How to Counter American Pessimism
A national Gallup poll taken January 7 through January 10 paints a picture of a pessimistic America, where most people believe the country’s best days are past.
According to this poll, 61% rated the current situation in America as decidedly negative, about the same as in 2010, the lowest recorded by Gallup since President Jimmy Carter’s term in 1979, at a time when the economy was in terrible shape with inflation at 14%.
The only other comparable low point came in 1974 during the Watergate scandal and President Nixon’s resignation. Less than half the people, 48%, now have any optimism about improvement in the country within five years, also the lowest since 1979.
The reasons for Americans’ unhappiness reflected in Gallup’s findings have been noticed by others around the world, but in the form of the specific causes.
Better to Be Born in Estonia
As an example, the Economist Intelligence Unit just published a new “Where To Be Born in 2013″ list, the places in the world that they think offer a newborn the chance for a healthy, safe and prosperous life.
The measures used include per capita GDP, life expectancy at birth, quality of life (divorce, political freedoms and job security), climate, personal security (crime, murder rates and terrorism), community life and governance (corruption) and gender equality.
The last time the EIU put together this somewhat lighthearted but unique index was 25 years ago in 1988. The United States of America then ranked first place in the world. Today, the U.S. has fallen to a dismal 16th place, just ahead of the United Arab Republics (UAE) and well behind countries ranging from Switzerland and Norway at the top of the new list, to Germany and Belgium just ahead of the U.S.
So much for the quality of life in America. How about economic freedom?
The 2012 Economic Freedom of the World report released by the Cato Institute and Canada’s Fraser Institute shows that in just a few years, the U.S. ranking has plummeted from No. 2 in 2000 (behind the city-states of Hong Kong and Singapore) to 18th place, trailing such countries as Estonia, Taiwan and Qatar. Finland, Denmark and Canada now also have freer economies than the United States.
This report is not something thrown together by ivory tower eggheads. The godfather of the Economic Freedom of the World report was the late, great Milton Friedman who suggested its need as a measure of liberty.
The comprehensive index covers the size of government (taxing and spending), legal systems, property rights, sound money, free international trade and regulation (including credit markets, labor and business regulations).
According to the report, in 2005, the U.S. ranked 45th in overall size of government among 144 nations surveyed. Today, government has ballooned in size and the U.S. rank has fallen to 61st place.
Other areas of lost freedom include a substantial increase in stifling business regulations, labor-market restrictions and barriers to trade. The U.S. slipped in all those categories, plus there was a long-term deterioration in ranking on property rights as well.
If ever there was a concentrated compilation of facts urging Americans to “go offshore,” this report is it.
Madison, de Tocqueville and Reagan
In 1962, at a re-election rally in Ohio for my good friend, the late Congressman John Ashbrook, I first heard Ronald Reagan give “the speech,” as it came to be known.
Yet to become California governor or president, Reagan spoke of the prescient French aristocrat, Alexis de Tocqueville, who, after touring a young America in the 1830s, concluded that democracy in the U.S. was fragile.
It could not exist as a permanent form of government he suggested. It would end when a majority discovered they could vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that time forward the majority would vote for candidates promising the most benefits, with the result that the democracy would collapse over loose fiscal policy, to be followed by dictatorship.
Citing Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Reagan added: “The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been 200 years.” The evening I heard Reagan utter those words, America was yet to celebrate its 200th birthday – now we are in the 236th Year of Our Independence.
James Madison of Virginia, the fourth U.S. president, a Founding Father and the leading proponent of the Bill of Rights, anticipated, better than most, the processes that destroy liberty when he warned: “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
Considering the many “gradual and silent encroachments” by government under which Americans now must live – and many more talked about by President Obama, Americans have a right to be pessimistic.
In Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, the shipwrecked hero awakens to find himself a prisoner, tied down by hundreds of tiny pegs, ropes and strings. But Gulliver had an advantage over modern Americans trying to preserve their wealth. He awoke to discover and face his predicament all at once, whereas Americans are only now beginning to realize the thousands of irrational government restraints on our liberties.
Now it’s time for Americans to awake, to arise. The politicians and bureaucrats in control are doing all they can to keep us – and our money – tied up here.
The long arm of government has placed many roadblocks, detour and dead ends in our path. And who knows what and when new “emergency” presidential decrees may be imposed by Obama?
With America’s future darkened by massive budget deficits, increased taxes and more regulations, ObamaCare, the radical Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and an ever creeping loss of liberty, now is the imperative time to go offshore. Act now.
Chairman, Freedom Alliance
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Other Posts from the Author
- Power to Tax = Power to Destroy - May 15th, 2013
- We’re Watching this Offshore Tax Haven - May 2nd, 2013
- How Obama's Budget Will Steal Your Retirement - April 24th, 2013
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