State of Innovation

Patents and Innovation Economics

U.S. Falls to 8th in Economic Freedom

It is a sad day in U.S. history.  According the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal’s 2010 Index of Economic Freedom the U.S. has fallen to eighth.  The U.S. is behind Canada, Ireland, Australia, Singapore, etc.  According to the report the U.S. fell further in the index than almost any other country.  Please read the full report. My only complaint with the report is that they do not rank countries according to their protection of intellectual property.  I think this would be a valuable addition.

January 20, 2010 - Posted by dbhalling | Uncategorized | , , | 15 Comments


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  2. “faRther” (further?)

    Comment by step back | January 21, 2010 | Reply

  3. The heritage organization is often a pure propaganda play:

    “In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, with that freedom … unconstrained by the state.”

    Any way? Totally unconstrained? Oh really?
    (Or should I say O’Reilly?)

    How about if an “individual” who happens to be a minor, wishes to “work” (or at least says they wish to work) in the sex slave business, or as a drug mule, or in selling counterfeit medicines to senile elders, or … ?

    Well you get the picture. The Heritage statement sounds noble and all until you start testing it with some critical thought process.

    And where do all those bogus “scores” come from?
    (Probably from a fair and balanced spin room.)

    Comment by step back | January 21, 2010 | Reply

  4. Stepback, I agree that the Heritage/WSJ index is somewhat arbitrary. However, they are talking about economic freedom – specifically laws and regulations that affect the economy of a country as a whole. I doubt denying people from being drug mules has much effect on the economy. In fact, in a truly free country drug mules would not exist because drugs would be inexpensive and smuggling would not be necessary. The index has a fairly specific methodology. The Fraser Institute also does a ranking of economic freedom. The Fraser institute has a slightly different approach, but the two end up with fairly similar results.

    Comment by dbhalling | January 21, 2010 | Reply

  5. DB,

    I’m sorry. Can you say that again in perhaps a re-phrased way?

    Are you saying that in a “free economy”, drugs like heroine, crack, meth, etc. will be “cheap” and that “entrepreneurs” should be able to “feely” park their vans next to school yards and start to “feely” peddle drugs like heroine, crack, meth, etc. to unsuspecting school children because that is what a ‘free for all economy’ is all about? And best of all, smuggling of such things would be made “unnecessary” and the drugs will be available at drastically reduced prices? Excuse me?

    How about peddling Saturday Night specials (cheap handguns) on the streets and next to elementary schools? That too sounds like a free for all economy. Are you all for that as well?
    As for drug trade not having much of an effect on the over all economy of a country, perhaps you have not been paying attention to what is happening in Mexico lately. Do you want the United States to become another Mexico? How about Haiti? I suspect there are many places in Haiti recently (after the earthquake) where the government is not present and “free for all” unconstrained market forces are showing their true colors. Example: ‘Yo buddy, how would you like to purchase some “protection” from Mr. Bat here in my other hand? I’m doing all I can to hold back Mr. Bat but I’m afraid I won’t be able to hold him back much longer unless you pay for my “protection? services right here and now.’ –Sounds like a free market negotiation to me.

    Comment by step back | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  6. Stepback, a free market is not anarchy. In a free market the government’s main job is to protect people’s property rights. Using Locke’s framework, property rights are derived from the fact that you own yourself and you own your labor (mental and physical). This defines real property rights, intellectual property rights, why slavery is illegal, and most of our criminal laws.

    As for the Mexico, Haita, and the drug laws generally. I will only suggest that you look to the history of prohibition.

    Comment by dbhalling | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  7. “property rights are derived from the fact that you own yourself and you own your labor”


    Sorry to hear that you have adopted the anarcho-Libertarian manifesto. “Ownership” is a man made legal fiction, just as are pretty much everything else in the law. The question is whether it makes for a just and viable civilization.

    As for prohibition, let me suggest that meth, coke and heroine are a whole other class of drugs far beyond alcohol. Even with alcohol, the government does constrain the age at which you can legally start consuming the stuff and situations (e.g. driving) when you are not supposed to be flying high on it. Many a lives and families have been wrecked by booze.

    Comment by step back | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  8. Stepback,

    You are correct that “ownership” is man made. This does not mean that it has no basis in logic or reality. Nor does it necessarily lead to the anarchist point of view that we find so discouraging. If you believe laws are really just arbitrary constructs, then this will lead to anarchy also. Totalitarianism always follows anarchy. When people believe that the law is arbitrary then the application of law is nothing but arbitrary force. The logical conclusion then is that might makes right and people ignore the law and use force to achieve their goals.

    Comment by dbhalling | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  9. “If you believe laws are really just arbitrary constructs …”

    In a more enlightened society, people are persuaded to accept various laws because the reasons for the laws are articulated and debated over and voted upon. It is dogmatic to say that it is a given “fact” that people own themselves and their work. There is no such fact. It might be a conclusion. But it is not a “fact”.

    Good judges generally articulate the reasons which led them to deciding one way or another in a case because they want people to accept their decisions based on thoughtful evaluation rather than as being “cause I said so” edicts.

    When it comes to “ownership”, there have to be reasoned limits on the rights conferred upon the owner. You may “own” your home, but that does not mean you can do whatever you want inside like building and operating a meth lab inside.

    Similarly when it comes to having a so-called, free market, many reasoned constraints have to be placed. You can’t just let everybody do whatever they want whenever they feel like it. Like many an other of good things, too much freedom is not a good thing.

    Comment by step back | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  10. Stepback,

    Here are the facts. Man is a rational animal (Aristole). Every animal has certain conditions necessary for it to exist or thrive. Generally, the conditions that are necessary for animals to survive are those that allow them to maximize their most important asset. For man (homo sapiens) their main attribute is their ability to reason. Force is incompatible with reason, when force is used as the method of resolving disputes then this degrades the conditions under which people survive. The ability to reason without the ability to act is meaningless, so to maximize human potential people have to be allowed to both think and act. While force has to be used only in self defense. Each human reasons individually. They may collaborate but they cannot combine their thoughts. Thus to maximize human potential all people have to be allowed to reason and act independently. Logically, no one has greater rights to a person’s body or mind than themselves. This is the common way of determining who has ownership rights – those with the best claim to something. So I disagree that it is not a “fact” that people own themselves. They also have the greatest claim to the product of their labor, so they own their labor. This also maximizes the conditions under human beings in general can thrive.

    There is an old philosophical debate about whether you can get from an “is” to an “ought”, or more correctly facts can never determine morals. Most philosophers state that it is impossible to get from an is to an ought. This seems to be your position, so this would put you in good company. However, the only assumption necessary to get from an is to an ought is to assume that human life has value. An animal that does not value its own existence will become extinct quickly. So human’s have to create a moral and political/legal system that is maximizes their ability to reason. Ownership of one’s self is the only way to maximize every person’s ability to reason.

    Comment by dbhalling | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  11. DB,

    Well at least you got half of your facts right, namely, that man is an “animal”.

    Now about that “rational” adjective; well, one of these days you and I should take a pause from this patents and property jib jab and instead talk about Charles Darwin and his crazy crazy theories. Until then, let’s just agree to disagree over this philosophical fine point.

    “It is impossible to get from a ["what is"] to an ought [to be]. This seems to be your position.”

    Not at all true. But that too is a discussion for another day. Peace.

    Comment by step back | January 23, 2010 | Reply

  12. Stepback,

    You can be such a pain sometimes. Every evolutionary biologist knows that the wetware between you ears is the main distinguishing feature between humans and other animal.

    Comment by dbhalling | January 23, 2010 | Reply

  13. Every?

    Only Sith Lords speak in absolutes.

    I suspect that many a neuro and ontological biologist would beg to differ with your ideas.

    If “property” rights naturally arise out of sentience, then what parts of the world do sentient creatures other than humans “own”?

    Comment by step back | January 23, 2010 | Reply

  14. Stepback,

    Sorry I was having fun skiing yesterday.

    Are physicists Sith Lords when the state that the reason the earth rotates around the sun is because of gravity?

    Are physicists Sith Lords when they state that matter and energy are conserved???

    Are electrical engineers Sith Lords when they state an electrical current induces a magnetic field???

    How did you get through engineering school with that attitude? Absolutes exist – reality is absolute. Our understanding of reality might be imperfect, but reality is absolute it does not randomly morph for no reason. In real sciences, when our knowledge turns out to be incorrect it does not overturn our understanding it refines our understanding of reality. For instance, one hundred years ago it was appropriate to state that matter is conserved. This was true to the limits of our ability to measure changes in mass. The refinement that matter and energy are conserved is a refinement, it did not throw out everything we knew up till then.

    I disagree that neuro and ontological biologist would disagree with Aristotle and me.

    As for out sentient creatures, I do not have enough information. I am not sure that just being self aware or being conscious means that their defining feature is their ability to reason. That is the defining characteristic of human beings and that no more makes me Sith Lord than any other physicist.

    Comment by dbhalling | January 25, 2010 | Reply

  15. DB

    Lighten up.

    That’s a line from Star Wars, Revenge of the Clones.
    Obi wan Konbee warns young Luke about Sith Lords. But the paradox of the statement is that QED, Obi must be a Sith Lord.

    p.s. The Earth does not rotate around the Sun because of gravity. It rotates because of an inertial energy imparted to it during the formation of the solar system. What you meant to say is that the Earth does not fly apart from the Sun (per Newton’s first law) due to gravity.

    Did you get good powder?
    Diamond run or bunny slope? :-)

    Comment by step back | January 25, 2010 | Reply

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