Whose freedom is it, anyway?
The index "measures 161 countries against a list of 50 independent variables divided into 10 broad factors of economic freedom." The degree of freedom a country enjoys is determined by the "level of government interference in the economy."
In other words, the freedom under discussion bears little relation to freedom - even economic freedom - as understood by most of the peoples of the world, because it has nothing to do with people. It's corporate freedom, and the freedom of capital, that is at issue. This is the kind of bizarro-world reasoning that sees nothing amiss with American corporations having the right of personhood under the law.
The study offers no consideration that unfettered capital may be a bad thing. Nor that governments - even representative governments, as conventionally understood - ought to act as a counterweight to corporate power. In other words, Heaven for the Heritage Foundation would be Grover Norquist's lucid dream of a government so small it can be drowned in the bathtub.
Again, Venezuela is judged "repressed" under President Hugo Chavez, who "tightened his grip" on the country by victory in a referendum the dafters of the report can't bring themselves to admit was fair. Bolivarian land reform persecutes the idle foreign barons such as "Lord Spam," while the fact that unemployment is the lowest it's been in nearly a decade does not deserve a mention. Yet Chavez does get spanked for "appropriating" billions of dollars in oil revenue to "fund social programs."
Cuba, of course, is an even worse offender. While the report allows that "private entrepreneurship exists," it remains, heaven forfend, "heavily regulated." That Cuba now has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States - fewer than four deaths per thousand, compared to seven - is not a factor, because lives are not a factor in the consideration of the health of capital.
"Economic freedom" for much of the world means freedom from poverty; freedom to work and to earn a living wage; freedom from the burden of crushing medical expenses. To the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, we may as well be talking about the freedom to float in mid-air, it makes as much sense to them.