Yesterday, Sean showed that ranking well on the libertarian 50 State “Freedom” index doesn’t mean your state performs better economically nor does it have any relation to low poverty or higher wages. While Sean looked at the numbers, I would like to talk about the qualitative side of the equation. What does the Mercatus Center mean when it says “freedom?” Freedom for who, exactly? After reviewing the index, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that the Mercatus Center values economic freedom for corporations and the wealthy at the expense of freedom for working families and children.
Freedom as defined by the Mercatus Center is lower taxes, less government spending, less regulation of corporations and legal reform that benefits corporations. Nothing in the index measures the freedom to have access to a quality education or health care or the freedom to drive your car on state roads or to flush your toilet. And they never look at externalities of corporations that deprive people of freedom by shifting their costs onto other folks in terms of poorer health, higher prices, and so forth.
As Matthew Yglesias points out here, the “freedom” index picks and chooses which issues to consider when assigning rankings. Social issues like same-sex marriage and reproductive rights are given little consideration.
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