The fifth annual report from the Fraser Institute, “The Human Freedom Index,” showed the United States falling further in a global measurement of personal, civil, and economic freedom, from 17th place in 2011 to 20th in 2012 (the latest year for which reliable data is available). Ahead of the United States are Canada in 6th place and the United Kingdom, in 9th place. The United States barely edges out the Czech Republic and Estonia, in 21st and 22nd places respectively.

Wrote Ian Vasquez, one of the report’s co-authors:

The U.S. performance is worrisome and shows that the United States can no longer claim to be the leading bastion of liberty in the world. In addition to the expansion of the regulatory state and drop in economic freedom, the war on terror, the war on drugs, and the erosion of property rights due to greater use of eminent domain all likely have contributed to the U.S. decline.Indenification of Obama

Since 2008, the Fraser Institute, along with the Cato Institute and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom out of Berlin, have examined 76 distinct indicators to see just where freedom is being gained, or lost, among 152 countries. They look at the following areas:

The Rule of Law;

Freedom of Religion;

Freedom of Association and Assembly;

Freedom of Expression;

The Size of Government;

The Security of Property Rights;

The Soundness of the Currency; and

The Degree of Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business.

Freedom is important, according to the authors, because it represents the highest human aspiration, without which all other’s are denigrated or unachievable:

Freedom should be a human goal of [the] highest order, a purpose in itself. Everything that makes a human truly human is lacking when there is no freedom.

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