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April 9, 2013

'We're Free Up Here Too, Eh?'

Frances Woolley:
We're free up here too, eh?: Paul Krugman has recently taken aim at the rhetoric of the US right:
From the enthusiastic reception American conservatives gave Friedrich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom,” to Reagan, to the governors now standing in the way of Medicaid expansion, the U.S. right has sought to portray its position not as a matter of comforting the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted, but as a courageous defense of freedom.
That got me to thinking. When I read or watch the US media, I hear lots of talk about freedom - much more than in Europe, say. But do Americans actually feel freer than people elsewhere?
The World Values Survey regularly polls people from around the globe, and asks them about their attitudes, their values, and how much freedom of choice and control they feel they have over their lives. 
I don't know if Americans actually do have more freedom than other people - they aren't allowed to import Kinder Eggs, for example, or eat authentic haggis. But I would have thought that, given that the US is supposed to be the land of the free, Americans would at least think that they have control over their lives. As it turns out, however, there isn't much difference between the average American and the average Canadian in the self-reported freedom stakes. As for socialism killing freedom - the Swedish report just as much freedom as Americans do. ...

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