Boo Yah! US Now Ranks 6th in Economic Freedom.

The Brett Kavanaugh firehose is still spewing at full strength, but there’s nothing new coming out and I need a break. So, via James Pethokoukis, here is the Fraser Institute’s index of economic freedom for the United States over the past 50 years:

In 2016 we ranked 6th in the world. For some reason, our economic freedom improved all the way through 2000 and then suddenly took a steep dive that didn’t stop until 2011. I don’t really know why, and the report doesn’t explain much. Maybe it has something to do with laws and regulations passed after 9/11?

These kinds of indexes may or may not have any value, but for some reason I’m often curious about why the US allegedly improved or declined. According to the underlying spreadsheet, here are the ten subcategories of economic freedom that showed the biggest improvement between 2015 and 2016:

Odd. There were big improvements in 2016 in two categories related to courts, but I can’t think of any real reason why that should be. Ditto for our attitude toward bribery. And then there’s overall business regulation, which improved in three different areas: administrative requirements, bribery, and bureaucracy costs. But this was during the Obama era, when Republicans kept telling us that liberal regulations were stifling the country and ruining the economy. This is just the opposite of what the Fraser folks think. They say that in the overall category of business regulations, we improved about 6 percent between 2009 and 2016. How about that?

The full Fraser Institute report is here.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.