I recently read an article ( and when I say "recently" I mean in the last few months!) that broke down "freedom" by state. Using various legislative and social guideposts, the authors of the sited study, evaluated and graded the freedoms in each state. The conclusions were interesting to say the least, because what they found was that, in general, the states with the highest tax loads per capita had the least amount of personal freedom, and the states with the lowest tax loads had the most "perceived" freedom. Why, you may ask do I put the word "perceived" in quotes? Well, it is because, based on the study, most freedom is about perception,( ask your kids how free they feel when they are stuck in school) but when quantitatively measured, freedom has no meaning.
If a person has a job, and can feed their family and live a life that makes them happy, what freedom are they missing? If this person lives in country that is ruled by a military dictator, or by a democratically elected president makes no difference. If a different person has a job they can't stand, and makes barely enough money to live, and lives on the edge of financial ruin, never finding happiness in their entire life, are they ever truly free? Again, it makes no difference what system they live under.
Taxes that seem to go ever upward, with ever deepening cuts in the services offered, gives a feeling of the loss of freedom. When you can keep more of your wages, you feel like you have more freedom. When you are doing something that you enjoy, more than you're doing something that you don't, you feel free. Ask yourself, do you take a vacation to do stuff you hate? Of course not! Unless you're married and you take a vacation to catch up on the "Honey do.." list, then maybe you are doing stuff you don't like on vacation. See, you don't feel free then, do you?
In America, we spend so much of our time trying to meet our payments that we have lost view of what life is really about. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, were the golden trio described in our Declaration of Independence, but today we give them up for Work, Struggle and the pursuit of the next cool thing. Anybody who has lived a few years can tell you that the continuing struggle for money and belongings has sidetracked us from the real things in life, family, learning and living.
Living is one thing that the rest of the world seems to have on us. Especially the European countries. The European model has capitalism, with liberal amounts of socialism sprinkled in to make life livable for the masses, and not just for the lucky few. Health care is only one place where they have us beat. We have truly lost some greatness in our educational arenas, and our research capabilities too. Thanks very much to the odd religious nutcases who seem to get power, even when they are a minority. Long discussion for a different time.
Just as much, I pursue the dollars and the stuff. I have no time or money to do the things that I really want to do, so I compensate by getting stuff instead of going and seeing like I want to! Occasionally I have the luck and the time to get out of my small realm and see the broader world, and I always love those times. But they are far fewer that I would like, so in the middle times I amuse myself with what I think I want when I can't have what I really want. It is my freedom of choice and I use it rather unwisely!
On a lighter note.....55# gone. I have hit a plateau, but it might have to do with the hole in my back. Small surgical thing that needs to finish healing so I can get back into some more vigorous exercise. Sounds funny to say, but I miss it!