Sunday, September 05, 2004

Freedom and lack thereof

As I was commenting on the Cap'n's last post about gay marriage and demographics, I had this thought about freedom and the lack thereof in "free" countries. I wondered if anybody or any organization tracked that type of "index", so I staerted poking around on Al Gore's invention and found an organization called the Freedom House. It was founded over sixty years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt, Wendell Wilkie and others to promote freedom. Every year they publish an index called the Freedom Index where they rate the countries of the world in two categories, political rights and civil liberties, on a scale of 1 to 7. The overall average of these two numbers is the country's freedom index. For 2003, the individual and combined averages for some countries are as follows:


US, UK, Canada, Australia, and most EU countries (France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, etc.): 1.0

Czech Republic, Poland, Japan, Bulgaria, Greece and Monaco: 1.5

Israel, South Korea, Mexico, Taiwan and Romania: 2.0

Brazil, India and Jamaica: 2.5

Partly Free:

Albania, Nicaragua and Kenya: 3.0

Fiji, Turkey, Venezuela and Indonesia: 3.5

Ukraine, Tonga and Georgia: 4.0

Kuwait, Singapore and Uganda: 4.5

Bahrain, Russia, Yemen, Jordan and Morocco: 5.0

Not Free:

Algeria, Oman, Pakistan, Kazahkstan and Lebanon: 5.5

Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, UAE and Haiti: 6.0

China (PRC), Vietnam and Somalia: 6.5

Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan: 7.0

The data was complied from 1 Jan 2003 to 31 Dec 2003.

I was going to use this data to contrast Canada's 1.0 rating with the US' 1.0 rating, but the most telling is the ratings given other countries where I have been sent with my work. When it comes to freedom of political rights and civil liberties, Saudi Arabia ranks right down there with "Axis of Evil" members, North Korea, Syria and Cuba. China is not much better, but I was surprised to see that the free-est country in the Middle East was Kuwait at a 4.5 rating. I would have thought that the UAE would have been higher up on the scale than just 6.0, but I was mistaken.

Coming back to the Americas, Venezuela is considered partly free due to it's 3.5 rating. This is due to the fact that it gets a 3 for political rights and a 4 for civil rights. Brazil is considered free although it languishes at 2.5. It's interesting that two pro-socialism/pro-Cuba/anti-Gringo countries have such dismal records with political rights/civil rights.

What does all this mean? Nothing much, except when countries whose freedom index score is greater than the US score by more than 1 point start criticizing the US, you should take what they say with a healthy dose of skeptism.


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