a whole.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 2-7, 2015, with a random sample of 1,527 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Americans have little confidence in most of their major institutions including Congress, the presidency, the Supreme Court, banks and organized religion, according to the latest Gallup poll.
“Americans’ confidence in most major U.S. institutions remains below the historical average for each one,” a Gallup spokesman said in a news release. Only the military, in which 72 percent of Americans express confidence, up from a historical average of 68 percent, and small business, with 67 percent confidence, up from 63, are currently rated higher than their historical norms. This is based on the percentage expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in these institutions, the Gallup spokesman said.
Only 8 percent have confidence in Congress, down by 16 points from a long-term average of 24 percent – the lowest of all institutions rated. The rating is about the same as last year’s 7 percent, the lowest Gallup has ever measured for any institution.
Thirty-three percent have confidence in the presidency, a drop from a historical average of 43 percent.
Thirty-two percent have confidence in the Supreme Court, down from 44.
All in all, it’s a picture of a nation discouraged about its present and worried about its future, and highly doubtful that its institutions can pull America out of its trough. In a political context, the findings indicate that the growing number of presidential candidates for 2016 will have a difficult time instilling confidence in a skeptical electorate that they have the answers to the country’s problems.
“Americans’ confidence in most major institutions has been down for many years as the nation has dealt with prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a major recession and sluggish economic improvement, and partisan gridlock in Washington,” the Gallup spokesman said. “In fact, 2004 was the last year most institutions were at or above their historical average levels of confidence. Perhaps not coincidentally, 2004 was also the last year Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States averaged better than 40 percent. Currently, 28 percent of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation.”
The Gallup spokesman added: “From a broad perspective, Americans’ confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993.”
Twenty-eight percent have confidence in banks, down from 40 percent.
Twenty-one percent have confidence in big business, down from 24 percent.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in organized labor, down from 26.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in newspapers, down from 32 percent. Twenty-one percent have confidence in television news, down from 30 percent.
The police also have experienced a drop in public esteem, with 52 percent of Americans saying they are confident in the police compared with 57 percent who have been confident in the police historically. Police have been widely criticized in recent months for abusive tactics toward African-Americans, which resulted in the deaths of several black men.
Forty-two percent express confidence in organized religion, down from 55.
“Americans continue to show lower levels of confidence in most of the major institutions central to U.S. society, with only the military and small business getting ratings in 2015 that are above their historical averages,” the Gallup spokesman said. “That speaks to the broader dissatisfaction Americans have with the state of the nation more generally over the past decade as the U.S. has faced serious economic, international and political challenges. Americans have tended to be more confident in U.S. institutions when the economy has been strong, such as in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although Americans are now more upbeat about the economy than they were in 2008-2013, they are not yet convinced that the economy is good, given that their assessments of national economic conditions remain more negative than positive.”
AMERICANS LOSE CONFIDENCE IN EVERYTHING
Poll shows views turning negative on banks, government, religion, police, media
An explosive new Gallup poll shows Americans have lost confidence in almost every major institution – from the U.S. presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court to banks and organized religion.
“Americans’ confidence in most major U.S. institutions remains below the historical average for each one,” a Gallup spokesman said.
Only the military (72 percent) and small business (67 percent) have Americans’ increasing confidence, both of which are now rated 4 percentage points higher than their historical norms, according to the poll.
Congress – which plunged 16 points from its average of 24 points – is the lowest ranking institution at just 8 percent.
Just as numerous presidential candidates attempt to convince America that they have the answers to the nation’s problems, the poll shows only one-third, or 33 percent, of Americans have confidence in the presidency, a nosedive from the historical average of 43 percent.
Likewise, just 32 percent said they have confidence in the Supreme Court, which is down from an average of 44 just before the court announces its decisions on landmark issues such as same-sex marriage and Obamacare subsidies to states without insurance-exchange websites.
“Americans’ confidence in most major institutions has been down for many years as the nation has dealt with prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a major recession and sluggish economic improvement, and partisan gridlock in Washington,” a Gallup spokesman said. “In fact, 2004 was the last year most institutions were at or above their historical average levels of confidence. Perhaps not coincidentally, 2004 was also the last year Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States averaged better than 40 percent. Currently, 28 percent of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation.”
In 2004, President George W. Bush was re-elected and the U.S. transferred sovereignty and control of Iraq back to the Iraqi people.
At the beginning of 2004, the U.S. economy was booming. Four middle-class tax cuts were extended, including a $1,000-per-couple child tax credit, expansion of the lowest (10 percent) tax bracket, exceptions for the alternative minimum tax, and relief from the “marriage penalty” for two-income families. Another $140 billion in tax relief was granted to U.S. business. Unemployment dropped from 5.7 percent to 5.4 percent.
Regarding the latest poll numbers, the Gallup spokesman added, “From a broad perspective, Americans’ confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993.”
In the last two years, Americans have seen President Obama begin his second term of office. Amid an explosion of legalized same-sex marriage in numerous U.S. states, the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
Americans witnessed the debt-ceiling crisis in October 2013, which resulted in the shutdown of the federal government and furlough of federal workers.
By 2014, the Obama administration had announced its plan to shrink the military budget to $522 billion and slash the Army to a size unseen since before World War II. The nation also saw Americans impacted by a West African Ebola outbreak and revelations that the Veterans Administration had covered up exceedingly long wait times for veterans seeking medical attention.
The year 2014 also saw the rise of terrorist group ISIS and racial riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and St. Louis after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in August. By 2015, riots had broken out in Baltimore, Maryland, over the shooting of Freddie Gray.
According to the Gallup poll, 28 percent of Americans now have confidence in banks, compared to the historical average of 40 percent.
Twenty-one percent said they have confidence in big business, down from 24 percent.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in organized labor, down from 26 percent.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in newspapers, down from 32 percent.
Twenty-one percent have confidence in TV news, down from 30 percent.
Fifty-two percent have confidence in police, down from 57 percent.
Forty-two percent have confidence in organized religion, down from 55.
“Americans continue to show lower levels of confidence in most of the major institutions central to U.S. society, with only the military and small business getting ratings in 2015 that are above their historical averages,” the Gallup spokesman said.
“That speaks to the broader dissatisfaction Americans have with the state of the nation more generally over the past decade as the U.S. has faced serious economic, international and political challenges. Americans have tended to be more confident in U.S. institutions when the economy has been strong, such as in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s.”
While Americans are more confident in the economy than they were from 2008 to 2013, the Gallup spokesman said, “[T]hey are not yet convinced that the economy is good, given that their assessments of national economic conditions remain more negative than positive.”
List of political parties in the United States
This is a list of political parties in the United States, both past and present.
Parties with federal representation
Current United States Congressional seats
|Political Parties||House of Representatives||Senate|
Congressional leadership of the House of Representatives
|Speaker of the House||John Boehner (R)|
|Majority Leader||Kevin McCarthy (R)|
|Minority Leader||Nancy Pelosi (D)|
Congressional leadership of the Senate
|President of the Senate||Joe Biden (D)|
|President Pro Tempore||Orrin Hatch (R)|
|Majority Leader||Mitch McConnell (R)|
|Minority Leader||Harry Reid (D)|
The Vice President of the United States has the additional duty of President of the Senate. Because the number of seats in the United States Senate is an even number (two senators per state), it is the Vice President’s duty as President of the Senate to cast a tie-breaking vote in the event that “they be equally divided”—an equal number of Senators voting both for and against a motion.
Parties with state representation
|Political Parties||State Lower Chamber Seats||State Upper Chamber Seats|
|Vermont Progressive Party||6||3|
|Working Families Party||1||1|
|Conservative Party of New York State||1||0|
|Independence Party of New York||1||0|
Major political parties
A party that has “an independent state organization… in a majority of the states” is listed as a major party. An “independent state organization” is not to be confused with the organization of an Independent Democrat or Independent Republican.
|Political Party||States*||Founded in||Former Titles||International Affiliations|
|Democratic Party||50 + DC||1828||Progressive Alliance|
|Republican Party||50 + DC||1854||International Democrat Union|
|Libertarian Party||48 + DC||1971||Interlibertarians|
|Green Party||36 + DC||1991||Global Greens|
|Constitution Party||26||1992||U.S. Taxpayers’ Party|
Minor political parties
These parties are based only in states or certain regions and rarely, if ever, offer candidates for national offices. These are all parties that are unaffiliated with national parties. Each state has official state chapters of the major parties as well as some of the minor parties.
- Conservative Party of New York State
- Independence Party of New York
- Liberal Party of New York
- New York State Right to Life Party
- Rent Is Too Damn High Party
- Tax Revolt Party of Nassau County*
- Working Families Party of New York*
Northern Mariana Islands
- Constitution Party of Oregon
- Independent Party of Oregon
- Oregon Progressive Party
- Oregon Working Families Party
- Sovereign Union Movement, (Movimiento Unión Soberanista)
- New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico, also translated New Party for Progress of Puerto Rico (Partido Nuevo Progresista de Puerto Rico)
- Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico, (Partido Popular Democrático de Puerto Rico)
- Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico Party, (Partido por Puerto Rico)
- Puerto Rican Independence Party, (Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño)
- Worker’s People Party of Puerto Rico, (Partido del Pueblo Trabajador)
U.S. Virgin Islands
- The following parties are no longer functioning; they are listed in order of founding.
- Federalist Party (c. 1789 – c. 1820)
- Democratic-Republican Party (1792 – c. 1824)
- Toleration Party (1816 – c. 1827)
- Anti-Masonic Party (1826–1838)
- National Republican Party (1825–1833)
- Nullifier Party (1830–1839)
- Whig Party (1833–1856)
- Liberty Party (1840–1848)
- Law and Order Party of Rhode Island (1840s)
- Free Soil Party (1848–1855)
- Anti-Nebraska Party (1854)
- American Republican Party (1843–1854)
- American Party (a.k.a. “Know-Nothings”) (c. 1854 – 1858)
- Opposition Party (1854–1858)
- Constitutional Union Party (1860)
- Unconditional Union Party (1861–1866)
- National Union Party, (1864–1868)
- Readjuster Party (1870–1885)
- People’s Party of Utah (1870–1891)
- Liberal Party (Utah) (1870–1893)
- Liberal Republican Party (1872)
- Greenback Party (1874–1884)
- Socialist Labor Party of America (1876–2008)
- Anti-Monopoly Party (1884)
- People’s Party (a.k.a. “Populists”) (1887–1908)
- Silver Party (1892–1902)
- National Democratic Party (“Gold Democrats”) (1896–1900)
- Silver Republican Party (1896–1900)
- Social Democratic Party (1898–1901)
- Home Rule Party of Hawaii (1900–1912)
- Socialist Party of America (1901–1972)
- Independence Party (a.k.a. “Independence League”) (1906–1914)
- Progressive Party 1912 (a.k.a. “Bull Moose Party”) (1912–1914)
- National Woman’s Party (1913–1930)
- Non-Partisan League (1915–1956)
- Farmer-Labor Party (1918–1944)
- Proletarian Party of America (1920–1971)
- Progressive Party 1924 (1924)
- Communist League of America (1928–1934)
- American Workers Party (1933–1934)
- Workers Party of the United States (1934–1938)
- Union Party (1936)
- American Labor Party (1936–1956)
- America First Party (1944) (1944–1996)
- States’ Rights Democratic Party (a.k.a. “Dixiecrats”) (1948)
- Progressive Party 1948 (1948–1955)
- Vegetarian Party (1948–1964)
- Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (1922–1965)
- Constitution Party (1950s) (1952–1968?)
- American Nazi Party (1959–1967)
- Puerto Rican Socialist Party (1959–1993)
- Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (1964)
- Black Panther Party (1966–1970s)
- Patriot Party (1960s–1980s)
- Youth International Party (a.k.a. “Yippies”) (1967)
- Communist Workers Party (1969–1985)
- People’s Party (1971–1976)
- New Union Party (1974–2005?)
- U.S. Labor Party (1975–1979)
- Concerned Citizens Party (1975–1992)
- Citizens Party (1979–1984)
- New Alliance Party (1979–1992)
- Populist Party of 1980s–1990s (1984–1994)
- Looking Back Party (1984–1996)
- Independent Party of Utah (1988–1996)
- A Connecticut Party (1990–?)
- New Party (1992–1998)
- Aloha Aina Party (1997–2000?)
- Marijuana Reform Party (1998–2002)
- Natural Law Party (1992–2004)
- Southern Party (1999–2003)
- Veterans Party (2003–2008)
- Christian Freedom Party (2004)
- Personal Choice Party (2004–2006?)
- Labor Party (1996–2007)
- United Citizens Party (1969–2008?)
- The American Party (1969–2008)
- Moderate Party (Illinois) (2005–2008)
- Populist Party of Maryland (2004–2008)
- New Jersey Conservative Party (1992–2009)
- Republican Moderate Party of Alaska (1986–2011)
- Taxpayers Party of New York (2010–2011)
- Freedom Party of New York (2010–2011)
- Florida Whig Party (2006–2012)
- Boston Tea Party (2006–2012)
- Raza Unida Party (1970–2012)
- Independence Party of America (2007–2013)
- Connecticut for Lieberman (2006–2013)
These organizations do not nominate candidates for election but otherwise function similarly to political parties. Some of them have nominated candidates in the past.
- List of frivolous political parties
- List of political parties by country
- List of political parties in Puerto Rico
- List of state Constitution Parties in the U.S.
- List of state Green Parties in the U.S.
- List of state Libertarian Parties in the U.S.
- Party system
- Political party strength in U.S. states
- Politics of the United States
- Third party (United States)
- Two-party system
- Nash, Howard P., Jr.; Schnapper, M. B. (1959). Third Parties in American Politics.
- Ness, Immanuel; Ciment, James (2000). The Encyclopedia of Third Parties in America. Armonk, NY, U.S.A.: Sharpe Reference. ISBN 0-7656-8020-3.
- Party Links
- Political Parties Timeline
- Ballot Access News
- Politics1 Directory of Candidates
- Independent Political Candidate Directory at IndeCan
- Educational quiz that matches policy answers to U.S. political parties
Why Economic Freedom Matters
Since its inception in 1995, the Index of Economic Freedom has chronicled hundreds of examples of government policy changes that have enhanced economic freedom, thereby promoting human progress and greater prosperity. As the Index has catalogued, nations with higher degrees of economic freedom prosper because they capitalize more fully on the ability of the free-market system not only to generate, but also to reinforce dynamic growth through efficient resource allocation, value creation, and innovation. Policies that promote freedom, whether through improvements in the rule of law, the promotion of competition and openness, or suitable restraints on the size and economic reach of government, turn out in practice to offer and advance practical solutions to a wide range of economic and social challenges that face the world’s societies.
The findings of the 2015 Index once again demonstrate the strongly positive linkages between economic freedom and various dimensions of human development. Many of the linkages are straightforward: Higher taxes, for example, reduce investment and hurt job growth. Others, such as the impact on economic growth from the promotion of property rights or the maintenance of a stable monetary system, are more intricate, multidimensional, and nonlinear.
Even in these cases, however, the evidence is strong that adherence to the principles of economic freedom is an unmatched strategy for promoting solutions to human problems and advancing overall well-being. No alternative systems—and many have been tried—come close to the record of free-market capitalism in promoting growth and improving the human condition.
Economic Freedom: Advancing Opportunity
Today’s successful economies are not necessarily geographically large or richly blessed with natural resources. Many economies have managed to expand opportunities for their citizens by enhancing their economic dynamism. In general, the overarching objective of economic policies must be to create an environment that provides the most opportunity for the widest range of activities that can lead to increased prosperity.
The Index results have shown that sustaining such economic dynamism is achievable only when governments adopt economic policies that empower individuals and firms with more choices, encouraging greater entrepreneurship.
It is noteworthy that despite recent policy missteps by many countries in responding to the global economic slowdown, which amounted to a political assault on capitalism in some places, the free-market system is not on the verge of breakdown. In fact, as the negative impact of regulatory and spending mistakes has become apparent, a greater number of people around the world seem to be realizing that the economic damage inflicted by the heavy hand of government—subpar growth, deteriorating entrepreneurial environments, and lower employment growth—is not inevitable, but rather the result of bad policy choices.
Even as the free market has been under challenge in countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Russia, and even the United States, many other governments around the world have acknowledged its superiority. Decades of evidence, some presented in the pages of this Index, are hard for even the most ideological governments to ignore. Not only does the free-market system remain viable, but many of its core features, such as private property rights, openness to trade and investment, and fiscal discipline, have entrenched themselves as the policy standard, any deviation from which requires strong justification.
Economic Freedom: Promoting Prosperity
In many respects, economic freedom is merely shorthand for an openness to entrepreneurial activity that increases opportunity for individuals to succeed in their endeavors. Chart 1 shows the close correspondence between economic freedom and entrepreneurial opportunity as measured by the Entrepreneurship and Opportunity sub-index of the Legatum Prosperity Index, which “measures a country’s entrepreneurial environment, its promotion of innovative activity, and the evenness ofopportunity.”
Given such a strong relationship, it should be apparent that a government’s most effective stimulus activity will not be to increase its own spending or increase layers of regulation, both of which reduce economic freedom. The best results are likely to be achieved instead through policy reforms that improve the incentives that drive entrepreneurial activity, creating more opportunities for greater economicdynamism.
Equally notable are the fundamental benefits that stem from the strong positive relationship between economic freedom and levels of per capita income. For countries achieving scores in the Index that reflect even moderate levels of economic freedom (60 or above), the relationship between economic freedom and per capita GDP is highly significant.
As indicated in Chart 2, countries moving up the economic freedom scale show increasingly high levels of average income. Economies rated “free” or “mostly free” in the 2015 Index enjoy incomes that are over twice the average levels in all other countries and more than five times higher than the incomes of “repressed” economies.
Economic Freedom: Antidote to Poverty
By a great many measures, the past two decades during which the Index has been charting the advance of economic freedom have been the most prosperous in the history of humankind. Those countries that have adopted some version of free-market capitalism, with economies supported by efficient regulations and open to the free flow of goods, services, and capital, have participated in an era of globalization and economic integration in which solutions to many of the world’s development problems have taken hold and generated real improvements in living standards.
The free-market system that is rooted in the principles of economic freedom has fueled unprecedented economic growth around the world. As Chart 3 illustrates, as the global economy has moved toward greater economic freedom over the past two decades, real world GDP has increased by about 70 percent, and the global poverty rate has been cut in half, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
Greater economic freedom has had a positive impact not just on the number of people in poverty, but also on the intensity of the poverty still experienced by some. Poverty intensity as measured by the United Nations Development Programme’s Multidimensional Poverty Index, which assesses the nature and intensity of deprivation at the individual level in education, health outcomes, and standard of living, is much lower on average in countries with higher levels of economic freedom. Chart 5 shows that the intensity of poverty in countries whose economies are considered mostly free or moderately free is only about one-fourth the level in countries that are rated less free.
The key driver of poverty reduction is dynamic and resilient economic growth that creates jobs. Not surprisingly, one of the most important goals of economic policy in almost every country in the world has thus been to increase the rate of economic growth.
As Chart 4 demonstrates, there is a robust relationship between improving economic freedom and achieving higher per capita economic growth. Whether long-term (20 years), medium-term (10 years), or short-term (five years), the relationship between changes in economic freedom and changes in economic growth is consistently positive.
Undeniably, countries moving toward greater economic freedom tend to achieve higher rates of per capita GDP growth over time. Whether in the short term or over the long run, the average annual per capita economic growth rates of countries that have grown economic freedom the most are at least 50 percent higher than those of countries where freedom has stagnated or slowed.
Economic Freedom: Societal Development and Democratic Progress
Growing economic freedom is unequivocally about more than financial success. Achieving greater overall prosperity that goes beyond materialistic and monetary dimensions of well-being is equally important. The societal benefits of economic freedom extend far beyond higher incomes or reductions in poverty. Countries with higher levels of economic freedom enjoy higher levels of overall human development as measured by the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, literacy, education, and the standard of living in countries worldwide. As Chart 6 shows, governments that choose policies that increase economic freedom are placing their societies on the pathway to more education opportunities, better health care, and higher standards of living for their citizens.
In some countries, government policies and actions concerning the environment have become more intrusive and economically distortionary. Many governments have pushed programs to tax carbon emissions and increase taxes on gasoline, organized non-transparent and sometimes corrupt exchanges for the buying and selling of carbon emissions, and provided subsidies for “clean” energy to politically favored firms. Such policies impose a huge direct cost on society, and they also retard economic growth—and all for uncertain environmental benefits.
Interestingly, the same free-market principles that have proven to be the key to economic success have also proven to deliver environmental success. Around the world, economic freedom has been shown to increase countries’ capacity for innovation and thus to improve overall environmental performance.
The positive link between economic freedom and higher levels of innovation ensures greater economic dynamism in coping with various developmental challenges, and the most remarkable improvements in clean energy use and energy efficiency over the past decades have occurred not as a result of government regulation, but rather because of advances in technology and trade. A virtuous cycle of investment, innovation (including in greener technologies), and dynamic economic growth has flourished where governments have trusted market forces and competition to spur efficiency. (See Chart 7.)
Greater economic freedom can also provide more fertile ground for effective and democratic governance. Debate over the direction of causality between economic freedom and democracy has become more controversial in recent years because of the multifaceted interaction between the two. Undoubtedly, achieving greater political freedom through well-functioning democracy is a messy and often excruciatingprocess.
However, the positive relationship between economic freedom and democratic governance is undeniable. (See Chart 8.) By empowering people to exercise greater control of their daily lives, economic freedom ultimately nurtures political reform by making it possible for individuals to gain the economic resources necessary to challenge entrenched interests and compete for political power, thereby encouraging the creation of more pluralistic societies.
Pursuit of greater economic freedom is thus an important stepping-stone to democracy. It empowers the poor and builds the middle class. It is a philosophy that encourages entrepreneurship and disperses economic power and decision-making throughout society.
Economic Freedom: The Key to Upward Mobility and Greater Social Progress
The massive improvements in global indicators of income and quality of life largely reflect a paradigm shift in the debate over how societies should be structured to achieve the most optimal outcome. Over the past two decades, this debate has largely been won by capitalism. However, fears that the immediate benefits of capitalism are fading has brought to the forefront concerns about economic mobility and economicfreedom.
At the heart of ensuring upward economic mobility is the task of advancing economic freedom so that dynamic and inclusive growth can meaningfully occur for ordinary people in a free society. Milton and Rose Friedman made a keen observation on the critically intertwined relationship between freedom andmobility:
[S]o long as freedom is maintained, it prevents … positions of privilege from becoming institutionalized. Freedom means diversity, but also mobility. It preserves the opportunity for today’s disadvantaged to become tomorrow’s privileged and, in the process enables almost everyone, from top to bottom, to enjoy a fuller and richer life.1
Economic freedom is critical to generating the broader-based economic growth that brings more opportunities for a greater number of people to work, produce, and save. In other words, ensuring greater economic freedom is directly related to preserving and enhancing dynamic upward mobility.
Also notable is that although some naysayers claim that economic and social progress has been limited in recent years as incomes in some countries have become more unequal as a result of economic freedom, the evidence does not support this contention. Instead, societies based on economic freedom are the ones that have demonstrated the strongest social progress.
As shown in Chart 9, countries that largely embrace economic freedom provide the environments that are most conducive to social progress.2 Countries that improve their competitiveness and open their societies to new ideas, products, and innovations have largely achieved the high levels of social progress that their citizens demand. It is not massive redistributions of wealth or government dictates on income levels that produce the most positive social outcomes. Instead, mobility and progress require lower barriers to entry, freedom to engage with the world, and less government intrusion.
Staying on Course
The 21st edition of the Index of Economic Freedom shows economic freedom once again on the rise, reaching the highest point in the Index’s 21-year history. Behind this record are stories of human progress and the achievements of countries and their citizens—literally billions of people around the world whose lives have measurably improved.
It is no coincidence that the increase of economic liberty over the past decades has coincided with a massive reduction in worldwide poverty, disease, and hunger. The link between economic freedom and development is clear and strong. People in economically free societies live longer. They have better health. They are able to be better stewards of the environment, and they push forward the frontiers of human achievement in science and technology through greater innovation.
A recurring theme of human history has been resilience and revival. The country profiles in the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom include many examples of countries that have accelerated their economic and social progress in the face of difficult challenges and a sometimes harsh international environment. Their successes can be emulated by others. The Index of Economic Freedom charts not just one path to development, but as many as the ingenuity of humans can produce when they are free to experiment andinnovate.
The principles of economic freedom are a sure guide, but only a guide. What truly will matter are the creative solutions to pressing world problems that are certain to flow from people who are, in the words of Milton and Rose Friedman, “free to choose.”
1. Milton Friedman and Rose D. Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979).
2. The Social Progress Index defines social progress as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential.
|10||Mauritius||76.4||-0.1||25||United Arab Emirates||72.4||+1.0|
|39||Brunei Darussalam||68.9||-0.1||67||Trinidad and Tobago||64.1||+1.4|
|44||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||68.0||+1.0||72||South Africa||62.6||+0.1|
|97||Bosnia and Herzegovina||59.0||+0.6||128||India||54.6||-1.1|
|105||Indonesia||58.1||-0.4||136||São Tomé and Príncipe||53.3||+4.5|
|106||Senegal||57.8||+2.4||137||Papua New Guinea||53.1||-0.8|
|153||Belarus||49.8||-0.3||166||Central African Republic||45.9||-0.8|
|155||Lesotho||49.6||+0.1||168||Democratic Republic of Congo||45.0||+4.4|
|157||Algeria||48.9||-1.9||170||Republic of Congo||42.7||-1.0|
Create a Comparison Chart
See how United States compares to another country using any of the measures in the Index.
- 316.4 million
- GDP (PPP):
- $16.8 trillion
- 1.9% growth
- 1.2% 5-year compound annual growth
- $53,101 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
- $187.5 billion
The United States’ economic freedom score is 76.2, making its economy the 12th freest in the 2015 Index. Its score is 0.7 point higher than last year, with modest gains in six of the 10 economic freedoms, including control of government spending, outweighing a slight decline in business freedom.
Although the precipitous downward spiral in U.S. economic freedom since 2008 has come to a halt in the 2015 Index, a 1.6-point decline in overall economic freedom over the past five years reflects broad-based deteriorations in key policy areas, particularly those related to upholding the rule of law and limited government. Continuing to trail such comparable economies as Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Canada, America has been ranked “mostly free” since 2010.
The anemic post-recession recovery has been characterized by slow growth, high unemployment, a decrease in the number of Americans seeking work, and great uncertainty that has held back investment. Increased tax and regulatory burdens, aggravated by favoritism toward entrenched interests, have undercut America’s historically dynamic entrepreneurial growth.
President Barack Obama’s second-term efforts to expand government spending and regulation have been thwarted to some extent by Republican Party opposition in Congress. Economic policy leadership has devolved by default to the Federal Reserve, whose attempts to use monetary policy to stimulate economic activity have not restored robust growth. Implementation of the 2010 health care law, which has reduced competition in most health insurance markets, remains a drag on job creation and full-time employment. Overall, the U.S. economy continues to underperform, despite a private sector–led energy boom that has made the U.S. the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. The weak economic recovery and uncertain responses to foreign policy challenges, particularly in the Middle East, in Ukraine, and along the southern U.S. border, have contributed to a loss of support for the President and his party and Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress as a result of 2014 midterm elections.
RULE OF LAWVIEW METHODOLOGY
Property Rights80.0Create a Graph using this measurement
Freedom From Corruption73.0Create a Graph using this measurement
Corruption in government and the political process remains a concern. High levels of government spending and the expansion and complexity of the government’s regulatory agenda have increased opportunities for political favoritism and cronyism. The judiciary functions independently. Protection of property rights has been uneven, with instances of regulatory overreach by the executive branch requiring court adjudication.
LIMITED GOVERNMENTVIEW METHODOLOGY
Government Spending51.8Create a Graph using this measurement
Fiscal Freedom66.2Create a Graph using this measurement
The top individual income tax rate is 39.6 percent, and the top corporate tax rate remains among the world’s highest at 35 percent. Other taxes include a capital gains tax and excise taxes. Tax revenue is equal to 24.3 percent of gross domestic product, and government spending is well over one-third of GDP. Public debt exceeds the value of the economy’s annual production.
REGULATORY EFFICIENCYVIEW METHODOLOGY
Business Freedom88.8Create a Graph using this measurement
Labor Freedom98.5Create a Graph using this measurement
Monetary Freedom76.6Create a Graph using this measurement
The regulatory burden has been mounting. Since 2009, over 150 new major regulations have been imposed at an annual cost of more than $70 billion. As of 2014, 125 new regulations were in the pipeline. The labor market, primarily regulated at the state level, remains flexible. Subsidies for agriculture, health care, and renewable energy have bred economic distortions.
OPEN MARKETSVIEW METHODOLOGY
Trade Freedom87.0Create a Graph using this measurement
Investment Freedom70.0Create a Graph using this measurement
Financial Freedom70.0Create a Graph using this measurement
The average tariff rate is 1.5 percent. Tariffs on clothing are high, sugar imports face tariff-rate quotas, and petroleum and liquefied natural gas exports are restricted. Foreign investment in some sectors is capped. The financial market is well developed, but the 2010 Dodd–Frank Act has instituted more federal regulation, socializing the cost of financial risk-taking and increasing the likelihood of future financial crises and bailouts
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