The Seven Year Decline of Economic Freedom

What a condescending dolt that Harry Reid is…good golly!  Not since Teddy Kennedy has there been a U.S. Senator that was hungrier for a knuckle sandwich.

On Tuesday the dissembling Senate Majority Leader thought he had it in the bag.  He was wrong.  Votes on two proposals to renew emergency unemployment benefits, which expired several days after Christmas, failed.

You can hear the tree branch of extended unemployment benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed cracking and creaking.  If a compromise isn’t reached when the Senate returns from vacation later this month, it could snap right off.  Then what?

We don’t quite know for sure.  But we suppose a large number of people will have to figure something out…and quick.  Their stomachs will compel them.

For this is the downside of tree branch economics.  As we elaborated earlier this month, we do not advocate increasing government programs.  Extended unemployment benefits should have never been enacted in the first place.  Yet we also recognize that growing a tree branch of mass dependency and then hacking it off is cruel and insulting.

Washington Ignominy

Unwittingly, this is what the Senate has done.  Naturally, when they first legislated extended unemployment benefits they thought they were doing something good.  Regrettably, by initiating a program of mass dependency they debilitated people.

The moral hazards and unintended consequences of their actions were never considered.  That, you see, would have taken something the Senate is incapable of…thoughtful deliberation.  Now many good people who took the Senate’s rotten bait will suffer the penalties.

Obviously, it had to happen at some point.  Perhaps there’s no time like the present to reduce the number of people on the government dole.  Plus, overtime, eliminating the program will end up helping people.

Who knows?  This could be the kick in the pants some dependents need to get out there and try something new.  Maybe they’ll learn a fresh skill.  Or, with just a knock or two, find a new door of opportunity open up to them.

Others have been able to make the leap back into the workforce.  We’re confident this lot of individuals will too.  Nonetheless, it doesn’t make the political games played in Washington any less ignominious.

The Seven Year Decline of Economic Freedom

Indeed, this is but one example of the disruptive effects of government intrusion into the economy and the lives of people who comprise it.  Quite simply, the less dependent an economy is on the heavy hand of government the stronger it is.  So, too, less intervention means greater freedom.

But we’re not sure anyone really cares about economic freedom…accept for a few killjoys and wet blankets.  Sure most Americans would say they’re all for it.  Though, the experience over the years is a society willing to trade economic freedom for comfort.

According to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom published this week by the Heritage Foundation, the United States is no longer one of the world’s Top 10 freest economies.  By their ranking we’re number 12 – one spot behind Estonia.  Moreover, this marks the seventh consecutive year where a loss of economic freedom was recorded.

To be frank, we didn’t have the time or desire to evaluate how the scoring criteria were applied.  Unquestionably, there are many varying ways this could have been developed with varying prejudices.  However, we do think they hit the nail square on the head with the following analysis…

“Substantial expansion in the size and scope of government, including through new and costly regulations in areas like finance and health care, has contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom.  The growth of government has been accompanied by increasing cronyism that has undermined the rule of law and perceptions of fairness.”

We can’t argue with that.  Can you?


MN Gordon
for Economic Prism

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