Blame Canada

The state of our union is mostly free.

This may shock citizens who call America the "Land of the Free." Alas, as the Heritage Foundation demonstrates, Washington has transformed Francis Scott Key's timeless truths into mere lyrics.

In conjunction with the Wall Street Journal, Heritage's 16th annual
Index of Economic Freedom ranks 179 of Earth's economies on ten factors including fiscal discipline, free trade, labor freedom, and corruption. By these measures, America is not No. 1. If economic freedom were an event at Vancouver's Winter Olympics, America would not earn even a bronze medal. In fact, the U.S. fell from No. 6 last year to No. 8 today. No. 1 Hong Kong leads Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Switzerland. Even Canada is economically freer than America.

Even worse, for the first time, the Index rates America "mostly free." From a perfect "Freedom Score" of 100, the U.S. slid from 80.7 points in 2008 to 78 in 2009, thus dropping from the "free" category to "mostly free." Denmark and Chile complete the top ten. So, at least, America is freer than they are.

America's 2.7 percentage-point decline was among the steepest recorded. Only eleven economies deteriorated more rapidly. These include such Marxian paradises as Bolivia, Ecuador, Libya, and Venezuela. Not even Cuba, Zimbabwe, or North Korea (rated Nos. 177 to 179) slipped as much, although they already sat at the bottom of the list.

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