A Final First-Place Finish?
Every year since 1995, The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal have measured the state of economic freedom in the world. We go country by country, poring over the details of who's up, who's down, and who's treading water. And through all the changes we've charted, one thing hasn't changed: Hong Kong takes the top slot. But while Hong Kong in many ways continues to act as a fine example for other countries who aspire to be economically free, its foothold on the number-one spot is slipping.
Mar 5, 2015 - 7:50:35 AM
Opportunity for All, Favoritism to None
"Supporters of free markets, limited government, and robust civil society free from interference by federal overlords must find a way to speak to the people who are being left behind." - Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America
Jan 21, 2015 - 8:10:01 AM
Why Gasoline Prices Are Down -- And How to Keep It That Way
Since 2008, we've increased our domestic supply of oil by 50 percent. Thanks to technological breakthroughs such as hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and horizontal drilling, we're able to find and extract far more oil than we possibly could have years ago. Oil production in states such as North Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma has doubled in the last six years. The U.S. is now the world's number-one producer of oil and natural gas. Signs that read "No to fracking" might as well read, "Yes to higher prices." And "no" to the more than 100,000 jobs created in the oil and gas extraction industry over the last few years.
Dec 14, 2014 - 12:23:03 AM
A Nation of Problem-Solvers No More?
Problem solving makes us stronger, smarter and more confident. Without the ability and the responsibility to solve the problems we encounter on a regular basis, neither success nor happiness is possible. Historically Americans have risen to every challenge and have seen opportunities in every problem we have encountered. But the ambition of the modern welfare state is to eliminate problems entirely and provide a government guarantee of security for all.
Dec 3, 2014 - 7:50:12 AM
The Facts Behind Obamacare's Numbers
Why would so many people be losing employer-based coverage? Because of the negative incentives built into Obamacare. It's cheaper for many employers (who might otherwise face steep rises in coverage costs or fines from Washington) to stop offering coverage altogether and let their employees fall into government-run programs.
Nov 9, 2014 - 3:50:20 AM
Our Great Charter of Liberty
When July 4 rolls around, there's no mistaking it. There are fireworks, parades and other patriotic tributes to our Declaration of Independence. But if you're like most Americans, September 17 comes and goes without any fanfare.
Oct 11, 2014 - 1:53:09 AM
The Encouraging Rise in School Choice
And as education expert Virginia Walden Ford notes in the "2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity," when we consider all school choice options -- deductions for homeschooling expenses, for example -- more than one million children are benefitting from choice in education. That's quite a jump to occur in just over a decade. ...This shouldn't surprise us one bit. It's only natural that parents would take advantage of the rise in school choice options to ensure that their kids were in the best schools possible.
Sep 10, 2014 - 2:00:29 AM
Our National GPS Device
Among the highlights of this year's report: The family tax burden. The amount of money extracted from our paychecks is a good place to start. According to Heritage chief economist Stephen Moore, that tax burden has grown from about 5 percent of national income a century ago to almost 20 percent today. It's 1.7 percentage points higher today than it was in 2004. And -- color me shocked! -- that rise corresponds roughly to the rise in government spending.
Aug 10, 2014 - 12:30:00 AM
The Trouble with Banning Trans Fats
If the amount of artificial trans fats we consume is a problem, it's one we already have well in hand. In 2003, we were consuming 4.6 grams per day, or 2 percent of a 2,000-calorie diet. By 2012, this number had dropped to only 1 gram of trans fat per day, or 0.5 percent of the typical adult diet. In short, even without the FDA trying to restrict consumption, we've had a remarkable 78 percent reduction. The Institute of Medicine recommends that trans fat consumption should be as low as possible, not that we should seek to consume zero trans fat, whether artificial or natural. Yet the FDA is trying to eliminate the consumption of artificial trans fat. Why?
Aug 8, 2014 - 9:15:56 AM
Unions Putting the Squeeze on Home Health Care Workers
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) likes to present itself as the champion of the little guy. But officials of SEIU Healthcare -- "the fastest-growing union of healthcare, child care, home care and nursing home workers in the Midwest" -- aren't averse to a little high-living. For example, in FY 2013 officials of SEIU's Illinois-Indiana healthcare division (SEIU-HCII) chalked up more than $1.1 million in travel expenses -- $13,000 of it on D.C. hotel expenses rung up at President Obama's second inaugural.
Jul 23, 2014 - 2:25:26 AM
Measuring the "Great Society"
Changing this won't be easy. As Nicholas Eberstadt points out in AEI's recent publication The Great Society at Fifty: The Triumph and the Tragedy: "So deeply impressed is the Great Society into our consciousness that, as a practical matter, it is scarcely possible for most citizens now alive even to imagine the American way of life in the days before our huge, activist, modern welfare state came into existence."
Jul 6, 2014 - 2:17:27 AM
The Disastrous Tenure of "Obama's Enforcer"
To some observers, the idea of a truly ethical Justice Department is something of a pipe dream. As far as they're concerned, the attorney general is nominated by a president who's either Democrat or Republican, so we shouldn't be surprised when he conducts business is a partisan manner.
Jul 2, 2014 - 2:05:27 AM
A Costly Way to Limit Free Speech
So they're pushing Udall's amendment, which would not only give Congress the power to limit what you can contribute to candidates, but limit the amount that the candidates could spend on campaigns. Worse, they've carved out exemptions for the media. "Thus, The New York Times and MSNBC could continue to spend as much money, newsprint and airtime as they want supporting their preferred candidates -- or attacking those they oppose," notes von Spakovsky. The rest of us would be out of luck.
Jun 15, 2014 - 6:15:11 AM
Tiananmen Square, 25 Years Later
How many of us would have had the courage to stand there in the face of what seemed like certain death? How far would we have to be pushed before we said, "Enough"?
Jun 8, 2014 - 12:27:21 AM
The Virtue Behind D-Day
But in a more fundamental sense, they couldn't have been more like. All the political power on earth couldn't move Reagan to do the wrong thing. And all the indignity and intimidation of racism couldn't keep Rosa Parks from doing the right thing...And without the courage of ordinary citizens, there would be no great nation to defend. That's something worth celebrating on D-Day ... and every day.
Jun 4, 2014 - 7:17:07 AM
"Reagan at Reykjavik": Breaking The Ice
It was October 1986, and President Ronald Reagan flew to Reykjavik to meet Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev came to the summit prepared to bet big. Those who'd been there immediately painted it as a failure. The media agreed.."No banter, and no progress."...Far more had happened in Reykjavik than anyone knew at the time....Adelman recalls "American and Soviet officials talking informally, asking each other about their families, sharing information and impressions, even laughing together."
May 25, 2014 - 12:15:38 AM
Fostering "Informed Patriotism"
Conservatives believe that America is an exceptional nation because, unlike any other nation, it is founded on an idea -- the idea that "all men are created equal" and are endowed by their creator with "certain unalienable rights," among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, a government is given "just powers from the consent of the governed."..."Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people," John Adams said. "It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."...So the first duty of the people is to ensure that they remain a moral people....The Founders knew that no piece of paper could ensure liberty. Only a people steeped in the principles that animated the Declaration could do that.
May 23, 2014 - 7:32:47 AM
Obama's Trip to Asia: Who Needs Reassurances Now?
But it's not just China's latest round of bellicose behavior that led to such reassurances. Troubling cuts in the U.S. defense budget, especially the wake of last year's "sequestration," haven't gone unnoticed by our allies. They can count warships and bombs as easily as the rest of us, and they aren't happy about what they're seeing.
May 11, 2014 - 12:27:07 AM
Resisting the Rising Tide of Regs
More and more small banks -- in some cases, ones that go back to the 1800s -- are shutting down or merging with larger rivals because they've found that they're unable to cope with the flood of new regulations coming out of Washington. The owners of Shelter Financial Bank, for example, a $200 million bank in Columbia, Mo., closed their doors after estimating that Dodd-Frank would add $1 million more to the bank's expenses. According to one bank official: "It was going to cost more than what we got out of the bank."
Apr 27, 2014 - 12:22:27 AM
Tax Day Shows Need for Tax Reform
Historically speaking, April 15 has never been a day marked by good fortune. The Titanic sank on that day in 1912 (after striking an iceberg shortly before midnight on April 14). Abraham Lincoln died after being mortally wounded the day before. And, of course, there's Tax Day.
Apr 24, 2014 - 7:57:20 AM
Yet Another Pre-School Program?
Anyone who thinks we need a 46th federal pre-school program is in need of some serious remedial education. What need would this initiative fulfill that isn't now being addressed? If federal policymakers want to help, rather than create a new program, they should try reforming the many that they're already running. There are wasted funds and poor results to spare, so they should have plenty to do.
Mar 30, 2014 - 12:15:33 AM
Ambassadorships: Qualified Applicants Need Not Apply?
"I'm no real expert on China." Sobering words to hear from the man nominated by President Obama ... to be U.S. ambassador to China....Their main qualification seems to be that they raised millions for the president's reelection campaign. Sure, blatantly political appointees are nothing new, but this latest batch apparently can't even be bothered to Google the country they'd serve in as ambassadors.
Mar 26, 2014 - 12:20:03 AM
We've all seen the polls. Survey after survey confirms what we already suspect: Confidence in "institutions" keeps dropping. All branches of government are held in disdain. But while this collective judgment is well-founded, a danger arises: that we will simply give up. If government is too big to be responsive to our needs, what good can we do?
Mar 21, 2014 - 8:10:19 AM
Fighting for What's Right on Defense
The first and perhaps the most important thing for conservatives to get right is a wise foreign policy. Only after we ensure we have a sufficiently strong national defense can we turn to the important domestic issues that merit our attention. That means, for starters, making sure that we have sufficient troop levels to defend ourselves and our allies adequately. Yet continued cuts to the defense budget imperil our ability to do that. Recent statements by military officials indicate that the Army may soon shrink to its lowest active-duty end strength size since before World War II.
Feb 23, 2014 - 12:25:24 AM
Upward Mobility: The "True System"
Their faith in this "true system" causes most Americans to think of themselves as middle class. In one Pew survey, 50 percent of Americans called themselves middle class, while a mere 8 percent considered themselves lower class. Those confident Americans are correct, since even if they're not exactly middle class this year, they have the opportunity to be -- and they may well reach their goal in a year or two.
Feb 16, 2014 - 12:23:17 AM
Why the People Don't Trust Government
Americans have learned to be wary of taking what politicians say at face value. You could mine almost any political speech for examples, but consider some of the claims from President Obama's latest State of the Union address. He brought up the wage gap between male and female workers, adding that women "make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns." This implies deliberate discrimination. But the fact is that the average woman tends to make different lifestyle choices when it comes to decisions about where and how much to work, making direct comparisons flawed, to say the least.
Feb 9, 2014 - 12:13:03 AM
Afghanistan: Don't Get Out, Get Smart
That sentence from "Duty," the new book by Robert Gates, should worry all Americans. Because if the former secretary of defense is correct about how President Obama feels about the war in Afghanistan, then we can expect that part of the world to become much more dangerous in the years ahead.
Feb 5, 2014 - 12:17:03 AM
The Danger of Incivility
Alas, what we're seeing in the marketplace of ideas today is a disturbing growth of incivility. This breakdown isn't a failing of either the political left or right exclusively. It spreads from one end of the spectrum to the other. Someone will post a civil comment on some political topic. Almost immediately, someone else swings the verbal hammer of incivility, and from there the conversation degrades into a food fight, with invective and insult as the main course.
Jan 1, 2014 - 1:40:09 AM
Capitalism's Carping Critics
Today, it is no longer beyond the pale to say that capitalism has done more good for more people than any other economic arrangement ever devised by man. Capitalist economies such as the United States are prosperous, growing and expansive, creating opportunities and wealth for ever-increasing numbers of people. The free-market capitalist system in the United States presents opportunities for every individual to improve his or her life.
Dec 19, 2013 - 4:17:15 AM
Don't Hike the Minimum Wage
Indeed, studies show that the latest congressional hike would likely eliminate some 300,000 jobs per year and lower our national economic output (GDP) by more than $40 billion annually. Why? Because raising the cost of labor naturally makes it more expensive to hire, leading cash-strapped employers with no choice but to slow down or freeze hiring.
Dec 15, 2013 - 12:25:03 AM
A Toast to Buckley
William F. Buckley, Jr.: book author, magazine publisher, televised debater... was Bill: friend, ally, trail-blazer. Bill was an entrepreneur whenever he needed to be, and more often than most of us realized, starting National Review when it was not only politically incorrect, but intellectually inconceivable. After all, we were told, conservatives didn't have enough ideas to fill one issue of a magazine, let alone one that would presume to follow a regular publishing schedule.
Dec 10, 2013 - 12:17:28 AM
A Farm Bill in Name Only
Hard as it may be to believe, 80 percent of the farm bill being hammered out by the Senate and the House of Representatives is made up not of agriculture programs, but of food stamps. And if that sounds upside down to you, you clearly don't live "inside the Beltway," where Orwellian logic is the order of the day.
Nov 20, 2013 - 5:27:20 AM
Avoiding Fiscal Catastrophe
Instead of performing many functions poorly, Congress should focus on performing a few functions well. Most highway, education, justice and economic development programs should be devolved to state and local governments, which have the flexibility to tailor local programs to local needs. Empower the private sector. Anyone who has dealt with the post office or lived in public housing knows how wasteful, inefficient and unresponsive government can be. Government ownership of business also crowds out private companies and encourages protected entities to take unnecessary risks.
Oct 20, 2013 - 12:27:14 AM
The Problem with the Arms Trade Treaty
The ATT has numerous flaws. Start with the most obvious: the fact that it won't do what it sets out to do -- regulate the flow of arms to and from rogue states. Major arms exporters such as China and Russia don't support it, and the idea that it will stop, say, Cuba from continuing to arm North Korea (to name two other notable non-signers) is a joke.
Oct 13, 2013 - 12:22:31 AM
Education at a Crossroads
The educational establishment's standard response to educational failure is to call for massive spending increases. Yet today, while inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending has more than doubled since 1970 -- it now exceeds $11,000 per student per year -- academic achievement has stagnated, and high-school graduation rates for disadvantaged children have remained flat....Today, American education stands at a crossroads. One path leads to increased government centralization, fewer parental choices, and a greater role for special interests.
Oct 6, 2013 - 12:20:12 AM
An American "Trial"
The principle of equality in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution refers to equality before the law. This is why it is said that in America, justice is blind. Because the law is objective and written down, all Americans are subject to it equally, regardless of their economic or social background. Today the adjective "Kafkaesque" is often used to describe absurd, nightmarish situations in which an isolated, helpless individual is harassed by remote and inscrutable powers for reasons he can barely fathom.
Aug 18, 2013 - 12:15:01 AM
Amnesty: Skip the Sequel
My friend and colleague Ed Meese is second to no one in his admiration for Ronald Reagan. But the man who served the late president as the nation's 75th attorney general will readily admit it was a serious mistake for Reagan to accept the compromise at the heart of the 1986 immigration "reform" bill, and sign it into law. Why? Because that piece of legislation turned out to be a big amnesty bill. No, it wasn't advertised that way. It was sold as "border security in exchange for amnesty."
Jul 19, 2013 - 4:36:44 AM
Red Tape on the Rise
In fact, it was President Obama himself who said that, in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. He was right. The rules are indeed out of balance. Instead of having only those regulations that are truly necessary to protect the public, we have a plethora of rules that go far beyond that. And yes, they are making it difficult for businesses to innovate, invest or hire.
May 12, 2013 - 12:20:17 AM
Amnesty by Any Other Name ...
It's not amnesty, we're told. Oh, no. Yet the immigration bill that was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate would give legal residency to the 11 million people who are here illegally. News flash: That's amnesty. The immigration reform bill of 1986 was built on a promise to crack down on the flow of unlawful immigrants in exchange for giving amnesty to the three million who were then here illegally. Judging by the fact that the unlawful population has almost quadrupled since then, we can see how well that worked out.
Apr 24, 2013 - 8:29:22 PM
School Choice on the March
These days, freedom is under fire in many ways. So it's nice to be able to report that, in one area at least, freedom is marching in the right direction: education. "Indiana's highest court ruled unanimously in Meredith v. Pence that the Choice Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers to low-income and middle-income families in the Hoosier State, is constitutional," The Heritage Foundation's Lindsey Burke reported recently. "The suit, brought by the teachers unions, sought to end the country's largest and most inclusive school voucher program."
Apr 21, 2013 - 12:17:24 AM