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Freedom Wins Every Time

Posted July 27, 2021

In 1978, my parents, following the great American tradition, packed up the green Ford station wagon and headed west across the country.

The dog slept in the footwell as my brother and I rode tail gunner, staring backward across the plains and pumping our arms for the truckers to blast their horns. I had an imaginary scythe that cut telephone poles in half and sliced off the tops of hills.

It's been 40 years since I last looked at the Black Hills and saw the true West for the first time.

FreedomFest happened last week in Rapid City, South Dakota, and it was a great time for anyone who enjoys liberty. It is a libertarian conference with the basic idea that you should leave people alone and not harm them or steal their stuff.

That’s an ethos I can get behind.

The place was full of people who believe in the power of the individual over government and bureaucracies. It is an obvious truth that the larger the government gets, the smaller the individual becomes.  

Ever wonder why masks and chicken sandwiches are now political? It’s because the government controls every aspect of our lives — even the smallest detail becomes a political football. Even if it's not, it makes it one, creating justifications out of thin air.

Every concession given is one more lost forever. This matters not just in a spiritual sense but also because freer countries are happier, healthier, and more prosperous.

Economic Freedom Index

According to the Heritage Foundation's 2021 Index of Economic Freedom, the U.S. is doing well but falling down the list:

The United States’ economic freedom score is 74.8, making its economy the 20th-freest in the 2021 index. Its overall score has decreased by 1.8 points, primarily because of a decline in fiscal health. The United States is ranked third among 32 countries in the Americas region, and its overall score is above the regional and world averages.

The United States received its lowest score and lowest ranking ever in the index, although it remains “mostly free.” The major obstacles to greater economic freedom in the United States continue to be excessive government spending, unsustainable levels of debt, and intrusive regulation of the health care and financial sectors.

Here is a chart that describes what I’m talking about. The blue circle represents the poorest 10% of people in the country. Though this chart is getting older, it still makes a valid point. The poorest people in the U.S. would be solidly middle class in France, Italy, or Portugal.

Better Life Index

France is ranked No. 64 on the Economic Freedom Index.  

That’s not to say the United States is heading in the right direction — we haven't had a balanced budget since the Clinton years, and even that was heavily massaged.

The reason our Economic Freedom Index has fallen from the top 10 to 20 is that we now have a debt-to-GDP ratio of 133%. The IMF predicts this will hit 160% by 2030.  

That 160% number is a line in the sand for many economists. In the best-case scenario, countries get trapped in low-growth stagflation. The worst case is high inflation, falling currencies, general poverty, and IMF bailouts.   

In the meantime, you should own strong assets, because in dollar terms, everything is going up in price.

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Christian DeHaemer

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Since 1995, Christian DeHaemer has specialized in frontier market opportunities. He has traveled extensively and invested in places as varied as Cuba, Mongolia, and Kenya. Chris believes the best way to make money is to get there first with the most. Christian is the founder of Bull and Bust Report and an editor at Energy and Capital. For more on Christian, see his editor's page.

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