Independence, Progressive Style

Economic Policy: We sing of America as the land of the free, but it’s no longer the home of a free economy. We now rank 17th in economic freedom — a shameful situation.

The U.S. should have the freest economy in the world and constantly be encouraging others to catch up.

But that’s not the case. In 2013, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Bahrain are judged to have freer economies. “The Economic Freedom of the World: 2013 Annual Report,” a joint effort of the Cato and Fraser institutes, even judges Chile, Jordan and Estonia to have freer economies.

It hasn’t always been this way.

As Cato scholar Ian Vasquez noted on the Cato-At-Liberty blog, America “has seen more than a decade of decline, having been ranked second in the index in 2000, eighth in 2005 and 17th in the current report.”

How can this be? Why the steep downward slide? The answer starts and ends with a government that can’t say “no” to its urge to expand its role forever.

Consequently, America’s ranking has fallen in all areas that the report measures. In size of government, it is ranked 59th out of 152 countries. Our legal system and security of property rights ranks 30th, while our freedom to trade internationally is 43rd.

Worse, the U.S. is a true regulatory state, ranking 121st in credit market regulation and 33rd in business regulations.

The trouble with less-free economies is their universal poor performance. The freer a country’s economy, the more prosperous its people. The less free, the more miserable.

Venezuela, Myanmar, Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Chad are the bottom five (least-free) nations, and it’s no accident that all are wretched places to live.

The life satisfaction that is closely tied to an economy’s openness and the benefits it confers is not widely found in these places. As the report says, “economic freedom … makes people richer, but it also makes them happier.”

Despite the clear advantages produced by a free economy, the U.S. is moving away in the wrong direction. It is a shift that will have severe consequences.

“Unless policies undermining economic freedom are reversed,” say the report’s authors, James Gwartney, Robert Lawson and Josh Hall, “the future annual growth of the U.S. economy will be half its historic average of 3%.”

Reversal is the key, but it won’t happen with the status quo in Washington. We have a White House and its Democratic allies in Congress that want greater government control over the economy.

For them, it’s the America of hope and change. For the rest of us, it’s an unnecessary decline into a second-rate existence. (IBD)

We have ObamaCare still because The Democrats in Washington want it. Not the People. That’s hardly “free”. Or even accurate apparently…

Four people familiar with the development of the software that determines how much people would pay for subsidized coverage on the federally run exchanges said it was still miscalculating prices. Tests on the calculator initially scheduled to begin months ago only started this week at some insurers, according to insurance executives and two people familiar with development efforts. “There’s a blanket acknowledgment that rates are being calculated incorrectly,” said one senior health-insurance executive who asked not to be named. “Our tech and operations people are very concerned about the problems they’re seeing and the potential of them to stick around.” Not surprisingly, instead of inserting a delay, the Obama administration is going to iron out the kinks as we go.

The Obama administration says open enrollment will begin Oct. 1 on schedule. “We may encounter some bumps when open enrollment begins but we’ll solve them,” said Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, one of the main offices within Medicare charged with developing the exchanges, in congressional testimony on Thursday.

Let  the crippled airliner take off anyways and then fix it after takeoff in the air…Yeah, that’s a good plan!!!

Man, how do Congressional Democrats and Government Bureaucrats want this thing. 🙂

Mark Steyn: “This is the United States of America,” declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Missouri, on Friday. “We’re not some banana republic.”

He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, a glorious American tradition that seems to come round earlier every year. “This is not a deadbeat nation,” President Obama continued. “We don’t run out on our tab.”

True. But we don’t pay it off either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, “Mebbe you’ve had enough, pal”, we protest, “Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set ’em up, Joe.” And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you’d run out on your tab back when it was $23.68.

“Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt.”–Obama

SO we must be more Free under him than ever, right? 🙂

Oh, then there’s Energy “independence”…

The administration finally has released its rules for curbing CO2 emissions from U.S. power plants. Far from being a plan to clean up the environment, it is in fact a road map to de-industrialization and poverty.

The tough new rules that will limit carbon dioxide output from new power plants immediately drew protests from the power industry. No surprise. But if Americans really understood what Obama is doing, they’d be up in arms, too.

Far from being an economically sensible plan to reduce U.S. pollution, this proposal will sharply raise the cost of energy to all Americans, while doing little to improve our environment.

Last year, the Institute for Energy Research estimated that the administration’s “regulatory assault” on power plants would eliminate 35 gigawatts of electrical generating capacity — or 10% of all U.S. power.

The new EPA rules will make that even worse. If you wonder why Obama has the worst jobs record of any president in modern history, look no further.

“We know this is not just about melting glaciers,” said Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy in announcing the rules Friday. She linked climate change to a host of spurious public health threats.

Yet just one day earlier, appearing before a congressional committee, McCarthy admitted that even though the EPA already has extensive rules in place to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, she had no evidence that they had done anything to halt global warming.

This is a stunning admission that these regulations aren’t about climate change at all, but rather part of an ideologically driven fight to tear the capitalist heart out of western civilization — plentiful energy, source of our highest-ever standard of living.

Worse, lying about the public health benefits ignores the real costs that come with the new regulations. Many big companies, faced with soaring costs for energy, will simply relocate plants and high-paying jobs overseas.

As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, iconic U.S. aluminum company Alcoa Inc. is moving production and jobs to other countries, in large part due to growing regulations and sharply higher energy costs.

This will be increasingly common, as will energy shortages around the country.

“If the carbon dioxide emissions standard for power plants proposed by the EPA today is enacted, the United States will have built its final coal-fired power plant,” the Competitive Enterprise Institute said.

This isn’t hyperbole. The EPA says its actions won’t cost anything — but will in fact help the power industry grow. This is plainly absurd.

New coal-fired plants will be forced to use technology to trap carbon dioxide and bury it in the ground. Problem is, as the Associated Press notes, “No coal-fired power plant has done this yet, in large part because of the cost.” Nor, we might add, do we have the technology needed to pull it off.

The U.S. has hundreds of years worth of low-cost coal to supply our energy needs. Now it’ll be off limits, thanks to another federal edict that will cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs.

But it will make the Left feel “good” and proud and smug about their superiority and their power to make it happen.

Now that’s freedom.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

FREEDOM IS DEPENDENCE

FREEDOM IS REGULATION

FREEDOM IS CONTROL

🙂

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy