Whoops! U.S. Slipped in Four Freedom Rankings This Year.


It's not yet time to break out the phony passports or head for the secret compound in the mountains, but the United States is taking a bit of a drubbing this year when it comes to assessments of the country's freedom and, more specifically, the direction in which the government is moving in terms of its respect for individual rights. While the U.S. still gets high marks relative to the vast majority of the world for the degree to which it respects the liberty of the individual, those standings are slipping. In two major rankings of economic freedom, one of Internet freedom, and a report on freedom of the press, the land of the free has been called out this year for being a little less free than it has been in the past, and for signs of a troubling trend toward greater surveillance and control.

In the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, the United States had already slipped out of the Free and into the Mostly Free category even before further losing ground this year.

The United States, with an economic freedom score of 76, has lost ground again in the 2013 Index. Its score is 0.3 point lower than last year, with declines in monetary freedom, business freedom, labor freedom, and fiscal freedom. The U.S. is ranked 2nd out of three countries in the North America region, and its score remains well above the world and regional averages.

Registering a loss of economic freedom for the fifth consecutive year, the U.S. has recorded its lowest Index score since 2000. Dynamic entrepreneurial growth is stifled by ever-more-bloated government and a trend toward cronyism that erodes the rule of law.

Index of Economic Freedom: USA
Heritage Foundation/Index of Economic Freedom

The Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World: 2013 Annual Report (PDF) agrees that the country is on the wrong path.

Throughout most of period from 1980 to 2000, the United States ranked as the world's third-freest economy, behind Hong Kong and Singapore. As Exhibit 1.5 indicates, the chain-linked summary rating of the United States in 2000 was 8.65, second only to Hong Kong. By 2005, the US rating had slipped to 8.21 and its ranking fallen to 8th. The slide has continued. The United States placed 16th in 2010 and 19th in 2011. The 7.74 chain-linked rating of the United States in 2011 was nearly a full point less than the 2000 rating.

What accounts for the decline of economic freedom in the United States? While the US ratings and rankings have fallen in all five areas of the EFW index, the reductions have been largest in Legal System and Property Rights (Area 2), Freedom to Trade Internationally (Area 4), and Regulation (Area 5). The plunge in Area 2 has been huge. In 2000, the 9.23 rating of the United States was the ninth highest in the world. But by 2011, the area rating had slid to 6.93, placing the United States 38th worldwide. The 2.30-point reduction in the Area 2 rating of the United States was tied with Venezuela as the largest reduction among the countries rated.

Unshockingly in the year of Edward Snowden, the United States also won a booby prize for its treatment of Internet freedom. Freedom House's Freedom on the Net 2013 found:

The United States has a robust legal framework that supports free expression rights both online and offline, and the U.S. does not typically prosecute individuals for online speech. The broader picture of user rights in America, however, has become increasingly complex as a series of U.S. government practices, policies, and laws touch on, and in some cases appear to violate, the rights of individuals both inside the U.S. and abroad. Government access to phone and internet records is a major concern, especially following newly revealed information about NSA surveillance practices. Aggressive prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) has also been criticized. In addition, the privacy of NGOs, companies, and individual users is threatened by a growing number of cyberattacks initiated by both domestic and international actors.

Not just NSA surveillance, but also the prosecution (really, persecution) of Aaron Swartz rated mention in the report. As a result, the U.S. suffered a "significant" loss in ratings of Internet freedom—an assessment that put it in the company of India, Brazil, and Venezuela in terms of slippage, though not (and, hopefully, never) in final ranking.

Internet freedom
Freedom House

Freedom House still gives the United States high marks in press freedom, but that review predates revelations this year about secretive Justice Department investigations of reporters at the Associated Press, Fox News and elsewhere, and controversy over targeting of whistleblowers and other assaults on transparency by the Obama administration. Reacting to those developments, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a not-so-rosy assessment warning:

U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise. Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists.

The developments former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. highlights in his report aren't new, nor are they unique to the Obama administration. But they have worsened with time and seem to be hitting critical mass, representing a sea change in the federal government's treatment of aggressive scrutiny by journalists and of government employees who talk to the press. Downie describes the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 as a "watershed" that triggered growth in the security state and hostility to independent scrutiny.

Again, the United States still ranks higher than most countries in terms of civil liberties, economic freedom and overall government respect for individual rights. But, across-the-board slippage in these areas, especially when it seems to be a continuing trend, isn't exactly a good sign.

NEXT: Heckuva Job: Contractor Behind Obamacare Website Awarded $7 Million in Federal Contracts Since October 1

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  1. Yeah, well what about the Freedom to not have to be ripped off by evil insurance companies, huh??

  2. In the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, the United States had already slipped out of the Free and into the Mostly Free category

    Yes but that is just the Heritage Foundation which hates Obama anyway because they’re all racist and neo-confederates who don’t like them gays.

    /Progressive retard

    1. I also heard they totally promote plagiarism.

      1. I also heard they totally promote plagiarism.

        1. ^^ FUTURE GOP Pres/VP CANDIDATE

        2. I also heard they totally promote plagiarism.[1]

          1. Citizen Nothing, Whoops! U.S. Slipped in Four Freedom Rankings This Year, J.D. Tuccille, Nov. 5, 2013, 1:03 pm

          1. If I cite something already plagiarized, am I a plagiarist?

            1. No, you’re a racist.

              1. He’s posting here, I thought that was a given.

    2. And the Fraser Institute in Canada worship the evil Harper and eats babies seeing they’re a conservative think-tank who also hates gays and Celine Dion.

      /Canadian progressive retard.

      1. The running theme I’ve always seen with the Fraser Institute is that they’re evil shills for the oil companies/Conservative Party for being pro-oil sands.

        I do think that attempts to make Tories in this country into fundamentalist Christians are pretty funny though.

        1. Yeah, they try hard. Fraser is the only think tank that takes a sober look at universal health care her. And since the picture ain’t so hot, it drives the derpy progs nuts.

          The left pretty much sees everyone that way. I once left a very innocuous remark about public health on a liberal site a few years back and I was basically called a murderer. Even though I had facts to back me up. I posted the facts and my mistake was it was from Fraser – boy are progressives tolerant.

          The other thing I find amusing is that Harper plays music and is a natural historian having written a book about the history of hockey. He was a whiz kid in school. Yet, NO ONE talks about this in the media. BUT, if this were some NDP douche or the vapid drama queen Justin Trudeau holy shit they’d be singing how ‘cool and smart’ he is.

          I bet right here and now Harper is a superior thinker than Obama. It’s not even a contest. He’s even a better speaker.

  3. Whoops! U.S. Slipped in Four Freedom Rankings This Year.

    But… Declaration of Independents and Libertopia!11!

    1. Yeah, libertarian voters can swing elections. Someday we’ll start doing it.

  4. What about the freedom to live at the expense of everyone else?

  5. Freedom? You can’t handle freedom.

  6. How did you we do in the anal rape catagory?

    1. Why is it always “sex, sex, sex” with you?

      1. Dude – boner’s gonna bone.

  7. If you like your freedom, you’ll get to keep it, unless I decide that it’s actually substandard freedom that you shouldn’t have liked.

    1. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Obama has a habit to say silly things that gives us memes to have a few laughs with.

      1. You fuckfaced fucking fucker fuck.

          1. Thanks for pulling your face out of a dead bum’s asshole long enough to comment.

            1. Just be glad I made the effort. This asshole is tasty.

              1. Were there drugs in there?

                1. It depends on what you consider “drugs”.

                  1. Jenkem.

                    1. Bath salts? Are you sure which end he’s chewing on?

        1. We all know you don’t sugarcoat things, so your invocation of this meme is unnecessary and should be reported to the Department of Redundancy Department.

    2. I’m not going to sugarcoat it… this comment is excellent.

  8. Where does the U.S. stand on the Buttplug Purity Test? I’m guessing it gets an infinity out of 100 while Obama is in office.

    1. Buttplug gives the US 3 enemas and a colonoscopy.

    2. +100 for the democrats and Obama, the greatest freedom-loving president in our history, but -50 for all those ratfucking teabaggers who stand in the great Obama’s way, of the kind we see all throughout the Peanut Gallery here. So, a total of 50.

  9. Breaking: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admits he smoked crack cocaine.

    1. “So, I wasn’t lying. You didn’t ask the correct questions,” Ford said.

      Canadians get the government we deserve.

      1. Shorter R. Ford: “Fuck you assholes! HAHA!”

      2. You Canadian, Paul?

        And no kidding.

        Montrealers had a chance to vote in true refreshing candidates for Mayor and who do they lock in? Fucking the crony Denis Codere who has a bunch of Union Montreal councilmen from the previous corrupt administration.

        And then they act all shock when corruption happens. Fucking dumbass idiots.

        Same thing in Laval (a city as big as Pittsburgh in terms of population). Rather than mix up the council seats they give a mandate to one fucking party. It’s not like the previous guy – Vaillancourt was arrested for corruption – was soooo responsible with his mandate. It’s been alleged by the cops he stole $40 million.

        That’s Nigerian warlord territory right there.

        I could go on but suffice to say I was disappointed by my fellow compatriots.

        1. “I was disappointed by my fellow compatriots”

          To quote the famous livertarian thinker, Berthold Brecht, ‘Wouldn’t it be easier to dissolve the people and elect another in their place?’

    2. Dude, you’re out there!

      “It was great. Its crack. It gets you really high.”

    3. And this is a big deal because?

  10. I would say the US is indisputably better than the rest of the world in two key areas: freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

    Everything else has gone to shit in the past 40 years.

    1. Freedom of speech is going to shit too. Just less than the rest of the world. Don’t you worry, pretty soon it will be hater speech statutes will dictate our discourse worse than the EU.

      1. I’m cautiously optimistic on speech. Outside of commercial and political speech, there is very little call for any sort of speech restrictions and the courts are generally pretty good on it. And it is pretty broadly supported across political spectrum, so it’s not likely to become a partisan issue.

        1. “Outside of commercial and political speech” … So, two of the most important ones then?

          1. I agree that those are important. And it has actually gotten more free on the political side recently. But my main point is that commercial and electioneering restrictions have been around for a long time. They are not evidence that the rest of free speech is about to be eroded with Canada/Euro style hate speech laws. We are better than the rest of the world on free speech and likely to stay that way. Though there is lots of room for improvement.

            Why does everyone have to be so negative all the time? There is no prize for most gloomy predictions coming true. Try being optimistic occasionally. It’s nice.

            1. Clearly you don’t expect the Spanish Inquisition. But our journalists are getting accustomed to it. When they aren’t being strongarmed by the DoJ, FBI and NSA.

            2. Or how about North Carolina’s occupational licensing laws trumping free speech concerns? Want to give diet advice? You need a license.

        2. Outside of commercial and political speech, there is very little call for any sort of speech restrictions…

          Campus Speech codes are certainly outside of those areas. And they aren’t getting better.

    2. Gun rights, as well.

      1. Indeed. Is there any other country that even comes close on private gun ownership?

        1. Switzerland is the only other one I can think of.

          1. Switzerland is certainly better than some states, but still seems more restrictive than the more gun friendly states.

          2. Somalia’s pretty good on that issue. Afghanistan, too.

            1. We should invest in some somalian startup just to shut these fucker progtards up.

  11. So… how hard is it to get into NZ or Aussie-land? Some sort of beer quaffing contest?

    1. I don’t think you’d want to go to either of those places. They don’t have freedom of speech, or any kind of 4th Amendment-type protections, they have terrible gun laws, and they are following the limeys down a very heavily statist path. Same with Canada.

      That’s the problem. There’s really no even close to ideal place to go. If there were, I think a lot of us would be there already.

      1. at least my mumbling will become a positive.

      2. My living room is pretty good on all those.

      3. Also they don’t look too kindly on placental mammals.

        1. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the Wallace Line, Hugh.

      4. Chile’s not ideal, but it is very good and has been improving.

        If you know Spanish or are willing to learn, you should consider it. I know I am.

        1. I keep a close eye on Chile and every few weeks check up on their political news.

          It’s a sad thing to think that my wife and I are actively planning on having to get the hell out of here in our lifetime. My wife has been working on her Spanish should Chile be the best option and I’m freshening up my Mandarin for Singapore.

          Too bad Hong Kong is primarily Cantonese (and Mandarin doesn’t get you nearly as far there as some might think), because the option would be nice.

        2. I keep a close eye on Chile and every few weeks check up on their political news. I’ve got a buddy who moved to Singapore this year and keeps me fresh on that country as well (it’s a pretty boring place, it seems).

          It’s a sad thing to think that my wife and I are actively planning on having to get the hell out of here in our lifetime. My wife has been working on her Spanish should Chile be the best option and I’m freshening up my Mandarin for Singapore.

          Too bad Hong Kong is primarily Cantonese (and Mandarin doesn’t get you nearly as far there as some might think), because the option would be nice.

          1. What the hell? These squirrels are getting out of control!

            1. 3 PM. There’s some sort of update everyday at 3. If nothing happens when you submit, check the time. If it’s 3 PM eastern, just wait. It’ll eventually post.

            2. It’s 3pm – that’s squirrel happy hour

      5. There’s really no even close to ideal place to go. If there were, I think a lot of us would be there already.


        1. ROADZZ!!!

      6. Yeah, but you can fuck all the sheep you want.

      7. Oh well at least Canada got rid of its kangaroo court human rights commission censors after that MacLeans battle over a cover story they did on The Religion of Peace(tm).…..ights-act/

        For all I know even the concept of hate speech could be repealed if free speech advocates mobilized. Remembering my lefty social justice warrior days, minority activists don’t seem to be aware of it or use it too much and I even remember reading arguments against the concept in a gay newspaper – hate speech means not being able to criticize anti-gay activists that hide behind bibles.

    2. Don’t drink with Australians! They don’t process alcohol the way normal humans do.

      1. Plus, they always ask you how much you can bench press, and then they don’t understand pounds, and it’s hard to multiply by .45 in your head when you’re wasted. AUSTRALIANS: NOT EVEN ONCE.

        1. At least they aren’t talking about weight in stone like their limey brethren.

          1. Apparently, you don’t listen to AC/DC.

            1. You are correct. Did I just land flat-footed on a joke then? Something new and different, I know

            2. Most of AC/DC were immigrants to Australia though. I don’t think they use stone there much.

              1. They did before they went metric, but only for body weight (so and so is 11 stone 12 pounds). Now they use kilograms.

                You’ll still hear land described in acres but the official unit is hectares.

    3. I think you’re better off in Eastern Europe or the Baltics.

      But is there any developed, non-shithole country in the world that let’s its citizens freely own firearms? Because I think you may be shit outta luck if that your criterion.

      1. That’s what Groovus Maximus thought. Nobody has heard from him in months.

        1. The women there will seduce you and then eat you.

        2. Isn’t Mrs. Groovova keeping him….err…..busy?

          1. I imagine he’s spent the last few months in a cold, dank Ukrainian gulag, so…yes?

      2. Depends. Are you a hunter or a gun “collector”?

  12. If you like freedom so much go live in Somalia where they have no healthcare or birth control!!!


    1. And those roadz? They didn’t build that.

      1. No one was ever successful without high taxation and central planning. Fact.

    2. And, you are free to be a pirate.

      1. But I don’t wanna be a pirate!

        1. +1 Seinfeld.

    3. But not Somaliland because that’s cheating. It’s not even a real government at all.

  13. Do they figure corruption as in a non-elected presidential aid modifying a law via email on a Friday evening?
    If not, why not?

  14. I believe a key metric in these rankings is the amount of alt-text.

  15. TSA wants to arm agents so they will be safer.…..99345.html
    But I thought arming people made them less safe. I mean, gun free zones and laws against self defense make people safer than arming them, right?
    Oh, wait. We’re talking about government employees. It’s OK for them to be armed because officer safety and going home to their families and all that. They’re different. Peasant safety and going home to their families? Who cares. They’re just peasants.

    1. They’re trained professionals, you glib dolt. Completely different than civilians.

    2. Kennedy mentioned that on her radio show this morning and pointed out that it might be more reasonable to intersperse a few cops (who are actually already there anyway) than to train TSA agents to carry weapons.

      1. “Train”? Ha, jesse, do you think existing cops are trained in any appreciable way? Hold on, I’m going to ask that same question to the two women who were shot by cops looking for Dorner.

        1. IT WAS AN HONEST MISTAKE! When will you let it go, Epi? Two small Asian women driving a blue truck look EXACTLY like one large black man driving a blue truck in the wee hours of the morning. You can’t fucking hold that against them forever.

          1. Well that’s great sarcasm and all that. You should cut the cops some slack.

            Maybe one was sitting on the shoulder of the other to see over the steering wheel.

            Asian’s are sneaky like that.

    3. The calls for this were inevitable. In our government and society, being an armed agent of the state is the marker of being better than the peasants. This is why Chicago aldermen are technically “peace officers”, and therefore can be armed. This is why prosecutors can carry in many places.

      Of course the low foreheads at the TSA want guns and power of arrest. It’s the next step up the bullying food chain.


  16. How many points did we lose for police drug search enema colonoscopy rape?

    1. Not enough. That story is more horrible than most of the horrible stories I read here every day.


  18. TSA wants to arm agents so they will be safer.

    We’d be better off arming the janitors, and giving the TSA agents feather dusters.

    1. I have searchedt, in vain, for a flaw in this reasoning…

  19. Union leaders say the enhanced status would help protect an unfairly demonized workforce, as well as security checkpoints like the one where Friday’s mayhem began.

    Note the complete disinterest in the safety of the travelling public cattle.

    1. Saw the headline but never read the article.

      So we are supposed to give them guns on their hips to raise their self esteem ?

      I thought the government already took care of those self esteem issues by giving them a trophy for coming in last ?

      1. At this point the TSA is beginning to encroach on police territory, and I’m sure most cops must realize that TSA incompetence makes them also look bad by association.

        How long until police commanders just snap and begin treating the TSA like assumed criminals to teach them some respect. Even in messed up police states a certain hierarchy has to be maintained…

    1. act now and you too can get your own Golden Monkey which will automatically remind you of your current worth as a person

      There’s a Mr Show episode for *everything*

    2. Great. Now I’ve got the Jefferson’s stuck in my head.

      1. Come and knock on our door…

          1. Said to the bartender…

        1. You suck.

      2. Wouldn’t that be the Garcia’s?

        Movin’ on up, mang.

  20. If you think that you’re economically free as an American, I suggest that you try to open an individual bank account as a non-resident in a foreign country.

    You will learn that the bank does not want your business because you are American. It’s not because they don’t like Americans or they don’t like American money. It’s not because they don’t like non-resident depositors. They just don’t like doing business with Americans because of the enormous liabilities that American customers pose due to US Treasury regulations.

    Despite all the happy talk about globalization, US Treasury regulations make foreign banking more difficult than ever. They have, in fact, established capital controls by other means.

    1. This is the US government’s way of keeping as much money as possible within the US. And it’s working.

      1. Just wait until we get cash sniffing dogs

        They’ll already confiscate that kind of cash at our borders, or if you’re just walking around with it, or because FUCK YOU. How far until people in this country are trying to “smuggle” their cash out of the country in suit cases?

        1. My great*N grandpa got tired of the Kaiser’s taxes, sold all his belongings for a chest of gold, and came to Freiamerika. His example may be a good one to emulate. I don’t think they have gold-sniffing dogs yet.

        2. Make sure you don’t withdraw more than $10,000 from any of your bank accounts. And don’t withdraw a little less than $10,000 a few times in a row. And don’t have that wad on you if you get pulled over by the police.

          What a free country!

          1. You could conceal and smuggle your life savings in gold pretty easily, I’d think. A standard gold bar is worth roughly half a million dollars, weighs about 27 pounds, and is something like 10″ x 5″ x 3″. You could fit that in a briefcase, and it would be even easier to conceal its equivalent in coins. The trick would be converting your bank accounts to physical gold without attracting notice.

            1. Can you bitcoin yourself money?

              1. That would make more sense, wouldn’t it?

            2. Platinum is far superior when it comes to smuggling. Draw it into a wire, make a hanger out of it and throw a shirt over it.

              The conversion remains as problematic as with gold.

      2. Tell that to google.

    2. The United States is the only country in the world that makes its citizens declare income when they’re living and working abroad… and imposes ENORMOUS fines for failing to file obscure declaration forms with the Dept of Treasury for foreign bank accounts only being used because said citizen is living/working abroad.

      It is not uncommon for American college students spending a year abroad to be hit with relatively enormous fines two or three years after they come back.

      1. I am aware of that. Essentially, the US government claims ownership of all citizens whether on its soil or not, and therefore a cut of their income. And even if you do renounce your citizenship, they hit you with massive exit taxes and fees. We are all slaves to the US government.

        1. Kinda goes against the whole, “If you don’t like it, you can leave!” argument, doesn’t it?

          Like, if I don’t like it, and I’m willing to pay the government off, they’ll permit me to leave.

          It’s indentured servitude.

    3. Every 2 weeks I see how much economic freedom i am allowed to have.

  21. “Whoops! U.S. Slipped in Four Freedom Rankings This Year.”

    The use of “whoops” suggests that the loss of liberty in the last 10 years or so is somehow a mistake or unintended. That’s just not the case.

  22. If current trends continue, the economic freedom of the US will be on par with France! And Rwanda!

    Hope’n’Change? Fundamental Transformation? Forward!?

    1. If current trends continue, in just ten years the economic freedom of the US will be on par with France!
      And Rwanda!

      Squirrels … or something.

      1. But, you’re not factoring in how much more secure the poor are. Isn’t that freedom?


  23. Im making over $13k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.last month her pay check was $12712 just working on the laptop for a few hours. This is what I do,——

  24. My last pay check was 9500 dolr working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is what I do———-

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