Hong Kong really is the world's freest economy

We weren’t sure, but respondents to our web poll last week confirmed Hong Kong’s status as the world’s most laissez-faire economy.
Sarah Palin, an active supporter of the right-wing Tea Party movement
Sarah Palin, an active supporter of the right-wing Tea Party movement

The Heritage Foundation once again ranked Hong Kong as the world’s freest economy this year, and in our web poll last week readers agreed with that assessment.

For the 17th year in a row, Hong Kong topped the class thanks to its small government, low taxes and light regulation. Barriers to entry are low, property rights are secure and contracts are respected. In short, the conservative think-tank reckons Hong Kong is a Tea Party paradise. On paper, at least.

In practice, Sarah Palin didn’t stray far from the Grand Hyatt when she visited in 2009. And it’s easy to see why. Those “thinkers” at the Heritage Foundation might like Hong Kong’s free-wheeling economy, but the city is nevertheless a special administrative region of communist China. Palin could probably see the mainland from her hotel window.

It’s not just the reds over the border that Tea Partiers might worry about. Hong Kong has universal healthcare – a concept that Palin has likened to government death panels – and a third of its population lives in government-provided housing. That’s not the kind of free market that Glenn Beck proselytises about.

However, our readers lean slightly to the left of the Republicans’ lunatic fringe and endorsed the Heritage Foundation’s survey. Overall, 56% said Hong Kong really is the freest economy in the world, while the remaining 44% disagreed.

The world's freest economies

1. Hong Kong  89.7

2. Singapore  87.2

3. Australia  82.5

4. New Zealand  82.3

5. Switzerland  81.9

6. Canada  80.8

7. Ireland  78.7

8. Denmark  78.6

9. US  77.8

10. Bahrain  77.7

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