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Is America the most free nation on Earth?I have recently read many European journalists...

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dancer7 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted December 12, 2009 at 3:43 PM via web

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Is America the most free nation on Earth?

I have recently read many European journalists that accuse America of intense internal propaganda. These comments suggest that Americans are strongly indoctrinated to believe without question that no nation on Earth is more advanced, more free, more democratic, more just, more equal etc etc etc.

Are these claims true? Are there other countries which have a better quality of life than America?

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lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 12, 2009 at 3:54 PM (Answer #2)

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I think we have it pretty good here, but there is truth to what the journalists say. Our rate of crime is high, our percentage of citizens in jail also quite high. Not everyone can get their medical needs taken care of. We have rights guaranteed by our constitution, but as in Animal Farm, some animals are more equal than others--just ask a poor person who has been accused of a crime. I live in the Bible Belt, and I have never felt free to state what my actual religious views are because of the judgemental attitudes that I see around me--and that I am afraid would negatively impact not me (I can take care of myself), but my children.

Anyway, a truly advanced society cares for the health of all its citizens, not just those who can pay for it.  My 2 cents....but that being said, I do like living here because I feel like I can work for change.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted December 12, 2009 at 4:10 PM (Answer #3)

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I have to laugh when I think of the word propaganda in regard to America.  Americans read and watch what they chose to watch.  In America we have unlimited access to many European channels and news reports via radio and television.  The Internet has opened doors for further awareness of the news and information from other countries.  Yet, there is some truth in the idea of the media's influence on the thought processes of American citizens.

Having spent six years residing in Europe, I had the opportunity to look at America through the eyes of others.  I came to realize that America has higher incidences of reported domestic abuse, and child kidnapping.  This is not to say it does not occur in other countries.  It is just not advertised as much.  In addition, for a problem to be reported, it must be identified as a problem.  In countries where abuse is accepted it is not a criminal act.  The media knows that sensationalism and personal tragedydraws viewers and our society's take on incidents is often based on what will draw viewers.

I know of very few countries that don't use the media to display national  pride.  It is what helps unite people and makes them stronger.  If our government needs to use it to make our nation stronger, then so be it.  We must band together as a nation in order to keep our dreams and government functioning.  When people lose faith in a nation, the nation is more likely to fall.

Americans are allowed more freedom in some areas and less in others.  In Amsterdam a person is able to climb on a barge and smoke marijuana legally and prostitutes decorate the corner shop windows.  Nudity is openly allowed at lakes and water sport locations throughout Europe but in America the person exposing himself at a family beach would be arrested.  In some areas of our country people are more accepting of homosexuality while in some other countries people are killed if they engage in a homosexual act. Women do not to have to hide most of their skin and have the choice to work if they chose.

Contrary to people's beliefs not all women in countries dominated by males, with few rights for women, have a total population of unhappy women.  Many women feel secure in the patterns of their life and are more afraid of a change in those patterns.

Even the poorest of Americans have more than many of the people of median incomes in thirld World nations.  We have access to education for everyone and enough food supply that we are able to use the surplus to use for trade and barter.  We own more vehicles than people in other countries, have excellent sewer and water purification systems, and a higher median income than most people in most countries.

Economics do make a quality of life, but Americans certainly have a right to have pride in their country even if it is because of propaganda.  We are what we read and knowledge is only gained when sought out and accepted.  It is up to each individual to seek the truth and the truth shall become what each person desires it to be.

People tend to be afraid of what they do not know or understand.  Americans are known to have a great deal of pride.  It has taken a while to gain it back after the Vietnam War. 

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 12, 2009 at 4:20 PM (Answer #4)

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It's interesting to think of European journalists accusing American journalists of intense propaganda.  While it's true that propaganda is part of America's media, it is also true that European political and media members are just as guilty of producing propagandised messages.

That being said, America is obviously not a perfect country; and you could probably find other countries with a "better" quality of life, but that is subjective.  What one person considers a great quality of life differs from another person's view, especially when it comes to religious and cultural issues. What is great about America is that each day thousands from countries around the world still desire to come here to live.  America's appeal exists, not as strong as it once was, but it is still there.

For me, as an American, every time that I have lived in another country or visited one, I am made more grateful for the freedom that I possess in the U.S.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 12, 2009 at 5:13 PM (Answer #5)

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You're talking about a couple of different things here: freedom and quality of life.  Freedom means being able to do what you want to do without the government preventing you.  QOL encompasses your material well-being as well.  You can definitely have one without the other.

Neither one can be counted or measured objectively.  We have a higher GDP per capita than Japan, they have less crime.  We have a higher GDP than Germany, they get more vacation days.  Whose QOL is better?

As far as freedom, I don't know that there are significant differences between the US and other countries of the "free world."  It's not like Canadians lack freedom of speech.  My relatives in the Philippines are not prevented from speaking their minds politically and they have freedom of religion.  If you compare us to Russia or Saudi Arabia, yes we are way more free.  But then so are the British and the Canadians and the Japanese.

Overall, it's hard to say -- you can't measure this stuff.  I'd say we're pretty high up there in both QOL and freedom, but there's no way to say that other countries aren't up there with us.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted December 12, 2009 at 8:59 PM (Answer #6)

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You made a very point point by addressing the difference between quality of life and freedom.  I have found that quality of life is determined by what makes a person comfortable and/or happy.  When I was a child I used to go down to the railroad tracks and visit squatter families that lived in abandoned box cars.  They cooked outside as a community and sang songs.  The men that were there with the women during the day were old.  The women tended young children.  Innocently I asked one of the old men one day why he would want to live in such a bad way.  He told me he was living better than he ever had before and that most of the people around him were as well.  He shared with me that he was happy to have a roof over his head and a home so solid that not much could blow it away.  I knew those people for years and sunk their way whenever I could.  I always found happiness among those people.  They seemed to be the most satisfied and caring people.  Their sense of community and the support they gave one another was the key to the quality of their life.

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 13, 2009 at 7:37 AM (Answer #7)

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What does it mean to be more advanced, more free, more democratic, more just, and more equal?  How do you measure quality of life?  Is that the same as standard of living?

Freedom, democracy, justice and equality are all components which allow for a better quality of life to exist.  Without them, there is a lesser quality of life.

The Great American Experiment was founded upon the concepts of the exercise of Rights (freedom) representative government (democracy) the redress of Rights violations (justice) and equality before the law.  In applying those principles, in its short history the US has raised the standard of living not only for its own citizens, but for many of the people of the world.  However, the more we deviate from these principles, the more our standard of living declines.

Is America the most free nation?  Only in as much as we defend and uphold Rights.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted December 13, 2009 at 10:40 AM (Answer #8)

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I believe USA today is is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of freedom its citizens have to live their lives as per their personal preferences and choices. However when it comes to ranking any nations clearly the most free nation, we need to be more specific about what we mean by freedom. There can be many different types of freedoms, and the kind of freedom that is important to one person may be of no consequence to another.

There can be very different views of among ordinary citizens as well as experts about what kind of freedom is more important than others. For example on eNotes itself issues like legalizing same sex marriages, marijuana, and euthanasia have been subject of lively debate recently. In addition to formal laws, there is also the question of implementation of laws. The charges of discrimination of public servants including police force in USA are not that uncommon.

In sum total, I believe that there are no clearcut indications to place, without a thorough and systematic study, USA at number one position as most free nation on the Earth.

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jmtgr1 | Elementary School Teacher | eNoter

Posted December 13, 2009 at 2:21 PM (Answer #9)

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When you use the word "Most" I am guessing you want our opinion. Since I am an American I would say we have more freedom to say and do more than most countries in the World, but that is a deep question you are asking.

jm

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booksnmore | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 14, 2009 at 8:54 AM (Answer #10)

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It's a really tough question. When you're living in a fish bowl, it's sometimes hard to remember that you're a fish, with the perspectives of a fish. ;) I think the definition of "free" and "quality of life" is also debatable. I spent a short period of time living in a third world country and was astounded at how much happier many of the very poor people seemed to be as compared with your average American. I don't know that they're more "free," but I also don't know how to measure their quality of life compared to ours.

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