I have received numerous emails regarding the recent Economic Freedom of the World Report, which indicates that global economic freedom has declined, wiping out about ten years of economic progress. This particular report scores economic freedom relating to five areas:
- Size of government (relative to the size of the economy)
- Legal system and property rights
- Sound money
- Freedom to trade internationally
- Size and scope of regulation
When government is big and regulatory burdens are oppressive, innovation suffers. When legal systems are not egalitarian and property rights are difficult to secure, entrepreneurship suffers. When currencies are not stable, international trade suffers. And when the size and scope of regulation and ability to trade is costly and onerous, business suffers.
On the other hand, when economic freedom is high, people are able to exchange in trust. When freedom and property rights are secure, innovation and entrepreneurship are able to flourish. When innovation and creativity are encouraged, people are able to permanently escape poverty. Society then flourishes and a country’s economy can grow.
The top ten countries for economic freedom are (in order): Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, United States, Estonia, Mauritius, and Ireland.
The bottom ten countries for economic freedom are (in order): Democratic Republic of Congo, Algeria, Republic of Congo, Iran, Libya, Argentina, Syria, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and lastly, Venezuela.
Economist Anne Bradley says, “Because economic growth is the only way to permanently escape poverty, the freedoms that engender it are moral imperatives.”
Economic growth as a moral imperative. It doesn’t always fit our way of thinking, but there is truth in that statement. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Wealth creation is part of God’s covenant. He gives us the ability to produce wealth. Wealth is a means to an end – it is the working, productivity, flourishing, and subsequent generosity that was part of God’s original design in Genesis 1 and 2. But we are not to forget him in the process. We are not to hoard. We are not to work for selfish gain. We work for the glory of God in the system that He designed and created.
That is why DML believes that the church must be engaged in helping people to have economic freedom, with a solid theology of work, leading to the flourishing of all. We need to be engaged as contributing members in these systems, not remaining outside and being only critical.
Anne Bradley continues by saying this, “If we want to help the poorest in society, whether that’s in the US or anywhere in the world, we must advance economic growth by fostering more economic freedom. We’ve been heading backward, but the good news is that we can reverse course.” (Anne Bradley, writing in the Common Good magazine – www.commongoodmag.com).
For the sake of our brothers and sisters living in countries with less economic freedom and more poverty, we continue to pray for economic freedom, as if it depends on God, but we also work for economic freedom, as if it depends on us. As the hands and feet of Jesus in a world with great potential to be good for ALL people, reflecting the Glory of God in ALL places, we need to be about both faith and action in our participation towards a flourishing world.