Economic Freedom

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The Index of Economic Freedom for 2007, sponsored by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation, is out. Here is Mary Anastasia O'Grady's article in the Journal on it, and here is the Heritage website entry, the data, and the rankings. Only seven countries receive "free" ratings, with a score above 80, and every single one of them is primarily or substantially English-speaking: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The next nine countries, with scores between 75 and 80, are mostly smaller European countries: Luxembourg, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Estonia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, and Finland. Canada, of course, is primarily English-speaking, and my impression is that knowledge and use of English is widespread in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Iceland.

Why are English-speaking countries at the head of this list? Because they–we–are the inheritors of England's traditions of representative government, rule of law, and economic freedom. For more on this, by all means read James Bennett's Anglosphere website.

Thoughts for the Day

Here is my Creators Syndicate column for this week, on the 2007–08 political cycle, and here is Quinnipiac's Peter Brown on the same subject.

Amid the shrieks of rage we have heard in response to George W. Bush's decision to send more troops into Iraq, here are the much cooler analyses of Brookings's Michael O'Hanlon and the Washington Post editorial page.

In my column this week I said that we seem to have entered a period of "open field politics," in which past alignments and allegiances no longer hold. Evidence for this comes from Scott Rasmussen's daily polls on Bush's job rating. Ordinarily Rasmussen's three-day numbers move glacially. But they have gyrated wildly in the past week. Rasmussen had Bush's job approval at 44 percent as of Tuesday night, January 9. The number falls to 39 percent January 10 (when I presume most of the respondents were interviewed before Bush's 9 p.m. speech), 35 percent January 11 and 12, 39 percent January 13, and 41 percent January 14.

I have written recently about the alternative minimum tax. Here blogger (and University of Wisconsin law Prof.) Ann Althouse discusses the AMT, which cost her $4,900 last year, and says, "It's all about living in a blue state."