We hope everyone had a happy and safe Fourth of July. Before the 238th anniversary of the nation’s founding recedes too far in the rear-view mirror, we want to ask a question. Does freedom still matter? That would seem to be self-evident. After all, the document signed July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, declares that people have “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The signers of the Declaration of Independence believed freedom was the best path for securing those rights — even if some of them wrongly believed white men of property were the only ones worthy of such freedom. Many Americans today are concerned that freedom is taking a bashing. According to a Gallup Poll released July 1, the percentage of Americans satisfied with the freedom they have has fallen to 79 percent from 91 percent in 2006. At the same time, the percentage dissatisfied with their freedom has risen to 21 percent from 9 percent. This shift in outlook is not without justification. In recent years, the U.S. has been sliding down the Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom. This year we are in 12th place, one notch above Bahrain, in the Mostly Free part of the index. The nations or city-states in the Free section include Hong Kong at 1, Singapore at 2 and our friends to the north in Canada at 6.
In response to the 2007 financial market meltdown, the pendulum swung toward more government regulation and less freedom. It may be time for it to swing a bit in the other direction.