By JAMES GWARTNEY, ROBERT LAWSON and JOSHUA HALL
HARDLY a day goes by without new revelations about the U.S. government's increasing snooping into our lives.
We are slowly learning about how various federal agencies such as the National Security Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration collect our phone and email records, perhaps even including the content of those conversations.
Many on both the political left and right worry that the power of political officials to monitor our lives will soon be abused, assuming this has not already been the case. These threats to our civil liberties are real and they sound the alarm for vigilance.
Moreover, the attack is not just on our civil liberties. The economic liberty of Americans is also under attack.
The new Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) 2013 annual report reflects this point. The report measure provides data on the economic freedom of more than 100 countries since 1980.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the economic freedom of the United States was never less than third. Since 2000, however, the U.S. ranking has fallen steadily, slipping to 8th in 2005, 16th in 2010, and 19th in 2011 (the most recent year available).
The economic measure indicates the degree to which people are free to choose for themselves, trade with others and keep what they earn.
Mandated purchases, entry restraints and political favoritism in all of its forms reduce economic freedom. In an economically free economy, the government plays the role of an umpire, enforcing the rules in an even-handed manner.
The EFW rating and ranking of the United States during the past decade shows that the economy is increasingly directed by the decisions of politicians and regulators rather than the market choices of consumers, producers and resource suppliers.