Post-election, the will of a slight majority is nonetheless clear—50.3 percent of Americans have embraced ever bigger government, more and higher taxes (on others), and even more spending on bloated social programs. For millions of conservatives, this depressing development has caused a silent gloom to creep into our thinking.
Many fear that even beyond the fast-approaching fiscal cliff, the effects of which are likely to be steep but short-term, there looms a far more devastating outcome from the recent election—the loss of freedom itself.
Our Founders established this government in 1787 for one reason, to preserve the precious liberty hard won in the Revolutionary War. Now conservatives fear this same government will rob us of that freedom. The Constitution, of course, long prevented the majority from abusing the rights of the individual, but only when judges and politicians respected that hallowed document and their oaths to preserve it, which, it seems, many no longer do.
So now the great fear is that nothing can stop the implementation of ever more socialist policies that will bring on our financial destruction and with it the absolute loss of economic freedom. Without economic freedom, there really are no personal liberties.
Is this fear unfounded? Could anything that dramatic actually happen here?
To determine if this dread is just a knee-jerk reaction to an election loss or a well-founded concern for an Orwellian future that could realistically occur, I turned to an admittedly conservative think tank—the Heritage Foundation. The data discovered there inspired the title of this column, that not just the U.S., but free nations as a whole, should be placed on the list of endangered species.
The Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index ranks 176 nations. It measures four key indicators: rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets. These factors work together to create at one end of the scale a robust environment for economic growth and personal liberty or the opposite; think Cuba or North Korea. Economic freedom should matter to each of us because it impacts our daily lives and our ability to earn a living, or as the Founders put it—the pursuit of happiness.
The 2012 Index ranks only five nations high enough to be considered “Free”—Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. That’s less than 3% of the 176 nations in the survey. Further, the U.S. no longer makes the cherished list of free nations. America ranked only 10th overall and is among 22 nations considered only “Mostly Free.” Note Free countries (green) and Mostly Free countries (pale green) on the Heritage map below:
(Click map to see the interactive version at Heritage)
One metric the Heritage map doesn’t show is the population of the nations on the Free list:
Nation Est. Pop. % of World Birth Rate
In the last five nations on earth ranked as Free by Heritage, there are only a combined 48 million people, a shocking .66 percent of the world’s inhabitants, who are truly free.
Obviously, with the United States not even in the top five of the Heritage Index, we can no longer really lay claim to being “The Land of the Free” as our national anthem proclaims. We are steadily dropping in the ranks of freedom. A closer look at the Heritage metrics shows why:
Rule of Law
Property Rights 85/100
Freedom from Corruption 71/100
Government Spending 46.7/100
Fiscal Freedom 69.8/100
Business Freedom 91.1/100
Labor Freedom 95.8/100
Monetary Freedom 77.2/100
Trade Freedom 86.4/100
Investment Freedom 70.0/100
Financial Freedom 70.0/100
The cold hard facts then indicate that the fear now felt by many conservatives is well placed. I’m at a loss to explain why liberals are not also terrified of the threat to individual freedom posed by ever-increasing taxes, runaway welfare and uncontrolled federal spending. If our course is not corrected, history will record that the greatest nation ever conceived on earth lost control of her spending, wasted her immense fortune, and went broke.
By the Heritage Foundation’s standards, 97 percent of the world’s nations are less than free to varying degrees. And those that are free have dwindling populations, an omen of limited capability to defend their freedom.
For these reasons, I believe we need a new list of endangered species, the countries where people still enjoy the inalienable rights given to us all by God. We can be stripped of them just as effectively by domestic economic policy as we can by the bullets of invading armies.
Patrick Henry’s battle cry should be ringing in our ears: “Give me liberty or give me death.” Only the battle this time is not against flesh and blood, but against an economic philosophy. Call it socialism, statism, or even fascism. The name doesn’t matter. It is a philosophy that does not look to God, but instead exalts government as the solution to all our problems. This is the “soft tyranny” that is now enslaving the United States and conforming us into the image of the majority of nations that have already lost their freedom.
Rest assured we will have many more posts on this in the future and plenty of calls to action. We must now put on the armor of God and faithfully spread the Truth throughout the Church. It is time for everyone to study and learn God’s financial principles because one thing is certain—free countries are going to become more and more rare.