Freedom Indexes and Lockdowns

Tophattingson - [original thread]

Governments that are low on the freedom-score tend to have pretty horrific things happen and terribly low quality of life. It wouldn't be easy to quantify but I'm certain that we took a few steps closer to my grandchildren being basically slaves this past year.

Unfortunately, it would be very difficult to measure this now. Organisations that put together such indexes seem to have deliberately sabotaged their own datasets by ignoring the effect of lockdowns. The flaws are simply too large to be explained as an oversight.

Freedom House's 2021 edition's scoring has errors are so large that it will disrupt the ability of any researcher to use it as a dataset in future. I'm just going to highlight a few scores it gave for the UK. I'm not going to go into the more grey areas either. Every single score I highlight should be obviously wrong even to people who don't share my views on this. The criteria they should be using is here.

"Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private? 4/4"

On this, the main concern given by freedom house is about discrimination. This ignores a far bigger issue. Throughout the UK, places of worship were closed. This fails on the criteria "Are members of religious groups, including minority faiths and movements, harassed, fined, arrested, or beaten by the authorities for engaging in their religious practices?". Members of religious groups are fined and arrested for engaging in the religious practice of communal worship.

Is there freedom of assembly? 4/4

This is so farcical that I shouldn't even need to say anything more, but whatever. Probably best not to leave this space blank

"People are almost entirely prohibited from gathering socially with those who do not live in their support bubble."

It's hard to justify anything above a 0/4 for this. The restrictions on assembly in the UK exceed that of what freedom house would have assigned a 0/4 to in 2019.

Their assessment of police attacks on anti-lockdown protesters are also incomplete. 155 were arrested in a single day in November.

Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education? 4/4

The very text below this indicates why it shouldn't be considered a 4/4. Lockdowns prohibit freedom of movement by establishing criteria in which it is illegal to even leave your house without a specific reason to do so. It's hard to justify anything above a 0/4 for this. The restrictions on movement in the UK exceed that of what freedom house would have assigned a 0/4 to in 2019.

Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors? 4/4

Freedom house makes almost no comment on this, oddly. However, a look at their criteria reveals that maybe they should have. "Are people legally allowed to establish and operate private businesses with a reasonable minimum of registration, licensing, and other requirements?" The answer is no, not any more. If you are in the service or hospitality sector, your operations are more likely than not de facto illegal. I could see justification to still give a 3/4, but a 4/4? I can't see how you could give that.

There's a number of other scores that I think could be downgraded by a point or two, but these above are the least controversial. For what it's worth, a drop of ~10 points on the civil liberties scale would still leave the UK classed as "free", but it would be a significant downgrade. It would leave the UK ranked alongside places like Hungary for civil liberties.

I'm sure there are similar issues for other countries that you could check too, if you want. The snippet of errors above should be enough to be damning of their entire 2021 publication.