A few days ago, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal released the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom. While the report indicated record levels of rising economic freedom throughout the world, the United States declined yet again for the seventh straight year, ending up twelfth on the list. Amidst the ranks of countries like Estonia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom, the U.S. has been categorized as “mostly free” according to the index’s designations.

What is the cause of this problem?

Sen. Rand Paul addressed this issue at the Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom forum, “This year the United States slips in its world ranking for economic freedom. Why? Because economic freedom is inversely proportional to the size of your government and government continues to grow at an alarming pace.”

It’s assuredly true that, in recent years, the Obama administration has done nothing short of bolstering the size, power and influence of the government faster than in any other era in our country’s recent history. The Affordable Care Act has stripped our citizens from their freedom of choice in their health providers, hundreds of new regulations are introduced every single year, and our financial debt continues to run rampant at 17 trillion dollars while excessive spending and taxes proceed unabated.

It couldn’t be more ironic that America, the once bastion of freedom in the modern world, has fallen in ranks repeatedly while the rest of the world is on the opposite trajectory. Our country was founded on the very basis of freedom; it’s what countless men and women have fought and died for throughout its history. Freedom catapulted a loosely organized set of colonies into the greatest economic powerhouse the world had ever seen. The mantra was that America was the ‘land of opportunity.’ It was with this dream that millions of immigrants sailed towards the light of Lady Liberty in hopes of a better life for them and their posterity. However, over the past century, the government has stretched its constricting tendrils around the growth of our nation. We have all had to suffer for it.

However, the worst is still to come if the government’s role in our lives proves to grow larger and larger over time. Our status as as world superpower will pass, and the condition of life in the United States will decline until freedom becomes a once faded memory of a better time.

But that isn’t how it has to be. If we want to get back on the road we need to be on and if we hope to regain the revered status we once had, government has to shrink immediately, spending has to be reined in, and excessive taxation has to appropriated to more suitable and fair levels. America can once again be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

John Plucenik | Penn State | @JPlucenik