Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Always read the fine print.

As a follow-up to the More on Libertarian priorities post, here are the actual factors that played into the freedom index:

Fiscal Policy (35.3%)

 The fiscal policy dimension consists of the following categories: Tax Burden (28.6%), Government Employment (2.8%), Government Spending (1.9%), Government Debt (1.2%), and Fiscal Decentralization (0.9%).

Regulatory Policy (32.0%)

 The regulatory policy dimension consists of the following categories: Freedom from Tort Abuse (11.5%), Property Right Protection (7.6%), Health Insurance Freedom (5.4%), Labor Market Freedom (3.8%), Occupational Licensing Freedom (1.7%), Miscellaneous Regulatory Freedom (1.3%), and Cable and Telecom Freedom (0.8%).

Personal Freedom (32.7%)

 Personal freedom dimension consists of the following categories: Victimless Crime Freedom (9.8%), Gun Control Freedom (6.6%), Tobacco Freedom (4.1%), Alcohol Freedom (2.8%), Marriage Freedom (2.1%), Marijuana and Salvia Freedom (2.1%), Gambling Freedom (2.0%), Education Policy (1.9%), Civil Liberties (0.6%), Travel Freedom (0.5%), Asset Forfeiture Freedom (0.1%), and Campaign Finance Freedom (0.02%).

So the single largest component of the Freedom index is "Tax Burden" (28.6%) followed by "Freedom from Tort Abuse" (11.5%).  Yet I had always assumed that the Libertarian alternative to government regulation was to allow lawsuits to proceed?  What other mechanism do they have for solving disputes that are resistant to amicable resolution? 

Meanwhile, "Assest Forfeiture Freedom" (at 0.1%) suddenly looks like the way to finance the freest possible government as you cna be awful on this scale and still do pretty well as Tax Burden is 286 times as important.  One can go on and ask about things like "Freedom from discrimination" but the real acid test is what are the most important parts of the index.  The largest category is Fiscal Policy and it is dominated by less government spending.  That may actually be a libertarian goal (under theories like the Night Watchman State) but that seems to conflate political preferences with actual empirical measures of freedom. 

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