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I recently attended a lecture where the speaker showed the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index, and showed the now famous chart (scroll down to Chart 4) demonstrating that countries with higher freedom indexes have higher income.While I clearly believe in the importance of property rights and free markets, these sort of indices are little more than scientism parading in the garb of science. I wouldn’t go as far as indicting them as being the right wing’s version of happiness research, but they are not far from it.Furthermore, I find it somewhat strange that organizations which nominally promote the views of Hayek and others similarly inclined neglect to see the irony in presenting a single aggregate measure of economic freedom. Do they not realize the “knowledge problem” here?

So, why does the Heritage Foundation produce such an index? My suspicion is that those on the right have few “nuggets” with which they can demagogue their pet issues. Of course freedom is good (what is freedom?) and of course growth is good, so it is natural for the Heritage Foundation to find a way to present the relationship between freedom and growth in a pithy, easily digestable, and memorable way.

… more to come …

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