November 12, 2001

Who's Free, Who's Not

By Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr., Kim R. Holmes and Melanie Kirkpatrick. Messrs. O'Driscoll and Holmes, of the Heritage Foundation, and Ms. Kirkpatrick, of the Journal's editorial page, are co-editors of the "2002 Index of Economic Freedom."

There is good news and bad news in the annual Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.

Index of Economic Freedom

78. Paraguay,
79. Slovenia,
80. Swaziland

The good news is that economic freedom continues to grow world-wide, continuing the amazing spread of the past decade. This is the eighth edition of the Index and the eighth year in a row that economic liberty has increased. This is heartening news indeed. The bad news is that unfree economies still outnumber free ones.
Most of the world's economies remain mostly unfree or repressed.

Slovenian economy continues to be "mostly unfree".

Commentary by Prof. Edward Gobetz in AMERIŠKA DOMOVINA

The prestigious 2002 Index of Economic Freedom (428 pages), focusing on the period between July 2000 and June 2001 and compiled by The Heritage Foundation (Washington, D.C.) and The Wall Street Journal (New York, N.Y.), covers 156 countries. It "grades them on such questions as the liberality of trade policy, how much citizens are burdened by taxes and regulation, the soundness of monetary policy, whether property rights are protected, and the size of the black market" (The Wall Street Journal, November 12, 2001).

Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D., President of the Heritage Foundation think tank, further clarifies the criteria for evaluation as he states: "In order to evaluate economic freedom, this edition once again measures the impact of tax laws; tariffs; business regulations; government intervention in the economy; corruption of the government, the judiciary, and the customs service; and other relevant factors" (Index, p. xiii). As the Index editors O'Driscoll, Holmes, and O'Grady point out, "economically free countries exhibit greater tolerance and civility than economically repressed ones."

The 156 countries of the world are classified as FREE, MOSTLY FREE, MOSTLY UNFREE, and REPRESSED.

Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, and the United States are among the beacons of economic freedom, while Libya, Iraq, and North Korea are economically most repressed. Unfortunately, Slovenia continues to be economically among the "mostly unfree" countries, ranking 79th and positioned. between Paraguay and Swaziland.

By comparison, once communist Estonia, ranks 4th (FREE) and Lithuania is 29th, Hungary 32nd, and Slovakia 60th (MOSTLY FREE).

No comparable indexes exist for other areas vital to genuine democracy and progress. Research and/or observations by several respected Slovenian scientists, writers, and civic leaders however suggest that this beautiful Alpine country which suffered half a century of communist oppression is MOSTLY UNFREE or REPRESSED also in the crucial area of mass media. (Repressed by economically and politically privileged communist incumbents and their ideological heirs under the leadership of the last president of the League of Communists Milan Kucan).

How would Slovenia rank on post-communist media treatment of the anti-communist democratic Spring parties, including, for instance, their leaders Dr. Joze Pucnik, Janez Janša, Lojze Peterle, and Dr. Andrej Bajuk, who have repeatedly been subjected to systematic mass media political lynchings, and on media treatment of religion, especially of the Catholic Church, which still represents over seventy percent of the population?

"As far as verbal attacks by communist-controlled media are concerned, the situation is currently even worse than it was under the openly communist regime," stated the Archbishop of Ljubljana and Metropolitan of Slovenia Dr. France Rode in a recent interview published in the Austrian newspaper Die Presse.

Findings reported in the prestigious American 2002 Index of Economic Freedom and related concerns about the communist-controlled Slovenian mass media (which hamper genuine democracy) should serve as a wake-up call to all Slovenians of good will who are deeply hurt as they see Slovenia positioned between Paraguay and Swaziland rather than within Central Europe to which she has always belonged geographically as well as culturally and economically.

The Index is available in English and Spanish at (800) 975-8635, for $24.95 plus shipping and handling.