You'll have to excuse the rest of the world if they snicker when they hear us Americans sing about being the "Land of the free" in our national anthem. A new poll finds fewer and fewer countries believe the US Government respects the freedom of its citizens. The most precipitous drop took place in Germany--where just 43-percent of people see the US as the "Land of the Free" anymore. That's down from 81-percent just two years ago.
Those studying the results blame Edward Snowden for the change in perception. He revealed how and where the United States was spying on its own people and those around the rest of the world. And since Chancellor Angela Merkel was among those who had their cellphones tapped without their knowledge, you can understand the German's changing their mind about our government. But it's possible that those elsewhere are picking up on the more subtle changes in our society.
I had the chance to travel to Europe as a teenager and to meet kids of a similar age to talk about the difference in our countries and cultures. One of the things that teens and young adults in places like England, Ireland and France couldn't believe is that we had our own cars at the age of 16. Not vehicles we had to borrow from our parents, but our own set of wheels that we could use at any time. Most of them were stuck with the timetables of buses, trains or streetcars--usually with a walk on both ends of the trip if they wanted to go somewhere. Or if they did drive, they had to deal with outrageous gas prices and narrow streets and roads not designed for personal transportation.
But young Americans today are being told they don't need their own vehicle. Cities across the country are scrambling to set up new public modes of transportation--like streetcars and light rail systems. Liberals like Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett insist that young professionals don't want to drive anywhere anymore--they want the government to provide that service--even if they have to adapt to the government's pre-chosen routes and pickup times. Just another little bit of personal freedom taken away.
With our ever-growing Nanny State--conveniently married to Big Brother--I expect Americans to continue to give up the personal freedoms that our ancestors once enjoyed. It's a little bit like the frog that is placed into the pot on the stove. He doesn't notice that he is being boiled alive because the change in temperature is so gradual. It takes a little outside perspective to realize what is really going on.