The COVID-19 Pandemic Was a 'Catastrophe for Human Freedom'

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The latest edition of the Human Freedom Index published by the libertarian Cato Institute shows what happens to individual liberty when we give the government the power to destroy it.


It’s not a conspiracy theory to state unequivocably that we have lost some of our personal freedom as a result of government actions during the pandemic. The evidence is all around us.

What’s truly frightening about this fact is that some on the left view the loss of personal freedom as something to celebrate. Less personal freedom means people are easier to control.

“In the year 2020, 94 percent of the world’s population saw a fall in its freedom compared to the year before,” Cato’s Ian Vásquez, one of the authors of the index, wrote last week. “The annual Human Freedom Index, released today by the Cato Institute and the Fraser Institute, documents how the Covid‐​19 pandemic was a catastrophe for human freedom.”

The pandemic only exacerbated the downward spiral of human freedom. Vásquez pointed out that “the vast majority of the world’s population (83 percent) has seen a decline in freedom since 2008” and said this is “a disturbing trend that was occurring even before the world experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and political effects.”


The world rating compiled by Human Freedom Index scholars hit a peak in 2007, at 7.33, and has declined in fits and starts since then. But it absolutely plunged with the appearance of COVID-19 and, most importantly, political responses to the virus.

Long before 2020, though, the United States had fallen from the top 10 and it slipped another seven positions in the latest edition to 23. Canada fell six positions to 13 (and this is before the Trudeau government weaponized the financial system against Freedom Convoy protesters). With Mexico down three positions to 98, North America isn’t looking good.


“On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 represents more freedom, the average human freedom rating for the 165 jurisdictions fell from 7.03 in 2019 to 6.81 in 2020,” according to the index. “Most areas of freedom fell, including significant declines in the rule of law and freedom of movement, expression, association and assembly, and freedom to trade. Based on that coverage, 94.3 percent of the world’s population lives in jurisdictions that saw a fall in human freedom from 2019 to 2020, with 148 jurisdictions decreasing their ratings and 16 improving.”

The U.S. had already fallen out of the top ten freest nations, and the 2020 index saw America dropping seven positions to #23.

Switzerland, New Zealand, Estonia, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg are the top ten freest nations according to the index.

Related: American Journal of Medicine Says a Belief in Freedom Could Be Hazardous to Your Health

Cato scholars use “83 indicators of personal, civic, and economic freedom that measure freedom from government, not what politicians tell us they are giving us.”

“Freedom in our usage is a social concept that recognizes the dignity of individuals and is defined by the absence of coercive constraint,” the authors write. “Freedom thus implies that individuals have the right to lead their lives as they wish as long as they respect the equal rights of others.”


The “absence of coercive restraint” is the difference between right and left in the U.S. Telling us lockdowns are “for our own good” does not make them right. This is especially true when you consider that long after we learned that lockdowns, coercive mask mandates, and forced business closures had very little effect on the spread of COVID, we were still being forced to do them.

I would hope the Republican Congress takes note of this report and passes laws to restrain the government’s coercive ability to affect our lives.


Trending on PJ Media Videos

Join the conversation as a VIP Member