When I was a little girl, my dad often told me the only job you start at the top is digging a ditch. But he said, that's the great thing about living in America. You can start anywhere and with hard work and personal responsibility, anyone can rise to the top. That is the promise of the American dream and the unique nature of a country that was founded on personal responsibility, free from government control of our daily lives and the marketplace. In America, you are free to live your dreams.
If my dad were still around today, he'd surely be disgusted by the 2014 Economic Freedom of the World Report that doesn't even rank the United States in the top ten compared to other countries.
The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 12th in the world, tied with the United Kingdom. Oh, the irony. In 2000 America was in second place and today, just 14 years later, is ranked lower than Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Jordan, Chile and Finland.
Every elected official in Washington, DC should be ashamed of this. They aren't.
Nations that are economically free out-perform non-free nations in indicators of well-being. Economically free countries have higher per capital incomes, higher level of environmental quality and a greater number of political and civil liberties. Life expectancy is nearly 20 years higher between the least and most free countries.
While it's difficult to pinpoint the exact polices that have contributed to the fall in the US's ranking since 2000, it is clear that a weakened rule of law, diminished protection for property rights, a confused regulatory environment, and an overall increase in the size of government have played a major role.
From Obamacare, to EPA demanding control of our private property, to soda and bake sale bans, we're losing our freedoms as individuals. And each time we lose the ability to make our own choices in the marketplace, we make the realization of the American dream just a little bit more difficult for the next generation.
Over and over, the ruling class, our elected officials, find new ways to tell us how we should live, what we should eat and why they know better than you and I what's best for our families and communities.
So far, their policies have failed most of us. Six years ago, 13.5 million Americans were unemployed or underemployed. Today, 18.4 million are. This is not progress.
So, it's up to you and me and all of us who still believe in the American dream for the next generation, and for those who want to work, but have to fight their own government to get a permit, keep their business open, bat back silly regulations and have freedom to make the best decisions possible for their own success.
It's past time to tell the ruling class that we don't need their approval to live our lives how we choose. Soon we go to the polls and vote for those who will represent us in Harrisburg and Washington, DC. Are you sure that the person you want to vote for believes in economic freedom? Do they want more of your money to spend, or do they trust you to make good choices for yourself. Do they want to expand the government, or do they know that the most meaningful solutions come from private citizens working together in their own communities. Do they believe that economic freedom means a brighter future for our children and grandchildren? These ideas are important.
By the way, as a nation, we are $17 trillion in debt. Your share as a citizen is almost $56,000. Your share as a taxpayer is almost $153,000. We can't tax our way out of this and most of us don't have the money in the bank to pay our share. Our kids certainly don't and without a U.S. return to the leaderboard in economic freedom they never will.
I'm Beth Anne Mumford, state director of Americans for Prosperity Pennsylvania. You can find us on the web at www.americansforprosperity.org/pennsylvania