by Jeff Berwick, Dollar Vigilante

The phrase Land of the Free is most often used by brainwashed Americans who actually believe their television programming and have never traveled outside of the American Soyuz.  But, more and more, it is also used the way we use it: After pointing out the reduction of liberties in the USSA, many of us now snidely remark, “The Land of the Free!” while using airquotes in sarcasm.

The Cato Institute recently released their Freedom Index.  The US has been sliding downward on the index since 2000 and slid another 3 points down to 20th in the world in the most recent index.

For reference, here are the top 25:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Switzerland
  3. Finland
  4. Denmark
  5. New Zealand
  6. Canada
  7. Australia
  8. Ireland
  9. United Kingdom
  10. Sweden
  11. Norway
  12. Austria
  13. Germany
  14. Iceland
  15. Netherlands
  16. Malta
  17. Luxembourg
  18. Chile
  19. Mauritius
  20. United States
  21. Czech Republic
  22. Estonia
  23. Belgium
  24. Taiwan
  25. Portugal

We take exception with how the index is calculated and think there should be a number of countries listed much higher… like Cambodia, which is turning into a capitalist mecca with almost no government interference in the economy or day-to-day life and is absolutely booming right now.

There are of course other issues with the list. Hong Kong’s liberties are under sustained attack from the mainland. Switzerland fairly recently refrained from re-backing the franc with gold and Finland – it was just reported – is looking at creating a government-provided “basic income.” (One can only imagine with discouragement the ramifications of allowing bureaucrats to fully control people’s sustenance. Eventually, you’ll have to observe politically correct views in order to eat.)

Aside from that, however, we think a number of the countries listed, including the US, should be much lower.  The US, in particular, should be listed closer to 40th or 50th even by Cato’s own guidelines.

This is a list of the main items that Cato takes into account when calculating the index:

  • Rule of Law
  • Security and Safety
  • Movement
  • Religion
  • Association, Assembly, and Civil Society
  • Expression
  • Size of Government
  • Property Rights
  • Access to Sound Money
  • Freedom to Trade Internationally

Let’s take a brief look at each one.

Rule of Law.  There are plenty of laws in the US (surely among the most of any country in history) but that just means more things are outlawed.  You can’t collect rainwater in some places in the US.  In others it is illegal to feed the homeless.  And actual justice is fairly rare.  Ross Ulbricht, of the Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison for having a website that allowed people to trade freely.  And the Canadian government has now warned Canadians not to carry cash with them in the US for fear of civil asset forfeiture… which is another way of saying,  “road pirates, called police, will steal all your money”.  And that is all aside from the fact that the US has more people in prison, per capita, than any other country in the world… many for victimless “crimes”.

Security and Safety.  You are surely being constantly watched in the US… but it’s not for your security!  The US now has the biggest citizen spy apparatus in world history, one that would make East Germany jealous.  As for safety, you have no bigger chance of getting shot by police, anywhere in the world, including North Korea, than in the US.

Movement.  Movement inside the US now, especially in “Constitution Free Zones” which encompass a massive swathe of the country, is often met with checkpoints where you have to show your “Papers, please.”

Religion.  You are still relatively free to practice most religions in the US – when the US government and media aren’t trying to create hate and division between different sects… so this is one category where the US is still relatively decent.

Association, Assembly and Civil Society.  Most protests need permission and are often limited to what are now called “Free Speech Zones” which are usually surrounded by police in riot gear.

Expression.  The US still rates quite high in terms of freedom of expression thought this may be coming to an end. It is fairly evident that those running Homeland Security and its affiliated facilities believe that “constitutionalists” (never mind anarcho-capitalists)  promote a kind of terrorism. The operative issue here is the anti-government stance.  Individuals like Wesley Clark would like to see internment camps set-up for people “radicalized” by a belief in freedom.

Size of Government.  The US rates a big goose egg on this one.  The US has the most overarching, massive government in the world today.  It’s so big that its military covers the Earth like a skin disease.

Property Rights.  Consider that the US government along with state and municipal governments steal, in some cases, more than 50% of your earnings every year in taxes. You really have no property rights in the US.  If the government wants it, it will take it, even under eminent domain as they are currently doing to some farmers in California.  Not to mention the US boasts the highest corporate tax rate in the world.  So, property for corporations isn’t even secure in the US.

Access to Sound Money.  For decades American’s couldn’t own sound money like gold.  Now you can, but if you ever try to buy or sell any sizeable amount you’ll have to file with the government on the transaction.  The other sound money, bitcoin, has also been under attack more in the US than most countries.

Freedom to Trade Internationally.  The amount of rules and regulation imposed on international trade is mind-numbing and about to get worse with the Trans Pacific Partnership pact.  As well, it is now very hard for an American to open a bank account outside of the US due to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).  Essentially, the US has capital controls but officials have done it in a way without actually declaring them. The result is the same, however.

We disagree with Cato on the US being rated as high as 20th. However, we do agree with their general talking point that freer places are more prosperous as this chart shows.

Average GDP per Capita - CATO The Dollar Vigilante

It’s just unfortunate that the US is quickly falling from possibly being the most free place 150 years ago to barely squeaking into the top quartile now and getting worse by the day.

This correlation is not coincidental. The amount of rules, taxes and monetary inflation has a direct impact on prosperity. This is because any government activity constitutes a kind of “price fix” that transfers wealth away from those who use the capital most efficiently to those who are less able to use it effectively.

The result of government interference in the market is a general erosion of wealth and freedom. This usually ends in civil unrest, riots and even in the most extreme cases, the overthrow of the regime. It’s so bad now that some people who even talk about what the US government is doing, like Edward Snowden, defect from the US to Russia for political asylum.

Others like French actor Gerard Depardieu even fled France and its tax system for Russia.  And even this week, boxer Roy Jones Jr. went to Russia to ask Vladimir Putin for a Russian passport.

ap-us-boxer-roy-jones-jr.-asks-putin-for-russian-citizenship dollar vigilante

Unfortunately to get a foreign passport and escape the US, it helps to know people like President Putin.

There are still a few reasonable ways to get a foreign passport, however.  TDV Global has just set-up a new program to get a Peruvian passport in only two years with a minimum of fuss and much more cheaply than most options out there (it’s never cheap unless you can prove some sort of genetic heritage with certain countries).  The Peru passport is excellent for travel, by the way, and is just about to be added to the non-visa category for the European Union also, this year.

In the coming days we’ll have more information on that program here at the TDV blog.

The world is quickly changing.  People used to run to the US, the “land of the free”.  Now many are running away from it.  Soon, if things continue, Donald Trump will get his wall up just in time to keep anyone remaining in.

Sharing is caring!