Suppressing freedom and markets takes its toll. Initially the effects are slight and barely noticeable. Even when they are noticed, rationalizations defend the losses in efficiency by praising the gains in “equity” and “fairness.” Then one day it become apparent how much harm has been done when the realization hits that the US is less than competitive in manufacturing or in living standards. That is the position we are reluctantly beginning to recognize. Conrad Black writes about just this condition:
All my life, Americans have been accustomed to thinking of theirs as “the richest, freest” country in the world. By most measurements, it was long a contender for that honor, and — among the larger countries, if equal weight were given to wealth and indices of freedom — probably did deserve to be so described. As matters have slipped, American apologists have taken to excluding, as meaningless for purposes of comparison, smaller countries: not only such petro-states as Qatar, Kuwait, and Brunei, but small countries generally, including those that live by their wits, such as Luxembourg, Singapore, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Switzerland. When we strip all of these out, and Norway as well, which, although an oil-rich state, is a serious country of a clear ethnic and geographic rationale that antedated offshore oil by many decades, the United States is in a fierce competition with many countries it has not been in the habit of considering as serious competitors in prosperity and general quality of life.
Read the rest of Mr. Black’s article to understand the full extent of our loss of leadership.