When the Soviet Union collapsed it seemed obvious that economic freedom was essential if individuals and societies were to thrive. But in the 20 years since, the enemies of liberty have fought back. The vested interests and bureaucracies that rely on big government have increasingly used environmental objectives and notions of social inclusion and fairness to justify imposing new taxes and controls on business activities.
The recent recession has provided opponents of economic freedom with still more ammunition. A slump caused primarily by loose monetary policy, ill-conceived regulations and flawed US housing policies has been widely misrepresented as an example of market failure. In this context, the latest edition of Economic Freedom of the World is depressing reading.