Friday, November 02, 2007

Freedom is Tricky Business

The Worldwide Governance Indicators report ranks countries by the amount of freedom citizens have to voice opinions and choose their government. No doubt many Americans would think the US ranks high on the "freedom index." But, don't celebrate yet. The reality is that in the freedom business we're not failing, but we're not at the top of the game either.

The US ranks at 83.7%, making it in 35th place. Just a few of the places ahead of us are Denmark (100%), Germany (96%), Canada (94.2%), Australia (93.8%), the UK (92.8%), France (92%) and Chile (88%). Chile? The country of Pinochet? Yes. That one. The same Chile with a long history of socialist governments and military coups that passed a law in the last few years allowing divorce for the first time. Yes, that Chile.

The US has dropped in this survey - we were in 22nd place in 2005. The drop is due to a decreased trust in public officials and restrictions on the freedom of the press. Daniel Kaufmann, a lead author of the report, says, "The U.S. is not a model."
Of course, we're far better than Burma at 0% or China at 4.8%, but is that what one really wants to aspire to?

For a country that prides itself on "freedom," it seems we're headed in the wrong direction. This isn't exactly news to me, but I'm guessing it hasn't made the pulpits yet.

We're not exactly the best country to be busy spreading "freedom" around the world. Maybe those we're so interested in "freeing" would be better served by a liberator who is better at practicing what they preach. There are 34 other nations who are offering their citizens greater freedoms than we are. Maybe we should defer to their better judgment.
to see a graphic and look at the other measurements as well as the data gathered