The Cato Institute, in conjunction with the Fraser Institute of Canada, just released its Economic Freedom of the World: 2009 Annual Report. Notable in this year’s report: The U.S. ranking has fallen to 6th place – behind Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Chile.

“The rule of law, government spending, and regulation are the areas where the United States saw the most troubling declines in its ratings this decade,” said Ian Vasquez, director of Cato’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

True, it may be dark now. But through a combination of expensive new government programs and skyrocketing deficits, we’re sure to push that ranking even lower in the future! Given a national debt of over $11 trillion and approximately 300 million Americans, every man, woman, and child in this country owes over $36,000 each, and it’s a fair bet that those numbers will continue to rise.

Unfortunately, there’s no sign of letting up on the spending any time soon – and regulation seems to be the administration’s word du jour. A country’s economic freedom directly correlates to the well-being of  its citizens – so for the sake of the country, hopefully the administration and Congress will take steps to reverse the nation’s dangerous course. How about fewer laws that we enforce stringently, rather than a myriad of confusing, complex laws that criminalize everyone and that we enforce arbitrarily? How about fewer regulations on individuals and businesses to free people to innovate and produce, rather than tying everyone up in endless red tape that increases the cost and time of doing business? And for pete’s sake, how about cutting the spending?