The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on America's economic freedom:
You can now say America's free economy is a "mostly free" economy.
It's official - the United States has fallen from the list of the world's top 10 freest economies. The newly released 2014 Index of Economic Freedom by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal places the United States at No. 12, down two spots from No. 10 last year.
The United States is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom in each of the past seven years, starting with the tail end of the Bush administration and continuing through the Obama presidency.
"Now considered only a 'mostly free' economy, the U.S. has earned the dubious distinction of having recorded one of the longest sustained declines in economic freedom, second only to Argentina, of any country in the (20-year) history of the Index," observe the report's editors, Ambassador Terry Miller, Anthony B. Kim, and Kim Holmes, Ph.D., all Heritage Foundation scholars.
It doesn't take a scholar to figure out the underlying causes to our decline, but experts lay them out anyway: reckless government spending, onerous regulations, bureaucratic red tape, the nationalization of American industries, trillion-dollar annual deficits and, the latest and greatest, Obamacare.
"Implementation of the health care law passed in 2010 has hit major snags and appears to be significantly hurting job creation and full-time employment," the editors write.
If you're wondering about our current standing in the world, the United States is now sandwiched behind No. 11 Estonia and No. 13 Bahrain.
The top 10 (in order of rank) are Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Mauritius, Ireland and Denmark. The top six are in the "free" economic category. So, in a nutshell, nonstop expansion of the state is causing our economic freedoms to plummet.
"Substantial expansion in the size and scope of government, including through new and costly regulations in areas like finance and health care, has contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom," the index editors write.
How can the trend be reversed? By making it easier for Americans to acquire wealth, for starters. Don't let over-regulation smother our nation's legendary entrepreneurial spirit.
If the United States suffers another drop in this ranking next year, citizens' economic suffering could continue for many more years to come.