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Monday, December 8, 2014

Alberta, the Freest Place in North America

 

FLAG OF ALBERTA

Credits: FILE PHOTO/Codie McLachlan/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency
Alberta is the freest place in North America. So says the latest edition of Economic Freedom of North America, a report the Fraser Institute has produced for the past decade based on data going back 30 years.

The authors looked at jurisdictions through Canada, the United States and Mexico and graded them on a scale from 1 to 10.

Alberta received the highest score, with 8.2. Saskatchewan came in second with 8.0. And Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia and Texas all tied for third with 7.7.

Someone's going to have to break it to our friends south of the border that they're no longer the land of the free! We'll take that prize, thank you very much!

But what does all of this mean?

The report explains: "The freest economies operate with minimal government interference, relying upon personal choice and markets to answer basic economic questions such as what is to be produced, how it is to be produced, how much is produced, and for whom production is intended."

Critics might chortle a little here. "Hey, you're just talking about zero regulation for big industry, aren't you? What about the little guy?"

Actually, the report finds that's not the case. The more free an economy, the more everyone can share in the spoils.

"This research has found that economic freedom is positively correlated with per-capita income, economic growth, greater life expectancy, lower child mortality, the development of democratic institutions, civil and political freedoms, and other desirable social and economic outcomes," the report says.

Here's an example: the least-free 25% of North American jurisdictions included in the study have an average GDP per capita of $9,979. The top 25%? They're raking in $56,697.

When innovative people are left to their own devices, they create systems where we can all win.

So what do we do now? The sad news from this report is that economic freedom is actually on the decline in North America.

Since 2000, the average score of all the Canadian provinces has fallen from 7.8 to 7.6. It's worse down south - where American states fell from 8.2 to 7.5.

In other words, freedom still needs defending. Without it, our quality of life suffers.

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