The Cato Institute, a Washington think tank, produces an annual report examining economic liberty around the globe. Over the past three decades, average economic liberty has increased, at least slightly. But America — which used to rank second in the world — no longer even makes the top 10.
The annual report examines a host of factors — such as tax rates and regulation, the freedom to trade internationally and the ease with which aspiring companies can enter the marketplace. Although the Cato Institute is libertarian in its political philosophy, it does not advocate unregulated anarchy. Genuine economic freedom requires strong governmental guarantees for property rights, for instance.
As the late great Milton Friedman once put it, “The organization of economic activity through voluntary exchange presumes that we have provided, through government, for the maintenance of law and order to prevent coercion of one individual by another.” It also requires government to provide for a monetary framework, and so forth.
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