THE PRICE OF FREEDOM
necessarily exact, were arrived at using a consistent method. Another imperfect process giving us inexact numbers is the International Monetary Fund’s (“IMF”) calculations of per capita gross domestic product. GDP itself can be hard to figure out, with governments being the fibbers that they are. And simply dividing a country’s GDP by the number of people who live there doesn’t tell us how the swag is split. For example, U.S. GDP is about $21 trillion. What if (and I think MSNBC would like you to believe this) Donald Trump and his wives, his children, and his in-laws had been taking $20,999,999,999,000 leaving only $1,000 to be divvied up by the rest of us? This would make us a poor country even though we have a rich-looking per capita GDP of $63,051. But again, the IMF gives us some numbers to work with, arrived at using a consistent method. Freedom House’s Freedom in the World total scores tell us – sort of – how free a country is. And the IMF’s per capita GDP figures tell us – sort of – how rich a country is. But the numbers will do for comparison’s sake. And when we put the two sets of numbers together, they tell us – for sure – what the value of freedom is. Compare two large, frozen, thinly populated nations with economies driven by resource extraction: Canada – Freedom Score 98, p/c GDP $47,569 Russia – Freedom Score 20, p/c GDP $27,392
The enterprise does not favor the kind of rancorous, raucous “Hold my beer an’ watch this!” freedom that America has. (Don’t worry, the guy in the Viking hat seated in Mike Pence’s chair during the invasion of the Capitol Building wasn’t a real Viking.) The enterprise does not favor the kind of rancorous, raucous “Hold my beer an’ watch this!” freedom that America has. The U.S., although rated “Free” – damn right! – receives a Freedom in the World total score of just 83. That’s the same score as Romania . I visited Romania back when I was on the Freedom House Board of Trustees. I interviewed the Minister of the Interior and asked him, “What is the most serious problem you face in Romania?” He thought for a minute and said, “Packs of wild dogs.” (And, let me tell you – getting back to my hotel from the Ministry of the Interior in Bucharest after dark – he wasn’t kidding.) Romania, indeed! Like I said, the process isn’t perfect. But Freedom House gives us some numbers to work with. And those numbers, while not The process isn’t perfect... but most processes aren’t. Freedom House, explaining its methodology, admits that “an element of subjectivity is unavoidable in such an enterprise.” Subjectively, the enterprise favors the small, tidy, homogeneous, socially conformist freedom of the Scandinavian type. Only Norway, Sweden, and Finland score 100.
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