Hong Kong the Free

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Chinese proverb

“Teaching a man to fish presupposes that he have a right to fish and a right to keep the fish he catches. It assumes that he can take his fish to market and sell it, and use the proceeds to buy clothes for his kid.” – Art Pope

The Heritage Foundation just released its latest rankings for freedom in world economies, based on factors including economic openness, trade, the efficiency of domestic regulators, and the rule of law (story here). This is actually nothing new, Hong Kong has long been a dramatically free economy, with good cause.

For years Hong Kong was under British rule, surrounded by communist China. They have no natural resources to speak of, just a big city and a port. How did they survive? For one thing, they kept the economy free. That meant more than allowing people to buy, sell, work, and employ as they please – being free to do business with each other. It also meant that you kept your proceeds; no other individuals had a right to claim your productivity for their own benefit. There was no free lunch, no entitlements.

I don’t know how much things have changed now that Hong Kong is under Chinese rule, but apparently they have stayed free enough to maintain their status as a world leader.

The report can be found at www.heritage.org, and notes: “The United States’ economic freedom score is 77.8, making its economy the 9th freest in the 2011 Index. Its score is 0.2 point lower than last year, reflecting deteriorating business freedom, trade freedom, government spending, and monetary freedom. The U.S. is ranked 2nd out of three countries in the North America region, and its overall score is well above the world and regional averages.” [emphasis added]

That’s a painful pill to swallow. The US ranks 2nd out of THREE countries in the North America region. We’re ahead of Mexico – which is currently run by drug cartels – but we trail Canada on the economic freedom index. Socialist Canada! My how the mighty have fallen. From the era of Reagan where we stood as a bulwark of freedom, to the age of Bush & Obama, where we aren’t even the most free economy on the continent.

Most disturbingly, the US slipped to a score of 54.6 (out of 100 in the index) on Government Spending, by far our lowest category. That puts us in the “mostly unfree” bracket – heading towards a score of under 50, which is deemed “repressed”. Right here in America.

So we tip our hats to Hong Kong – land of the economically free.

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