Monday, January 23, 2006

Junk Stat

I’ve used the phrase “junk stat” before in this blog—a term used by baseball enthusiasts to describe a statistic that is perhaps interesting but doesn’t actually measure anything meaningfully.

We have an excellent case in point in Mark Hyman’s commentary on the “
Index of Economic Freedom.”

First, the index is compiled by the
Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. By itself, this doesn’t mean anything, but it should put a wary reader on guard that it might not be a completely disinterested, scientific measure.

And indeed, the index defines “economic freedom” in a peculiar way, one that fetishizes lack of environmental regulations, worker protections, etc. as examples of “freedom.”

The index comes in for criticism both
by progressives as well as libertarians for its often bizarre interpretation of what “freedom” is.

More pointedly, Hyman only offers us a hint at what the index says. He confines his remarks to saying that the U.S. has moved up into the top 10 of the index rankings, intending to suggest that the U.S. economy is doing increasingly well under the Bush administration.

What he doesn’t mention is that
some of the countries ahead of the U.S. are nations that Hyman doesn’t want the U.S. to become more like. For example, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and several Scandinavian countries lead the U.S. in economic freedom, as defined by the index. If we were to take the index seriously, therefore, would it not suggest that more progressive taxation and government subsidized services (such as healthcare) would increase economic freedom, or at the very least not be antithetical to it?

But Hyman doesn’t want us to ask that question, so he elides any specific mention of these countries.

Which leaves us with the obvious question: does even Hyman take this index seriously?

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 3.62


At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


In our lifetimes, we've seen businesses and politicians go from operating from a stance of productivity and purpose (and making a profit or popularity in the bargain) to spin, posturing, and operant conditioning (for the purpose of maximizing personal gain while obfuscating that greedy purpose).

This junk stat is just another example.

A couple more relevant statistics are:

- health care expenses go up (roughtly) 10% each damn year.

- 41 million Americans cannot afford health insurance.

Neither of these statistics bode well for the our country's future.

Other issues include: energy resource development (to reduce our entanglements in the mideast, returning the political process to the people...

These issues regularly are in the top 10 of polled Americans' concerns. But look how little attention they get by our politicians (with a few exceptions) and the lazy media.

Too bad Hyman and wrecking crew just care about Sinclair profit and their stupid pet peeves.


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