Many times I hear the ostriches among us exclaim, "What freedoms have we lost? America is the freest country on earth." We have all heard that, right? Of course, part of the problem is that, thanks to our education system, media, and churches, many Americans do not even know how to define liberty and freedom. The truth is, America's Founding Fathers were willing to pledge their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" and fight a bloody revolutionary war for far fewer abridgments of liberty than we Americans endure every day of our lives today. FAR FEWER!
To answer the second part of the ostrich argument first: no, America is not the freest nation on earth. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, which is produced by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, the United States just barely makes it in the top ten, ranked at number nine in the world.
According to Deroy Murdock, "Among the 179 countries examined in the Index, Hong Kong is ranked first, followed by Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, and Denmark. These nations all outscored the U.S. across ten categories, including taxes, free trade, regulation, monetary policy, and corruption.
"America barely made the top ten. Bahrain was tenth, with 77.7 points, one decimal point behind America's 77.8 score. Chile reached No. 11 with 77.4, just 0.4 points behind the United States.
"Even worse, with a score below 80, the U.S. is spending its second year as a 'mostly free' economy. As it departed the family of 'free' nations in 2010, it led the 'mostly free' category. Even within this less-than-illustrious group, America now lags behind Ireland and Denmark."
See Murdock's report.
Just ask any small businessman how free the United States is! The regulations, restrictions, prohibitions, assessments, fees, taxes, surcharges, permits, licenses, etc., are worse than almost any industrialized nation in the world. Remember the CEO of Coca Cola recently saying that it was easier doing business in China than in America? Well, he was telling the truth!
Thanks to political correctness, environmental wackoism, and socialistic/fascist ideology running rampant in Washington, D.C., and even many State capitols, "the land of the free" has become "the land of the oppressed." Being able to drive a car, have a job, shop at a mall, watch sports on television, or even vote, is NOT the mark of a free people. Folks in China and other oppressed nations routinely do all of the above.
Virtually every activity once considered a "right" is now regulated or prohibited by either the federal or State and local government. Few states (thankfully, my home State of Montana is one of them) recognize the right of people to marry without getting a State marriage license. And can anyone imagine Paul Revere riding throughout Boston with a license plate and registration on his horse? And can anyone further imagine Sam Adams or those militiamen at Lexington and Concord registering a gun or being asked to get a concealed carry permit? Yeah, right!
In most urban settings, one cannot build a shed on their own property, add a room on their house, or even pour a driveway without asking a variety of government bureaucrats for permission--and paying them hundreds of dollars in fees, of course. And did you know that the federal government even tells your local plumbing contractor how many gallons of water your toilet can flush? Well, they do! You call this freedom? Our Founding Fathers wouldn't have!
To answer the first part of the ostrich question, the freedoms we Americans have lost are literally too numerous to count. A recent report at the American Dream web site makes a very salient argument as to just how many freedoms have been lost in the good old U.S. of A.
The report states, "Once upon a time, our founders thought that they were guaranteeing our freedoms by adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution.
"But today there are a lot of freedoms that we simply do not have any longer.
"In America today, you do not have the right to say whatever you want. If you say the wrong thing on a blog or a website it can have dramatic consequences.
"In America today, you do not have the right to do raise your own children as you see fit.
"In America today, you do not have the right to grow whatever food you want and you do not have the right to eat whatever food you do grow.
"In America today, you do not have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
"In America today, you do not have a right to privacy. In fact, you should expect that everything that you do is watched, tracked, monitored and recorded."
The report then goes on to list several real-life examples to prove the assessments listed above.
And, of course, the ultimate symbol of a free people is the right to keep and bear arms. And while most states theoretically recognize a citizen's right to own and possess a gun, the vast majority of them only do so--not as a right guaranteed to a free people by their Creator--but as a privilege granted to approved subjects by the limited benevolence of the State. At last count, only four states recognize the right of their citizens to keep and bear arms without any kind of State license: Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming. (For clarification, the State of Montana allows open carry Statewide and concealed carry in unincorporated areas, but people carrying concealed in incorporated cities, must have a CCW permit. We passed legislation this year to expunge the incorporated city CCW requirement, but our Democrat governor vetoed it. But Montana will be the fifth State soon!)
To view a current map of Constitutional Carry states, click here.
So, the next time you hear someone say, "What freedoms have we lost? We are the freest nation on earth," why not give them a copy of this column? And then tell the ostrich to get his head out of the sand and his rump off the couch before the little remnant of freedom we have left is also completely eviscerated.
P.S. I want to introduce my readers to a very informative web site produced by my friend Jim Babka. It's called DownsizeDC.org. I recommend you take a look.
© 2011 Chuck Baldwin - All Rights Reserved
Chuck Baldwin is a syndicated columnist, radio broadcaster, author, and pastor dedicated to preserving the historic principles upon which America was founded. He was the 2008 Presidential candidate for the Constitution Party. He and his wife, Connie, have 3 children and 8 grandchildren. Chuck and his family reside in the Flathead Valley of Montana. See Chuck's complete bio here.