Do markets erode morals? Many people simply (and simple-mindedly) presume that they do. Such a notion is tres chic. Blogging over at EconLog, my former GMU Econ colleague – now a professor at Chapman University – Bart Wilson brilliantly exposes the flawed interpretation of experiments that are believed to show that markets erode morals. Here’s a slice that Jonathan Haidt would likely applaud:
Science, people believe, is objective. The image of a scientist is someone who stands outside the laboratory looking in on his participants, disinterestedly seeking truth. “The facts are the facts,” we say, or, “let the facts speak for themselves.” What people, scientists included, do not notice is that not only do the facts not speak for themselves, but they speak with the voice of the scientist himself.
Cato’s 2013 Economic Freedom of the World report is now out. A slice from the announcement:
Global economic freedom increased modestly in this year’s report, though it remains below its peak level of 6.92 in 2007. After a global average drop between 2007 and 2009, the average score rose to 6.87 in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available. In this year’s index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom, 8.97 out of 10. The rest of this year’s top scores are Singapore, 8.73; New Zealand, 8.49; Switzerland, 8.30; United Arab Emirates, 8.07; Mauritius, 8.01; Finland, 7.98; Bahrain, 7.93; Canada, 7.93; and Australia, 7.88. Research shows that individuals living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy higher levels of prosperity, greater individual freedoms, and longer life spans.
The United States, long considered the standard bearer for economic freedom among large industrial nations, has experienced a substantial decline in economic freedom during the past decade. Due to overspending, weakening rule of law, and increasing regulations on the part of the U.S. government, the United States has seen its economic freedom ranking plummet in recent years, from number two in 2000, to number 17 today.