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经济自由度:美国排名日益萎缩 [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2014-1-19 15:45:42 |Display all floors

World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the US has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries。

  For 20 years, the index has measured a nation's commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability。

  Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment and deteriorating social conditions. For instance, heavy-handed government intervention in Brazil's economy continues to limit mobility and fuel a sense of injustice。

  It's not hard to see why the US is losing ground. Even marginal tax rates exceeding 43% cannot finance runaway government spending, which has caused the national debt to skyrocket. The Obama administration continues to shackle entire sectors of the economy with regulation, including health care, finance and energy. The intervention impedes both personal freedom and national prosperity。

  But as the US economy languishes, many countries are leaping ahead, thanks to policies that enhance economic freedom—the same ones that made the US economy the most powerful in the world. Governments in 114 countries have taken steps in the past year to increase the economic freedom of their citizens. Forty-three countries, from every part of the world, have now reached their highest economic freedom ranking in the index's history。

  Hong Kong continues to dominate the list, followed by Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada. These are the only countries to earn the index's "economically free" designation. Mauritius earned top honors among African countries and Chile excelled in Latin America. Despite the turmoil in the Middle East, several Gulf states, led by Bahrain, earned designation as "mostly free."

  A realignment is under way in Europe, according to the index's findings. Eighteen European nations, including Germany, Sweden, Georgia and Poland, have reached new highs in economic freedom. By contrast, five others—Greece, Italy, France, Cyprus and the United Kingdom—registered scores lower than they received when the index started two decades ago。

  The most improved players are in Eastern Europe, including Estonia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. These countries have gained the most economic freedom over the past two decades. And it's no surprise: Those who have lived under communism have no trouble recognizing the benefits of a free-market system. But countries that have experimented with milder forms of socialism, such as Sweden, Denmark and Canada, also have made impressive moves toward greater economic freedom, with gains near 10 points or higher on the index scale. Sweden, for instance, is now ranked 20th out of 178 countries, up from 34th out of 140 countries in 1996.

  The US and the UK, historically champions of free enterprise, have suffered the most pronounced declines. Both countries now fall in the "mostly free" category. Some of the worst performers are in Latin America, particularly Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia. All are governed by crony-populist regimes pushing policies that have made property rights less secure, spending unsustainable and inflation evermore threatening。

  Despite financial crises and recessions, the global economy has expanded by nearly 70% in 20 years, to $54 trillion in 2012 from $32 trillion in 1993. Hundreds of millions of people have left grinding poverty behind as their economies have become freer. But it is an appalling, avoidable human tragedy how many of the world's peoples remain unfree—and poor。

  The record of increasing economic freedom elsewhere makes it inexcusable that a country like the US continues to pursue policies antithetical to its own growth, while wielding its influence to encourage other countries to chart the same disastrous course. The 2014 Index of Economic Freedom documents a world-wide race to enhance economic opportunity through greater freedom—and this year's index demonstrates that the US needs a drastic change in direction。









  此外,进步最大的选手在东欧——其中包括爱沙尼亚、立陶宛和捷克共和国。这些国家都在过去20年间获得了最大限度的经济自由。这并不令人惊讶:对这些生活在共产主义体制下的人们来说,意识到自由市场体制的好处并非难事。而那些以温和的社会主义形式进行试验的国家,比如瑞典、丹麦、加拿大,同样在获取经济自由上取得了傲人的成绩——他们的指数评级都接近10点甚至超过10点。以瑞典为例,如今它在178个国家里排名第20,而1996年它在140个国家里排名只不过是第34。  历史上美国和英国曾鼓吹自由企业制度,也都曾经历过最显著的衰退。如今,两个国家都掉到了“基本自由”这一分类里。表现最差的几个国家在拉丁美洲,而委内瑞拉、阿根廷、厄瓜多尔和玻利维亚等国在其中尤为突出。这些国家都采取亲民的民粹主义政权,其推行的政策使得公民的财产权无法得到安全保障,国家开销难以为继,通胀也变得更加严重。

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