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America’s Diminishing Economic Liberty

The Index of Economic Freedom is my favorite annual publication from the Heritage Foundation. It’s a rich source of information, using dozens of data sources, about economic liberty around the world. I first wrote about the Index back in 2010 and shared the bad news that the U.S. score dropped dramatically in Obama’s first year. […]

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Libertarian Humor: Everything You Need to Know about Statism in One Image

When trying to educate people about the superiority of free enterprise over statism, I generally show them long-run data comparing market-oriented jurisdictions with those that have state-driven economies. Here are some of my favorite examples. North Korea vs. South Korea Cuba vs. Chile Ukraine vs. Poland Hong Kong vs. Argentina Singapore vs. Jamaica It’s my […]

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In One Story, Everything You Need to Know about Big Government and Small Business

All things considered, I like small businesses more than big businesses. Not because I’m against large companies, per se, but rather because big businesses often use their political influence to seek unearned and undeserved wealth. If you don’t believe me, just look at the big corporations lobbying for bad policies such as the Export-Import Bank, […]

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Wonderful Things Happen When the Private Sector Has Breathing Room to Function

In the spirit of the Christmas season, I’m going to be uncharacteristically happy and upbeat today by pointing out that we don’t need perfection to have more prosperity. We don’t even need very good policy to enjoy growth. All that’s really necessary is adequate policy. Just allow the private sector a bit of freedom (I’ve […]

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Creative Destruction, Job Losses, Technological Change, and Human Progress

There’s a meme on Facebook and Twitter that asks people to “confess your unpopular opinions.” I suppose I could play that game by saying that I’d rather eat fast food than patronize most fancy restaurants (especially if I have to pay the bill!). And I’ve unintentionally played that game already by admitting that politicians aren’t […]

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The Deadly Impact of Government Regulations on Organ Transplants

Economists are sometimes considered to be a bit odd, and the same thing is sometimes said about libertarians. And since I’m a libertarian economist, I realize that makes me doubly suspect. So when I’ve written about the desirability of market-based organ transplants (see here, here, and here), I realize some people will instinctively object because […]

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Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, which Nation Has the Most Total Freedom of All?

Libertarians are sometimes described as people who don’t want the government to interfere in either the bedroom or boardroom, which is a shorthand way of saying that there should be both personal freedom and economic freedom. Based on this preference for liberty and a desire to avoid government coercion, what’s the most libertarian nation in […]

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The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Sweden

I’m in Sweden today, where I just spoke before Timbro (a prominent classical liberal think tank) about the US elections and the implications for public policy. My main message was pessimism since neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton support genuine entitlement reform. But I’ve addressed that topic many times before. Today, motivated by my trip, […]

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A (Sadly Short) List of Admirable Foreign Leaders

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for President, supposedly made a political mistake when he couldn’t name any foreign political leaders that he admires. If his inability to produce a list of names was the result of being clueless about world affairs, then I suppose he can be legitimately criticized. But what if he couldn’t […]

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The Unsung Economic Success Story of New Zealand

When writing a few days ago about the newly updated numbers from Economic Freedom of the World, I mentioned in passing that New Zealand deserves praise “for big reforms in the right direction.” And when I say big reforms, this isn’t exaggeration or puffery. Back in 1975, New Zealand’s score from EFW was only 5.60. […]

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The Decline of Economic Liberty During the Bush-Obama Years

When Economic Freedom of the World is released every September, it’s like an early Christmas present. This comprehensive yearly publication is a great summary of whether nations have policies that allow people economic liberty. I eagerly peruse this annual survey every year (here’s what I wrote in 2015 and 2014 if you’re curious about a […]

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The Chinese Miracle and the Economics of Growth

I’m in Shenyang, China, as part of the faculty for Northeastern University’s International Economics and Management program. My primary role is to talk about the economics of fiscal policy, explaining the impact of both taxes and spending. But regular readers already know my views on those issues, so let’s look instead at the vaunted Chinese […]

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Free Markets and Small Government vs. Redistributionism and State Planning

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly tied to explain why socialism is a terrible system while also explaining that we should be careful not to label people as socialists if it’s more accurate to refer to them as statists, redistributionists, cronyists, or fascists. To help illuminate this issue, here’s a four-quadrant matrix. Free markets are on […]

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Improbable Success: How Free Markets Created the Chilean Miracle

I shared yesterday a remarkable TV show about Estonia’s entrepreneurial miracle. Today, let’s look at the Chilean version in the series. It shows how the South American nation, which now is ranked very high for economic freedom, is a shining example of how small government and free markets are a recipe for good results. I […]

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Five Big Reasons to Applaud the Improbable Success of Estonia…and Five Small Reasons to Worry

Communism is an evil system. Freedom is squashed and people are merely cogs in a system where government exercises total control over the economy and destroys the lives of ordinary people. It also erodes the social capital of a people, telling them that individual initiative and success are somehow exploitative and evil. So when such […]

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National Competitiveness and Economic Freedom

At the risk of oversimplifying, libertarians want to minimize the level of government coercion is society. That’s why we favor both economic liberty and personal liberty. Simply stated, you should have the right to control your own life and make your own decisions so long as you’re not harming others or interfering with their rights. […]

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A Visual Lesson about Economic Freedom

I’m in Marrakech where I just spoke about the importance of economic freedom and entrepreneurship. To close out my presentation, I zipped through several slides showing how nations with pro-market policies enjoy faster long-run growth than countries burdened by statism. The obvious conclusion is that even modest improvements in economic growth, if sustained for a […]

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Chile, Venezuela, and the Left’s Support of State over Prosperity

Venezuela is falling apart. Decades of bad policy have produced economic stagnation and misery. On the other side of South America, Chile has enjoyed comparatively strong growth since reforms began in the 1980s. Can we learn lessons by comparing these two nations? Yes. More than five years ago, I compared three decades of data to […]

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Three Cheers for Sweatshops, Creating Opportunity and Upward Mobility for the World’s Poor People

From a leftist perspective, making lots of money is not necessarily a bad thing. Rich Hollywood celebrities almost always get a free pass, especially if they embrace statist beliefs. The crowd in Silicon Valley also is generally forgiven for being rich, perhaps because they donate to politicians like Bernie Sanders. Folks on Wall Street, by […]

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Private Investment Leads to Progress, Government Income Results in Cronyism

According to Economic Freedom of the World, there are five major factors that determine a nation’s economic performance. Here’s the recipe for growth and prosperity. Rule of law and property rights. Small government. Stable monetary policy. Reasonable regulatory policy. Free trade. This great publication is the first thing I check when I want to see […]

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