The Most Free:The rankings are based on an analysis of economic freedoms in each country as explained in this press release:
Hong Kong (1st)
New Zealand (3rd)
United Kingdom (7th)
United States (10th)
The Least Free:
North Korea (155th)
The Index, published by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, has long documented that the nations with the most economic freedom are also the most prosperous. Those with the best scores in the 10 categories measured-trade policy, fiscal burden of government, government intervention in the economy, monetary policy, capital flows and foreign investment, banking and finance, wages and prices, property rights, regulation and informal (or black) market activity-enjoy higher standards of living and higher per capita incomes.The United Kingdom is well placed at number 7 - ahead of the United States, which is in tenth position. Gordon Brown hasn't yet managed to destroy the Thatcherite reforms of the 1980s. I imagine that the US suffers from the machinations of the legally backed victimocracy lobby that have resulted in so much of America's manufacturing industry fleeing to Asia.
What though of Scotland?
Most of the categories examined by Heritage are reserved to Westminster, but not all. Scotland's devolved government has increased the fiscal burden on business (business rates), attacked property rights (land "reform") and just loves regulating anything that moves (planning laws, etc., etc., ad nauseam)
It seems highly likely that a separate Scotland would be placed well below the UK ranking and even further below that of Ireland - the country that the Scottish Nationalists wish us to emulate. If we want Scotland to be economically successful we need to slash regulations, bureaucracy and taxation. We also need to recognise property rights. Why shouldn't we aim to be number one? After all, Hong Kong was a Scottish invention.