The New Endangered Species List: Free Countries

Post-election, the will of a slight majority is nonetheless clear—50.3 percent of Americans have embraced ever bigger government, more and higher taxes (on others), and even more spending on bloated social programs. For millions of conservatives, this depressing development has caused a silent gloom to creep into our thinking.

Many fear that even beyond the fast-approaching fiscal cliff, the effects of which are likely to be steep but short-term, there looms a far more devastating outcome from the recent election—the loss of freedom itself.

Our Founders established this government in 1787 for one reason, to preserve the precious liberty hard won in the Revolutionary War. Now conservatives fear this same government will rob us of that freedom. The Constitution, of course, long prevented the majority from abusing the rights of the individual, but only when judges and politicians respected that hallowed document and their oaths to preserve it, which, it seems, many no longer do.

So now the great fear is that nothing can stop the implementation of ever more socialist policies that will bring on our financial destruction and with it the absolute loss of economic freedom. Without economic freedom, there really are no personal liberties.

Is this fear unfounded? Could anything that dramatic actually happen here?

To determine if this dread is just a knee-jerk reaction to an election loss or a well-founded concern for an Orwellian future that could realistically occur, I turned to an admittedly conservative think tank—the Heritage Foundation. The data discovered there inspired the title of this column, that not just the U.S., but free nations as a whole, should be placed on the list of endangered species.

The Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index ranks 176 nations. It measures four key indicators: rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets. These factors work together to create at one end of the scale a robust environment for economic growth and personal liberty or the opposite; think Cuba or North Korea. Economic freedom should matter to each of us because it impacts our daily lives and our ability to earn a living, or as the Founders put it—the pursuit of happiness.

The 2012 Index ranks only five nations high enough to be considered “Free”—Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. That’s less than 3% of the 176 nations in the survey. Further, the U.S. no longer makes the cherished list of free nations. America ranked only 10th overall and is among 22 nations considered only “Mostly Free.” Note Free countries (green) and Mostly Free countries (pale green) on the Heritage map below:

(Click map to see the interactive version at Heritage)

One metric the Heritage map doesn’t show is the population of the nations on the Free list:

      Nation                           Est. Pop.                       % of World            Birth Rate

Hong Kong 7,130,000 .1% 7.54/1000
Singapore 5,312,000 .073& 7.72/1000
Australia 22,832,000 .32% 12.28/1000
New Zealand 4,447,000 .063% 13.57/1000
Switzerland 8,000,000 .11% 10.4/1000

In the last five nations on earth ranked as Free by Heritage, there are only a combined 48 million people, a shocking .66 percent of the world’s inhabitants, who are truly free.

Obviously, with the United States not even in the top five of the Heritage Index, we can no longer really lay claim to being “The Land of the Free” as our national anthem proclaims. We are steadily dropping in the ranks of freedom. A closer look at the Heritage metrics shows why:

United States

Rule of Law
Property Rights                               85/100
Freedom from Corruption             71/100

Limited Government
Government Spending                 46.7/100
Fiscal Freedom                              69.8/100

Regulatory Efficiency
Business Freedom                       91.1/100
Labor Freedom                            95.8/100
Monetary Freedom                     77.2/100

Open Markets
Trade Freedom                           86.4/100
Investment Freedom                70.0/100
Financial Freedom                    70.0/100

Overall                                    76.3/100

The cold hard facts then indicate that the fear now felt by many conservatives is well placed. I’m at a loss to explain why liberals are not also terrified of the threat to individual freedom posed by ever-increasing taxes, runaway welfare and uncontrolled federal spending. If our course is not corrected, history will record that the greatest nation ever conceived on earth lost control of her spending, wasted her immense fortune, and went broke.

By the Heritage Foundation’s standards, 97 percent of the world’s nations are less than free to varying degrees. And those that are free have dwindling populations, an omen of limited capability to defend their freedom.

For these reasons, I believe we need a new list of endangered species, the countries where people still enjoy the inalienable rights given to us all by God. We can be stripped of them just as effectively by domestic economic policy as we can by the bullets of invading armies.

Patrick Henry’s battle cry should be ringing in our ears: “Give me liberty or give me death.” Only the battle this time is not against flesh and blood, but against an economic philosophy. Call it socialism, statism, or even fascism. The name doesn’t matter. It is a philosophy that does not look to God, but instead exalts government as the solution to all our problems. This is the “soft tyranny” that is now enslaving the United States and conforming us into the image of the majority of nations that have already lost their freedom.

Rest assured we will have many more posts on this in the future and plenty of calls to action. We must now put on the armor of God and faithfully spread the Truth throughout the Church. It is time for everyone to study and learn God’s financial principles because one thing is certain—free countries are going to become more and more rare.

About Chuck Bentley

CEO, Crown Mininstries
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21 Responses to The New Endangered Species List: Free Countries

  1. tazbright says:

    Really great article. It is really a shame that America has gotten to this point. We should all be praying without ceasing.

  2. Leroy Zumack says:

    Chuck, I appreciate your remarks about big government. Yet on the other hand some companies make excessive profits paying the president millions and letting little get down to the employees. Do you think that is fair? Then there are companies that seem to be beyond touch like Wall Street and big banks. Do you think that they should make excessive amounts as well. We can cry out about excessive government and we should, but how can people save for college, retirement, their next car, etc. without a decent wage? James tells us that people are worthy of their labor. People are working 50 hr weeks plus in some cases just to save their job. Thank you

  3. Mike Schellenberg says:

    Thanks for your thoughts! My question is this – If we do in fact end up being a nation that is described as “the greatest nation ever conceived on earth (but) lost control of her spending, wasted her immense fortune, and went broke” what is that expected to look like? It is hard to conceive of an America that is vastly different than the one we are used to. What would our lives look like in that setting? Is there any particular nation on earth we could look at and say “where they are now is where we are going to be”? Have you read any great takes on this or do you envision what this would look like yourself?

    • Chuck says:

      Mike, I think we are following the footsteps of European nations: secularism, nationalism, socialism and economic madness. Some argue that that these nations enjoy a “high quality of life”. I disagree. The world view in Sweden is one admired by liberals but should be rejected by Christians. Other possibilities: Venezuela or Argentina.

  4. Minnesota Dave says:

    Leroy, your point is well taken, and yet . . the poorest in our country are still in the top 10% of all income earners in the world. Big government, and the socialistic values that go with it has led to an entitlement mentality, whereby most people that live in the “entitled” segment of our population no longer know how to pull themselves up by their boot straps, do something about their plight, manage their finances, etc. in order to live more productive lives.

    Yes, it is wrong for the top officials of large companies to make as much as they do, but even if their salaries were cut in half, or by 2/3, or whatever, because of the massive sizes of these companies, it really would not convert to a meaningful amount available for the masses. I read one example some time ago that if the president of one exampled company were to have his salary reduced by 75%, it could provide for only an additional 10 cents per hour for the masses of employees in that organization.

    Sorry, as wrong a message as the big salary/benefit packages send, that is not the solution. The cause of our economic problems still leaks upward to big governments massive spending and role in our lives.

  5. Richard Fraley says:

    YES, I BELIEVE THI TO BE TRUE, I WOULD LIKE TO LINK THIS TO MY FACEBOOK PAGE. IT IS A SHAME THAT I KNOW A NUMBER OF CHRISTIANS WHO DISAGREE WITH THIS THINK.

    ________________________________

  6. Jim says:

    Very informative.

  7. What amazes me is the adoration that is being given to Barack Obama by a majority of his supporters. I believe that the majority who voted for Obama, voted for him on the promise of entitlements. I have a friend who is awestruck by Obama and who is under the illusion that Obamacare is the greatest thing that ever happened to this country. My friend also believes that American companies can easily afford the healthcare mandate. Apparently there is something wrong with American companies making a profit in the eyes of liberals. I have already felt the effects of the healthcare mandate with increased health insurance premiums provided for me through my employer as my premiums doubled for my family and me for 2013, now our taxes may be going up too…what a thrill!

  8. Roger Cain says:

    Chuck, I think you have drawn the wrong conclusion from the election results. The excesses of the free market have pushed people into the more liberal spectrum. The free market pushes the cost of health care and education to heights that are unattainable to many in the middle class, let alone those in the lower financial rungs of society. Profitable corporations terminate employees or send the jobs overseas so they can become more profitable. The Republican party fields a candidate for President who has made millions in the corporate world and can’t relate to the lower rungs. I think the majority voted out of fear of losing access to health care, education and good long-lasting jobs. The recession, caused largely by free market excesses and poor mortgage loan practices, has hurt a lot of people as well. Instead of bemoaning a “loss of freedom” find some way to moderate or eliminate the excesses that damage or destroy peoples’ confidence in an economic future.

    • Chuck says:

      Roger,
      Thank you for the courteous way that you have expressed your disagreement with my views. It is helpful to understand your perspective. I hope my tone is similar to yours! I am a part of the middle class and see the issues differently than you. First, we have the greatest, strongest middle class in the world because of profitable corporations, not big government. Second, I agree that there are excesses, but compare your analogy to sports. Salaries for top players are outrageous compared to the average players yet I don’t believe we should punish the stars for their success. They are called “franchise players” because their talent makes the economics work for the entire team. Finally, has greed caused some costs to soar? Yes, but consider the cost of college tuition. This inflation (highest of any other sector in the past decade) is not coming from Wall Street corporations, the so called 1%, but from the ever increasing salaries and benefits for professors, most of whom are liberals. We cannot trust government, liberals or conservatives to reign in greed. It is not a blue or red issue. The issue is the heart of people. Our freedom to practice our Christian faith, to seek our God-given potential and to rise or fall on merit is a freedom that I hope we never lose by capitulation and surrender to excessive government control over us. They will not solve the problem.
      History proves they will inevitably make it worse.

  9. Bernadette Hornsby says:

    I just looked up Hong Kong and 1 out of 2 people live in government housing and their isn’t privately owned land. All other land and businesses are leased from the government. it also has free health care from the 12 state owned hospitals, oddly 1 out of 7 residents receive cash assistance from the cradle to the grave, from childcare to education to burial assistance. They are considered the freest and one of the best places in the world to live, oh yes they also have way less corruption in business and government then we do, go figure, our top executives are now making 120 x as much as a worker up from 20 x an average worker’ s salary in the 80′ s. and our average wage keeps falling, they seem more socialist than China, not a doomsday scenario though

    • Terrible "T" says:

      God bless you Bernadette for informing us of this truth. I love it when the facts speak for themselves. God is STILL in control, not Big government, neither Big Business and He (God) has the heart of the king in His Hand and turns it how He wills. Our job is to Trust God and Love Him with all of our heart, to live peacebly with all man and love our neighbor as ourselves. Lets give that a try and see the salvation of the Lord reign supreme :)

  10. Lee says:

    All this talk about a fiscal cliff, and no one is really addressing the “pit of debt” which we are already deep inside and continuing to dig at an unbelievable rate. I personally wrote my Senators and congressman over 9 years ago voicing my concern then about the national debt. No one had the courage to do anything then, and they still don’t. There will be suffering to come from the poor fiscal management, much more than we have ever known I’m afraid.

  11. jeff says:

    Hmmm…. I fear that both sides of our government are enslaved by greed and power. One side would control us through big government and the other with control over the so called free market. Both sides have gotten us into this mess. I’m just glad one side doesn’t control it all. I yearn to live in a country that is truly free. One that praises the name of Jesus and serves God without ceasing. I believe the name of that country is “Heaven”. Until then I will be content remembering Romans 13:1 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Also given the privilege to live in a country and have a vote, I will simply cast my ballot on social / moral issues filtered through the Word of God.
    Come Lord Jesus!

    • Terrible "T" says:

      Amen! Amen! and Amen again! This is on the MONEY :) God bless you Jeff and I pray all will come to this understanding that God established government for His doings and are utilized to carry out His mandates. Lets get on board with TRusting in the Lord instead of criticizing how He is carrying out His plan for the winning of souls.

  12. ken says:

    Just wondering if it is time to relocate to somewhere outside the U.S. for mere safety’s sake? I am thinking in line of Costa Rica, Ecuador, Taiwan. As this misery unfolds here, my bucks would go further and sustain a more peaceful existence perhaps in some of these places? depending on one’s savings, age and passive income situation, what do you think concerning expatriation and/or citizenship renunciation?

    • Chuck says:

      Ken, There are a lot of folks thinking the way you are. I have thought about and researched this topic extensively. I will write about it in a future HOTW when I can go into much more depth. Please pray for our nation and for a Third Great Awakening. Thank you for you question.

      • jeff says:

        I couldn’t agree more that we should pray reverently for our nation. Being content as stated in my previous post and praying for our nation to turn back to the Lord are in perfect harmony. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
        In regards to being joyful always – Wishing all my Crown Friends a Merry Blessed Christmas !

    • Minnesota Dave says:

      Ken, Fleeing is not the answer. 1. As believers we are called to be salt and light where God has placed us. And 2. We are still in a much better place the most of the rest of the world.

      • ken says:

        fleeing may just be the answer. the church wouldn’t have grown without people fleeing. the Bible itself says Lot and his family left town. I don’t think it’s a right or wrong, it’s whether to be prudent or not.

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