Do Americans Live in a Free Society?

Whenever I hear someone say that U.S. troops fighting overseas somewhere, anywhere—it doesn’t matter where—are defending our freedoms, it makes me want to vomit, and for two reasons.

The troops aren’t defending anything. They are engaging in offense: intervening, violating, invading, occupying, killing, maiming, destroying, and making widows and orphans. This I have written about scores of times.

But there is another reason hearing that the troops are defending our freedoms makes me nauseated. The troops couldn’t possibly be defending our freedoms because we don’t live in a free society. What are these freedoms that the troops are defending? It seems as though the more the U.S. military intervenes in other countries the more freedoms that Americans lose.

Although we don’t live in a free society, most Americans think they do. They sing that they are proud to be an American “where at least I know I’m free.” They sing the national anthem and roar when it comes to the line about America being “the land of the free.” King James, His Bible,... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $15.36 Buy New $19.95 (as of 06:35 EDT - Details)

Oh sure, Americans are free compared with the citizens of North Korea, Sudan, Myanmar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, but there are 190 other countries in the world. The terrible truth is, we live in a relatively free society when compared with people in many other countries. The American people are relatively free when compared with people in Thailand, Egypt, the Republic of the Congo, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Nepal, Vietnam, and Pakistan.

But this doesn’t mean that the United States is the freest country in the world, although most Americans would say that it is.

Even when it comes to economic freedom—where you would expect the United States to come out on top—America is not even in the top ten. The latest edition of The Index of Economic Freedom, compiled by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world’s countries, ranks the United States number 11 in economic freedom—behind Ireland and Estonia. According to the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World, which aims to identify how closely the institutions and policies of a country correspond with a limited government ideal, the United States ranks even lower at number 16—just above Romania.

And when you look at things other than economic freedom, the United States drops even further. In the Freedom of the Press report published by Freedom House, the United States ranks below countries like Estonia, Costa Rica, Barbados, Canada, and New Zealand, as well as most of the countries in Western Europe. In the Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, the United States is ranked number 41—behind countries like Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland, Belgium, Latvia, Uruguay, and Ghana.

So, when someone says that Americans live in a free society, you have to ask: compared to what?

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Do Americans live in a free society when the government listens to their phone calls?

Do Americans live in a free society when police issue tickets to motorists for not wearing seatbelts?

Do Americans live in a free society when they need a salt-water fishing license?

Do Americans live in a free society when the United States is the only developed country in the world with a drinking age of 21?

Do Americans live in a free society when they can go to jail for purchasing too much Sudafed to relieve their stuffy nose?

Do Americans live in a free society when they have to be scanned, groped, and forced to throw out tubes of toothpaste over 3.4 ounces before they can board an airplane?

Do Americans live in a free society when police can break down your door in the middle of the night and drag you out of bed if you are suspected of having illegal drugs in your home?

Do Americans live in a free society when beer brewed at home cannot be sold and the amount of beer one can brew is restricted?

Do Americans live in a free society when the government regulates the size of the holes in Swiss cheese?

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Do Americans live in a free society when the government reads their e-mails?

Do Americans live in a free society when they are limited to six withdrawals from their savings accounts per month?

Do Americans live in a free society when police drive around in unmarked older vehicles to ensnare unsuspecting motorists?

Do Americans live in a free society when in many states, no alcoholic beverages of any kind can be sold before a certain time on Sunday?

Do Americans live in a free society when the government regulates the amount of water that toilets are allowed to flush?

Do Americans live in a free society when the United States has one of the highest per-capita prison populations in the world?

Do Americans live in a free society when the Supreme Court has said that police can “strip-search individuals who have been arrested for any crime before admitting the individuals to jail, even if there is no reason to suspect that the individual is carrying contraband.”

Do Americans live in a free society when in many states it is illegal for car dealers to be open on Sunday?

Do Americans live in a free society when police can perform forcible DNA, urine, and blood extractions?

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Do Americans live in a free society when they need a license to cut someone’s hair?

Do Americans live in a free society when the government seizes more assets from Americans than the amount of money taken in burglaries?

Do Americans live in a free society when they collectively spend more in taxes than they do on food, clothing, and housing combined?

Do Americans live in a free society when they can be locked in a cage for possessing too much of a plant the government doesn’t approve of?

And then, to add insult to injury, we also live in a nanny state. We have a government full of politicians, bureaucrats, and regulators, and a society full of statists, authoritarians, and busybodies, who all want to use the force of government to impose their values, hinder personal freedom, remake society in their own image, restrict economic activity, compel people to associate with people they may not want to associate with, and limit the size of soft drinks you can purchase at a convenience store.

Yet, most Americans think that because they can find fifty varieties of salad dressing at the grocery store, choose from among a hundred types of wine at the liquor store, select a television channel from over 1,000 choices, download any movie or song they want from the Internet, and sit at home for hours playing the latest video game that they live in a free society. They are oblivious to the extent of government encroachment on their freedoms. They are complacent when it comes to government edicts. And they are ignorant as to what a free society really means.

Wake up, and don’t be one of them. And don’t settle for less than a genuinely free society.