It keeps getting worse.
Over the last 12 years, the United States has, in terms of economic freedom become less free, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2012 Annual Report by the Canadian right-of-center Fraser Institute.
The United States "has experienced a substantial decline in economic freedom" from 2000 to 2010, according to the report, which defines economic freedom as personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete in markets, and protection of private property from aggression by others.
"From 1980 to 2000, the United States was generally rated the third freest economy in the world, ranking behind only Hong Kong and Singapore," according to the annual report published yearly since 1996.
But the rankings began to fall after the year 2000.
It continued: "After increasing steadily during the period from 1980 to 2000, the chain-linked EFW rating of the United States fell from 8.65 in 2000 to 8.21 in 2005 and 7.70 in 2010."
The economic freedom of the world ranking (EFW) measures economic freedom in a few areas. It measures economic freedom by the size of government, legal system and the security of property rights, sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation.
In 2000, the US was ranked second. By 2005, it was ranked eighth. In 2009, the US was tenth. And by 2010, the United States fell eight spots to eighteenth.
Hong Kong and Singapore still have the highest rankings for economic freedom.
The per capita GDP–the entire output of a country divided by all of the people in that country–of the countries in the top quartile was $37,691 in 2010. And the life expectancy for those in the top quartile is 79.5 years.
A country whose government enacts policies consistent with economic freedom are more prosperous–they have higher income levels, higher investment rates, rapid economic growth, and rapid poverty reduction–the report found.
The Fraser Institute isn't the only institution that has kept track of the effect of regulations on the United States and other countries.
The World Bank's "Doing Business" 2012 report shows that the "Ease of Doing Business" and "Ease of Starting Business" rankings for the United States have fallen over the last few years.
For three consecutive years, the United States was ranked third in the "Ease of Doing Business" category up until 2008. But in 2009, the U.S. slightly fell to fourth, then to fifth in 2010, and then back up to fourth in 2011.
In 2007, the World Bank ranked the United States "Ease of Starting Business" at fourth. But every consecutive year starting in 2008 the U.S. received a lower ranking than the previous year. The US is now ranked thirteen as of June 2011.