Ed Feulner: Why Hong Kong Might Lose Its No. 1 Spot on the Index of Economic Freedom

Screen-shot-2015-02-19-at-10.44.52-PM

Hong Kong in many ways continues to act as a fine example for other countries who aspire to be economically free, its foothold on the No. 1 spot is slipping…

Ed Feulner writes: It’s good to be No. 1. But as any former champ will tell you, you have to avoid becoming complacent if you want to stay ahead of the pack. First-place finishes aren’t guaranteed, just ask Hong Kong.

Every year since 1995, the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal have measured the state of economic freedom in the world. We go country by country, poring over the details of who’s up, who’s down, and who’s treading water. Through all the changes we’ve charted, one thing hasn’t changed: Hong Kong takes the top slot.

“To see what Hong Kong does right, consider business licenses. Obtaining one there requires filling out a single form, and the process can be completed in a few hours. In many other countries, it’s more complicated and can take much longer. Bureaucracy, inefficiency and even corruption abound.”

“As the economic and financial gateway to China, and with an efficient regulatory framework, low and simple taxation, and sophisticated capital markets, the territory continues to offer the most convenient platform for international companies doing business on the mainland,” write the editors of the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom.

To see what Hong Kong does right, consider business licenses. Obtaining one there requires filling out a single form, and the process can be completed in a few hours. In many other countries, it’s more complicated and can take much longer. Bureaucracy, inefficiency and even corruption abound.

“As the economic and financial gateway to China, and with an efficient regulatory framework, low and simple taxation, and sophisticated capital markets, the territory continues to offer the most convenient platform for international companies doing business on the mainland.”

But while Hong Kong in many ways continues to act as a fine example for other countries who aspire to be economically free, its foothold on the No. 1 spot is slipping. Singapore, the perennial No. 2 finisher, has seen the gap between it and Hong Kong steadily narrow in recent years. Only two-tenths of a point (on a scale of 1-100) separate its Index score from Hong Kong’s.

In short, they’re virtually tied. And it’s worth noting that Singapore’s Index score is unchanged this year, which means Hong Kong has only itself to blame for coming within a hair’s breadth of losing the top slot. The question is, why? Read the rest of this entry »


EXIT SIGNS [VIDEO] Why Not “Opt Out” of Government Control?

From bootlegging to working off the books, we’ve done it many times before, and it’s getting ever-easier to exit the system.

  writes:  Balaji Srinivasan, a Stanford Universty instructor and genomics entrepreneur, recently offered some radically individualistic advice to aspiring tech innovators. Speaking at at this year’s Startup School, sponsored by tech “seed accelerator” Y Combinator, he warned members of the audience that, despite (or maybe, because of) the liberating and enriching qualities of technology in people’s lives, the tech industry faces a backlash from old-line power centers. In response, he said, technological innovators should publicly state their case, but also be prepared to exploit a market opportunity to help people escape government control, no matter the law. Their innovations, he suggested, should allows fans of the old order to “enjoy” the rules and structures to which they’re attached, but offer the rest of us a means of exiting an increasingly authoritarian system. In other words, to hell with arguing for more freedom, let’s take it.

That’s good advice for all of us—if we can break with old attitudes and embrace a willingness to defy authority.

“I believe the ability to reduce the importance of decisions made in D.C., in particular, without lobbying or sloganeering, is actually going to become extremely important over the next ten years,” Srinivasan told his audience. His goal, one he wants tech entrepreneurs to share, is “giving people the tools to reduce the influence of bad policies over their lives without getting involved in politics; the tools to peacefully opt out.”

Read the rest of this entry »