Duty, Honor, Country: A Life Devoted to his Country

Douglas MacArthur

(Photo Credit:  LIFE magazine)

by Diane Rufino, May 24, 2018

Cleaning out Dad’s apartment, I took notice, probably for the first time, of an excerpt of a speech that he had displayed in his room. The remarks were from a speech given by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur on May 12, 1962 to the cadets at West Point. It is now considered one of the top ten speeches of all time – and rightly so.

On that day, General MacArthur accepted the Sylvanus Thayer Award – an award presented to an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.” In accepting that prestigious award, he delivered the following speech:

General Westmoreland, General Grove, distinguished guests, and gentlemen of the Corps….

As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, “Where are you bound for, General?” And when I replied, “West Point,” he remarked, “Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before?”

No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a tribute as this [Thayer Award]. Coming from a profession I have served so long, and a people I have loved so well, it fills me with an emotion I cannot express. But this award is not intended primarily to honor a personality, but to symbolize a great moral code — the code of conduct and chivalry of those who guard this beloved land of culture and ancient descent. That is the animation of this medallion. For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated in this way with so noble an ideal arouses a sense of pride and yet of humility which will be with me always.

Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean.

The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.

But these are some of the things they do: They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation’s defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.

And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory? Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man-at-arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then as I regard him now — as one of the world’s noblest figures, not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless. His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give.

He needs no eulogy from me or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy’s breast. But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements. In 20 campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to the other he has drained deep the chalice of courage.

As I listened to those songs [of the glee club], in memory’s eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs, on many a weary march from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle-deep through the mire of shell-shocked roads, to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.

I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always, for them: Duty, Honor, Country; always their blood and sweat and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth.

And 20 years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts; those boiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms; the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails; the bitterness of long separation from those they loved and cherished; the deadly pestilence of tropical disease; the horror of stricken areas of war; their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory — always victory. Always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men reverently following your password of: Duty, Honor, Country.

The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong.

The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training — sacrifice.

In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him.

However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.

You now face a new world — a world of change. The thrust into outer space of the satellite, spheres, and missiles mark the beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind. In the five or more billions of years the scientists tell us it has taken to form the earth, in the three or more billion years of development of the human race, there has never been a more abrupt or staggering evolution. We deal now not with things of this world alone, but with the illimitable distances and as yet unfathomed mysteries of the universe. We are reaching out for a new and boundless frontier.

We speak in strange terms: of harnessing the cosmic energy; of making winds and tides work for us; of creating unheard synthetic materials to supplement or even replace our old standard basics; to purify sea water for our drink; of mining ocean floors for new fields of wealth and food; of disease preventatives to expand life into the hundreds of years; of controlling the weather for a more equitable distribution of heat and cold, of rain and shine; of space ships to the moon; of the primary target in war, no longer limited to the armed forces of an enemy, but instead to include his civil populations; of ultimate conflict between a united human race and the sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy; of such dreams and fantasies as to make life the most exciting of all time.

And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable: it is to win our wars.

Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment. But you are the ones who are trained to fight. Yours is the profession of arms,  the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed; that the very obsession of your public service must be: Duty, Honor, Country.

Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men’s minds; but serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation’s war-guardian, as its lifeguard from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiator in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have defended, guarded, and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice.

Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.

You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the nation’s destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds. The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.

This does not mean that you are war mongers.

On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.

But in the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point.

Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.

Today marks my final roll call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my last conscious thoughts will be of The Corps, and The Corps, and The Corps.

I bid you farewell.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My father had the last portion of the speech displayed in his apartment.

Dad was very patriotic; he loved this country. He loved his time in the service and would have gladly volunteered again to defend her. Duty. He felt an obligation to this country – the country that opened its arms to his father and mother; he felt an obligation to continue the tradition begun by his father, and that was to enlist and serve. It’s one of his most defining qualities and one that I can remember even from childhood.

And you should have seen his reverence for the American flag. He respected each flag as if it had draped the casket of a fallen soldier. He folded and stored each one with care.

This is the generation we are losing.

Their children (people like myself) grew up in a world saved by the guardians of freedom, but who quickly watched the evil forces within destroy the foundations that made her what she was. We tell our tales and share our experiences and warn of what the country will look like if we remain on this path, but our generation too is fading.

To the millennials, who are actively destroying this country – a country they will have to raise their families in and try to enjoy their lives in – I implore you to STOP with your identity politics, stop with the endless charges of racism, and with your utter reluctance to listen to and learn the truth. Trust me, the truth will not kill you and it won’t even hurt you. It will make you stronger, bolder, more intelligent, and armed with the proper tools you’ll need to meet the challenges of your time.

The Constitution is NOT a thing of wax to be molded into a document that suits your purpose; it is a document to keep government off your backs, out of your pocketbook, off your property, and away from your essential rights as a human being. Once you cloud the true meaning of one part of the Constitution, you cloud the entire document, imperiling and weakening its purpose as a shield against a heavy-handed government. You will, in fact, transform it into a sword with which to harm you.

If you seek societal change, please proceed the correct way, the constitutional way, which is the amendment process outlined in Article V. Please reject the improper way, the unconstitutional way, which is by using the federal courts to do an end-run around the legislature (and the democratic process) and the Constitution itself, and by embracing the legal fiction that the Constitution is a “living, breathing document.” The only thing that is living and breathing is life. And unlike the imagery generated – fabricated – by the term “living, breathing document,” life is actually defined strictly, according to laws that are fixed in nature and never changing. The “living, breathing document” approach is just the insidious creation of activist judges who wanted to give the courts the power to circumvent the Article V process, which in their minds takes too long and which also assumes that judges are smarter and know better than the states and the people themselves. Simply put, it is a invention to transform the Constitution and to transform US society faster than the body politic in general is ready to accomplish properly, legally, constitutionally.

My father and the men (and even the women) of his age lived their lives by a certain code of honor. They acknowledged the blessing bestowed on this country – to be spared the nightmare that befell Europe with Hitler in their backyard. And they acknowledged their role, their supreme sacrifice, in liberating the world of his menace, as well as defeating the evil ambitions of Imperial Japan. The comfort and solace they took in the role they played, for the most part, remained as a quiet and unspoken part of their lives. But the pride they felt in what they did and what they stood for, as well as their pride in country, was the foundation of the honor they displayed throughout their lives. The word “duty” and “honor” meant something very real to my Dad, and to other veterans of his era. In the movie A FEW GOOD MEN, Colonel Jessup (Jack Nicholson) said: “We use words like “honor,” “code,” “loyalty.” We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something.” To my father, it meant respecting and honoring a country that secured freedom and offered him a home where he could have opportunities that he could never have enjoyed in other countries. Jessup’s next line – “You use them as a punch line” – seems to describe very well today’s millennials. They make a mockery of the very ideals our country once stood for. They are seeking to tear down the vestiges of the hallmarks that made this country what it used to be – including the right of free speech and the right to be able to defend oneself.

Who, from my father’s generation and my generation, can forget learning that Japan’s Admiral Yamamoto had reservations about invading the US mainland because of all the guns that citizens had for their protection. In a letter he penned in 1942, he wrote: “to invade the United States would prove most difficult because behind every blade of grass is an American with a rifle.”

To the millennials, please reflect on this: What makes the United States a “free” country is not the luxury of being spared words and commentary, even actual history, that hurts one’s feelings. It is not the hope (and the delusion) that banning guns will stop violent crime and mass shootings. It is not the right to determine when a developing human being must be evicting from your womb and killed, and it is not the right to entitlements, healthcare, or a free education. It is not the right to deny others their ability to live their lives according to their deeply-held peaceful religious beliefs just because it offends you or doesn’t fully embrace your lifestyle. It isn’t the right to re-define science and demand gender fluidity or to prevent every instance of discrimination (discrimination will always exist in the hearts and minds of humans as long as there is even one feature that makes us different). And it isn’t the right of other nationals (immigrants) to have unfettered access to this country and its resources and opportunities.

What makes us a “free” country is the right to “be left alone” by government, the right to the fruits of one’s labor, the right to an honest opportunity to the American Dream, the right to speak freely and without self-censorship for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or government retaliation, the right to assemble peacefully without fear that the police will stand down to allow violent opposition, the right to have and bear arms for self-protection (whatever the individual believes is necessary in his or her situation for self-protection), the right to privacy, the right not to have the government spy on citizens or to collect data (for possible future use), the right to one’s property without the government seizing it for its own purposes (or for a better purpose), the right to challenge one’s loss of life, liberty, or property (due process), the rights protecting a person should he or she be accused of a crime, the right to confront one’s accuser and to a trial (a speedy trial) by jury, and the right to be free of any cruel or unusual punishment. What makes us free is adhering to the divinely-inspired principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence –  (1) that “All Men are created equal” and have inherent worth and dignity and endowed with the same rights; (2) that we are “endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights including Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, which means that they are part of our human fabric (not given to us by a benevolent government, and therefore not subject to forfeiture by said government); (3) that government is instituted for the primary purpose of securing our inalienable rights, and that no other purpose comes before that (certainly not for “taking care of us” cradle to grave, redistributing wealth, providing healthcare, ensuring entitlement programs, spearheading social change, etc); and (4) that government exists only as long as it serves its legitimate purpose, which first and foremost is to secure the individual (not collective) rights of man.

What helps ensure that we remain a free country is the role of the States against the federal government, as articulated in the Tenth Amendment, and NOT the right of the government to demand that each State blindly comply with the government, its court decisions, or to mandate that each conform to a “one-size-fits-all” model.

Again, I implore you, oh rebellious millennials, to read, study, and learn the truth. Don’t seek to change this country..  it is basically good and decent and generous and responsible. Respect it and preserve it. Make your mark, but do so intelligently, responsibly, legally, and most of all, respectfully. Generations have sacrificed more than you will ever know to allow you the privilege of calling yourself an “American” and to afford you the luxury to freely exercise the rights you do even as you seek to use them to deny rights to others and even to abolish them for yourself in the future.

Please hold this country in your care, as you would a child, ignoring what is best for you personally and putting the interests of your child first. Selfishness and the millennial “Me First” mentality (the “Politics of Me”) are what is dividing and killing this country.  The beauty about America is not that we are a mix of different peoples but that we truly form “one people.”  Politics is a nasty game that is, at its core, an aggressive adversarial system, pitting one side against the other, fighting for power and control. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the interests of the average citizen. You must understand that. Our country is more important than the outcome of some nasty, counter-productive, divisive political game…. It MUST be more important than that. Only we the people can make it so. In the coming years, it will be you, as you transition to the workforce and to parenthood, who will take the lead.

Please act responsibly. Please make this country admirable enough that, like my father and those of his age and era, her citizens would be willing to die for her.

DAD - Navy pic

(My Dad, age 18, in the Navy)

Ignoring the Facts, Americans Still Believe They Live in a Free Country

FREEDOM

by Diane Rufino, March 22, 2018

How many times have you said to someone “We live in a free country?”  How many times have you commented “Thank God we live in a free country.”  How many times have you heard others, including our nation’s leaders and representatives, say “The United States is a free country.”

On the news we often hear commentators compare other countries to the United States, the premise being that we have a more free country. And how many times have you read in the news how the United States sets the example and is a beacon to the rest of the world because we are such a free nation.

Yes, we have freedoms. They are outlined in the Declaration of Independence and they are recognized and secured (supposedly) in the US Bill of Rights.  But that doesn’t necessarily define us as a “Free People.”  The real question is to what extend we are able to exercise those rights. That is the real measure of our freedom and our liberty.

But the reality is that the comment “We live in a free country” has become a soundbite, a cliché. We speak and hear it so often – indeed, for most of our lives we’ve heard it – that we believe it. We take it for granted that it is true.

We believe we have freedom in the marketplace and freedom over our personal and real property. But an honest assessment shows that there are so many regulations and so many taxes and fees and conditions and filings with respect to each that we truly do not have economic freedom or freedom with respect to our property (including our wages and other earned “income”).

So, are we a “Free Country.”

Let’s look at a screen shot of Americana right now, in 2018.  Populism has been on the rise here and as we are learning first-hand, it threatens freedom by pitting “us” against “them.” Take, for example, the Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission which is a case sitting with the Supreme Court right now. As many probably know, the case presents a butting of two important issues: The Right to Exercise One’s Religious Beliefs Even in Conduct in the Marketplace versus The Right Not to Be Discriminated Against in Public Accommodations (including goods and services). The fact that Religious Liberty, probably the most important of our rights as sought by those who settled and founded our country and one seemingly protected without conditions or limitations in the First Amendment to the US Constitution is under scrutiny to have both imposed by our highest court, is in and of itself an indicator of our freedom index. Next, look at the arbitrary nature of our tax system. Those who can be taxed to fund the government and all the many programs (most of which are unconstitutional) are taxed in every possible way, shape, and form. Property is taxed multiple times, over and over and over again with each transfer, and improvements require more taxation. Sums that can be taken out of a person’s paycheck WILL be taken out and although characterized to sound palatable to the American people, are simply various forms of taxation. All of these funds are used by the government to redistribute wealth and services; they are not intended to be a rightful, fair, or equal token to the government in return for the benefits the country provides. We believe we have an almost unlimited right to free speech, but today, that right falls away quickly when the audience includes an individual who is too fragile to hear a viewpoint that he or she does not agree with.  Free Speech today is, in reality, limited by feelings and a seriously low tolerance for opposing views, facts, or truth.

If Congress doesn’t do anything about the Affordable Care Act and the notion that the government must provide funding for healthcare for everyone and can regulate the healthcare profession, then we will officially be one of the countries of the world providing socialized medicine and healthcare. Ronald Reagan had warned about this back in 1961 and several Supreme Court justices warned of the same in 2012.  As Reagan noted: “The doctor begins to lose freedom. . . . First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then doctors aren’t equally divided geographically. So a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him, you can’t live in that town. They already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it’s only a short step to dictating where he will go. . . . All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man’s working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here it’s a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay. And pretty soon your son won’t decide, when he’s in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do.”  Interestingly, during President Harry S. Truman’s administration, it was proposed that the government establish a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, which the American people, without reservation or serious debate, rejected. They rejected government healthcare (Hillarycare) during the Clinton administration, and they opposed it during the Obama administration. But popular opinion and public concern didn’t stop President Obama.

The snapshot of Americana now in 2018 isn’t nearly the snapshot many remember 30-40 years ago, and those who remember the 50’s and 60’s may hardly recognize the country we’ve become. We could speak freely, worship freely, and we could travel without having to put lots of money aside for toll roads and bridges. Fanily was still the institution we believed in, strived for, and worked hard to preserve. We may not have had a ton of luxury items or electronic devices, but we were happy and sociable and weren’t consumed with talk of race and diversity, and we didn’t see our communities rapidly change due to an uncontrolled immigration of Hispanics. We enjoyed an era of color-blindedness and for a time, we enjoyed economic prosperity. We were safe in our homes and communities, our parents had job security, we went to school to learn how to think (not to be taught what to think), and we all felt like we had a shot at the American Dream, if we were willing to be educated and work hard. Most parents were reluctant to accept government hand-outs because of the stigma of receiving something not earned. It was an era of respect because, quite frankly, most people earned it.

Again, the question is: Are we a Free country?

The fact is that we are not truly a free country anymore. A look at the various factors that affect the extent to which we can exercise our freedoms shows quite clearly that we are not a “Free Nation” but rather one that is only “mostly free.”  I don’t think that would have been good enough for our Founding Fathers.  I think they would be deeply disappointed in what we’ve allowed the government to become, for it is the government that is – and has been – responsible for most of the factors burdening and constraining our freedoms.

There are detailed studies, conducted by reputable organizations such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Fraser Institute, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom which assess the various factors that define the extent of a country’s personal and economic freedom. Using such analysis, they measure each country’s degree of freedom. These studies are called the Human Freedom Index and the Economic Freedom Index. The results of each of these does not bode particularly well for the United States or we as Americans.

 

Because freedom is inherently valuable and plays a role in human progress, it is worth measuring carefully and worth taking note of.

The Human Freedom Index looks at a broad range of factors to measure human freedom, which is defined as, and understand to mean, the absence of coercive constraint (that is, government, economic, and legal constraint).  In other words, a measure of human freedom is a measure of the extent of coercive constraint or restraint on a  person’s essential liberties, civil liberties, economic freedom, and property rights. Some refer to this as “negative freedom.” The Human Freedom Index uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom – the two most generalized categories – in the following more specific areas:

  • Rule of Law (laws)
  • Security and Safety
  • Movement
  • Religion
  • Association, Assembly, and Civil Society
  • Expression and Information
  • Identity and Relationships
  • Size of Government
  • Legal System and Property Rights
  • Access to Sound Money
  • Freedom to Trade Internationally
  • Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business

[For a complete look at the 79 factors used in the study:  https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/human-freedom-index-files/2017-human-freedom-index-2.pdf  Go to pp 15-19.  The ranking follows on pp. 19-23. This is the data compiled by the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom]

The Index measures and ranks 159 countries.

According to the Human Freedom Index, the United States ranks only 24th with respect to “Personal Freedom” and 17th with respect to “Human Freedom” (a measure that includes all the areas above – personal, civil, economic, government and the rule of law, etc). The U.S. fell from 16th place in 2008 and 19th place in 2013 to 24th place for Personal Freedom, showing a troubling trend for our country and its people.

Ahead of the United States, in terms of Personal Freedom, are the countries (in order, #1-23): Norway, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Sweden, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Canada, Portugal, Great Britain, Slovenia, Estonia, Iceland, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Malta, and Japan.   [The Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/human-freedom-index-files/2017-human-freedom-index-2.pdf; pp. 6-7]

Technically, the United States is not considered “Free” but rather, is considered “Mostly Free.”  14.5% of the 159 countries analyzed have more personal freedom than the United States and 84.2% have less. These numbers hardly entitle us to brag that we lead the world in freedom and are the model for other nations to follow.

Economic freedom is a measure of success in the marketplace. Beyond this specific indication, economic freedom is, and has historically been, seen as an important indicator of personal freedom. There is a reason for that. A person or family that is self-sufficient is not dependent on others or the government. Dependency stifles freedom and limits options. Our nation’s most prosperous eras have been the ones that have provided Americans jobs, education, opportunities, and wealth. When America prospers, its people prosper. They are lifted out of poverty, sickness, and ignorance.

According to the Human Freedom Index, the United States ranks 11th with respect to “Economic Freedom.”  .  The countries that rank higher than us include (in order, #1-10): Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland, Great Britain, Mauritius, Georgia, Australia, Estonia, and Canada. Actually, Canada is ties with the US.   [The Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/human-freedom-index-files/2017-human-freedom-index-2.pdf; pp. 6-7]

The Heritage Foundation, which conducted its own study of Economic Freedom, has the United States ranked 18th in the world, in 2018. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom looks at 12 individual freedoms, from property rights to financial freedom, in 186 countries. The top-ranking countries, in order, are: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, and Ireland. These top 6 are considered “FREE,” according to the Heritage Foundation. The countries that follow (#7-17) are: Estonia, Great Britain, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Denmark, Taiwan, Luxembourg, Sweden, Georgia, and the Netherland. The countries that occupy the #7-34 positions (which includes the United States, at #18) are considered “MOSTLY FREE.”  [2018 Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation – https://www.heritage.org/index/ranking]

Although President Trump is working very hard to improve the situation in the United States with respect to our economic freedom, right now, our position is certainly nothing to brag about.

As mentioned above, with respect to “Human Freedom,” the United States ranks 17th. Again, the “Human Freedom” Index is a measure that includes all 79 distinct indicators among the areas of economic freedom, personal freedom, and civil liberties – the major ones, which are contained in our First Amendment: speech, religion, association, and assembly.  The countries that rank higher than the US include (in order, starting with the most free): Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Canada, Austria, Sweden, Estonia, Luxembourg, and Germany.  [The Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/human-freedom-index-files/2017-human-freedom-index-2.pdf; pp. 6-7]

“The declining performance of the United States, once considered the bastion of liberty, is worrisome,” said Ian Vasquez, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity and co-author of the study, commenting on its results. “We should all be concerned with the impact on liberty of the war on terror, the war on drugs, and the decline in the rule of law and economic liberty in the United States.”

I hope this article and the data provided convinces you that we, as Americans are not a free people and that our country, despite the talking points, is not really a free country. We are “mostly free,” which should never be a consolation that we are willing to settle with.  So next time you are filled with pride and patriotism and want so badly to sing the praises of the United States, please be sure to speak honestly of her.

Honesty is the first step in admitting there is a problem.

 

References:

Human Freedom Index 2017, Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (Full Report)  —  https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/human-freedom-index-files/2017-human-freedom-index-2.pdf

Country Profiles:  https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/human-freedom-index-files/2017-hfi-country-profiles-2.pdf

“The Human Freedom Index,” Cato Institute –   https://www.cato.org/human-freedom-index

2018 Economic Freedom Index, The Heritage Foundation –  https://www.heritage.org/index/ranking