Thinking about Liberty

An American Flag and the Statue of Freedom Atop the Capitol Dome
An American Flag and the Statue of Freedom Atop the Capitol Dome | Source

What is Liberty?

In the United States, we often think that this country was founded upon the principle of liberty. But what exactly does liberty, or freedom, mean? When we react to the word, does our emotional reaction obscure the meaning of the word itself? To understand how our emotional reactions to the word freedom may in fact be contradictory to the meaning and experience of freedom, I invite you to take the polls further down, and then think carefully about the results of your answers, and whether you personally respond to liberty as a fact or as an emotional trigger. Either way, I am sure you will begin to think differently about the concept of liberty as it applies to the ordinary person!

Which person is more free?

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Work to Live
Work to Live

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Who has more liberty?

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Who has more freedom?

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Rise and Fall of the American Medical Empire: A Trench Doctor's View of the Past, Present, and Future of the U.S. Healthcare System
Rise and Fall of the American Medical Empire: A Trench Doctor's View of the Past, Present, and Future of the U.S. Healthcare System

What's wrong with the medical-industrial complex we now have, and how we can learn from the examples which have already been successfully implemented in other countries.

 

Who enjoys liberty?

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Myth Behind Foreclosure, Wall Street, Big Banks and You!
Myth Behind Foreclosure, Wall Street, Big Banks and You!

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Which person has the most freedom?

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Who enjoys freedom?

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Who has more liberty?

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Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor (California Series in Public Anthropology)
Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor (California Series in Public Anthropology)

A searing condemnation of how the United States has structured itself to promote violence towards the poor.

 
Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness
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Ordinary behavior like sitting, standing or sleeping is all right in public places--unless you are homeless. Learn about the criminalization of poverty and take steps to reclaim public spaces.

 
Statue of Liberty with Symbolic Stars and Stripes in the Background
Statue of Liberty with Symbolic Stars and Stripes in the Background | Source

And Now for the Results . . .

Most people think that the last choice in each poll is life for rich people in the United States, (and that anyone can achieve that status with hard work and smart choices) and the other choices are for average people in the United States. That may be true, but it is also true that the last choice in each poll is for anyone at all, at any income level, living in one of the Western or Central European or Scandinavian countries. No matter who you are, in countries such as Germany and France, or Denmark, everyone enjoys the rights that in the United States are available only to the wealthy, such as free medical care, nearly free university or trade school tuition, fair mortgages, job security, safe workplaces, and other benefits. In other words, in the United States, only money buys liberty, and therefore liberty is not an inalienable right. So when we think about liberty, we need to think beyond our emotional triggers and reflect on what liberty and freedom might really mean.

A Word About Taxes

Many people will simply proclaim that the issue is about taxes. Let's take a hard look at the comparisons in taxes between Germany and the United States:

Germans, on average, pay about 35% in taxes. In the U.S., 7.65% (except for 2011) is for Social Security and Medicare, plus an average income tax rate of 25%. In addition, you are secretly paying another 7.65% (your employer's contribution to Social Security and Medicare). Then you have property taxes (which you pay, whether you own or rent), which averages about 2%. When you add 25%, plus 7.65%, plus 2%, you pay pretty much 35%! Are we getting the same value for our tax dollars that people in European countries get? Why not?

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