Remember the Misery Index? The simple formula – unemployment percent plus inflation percent – was created by an LBJ advisor and used for a while as a campaign tool. Jimmy Carter set the record of 21.98, in June of 1980. I remember those days – we were forced to turn down our thermostats and wear sweaters, drive roller-skate cars made of tin foil and wait in line for rationed gas, and pay 18% interest on our mortgages. For you youngsters: no I’m not being sarcastic – it’s the truth.
The Misery Index was rendered useless in more recent times when the Federal Reserve decided to artificially hold interest rates to zero to hide the extent of our economic crisis.
But there still is an indicator of how well our nation is doing for its citizens, and it compares us to other countries: the Economic Freedom Index. It’s a broader measurement of each nation’s citizens’ well-being, measuring such things as property rights, freedom from corruption, limited government, regulatory efficiency, and open markets. The aggregate is an indicator of how easy, or difficult, it is to do business and make a living.
While other nations move up the scale, in the last few years the United States has slid down. Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous state of communist China, has moved up to number one. Singapore, Australia and New Zealand follow close behind. Canada is number six. Norway, the darling nation of liberals, is number 40.
According to the Heritage Foundation:
The United States’ economic freedom score of 76.3 drops it to 10th place in the 2012 Index. Its score is 1.5 points lower than last year, reflecting deteriorating scores for government spending, freedom from corruption, and investment freedom.
What would it take to get us back in the leadership position we were accustomed to?
Restoring the U.S. economy to the status of a “free” economy will require significant policy changes to reduce the size of government, overhaul the tax system, and transform costly entitlement programs. By boosting growth in the private sector, such freedom-enhancing policies are the best hope for bringing down high unemployment rates and reducing public debt to manageable levels.
Seems to me that’s what Romney and the conservatives are proposing. The other guys? Well, they would like us down there with Norway. Or Uganda. It would be more fair that way.
If the Misery Index made us cry in the Carter years, our declining Economic Freedom Index under Obama should have us reaching for a XXL hanky.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
And when the sun comes up
I’ll be on top
You’ll be way down there