Q&A of the Day – Veterans Day 2020 - How free are Americans really?
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: I don’t mean to disparage our country and I don’t necessary buy into all the allegations of the election being stolen. I have big problems with what I’ve been watching play out. Polls watchers being denied access, fishy ballots arriving days after an election all benefitting one candidate, a news media deciding election outcomes rather than voters. This isn’t what I served to protect. I can’t speak for those I served with, but I bet you most veterans are repulsed by what’s happening here regardless of the final outcome. It resembles a banana republic more than the greatest republic on earth. Other than venting I’m hoping you have perspective I’m missing.
Bottom Line: First, on this Veteran’s Day, thank you and all who’ve served to fight for and defend our country. It’s sad you’ll spend this day wondering what this country has become. You deserve better because this country deserves better than elections lacking transparency and whatever adjective you choose to describe our news media. While we wait for legal challenges to play out in contested states, hopefully leading to clarity for all of us to be able to accept the final election results, you raise an interesting point. How free are we? From the pandemic lockdowns to questionable election processes, it’s a valid concern and there’s an important takeaway for us to be mindful of as we celebrate Veteran’s Day.
In the United States I suspect most people assume we’re the freest people in the world. At a minimum, it’s easy for those who haven’t served to take for granted that the freedom we enjoy is anything but free. As I’ve pointed out many times, over 80% of the world’s population isn’t truly free. Meaning that they only retain the rights granted to them by their government. But how free are we really? I’ll provide the perspective through two different organizations which keep freedom indexes.
First up the Cato Institute’s Human Freedom Index. The index ranks countries on a scale of 0 to 10 with zero equaling no freedom and 10 equaling absolute freedom. Where does the US rank across 162 counties studied? 15th. What were the top three? New Zealand, Switzerland and Hong Kong (any wonder why China is trying to seize control?). For perspective the two least free countries were Venezuela and Syria. New Zealand’s score was 8.88. In essence, 89% of one’s life is free in New Zealand. What about the United States? Our score was an 8.46, implying about 85% freedom. Next up. The Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index. Where do we rank? 17th. The top three according to the Heritage Foundation are Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Out of a possible 100, Singapore scores best with an 89.4. As for us, a 76.6.
Based on these two different indexes we can infer three takeaways
- Hong Kong (without a China takeover) and New Zealand really do provide the most freedom in the world as they’re both represented in the top three in both studies.
- There are numerous countries that are now “freer” than the United States.
- We have lost freedom through progressive government policies.
I’m reminded of President Reagan’s famous quote: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
On this Veteran’s Day we should be thankful for the freedom you and others have provided for all of us, while being mindful that we’ve slowly had some of our liberty stripped away from us. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be the freest country in the world and let this moment be a reminder that we can do better. We should reject politicians who’d strip us of our freedoms and embrace those who allow us live our lives. There’s no reason New Zealand, rather than the United States, should be the beacon of freedom on this planet.
Photo Credit: Getty Images