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Heritage Foundation: Why Can't the U.S. Be More Like Ireland?

In the parallel universe imagined by the Heritage Foundation, Ireland's ravaged economy should be the model for us all. It's about shrinking the government, stupid.

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If the Lithuanian population has yet to engage in the kind of protests seen in Ireland and elsewhere, perhaps that's because the Lithuanian people have finally been broken sufficiently to simply accept what the government and global market deem their fate should be. Hopelessness has yielded to despair for some, fueling the increase in Lithuania's suicide rate, which was already among the highest in the world.

For others despair yields to resignation, summed up by one Lithuanian pensioner:

Mecislovas Zukauskas, 88, a retired electrician, has lived through the devastations of World War II, the Soviet occupation and, most recently, the death of his wife. He is taking his pension cut in stride.

“The government does what it wants to do,” he said. “We can do nothing.”

How the Heritage Foundation measures economic freedom is explained on the website for its index.

Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.

That the information above adds up to a greater degree of economic freedom in Ireland than in the U.S. is a telling answer to the unasked (and not really answered by the explanation above) questions of the Heritage index: "Economic freedom" for whom? At what cost?

Or perhaps the answer is obvious: According to the index, the U.S. has a way to go yet to reach the point where Ireland finds itself today.

Terrance Heath is the the online producer at Campaign for America's Future.