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Measuring Freedom: A Not so Simple Tidbit

I can’t wait, I’m leaving soon to visit one of my daughters – I’m going to be a grandfather… again 😉 Had to throw that out there – and now that it is out there, I’ve another short tidbit before work instead of a nice focused post. The American Spectator had an article in their September issue that takes aim at our notions of freedom. The title of the article, What’s Your Metric, works on a variety of levels. First it really does get a person to thinking about his method of gauging his current liberty. Second, I’d bet it reveals that many of our personal measures of freedom are woefully inadequate. Like Tom over at Responsibility, the article likes to ask questions. Tom asks a series of questions to provoke thought, and Daniel Oliver opens his article with questions:

HOW DO YOU WATCH FREEDOM? How do you watch it grow? How do you watch it shrink? What’s the metric? What’s your metric? What do you think the metrics of your fellow citizens are? If you have no idea what their metric is, how do you talk to them about freedom with any sense of urgency?

Just those questions make serious thought a necessity if we are to intelligibly discuss our notions of freedom. Some of the metrics mentioned are interesting and raise questions of their own. Milton Friedman’s metric for example, “was the percentage of GDP spent by government.” Naturally it was inversely proportional 😀 Another measure offered was by either counting or weighing “the Federal Register or the Code of Federal Regulations.” Oliver then offers that “A better measure is the COST of regulations” (emphasis mine). He then gives us a standard definition to work with:

Freedom House defines freedom as “the opportunity to act spontaneously in a variety of fields outside the control of the government and other centers of potential domination.” Quick: name a field that is outside the control of government?

There’s the rub. It shouldn’t be that hard. I’d encourage you to run over to The American Spectator and read the article – it’s a short and sweet little missive, and well worth the read to get finally to:

Are those imperfect measures? Perhaps. But then, what’s your metric?

Cheers all,

I’m off to work.

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