Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Freedom's Peak

A small cause for celebration in these gloomy times: the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom just published ranks Ireland the fourth freest country in the world. The full Irish results here.

As I noted before, we wear our freedom lightly in Ireland, taking it somewhat for granted. This is foolish - dangerous even. Looking at the data for Ireland in the chart it is clear that we are below the global average already for fiscal freedom and Government size. But as the 2009 report points out, both these measures are expected to deteriorate in Ireland this year. We may be at the peak of economic freedom in our country. I hope not.

Economic freedom is vital to economic recovery. As the authors of a recent study - The Sizzle of Economic Freedom - point out, the benefits of greater economic liberty include:
  • Higher personal income
  • Less unemployment
  • Faster economic growth
  • More macroeconomic stability
  • Greater capital investment and productivity
  • More business startups
  • More entrepreneurship and innovation
  • A better-educated workforce
  • Less poverty and inequality
  • Better health
  • Greater population inflows
  • A cleaner environment
  • A better quality of life
  • More democracy and peace
That's quite a list. All the more reason to defend and expand the freedoms we enjoy. After all, that is why we became a Republic in the first place.

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