For what they are worth, the 2007 rankings are out.
As you may expect, the U.S. fared pretty well, at #4.
When you have a free market economy, free from unnecessary regulation and government interference, you have the ability to be more in control of your own destiny. When you have excessive government interference, you see much of that control lost.
Here is the breakdown of the rankings for the U.S., pay close attention to the ten different areas. Note the particular rating given for Freedom From Government (FFG) - 67.5%. Compare that same category rating with the #1 rated, Hong Kong - 91.6%.
For my French readers, you will note France coming at #45. According to the index, your economy is 66.1% free and your FFG score - 32%. You like government to be involved in your financial world and it shows. Despite the poor showing in this particular category, France does manage to do some things better than others. Note the other nine categories to see how the republic places higher, than most that garner a 32% in the FFG department.
To get a real feel for what government can do to screw things up, take a look at Venezuela. By the numbers indicated in the index, they are 47.7% free, which puts them at #144, overall. While they fare far better in the FFG rating than France (69.5%), they come in almost a hundred places lower. And despite the fact they rate a couple of points above the States in the FFG, they blow it badly in three critical areas.
The success of a nation depends on how free that nation's economy is. It can be as successful as its government and people want it to be. The French people are content to be where they are at, at least that's what I have read. And that's okay, to each his/her own.
France has a choice. They make their choices known through free elections and their willingness to demonstrate in the streets, when they do not like something. No one gets rounded up for expressing themselves, unless they commit crimes in the process.
In Venezuela, they have a government run by someone that wants to be president for life. The people have little choice in the matter, because slowly he erodes their political freedom while he runs their economy into the ground. He closes down opposition media outlets and actively seeks to re-write their constitution, so he can take even more freedom away.
So to all of my fellow Americans that want to be critical of France in the worst way I say, take a look at Venezuela and see that it could be worse. The French are content to be where they are at, let them be. And to all of my fellow Americans that cheer the likes of Harry Belafonte, Sean Penn, and Cindy Sheehan for visiting Brother Hugo in Venezuela (on their "Badmouth America" tours) I say, try living and/or investing some money there.