Freedom

Americans Are Still Freer Than Most, But the Trend Line Are Worrying

Freedom of the press, government accountability and transparency, and economic freedom have all been trending down, while corruption is trending up.

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Election Day is upon us and Americans are heading to the voting booths by the millions. The choices before the electorate are, by and large, deeply unappetizing and, whatever the outcome of the elections, America's freedoms and institutions will likely continue to take a beating in the years to come. Last week, I looked at the state of freedom globally. Today, the focus is America.

First, consider the good news. The United States has maintained a perfect "democracy" score since 1871 and citizens continue to elect freely their local, state and federal governments.

America's record on protecting civil liberties, such as freedom of expression, also surpasses that of much of the world. Since Freedom House began collecting data on civil liberties in 1971, the United States has consistently received the best score possible.

Americans also have more extensive political rights than most of our fellow human beings, although the political rights gap is slowly narrowing.

Unfortunately, on several indicators, America has recently been trending in an unfortunate direction. Consider freedom of the press, measured on a scale from 1 (most free) to 100 (least free). Between 1993 and 2014, U.S. freedom of the press dropped by 10 points.

Government accountability (i.e., public perceptions of the extent to which citizens are able to influence their government) has also been deteriorating in the United States.

When it comes to corruption (i.e., perceptions of the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as "capture" of the state by elites and private interests), America's score is deteriorating.

The United States has also been falling in terms of government transparency, which measures the availability of credible aggregate economic data that a country discloses to the public.

Finally, consider economic freedom. Once again, we are moving—rapidly—in the wrong direction. Economic freedom in the United States still exceeds the world average, but if current trends continue, that will soon no longer be the case.

Americans have long enjoyed a level of freedom and quality of institutions that are still denied to the majority of humanity. But, if some of the worrying trends that can be seen above continue, America may not always be the "land of the free."

NEXT: Gary Johnson's Final Poll Numbers: 4.8% and Rising

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  1. “Americans Are Still Freer Than Most, But the Trend Line Are Worrying”

    That’s could also describe Americans in the 1770s.

    “Hey, at least we’re not in the Ottoman Empire!”

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      1. So Alice I take it economic freedom is working out for you then.

    2. And, when women could not vote anywhere ….. not allowing them to vote was not counted as “not free”. So the measurements are relative to the standards of the time period to some extent. It is a relative measurement compared to other nations at that time, not to and “ideal” (based on current time) standard.

  2. A few friendly SC justices and Clinton can and will crush the 1st and 2nd amendments. We’ll see how that line looks then if you’re allowed to print it.

    1. Oh, and corruption that would make the Mafia blush.

    2. It will be a world where it will always be Thursday.

    3. Who needs to the freedom to voice their political opinions or defend their family as long as the mosques are open and abortion is easily available?

  3. So fucking hilarious that after eight years of almost completely looking the other way on the reign of Obama and dishing out a lot of “this is our libertarian moment and everything in America is awesome” bullshit around here, we get this on election day.

    I guess this is an early hedge on the total 180 degree change of tone that will take place here in the event that Trump should actually win.

    1. How the hell would Trump be good for freedom?

      1. More cooper’n w the Russians instead of antagonism.
        Less war in Syria.
        Lower taxes.
        Better Sup. Ct.
        Deregul’n of domestic biz.
        Freer health care.
        Less war on drugs.
        Less subsidy of other nations’ defense.
        Less empowerment of “politically correct” elites.

      2. Once you get Clinton’s propaganda, Trump’s actual political program is fairly free market and fairly middle of the road.

        In addition, Trump lacks the political power and support to pass a lot of laws, as opposed to Clinton, who has the power to pass a lot of her destructive agenda.

      3. The one bright possibility if Trump is elected is that the establishment will soil its pants at all the power it has transferred to the office over the decades – and really will have to reverse that power for its own self-protection. Checks-and-balances and separation of powers has been nothing but BS theory for a long time. And they only actually work when the power struggle is serious and both sides are determined to beat the other.

    2. I voted for Trump.

  4. …the United States has consistently received the best score possible.

    Uncle Sam shaking his fist at Freedom House, “You better not say anything but that if you know what’s good for you.”

    1. Once Hillary stacks the SCOTUS, her DOJ will start cracking down on badthink here, also.

      1. It’s a tattoo so you might call it badthunk.

        1. You mean bad ink.

            1. I have my moments.

      2. Will it go retroactive, such that what we write today will be prosecutable?

  5. there’s no sugarcoating it.

  6. I’m used to Reason telling me how things are good and getting better. Who allowed Tupy to modify the narrative?

  7. Tattoo nicht macht frei

  8. Totalitarian moment!

    …er, …century!

  9. Hillary’s cabinet picks and S.C picks will be horrid. Now,seeing Trumps possible cabinet picks leave me to conclude we’re screwed either way. Drug warriors and war mongers all around,including Hillary. The best we can hope for is gridlock and or a long drawn out investigation of Herself to freeze the grinding of government. plan on drinking beer,lots of beer,tonight.

    1. The most we can hope for is pitchforks and angry mobs.

      1. I live in the country and happen to own a pitch fork. ‘And a shotgun a rifle and a four wheel drive’ .I don’t make wine though.

    2. I see Trump’s picks as defending the 1st and 2nd amendments and Hillary’s picks as gutting them. Equating them with a simple “screwed either way” is deeply dishonest.

      Trump’s choices are not what we might have hoped for. Hillary’s choices are about as bad as things could get.

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  11. Nick has a good life. And so do you even if you don’t know it.

  12. “First, consider the good news. The United States has maintained a perfect “democracy” score since 1871 and citizens continue to elect freely their local, state and federal governments.”

    Have you stupid fucks not been reading the news? I take it you haven’t read any of the Wiki leaks or heard the news about ballot fraud. The whole god damn system is corrupt from the county on up. I take you guys live in manicured, gated communities. Go to down town Baltimore, Detroit, or East L. A. And brag how fucking spiffy it all is.

  13. Republicans will be kicking themselves for not voting on Garland.

    1. Probably. But I’ll certainly be happy. As Congressman Amash is always reminding us in his tweets, his “moderation” is the worst of both worlds (kind of like Hillary). A so-called “liberal idealogue” judge is the best one can hope for from a Democratic president.

  14. How on Earth did the U.S. rack up those democracy scores? Most of its adult citizens could not vote for much of its history. Could Romania have gotten a perfect score by limiting its electorate to Mr. and Mrs. Ceasescu?

    1. There’s also the fact that the U.S. is not a democracy. Although,it seems many want it to be. Just look at the party platforms and what they say the ‘people’ want.

      1. There’s also the fact that the U.S. is not a democracy.

        The US is a democracy, it’s just that democracies don’t quite work the way you think they do.

        1. No. We are *not* a democracy. The US is a Constitutional Republic that selects some of its government in a democratic fashion. A democracy is nothing but mob rule writ large with no limits on what the government can do.

    2. Whoever is #1 is considered perfect, and all others are in proportion to that score. #liesdamnliesandstatistics

    3. How on Earth did the U.S. rack up those democracy scores?

      The rest of the world is a lot worse.

  15. The United States has also been falling in terms of government transparency, which measures the availability of credible aggregate economic data that a country discloses to the public.

    Credible economic data huh? So anything predicated on GDP can fuck right off.

  16. the press is still free but it chooses to act otherwise

    1. The press IS free …. to get in the tank for the entrenched establishment.

  17. The United States has maintained a perfect “democracy” score since 1871 and citizens continue to elect freely their local, state and federal governments.

    Didn’t the US deny voting rights to certain groups after 1871? Wouldn’t that affect the “democracy” score?

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  19. The progs claim to be pro choice but force all to comply with their socialist agenda.

    The GOPer claims to be from the party of limited gubmit, but arrests me for smoking some reefer in the privacy of my swingin’ bachelor pad while listening to some Henry Mancini.

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