“O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” According to the national anthem of the U.S., we are. But are we really? Well, we can set the baseline for comparison with ease. Nowhere in the world are you truly free. Nowhere can just do as you please, everyone else be damned. Even Dear Leader himself has limitations despite his best efforts. Lets take a look at how we stack up according to some interpretations.

When it comes to economic freedom, The Heritage Foundation says we rank 12th.

The United States does not rank among the Top 10 countries in the world for economic freedom, according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of Economic Freedom.

Instead, the U..S. ranked only 12th–after Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Estonia, Ireland, Mauritius, and Denmark.

Estonia was formerly a part of the Soviet Union.

The Index rates economic freedom for countries on 10 quantitative and qualitative factors that are based on four pillars of freedom: rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets.

Freedom House does an annual ranking on a more generic basis. They claim we are one of 45% of the world’s free countries. This was the eighth straight year of overall declines.

The state of freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2013, according to Freedom in the World 2014, Freedom House’s annual country-by-country report on global political rights and civil liberties.

Particularly notable were developments in Egypt, which endured across-the-board reversals in its democratic institutions following a military coup. There were also serious setbacks to democratic rights in other large, politically influential countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Venezuela, and Indonesia.

The Richest takes a look at debt realizing the implications on an economy and the drag on people’s standard of living. Turns out there are only 5 countries in the world that are debt free.

$53,008,208,452,765. In the madness of this much debt, how do you even begin to tackle such a giant. This is certainly a much bigger giant then David was up against. There is said to be between 189 and 196 independent countries worldwide. According to the United Nations right now there are currently 192 active members. So who’s been able to avoid this economic insanity of debt? Macao, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Liechtenstein and Palau.

The Fraser Institute is a leading Canadian think tank. They claim to examine the ‘characteristics of freedom’.

“Our intention is to measure the degree to which people are free to enjoy classic civil liberties-freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly-in each country surveyed. We also look at indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, legal discrimination against homosexuals, and women”s freedoms,” said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom (Fraser Institute) and editor of Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom.

“The classical ideas of freedom from the time of the Enlightenment included economic freedom as essential to other freedoms, yet all the indexes available up to now either measure civil and political freedoms, often confusing what freedom actually is, or economic freedom alone. This is the first index that brings together these classic ideas of freedom in an intellectually consistent index.”

The initial freedom index ranks New Zealand as offering the highest level of human freedom worldwide, followed by the Netherlands then Hong Kong. Australia, Canada and Ireland tied for fourth spot, with the United States and Denmark tied for seventh, Japan and Estonia tied for ninth overall. The lowest-ranked countries are Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Syria.

How about measuring corruption? Transparency International ranks them.

Poorly equipped schools, counterfeit medicine and elections decided by money are just some of the consequences of public sector corruption. Bribes and backroom deals don’t just steal resources from the most vulnerable – they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in government and leaders.

Based on expert opinion from around the world, the Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide, and it paints an alarming picture. Not one single country gets a perfect score and more than two-thirds score below 50, on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Corruption is a problem for all countries. A poor score is likely a sign of widespread bribery, lack of punishment for corruption and public institutions that don’t respond to citizens’ needs. Countries at the top of the index also need to act. Leading financial centres in the EU and US need to join with fast-growing economies to stop the corrupt from getting away with it. The G20 needs to prove its global leadership role and prevent money laundering and stop secret companies from masking corruption.

Denmark led the list (on the good side) followed by New Zealand, Finland, Sweden and Norway. The United States? 17th. The worst? Somalia and North Korea tied.

How about if there was a way in which you could rank freedom based upon what is important to you? Freeexistence.org has done that for you with their meta index called the Freedom Index. Simply plug in your own preferences – http://www.freeexistence.org/freedom.shtml

The fact is that freedom in its truest sense is not possible in the world we live in. We merely experience some fashion of it depending upon some set of protocols. Depending upon whether you’re a glass half-full or half-empty type dictates whether you call that a measure of freedom or serfdom.

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