Heritage Foundation Expert: Egyptians Protest Because They Want Better Property Rights

February 02, 2011 3:06 pm ET — Walid Zafar

If you have been following the uprising in Egypt closely, you might believe that it has something to do with the fact that Hosni Mubarak is an iron-fisted dictator. You might also assume that the people of Egypt have lost their sense of fear and are demanding an end to emergency rule as well as a quick transition to democracy. But you would be dead wrong, according to Heritage Foundation foreign policy expert James Carafano, PhD. What the Egyptian people want more than anything else, and what has inspired millions of them to risk their lives by taking to the streets is a desire for free market capitalism and the dream that Egypt's laws governing property rights will one day be strengthened. 

CARAFANO: Here's what we know for a fact. Look, what primarily are people in the streets protesting about is really what we really call economic freedom. That is the number one issue. That is what people are most concerned about. You know, every year, Heritage does this index of Economic Freedom with the Wall Street Journal. Egypt ranks 95; that's pretty low. But what's worse is Egypt's score has been stagnant, it's been mostly unfree for decades.  If you look at two of the most critical scores — corruption and property rights — Egypt's record is abysmal. That is fundamentally what people are concerned about.

It doesn't get more wrongheaded than that, especially when you consider that much of the income inequality in Egypt can in part be attributed to economic liberalization policies implemented under Mubarak's rule. The Index of Economic Freedom is also utterly useless, as vibrant democracies such as Brazil, Argentina and India rank worse than autocratic dictatorships, like Egypt. Furthermore, countries that rank highest in economic freedom are the very ones that the Heritage Foundation says we should avoid emulating.