Why Isn’t It The land of the free?

A version of this post originally ran September 26, 2017.

Freedom is declining in America.

That is what the majority of Americans said in 2017, according to a global poll on the matter. I believe the trend continues in Post-Trump America, especially among the populist’s supporters.

What I find most interesting about this research is America is supposed to be the land of the free. In the years this research happened, Americans have never ranked their experience as tops in freedom.  Among 118 countries in 2006, America ranked number 11 when 91 percent of Americans said they were “satisfied with the freedom in their lives”.

Last year, the “Land of the free” ranked number 71…compared to 139 countries two times as many as previous periods. Only 75 percent of Americans said they were “satisfied with the freedom in their lives”. The research explains:

This puts the U.S. in the bottom half of all countries measured.

Ouch America.

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 12.23.13 PM

The statisticians looking at the data say the 16 percent decline is “dramatic”. I agree.

But to me that’s not bad news. It just means more people are feeling the shift to a better future, experiencing the pain of the shift, and although they may not be ready to look at alternatives, the pain is getting greater.

This post’s original version ran in 2017. Here, at the end of 2020, it’s clear I was right: with COVID, the economic shut down, One-term Trump, and Black Lives Matter, I’d say I was right. It is getting more painful. It’s only a matter of time before our tipping point comes.

Interestingly, the decline isn’t happening in other wealthy democracies. Denmark, Finland and Canada all tied for first in 2006 — 96% of these countries’ citizens all expressed freedom satisfaction. Today, those figures are virtually unchanged, and all of them remain in the top 11.

The researchers go on:

Despite widespread reports that the U.S. economy is improving, many Americans may not be feeling the same economic gains in their daily lives. Household income is up since 2011, but it’s flat since 2007. And despite unemployment dropping below 5%, the overall jobs picture is not as rosy. Workforce participation is the lowest it’s been in 40 years. Using this metric, TheEconomist says that unemployment for 25- to 54-year-olds is worse in America than in France.

The 2017 Index of Economic Freedom also has seen a significant drop in America’s standing in the world since 2006. This index is mostly based on government regulation, the other component that people normally consider when they think about freedom.

America has never been free

Our country’s seminal documents didn’t enshrine freedom. What it did was enshrine protections keeping the framers (rich, white men) firmly in control of the nation’s wealth, while leaving women, brown people and poor light brown people facing increasing insecurity in virtually everything. It gave enough pseudo-freedom to keep people pacified.

American has never been free, but it can be a nation of free people. By “free” we mean something specific:

And when American embraces this level of freedom, it will top the list of every nation on the planet. Because no one lives a level of freedom today like Copiosis will bring in the future.

Leave a Reply