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In our opinion: Now, the U.S. is only 'mostly free'

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  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 23, 2014 12:57 a.m.

    “. . . the less a government interferes with personal economic freedom, the better its people become educated, and the more effective is its health care system.”

    Doing a few internet searches, this does not appear to be the case. Single payer health care systems are well rated and education is high in many countries with more what would be considered more govt. “interference” than in the US.

    I understand this might be what we want to believe but we need to rely on facts not platitudes.

  • John Kateel Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 4:48 a.m.

    Exports are at an all time high. Our natural gas production is so high that energy intensive industry worldwide are looking to relocate to the US. Bankruptcy and death are not the primary options for those with a preexisting medical conditions. Our tech companies dominate their industry worldwide. Home mortgages are once again evaluated on documented income. Gays are free to marry in 17 states and soon will be free to do so nationwide, once Utah loses the appeals court case and loses the Supreme Court case 5-4. Manufacturing is booming for small firms because of 3-D printing. Our creative arts dominate the world. High school graduation rates are way up. Teen pregnancy is at an all time low. Abortions are at an all time low. We re- elected a black President. Our Supreme Court has three women. Our Fed is led by a woman. Social media forces are chipping away at repressive freedom killing conservative principles 24/7. These are the best of times. I love every minute of it and may God Bless the USA and all His world's creations.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 6:17 a.m.

    Well, OK, but you should try to look at the world through at least one other set of eyes. I went to the WSJ - Heritage site and also the World Happiness Index site. Compare the top six countries from both:

    WSJ - Heritage: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, NZ, Canada

    World Happiness: Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, Canada

    Why the difference? I suspect WSJ- Heritage reflects freedom for capital more, and World Happiness includes labor contentment, less harassment of labor. Northern Europe has long led there.

    WSJ - Heritage is insensitive to stress on labor - Hong Kong, Singapore? Give me a break!

    Interesting sidebar - Switzerland and Canada make the varsity in both. Why?

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 6:28 a.m.

    Also note that the United States doesn't make it to the top group in either the WSJ - Heritage or World Happiness Index. Do you think it is because we have both less economic freedom and more hostility to labor? For your consideration.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 6:28 a.m.

    How does this article square with the fact that nearly all of the nations that scored better than us have stronger regulations of their banking industry, universal healthcare and a minimum wage that keeps full time workers out of poverty?

  • Jamescmeyer Midwest City, USA, OK
    Jan. 23, 2014 6:49 a.m.

    The United States went from nothing to singular superpower in not even two hundred years under its founding principles, simultaneously watching socialism, "big government", and theophobia fail spectacularly time and again for a century. Why do American citizens and leaders suddenly want to flip it all around now?

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Jan. 23, 2014 7:10 a.m.

    Try starting a business in America today! High taxes, regulations, red tape, government agencies, permits, massive paperwork and lawyers all take all the incentive out of it.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Jan. 23, 2014 7:23 a.m.

    "But in the United States, the Affordable Care Act has added new regulatory layers onto health care that makes it more difficult for businesses to prosper."

    And yet most of the countries rated above the US have the full monte version of socialized medicine. Not sure how you reconcile those two data points, but evidently it isn't going to stop the author of somehow trying to draw that thread.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 23, 2014 7:32 a.m.

    I agree with the editorial, especially the part that says that "the less the government interferes with personal economic freedom, the better its people become educated". If you're hungry, you'll expand your ability to increase your value to others so that they will pay you for your abilities. That's the greatest incentive to add value to your skills. When the government feeds us, clothes us, houses us and provides us with free cellphones and "free" health care, there is no incentive to add value to our skills. People work just about as hard as they need too. Very few have the discipline to continually add value to their skills.

    Government that assumes the role of "nanny" cripples its citizens. It makes citizens slaves by denying them the consequences of their actions. Our Creator gave us agency with accountability. He placed us in families who are responsible to get us going in life. He never charged government with the task of being our "mommy" or our "daddy".

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 7:33 a.m.

    Well it is pretty simple to understand. If a person is a slave, then pretty much all of their work product goes to someone else. The master of the plantation, or the masters of a government. If a person pays only half of their work earnings to a government, then in a sense they are only half enslaved. Now for those of you who say the person gets a lot back from government, that is true. However. What is the threat of not paying that half? In some case enslavement. Or prison if you like. And at a minimum, repaying the back taxes with a huge addition of late fees and penalities added. So, the government in a sense makes us, the average citizen live in fear of that very government and its power. That is why, in our world, the country with too much government power has frequently become a tyranny. That is also why, we in America need to see to it that our government of the people and for the people, does not become a government against the people and for itself.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 7:55 a.m.

    The rich are get richer,
    the middle and poor are getting poorer.

    It all happened on the watch of GWBush and the GOP,
    like Nero lighting Rome of fire and playing his fiddle while watching it burn --

    which is WHY I loathe and go after them daily for all their WRONG policies!
    Phooey!

    BTW --
    Who IS going to pay the $3 Trillion - direct costs - and $6 trillion in indirect costs -- for his still yet unfunded and unpaid for Middle Eastern wars?

    Not to mention the $49 trillion lost in home values,
    and $16 trillion lost in wages and earnings.

    While the rich off-shored $21 trillion into Caymen island and swiss bank accounts,
    and Corporations squirrel away another $100 trillion in profits.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    Jan. 23, 2014 7:56 a.m.

    Nearly the exact same article was published but a couple of days ago in this same paper. The factors used to make this determination are flawed on their face and the DesNews is rapidly becoming what most conservative "news" sources have reverted to over the past few years: an echo chamber for their own propaganda.

    These "opinion" pieces are making it clearer and clearer that the DesNews has put away any semblance of integrity and prefers rather to "believe" only things that support their worldview.

    Perhaps, if the DesNews actually cared about providing a useful opinion, they would have been more studious and consulted the Church's Proclamation on the Economy. That helps reveal that our Nation is "less free" but for an entirely different set of reasons than the ones outlined here.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 8:26 a.m.

    I'm going to focus on just one comment from the piece: "And even with the federal income tax taking 39.6 percent from the top earners, the nation is nowhere near meeting its burgeoning obligations."

    If you don't understand the difference between a top marginal rate and actual taxes paid, please refrain from commenting about tax policy. I suspect that you do know the difference, which means you are simply lying to prove a point.

    The actual effective federal income tax rate for the wealthiest Americans is 16.6%. (source IRS)

  • Vanceone Provo, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 8:25 a.m.

    Ah yes. Why, if only the government ran our lives completely, we would then be free! That's LDS Liberals' world view. I love the "It's Bush's Fault! Obama did nothing! 70 years from now, it will be Bush's fault!!!!!!" Cue frothing at the mouth. Guess what: Bush is somewhat to blame; because he expanded the nanny state too. Pray tell, who is going to pay for the 7 or so trillion of debt the democrats have added? It is COMPLETELY on them, because they passed the stimulus package--and ever since then have refused to cut that stimulus out. We've been dumping a trillion dollars a year of government spending over and above what Bush ever had--and we are STILL in recession, still worse off, and Obama with the NSA and spying is rapidly destroying the US tech edge. Who's going to order American tech anything?
    Liberalism is another word for slavery to government.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 8:27 a.m.

    LDS Liberal

    You could really benefit from watching FOX and Bill O'Reilly. Just last night for instance the very subject of the rich getting richer was a topic. Truth is, all the stats show that the huge disparity between rich getting richer and poor getting less has in FACT happened MOST under these last 5 years of Obama. Just the facts. Sorry. Sooner or later you guys will have to get into the current times and realize that going on 6 years of Obama, it is all his game now. And it is becoming more and more apparant that if with 8 years available to Obama he is not able to fix things, he was a bad choice to be President in the first place. But, in liberal terms, he has made things worse. Medium income in America has dropped some 4 thousand dollars during his administration.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    Single payer health care and regulated banking sector are both missing from the American equation.

  • RJL Hyde Park, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 8:57 a.m.

    This is just a matter of the Deseret News supporting supply-side capitalism as opposed to Keynesian capitalism.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Jan. 23, 2014 9:15 a.m.

    Hutterite. We do have a single payer healthcare system now. Those who have healthcare insurance are subsidizing those who don't by paying higher premiums, higher deductibles and higher co-pays not to mentions higher hidden taxes! What more do you want?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    And as we know... that's a "good" thing.

  • SEY Sandy, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 9:38 a.m.

    RJL: both types of capitalism you referred to are better known as crony-capitalism. Both types are reverse Robin Hood policies, stealing from the poor and middle class to benefit the already-rich.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Jan. 23, 2014 9:42 a.m.

    Isn't it interesting that as soon as we elect a black Democrat president, the WSJ and Heritage Foundation declare that America is no longer as "free" economically as it used to be. That is a strong correlation as well. The Deseret News may dismiss the correlation if it chooses, but here's my bet: Regardless of what happens under the next Republican president, the WSJ/Heritage consensus will be that we have immediately become more "economically free."

    Yet the data are in. Check the poverty rates for the last 50 years and you will see that they decline under Democratic administrations and rise under Republican administrations. And that's a fact. I guess it depends on who defines economic freedom and for whom.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Jan. 23, 2014 9:56 a.m.

    @ SEY. Please explain how the rich steal from the poor since the poor have nothing to steal? If prosperity was generated by low productivity, there would be no poor. Prosperity is only generated by productivity! The reason some people are poor is that they are not productive! The only way to really help the poor is to help them be productive, not by keeping them poor with welfare handouts!

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    Jan. 23, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    The article states: "Some may find it ironic, but the less a government interferes with personal economic freedom, the better its people become educated, and the more effective is its health care system"

    I don't find it ironic, I find it fallacious!!

    The United States has NEVER been the country with most freedom in the world. Always have been a segment of its population that have been "legally" prevented from enjoying all the privileges and opportunities that society has to offer.

    Canada, Sweden, Norway, and many other developed countries contradict your statement.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 10:26 a.m.

    It is wrong to measure economic freedom by the amount of freedom given to business organizations. The term economic freedom implies the freedom for all of the people, not just the people measured by the factors in the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation survey. The recent years show that business interests in America have prospered while the non-business people have experienced economic disaster.

    The information from the survey seems to be propaganda for the relaxing of control over capitalistic business. Capitalism is a good system but it must be controlled by government if the non-business people are to have economic freedom.

    If the voters are unable to see that the Tea Party, republicans and conservatives are selling them false information, our economy will only get worse and bring on the kind of strife that we see in foreign nations.

  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    Jan. 23, 2014 10:35 a.m.

    A people was once accused of being "unstable and foolish." Unfortunately for that generation they went the way of all people and governments that implode. There are more U.S. government restrictions and regulations and programs imposed upon its people than ever before in our history. The 'good' one may argue, is that there are more government jobs than ever before. The 'foolish' - is that government needs to employ thousands upon thousands in order to oversee regulations, restrictions, and programs.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 23, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    So Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada and Denmark all rate as more free than the United States? How come I hear these countries bashed so regularly by conservatives as moving toward socialism?

    Except for Switzerland, I think they all have single payer healthcare (much more concentrated than our own) and Switzerland does have compulsory healthcare.

    As to higher education, each of these countries (other than Switzerland – I could not find good data) has a much lower cost of college than in the US - typically due to strong govt. support of higher education.

    So apparently certain types of govt. intervention are okay.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 10:57 a.m.

    Joan Watson
    TWIN FALLS, ID

    The 'foolish' - is that government needs to employ thousands upon thousands in order to oversee regulations, restrictions, and programs.

    10:35 a.m. Jan. 23, 2014

    ===========

    Q: The State of Utah's largest employer?
    A: The State of Utah.

    I'm betting the same hold true for Idaho.

  • SG in SLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    I find it interesting that several people's comments regarding this editorial cite the following quote

    "the less a government interferes with personal economic freedom, the better its people become educated, and the more effective is its health care system"

    either to proclaim or dispute its veracity, because the Heritage Foundation's Economic Freedom Index has very little to do with *personal* economic freedom, but is primarily focused on *corporate/institutional* economic freedom. RJL hit the nail on the head when he said that this was an editorial supporting supply-side capitalism. The problem with that is that there is not much "trickling down" going on, and there really hasn't been for a very long time, if in fact there ever has been.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 23, 2014 11:37 a.m.

    I read Roland's post, so I used Google to see why my understanding of tax rates and his were so different. I trust Roland. I respect what he writes. What I found was slightly different from what he posted, but it was from other sites, so I'm sure that he quoted the IRS data as he saw it. What I found was the the top rate was about 23%. He quoted about 17% (rounded). Both figures are far below the published rate of 39.6%, so basically Roland and I agree that the extremely wealthy pay far less than 39.6%. What surprised me was that the lowest percentile paid a negative 9%. In other words, while the richest people pay somewhere between 17% and 23%, the poorest people get back more than 9% of what they paid in.

    We all receive the same protections from the Federal Government. Why should there be tax brackets? By being in a "bracket" means that the wealthy will pay more than the "poor". Shouldn't we all at least pay the same rate?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 23, 2014 11:44 a.m.

    Agreed that the Heritage Foundation's ranking may miss the mark.

    So let's go straight to the point. Do countries with less govt. intervention have better healthcare and education?

    From what I see, the answer is no.

    On the education front, countries with the best results appear to be those where govt. takes a strong role and funds it well.

    On the healthcare side, govt. provides strong regulation and may mandate participation (often via a single payer system).

    Simply put, if you could not raise your family in the US (and ignoring issues of language, culture, and weather) which five countries would you pick for your family?

    For many, the answers would likely include countries with more govt. regulation/involvement than we have in the US due to issues of education and healthcare to name a few.

  • kmh Junction, Utah
    Jan. 23, 2014 11:47 a.m.

    LDS Liberal
    Isn't it about time to stop blaming GWBush for everything. You claim during the Bush Adm: "the rich off-shored $21 trillion into Caymen island and swiss bank accounts,
    and Corporations squirrel away another $100 trillion in profits". How is it that the big bad Corporations squirrel away a $100 trillion? when the entire US GDP in all 8 GWGush years combined was $98.2 TRILLION??? The number that will impact everyone is the debt!! Obama took it from 9 trillion to 17 trillion, explain that away......

  • kmh Junction, Utah
    Jan. 23, 2014 12:04 p.m.

    Irony Guy

    Is this the data you speak off? It seems to show how great it is under Democrat rule...

    In November 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau said more than 16% of the population lived in poverty in the United States, including almost 20% of American children,[7] up from 14.3% (approximately 43.6 million) in 2009 and to its highest level since 1993. In 2008, 13.2% (39.8 million) Americans lived in poverty.[8] California has a poverty rate of 23.5%, the highest of any state in the country.[9]

    In 2011 extreme poverty in the United States, meaning households living on less than $2 per day before government benefits, was double 1996 levels at 1.5 million households, including 2.8 million children.[10] This would be roughly 1.2% of the US population in 2011, presuming a mean household size of 2.55 people. In 2011, child poverty reached record high levels, with 16.7 million children living in food insecure households, about 35% more than 2007 levels

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 12:20 p.m.

    To Mike Richards: The 16.6% figure comes from an annual report that the IRS publishes on the 400 wealthiest households. I should have clarified that. The highest taxes are paid by those in the 90-95th percentile, and I believe your 23% figure probably represents those taxpayers.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 12:23 p.m.

    Nobody has taken the bait in response to my question as to why Switzerland and Canada make the top six in BOTH the WSJ - Heritage index AND the World Happiness Index. Is it possible for a country to have a high degree of economic freedom and at the same time have a productive socialist component? It may. But further research is needed.

    Why don't you at the Deseret News take the bait and delve into both indexes to see what you find?

  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    Jan. 23, 2014 12:26 p.m.

    LDS liberal are you implying that a country/stake/government that hires thousands to oversee its restrictions, regulations and programs is beneficial for the good of the country or not good? The deceased assassinated governor of Louisiana, Huey Long, hired more government workers than those in the private sector. All of which did not bode well for Long or for citizens of that state as his aim was for control of both. In my opinion government heavy at the top creates problems, easily sliding into a bureaucratic quagmire.

  • tesuji Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 12:33 p.m.

    I'm sure the conservative Heritage Foundation appreciates you taking their side. But it's not the only viewpoint.

    Freedom? There are many aspects to that. Thanks to ACA, many people will be free to enjoy good health who were previously denied it by no fault of their own.

    Sounds like the freedom to live in a more fair society to me - is it fair that sick people are punished because they are merely unlucky enough to suffer illness or accident?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 12:38 p.m.

    Roland Kayser,
    The IRS publishes a "top 400 wealthiest households list"? Really?

    That doesn't seem like the job of the IRS. I don't care if some magazine decides to publish their top-100 or their top-500 whatever list. But the IRS should not be tracking, much less publishing top-10 household lists etc. They should not be publishing ANYTHING that identifies families (making them targets).

    IMO the IRS should not publish any of it's data it tracks on households. That seems kinda private (more private than who I'm calling on my cell phone).

    Sounds like the IRS is more out of control that I thought!

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 23, 2014 1:06 p.m.

    Roland,

    Thank you for the clarification. I don't think that we disagree that the tax rate listed is not the rate that any of us pay. Whether we pay 17% or 23% when the rate listed is 39% is not the primary point that concerns me. The primary point is that we are all citizens and, as citizens, we all have a responsibility to pay for the core costs of government. Maybe I can make that point by writing about the cost of heating my home. Yesterday, I received my natural gas bill. It was substantial. December and January are cold months. I knew that the gas bill would be substantial even though I set the thermostat at 62-degrees. The gas company did not disappoint me. My wife and I will not be eating steaks for a long time; however, my very rich neighbor has a house that is three-times larger than mine. His gas bill is about 3X larger also. Should he paid 10X my gas bill? Should he pay 100X? Or, should he pay for what he uses?

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Jan. 23, 2014 1:19 p.m.

    "The rich get rich and the poor get laid off. Ain't we got fun?"

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 1:27 p.m.

    @John Kateel

    "Exports are at an all time high. Our natural gas production is so high that energy intensive industry worldwide are looking to relocate to the US. Bankruptcy and death are not the primary options for those with a preexisting medical conditions. Our tech companies dominate their industry worldwide. Home mortgages are once again evaluated on documented income..."

    -------
    I would be doing very well also if I borrowed a million dollars a year. The Day of Reckoning WILL come.

  • kmh Junction, Utah
    Jan. 23, 2014 1:29 p.m.

    Irony

    And under Obama and Democrat rule it's the women and children that get hurt the most.
    "In 2011, child poverty reached record high levels, with 16.7 million children living in food insecure households, about 35% more than 2007 levels"

  • Manzanita Las Vegas, NV
    Jan. 23, 2014 1:33 p.m.

    Well if your are going to rely on data from such a well-rounded group - the corporate welfare loving/anti-regulation advocate Wall Street Journal, AND the ultra-conservative/anti-regulation advocate Heritage Foundation, then what you say MUST be true.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 1:36 p.m.

    Republicans are mostly tyrants and Democrats are too. If you prefer reverse the statement; it still says the same. If tyranny has escalated in the current regime it is that they are more audacious in promoting mostly the same policies of perpetual war and a gigantic and powerful public sector ever meddling and restricting and tying down "the little man", failing to address the outsourcing of our economy, and doing anything to effectively control illegal immigration. Also the people themselves buy the cheap Asian products and the corporate tax is too high. Huge "donations" come from the big corporations, who are happy to outsource to nations with cheaper labor and lower corporate tax, and who by this means exert a powerful control over their allies in political power. They seem to have no nation and no party in particular.

    Health does not come from health care or health insurance laws; the most healthy nations are surely those who, having access to good health information, do not do stupid. We are unhealthy inasmuch we live reckless, hedonistic, gluttonous lifestyles. No health care or insurance "systems" can change that. Ours is a bad one and has not been free market for decades.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Jan. 23, 2014 2:17 p.m.

    I love quotes like this....

    "Ah yes. Why, if only the government ran our lives completely, we would then be free! That's LDS Liberals' world view"

    In a perfect world, we would't need a government to keep people playing nice with one another. But alas, history has shown us that in the absence of rules or government, peoples dark sides often take over the better side of them. If we could trust business would be honest, we wouldn't need watch dog organization. But we have plenty of examples where greed got in the way of good judgement.

    The role of government is to keep you from doing things that takes away another's rights or opportunity. If people would live honest lives, it would be redundant. So if you want to stop government over reach, start insisting you and your fellow citizens live lives that make "supervision" unneeded.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    Jan. 23, 2014 3:43 p.m.

    We keep hearing about how the wealthy are getting fantastically rich in the US in the last 10 years but the economy is said to be terrible.

    I think that's all we need to conclude that top down economics is a huge fat ehhh not truth. will it be posted?

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 23, 2014 4:13 p.m.

    Joan Watson.

    The number of government workers is proportional to the need to protect the people of the society from their enemies. Judged by the size of the law libraries, the greatest need is for protection from domestic enemies rather than foreign enemies.

    With regard to personal freedom it is the regulations and enforcement that gives us the freedom we enjoy. The unfortunate truth is that most all people are selfish and greedy and will take every advantage of others they can. It is the laws that make you free.

    Government workers are paid with the same kind of money that private workers receive. It spends the same and is easily traded between the two. Whether your neighbor works for a store or a government office, you don't really care. In that respect, the government is just like any other private business that you buy goods or services from.