A guy walks into a bar and asks the bartender if he will give him a free drink if he shows him something amazing. The bartender agrees, so the guys pulls out a frog, who immediately jumps over to the piano and starts hopping on the keys and playing a brilliant song.
“That IS amazing!” says the bartender and gives the guy his free beer.
“If I show you another amazing thing, will you give me another beer?” The bartender agrees, so the guy pulls out a hamster. Who stands up and starts singing along with the frog’s piano playing.
The bartender, completely wowed, gives him another beer. A man in a suit, who’s been watching the entire time, offers to buy the hamster for $50, which the man agrees to.
“Are you nuts??” asks another man in the bar. “You could’ve made a fortune off that hamster!!”
“Can you keep a secret?” asks the man. “The frog’s also a ventriloquist.”
Like the man in the suit in our story, it seems like today, we too are fooled by fast talking types that twist words and numbers to mislead us. Given the complexity of all the economic numbers thrown around today, the old adage “liars figure and figures lie” rings true. I believe this is especially true when we hear today’s news about the so-called economic recovery.
My point here is not to continue to debate this number or that data point, but rather to point out that people need to look beyond specific numbers (most likely distorted anyway) and begin to look at the big trends around us.
Let’s go back in history and admit how the U.S. rose to greatness – we did it by leading the world in innovation. How did we innovate? We did it through never before seen FREEDOMS that allowed the ingenious people of the U.S. to innovate. Let’s stop right there and see how we are doing in the economic freedom category today. The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation recently released the 20th Annual Index of Economic Freedom for 2014. In the report the United States has dropped from the list of the top ten freest economies in the world. Over the past year the U.S. moved from 10th to twelfth.
The index measures ten different factors and compares countries based on their regulatory efficiency, size of government, rule of law, and the openness of their markets. Each of the factors is measured on a scale of 1 to 100, and the country’s overall score is the average of each factor.
Quoting the report- “Since 2006, the U.S. has suffered a dramatic decline of almost six points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending,” according to the report. “Substantial expansion in the size and scope of government has contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom.”
If we want to restore our economic growth it is time to wake up and stop believing the liars’ figures and the figures that lie.