A new study from the Legatum Institute in London ranks NZ as the number 1 country in the world for personal freedom. Now this puzzled me somewhat for I see the jack booted guardians of political correctness marching upon us from every direction. I see them manning the watchtowers with all the gusto of the East German citizens who manned the Berlin wall to stop their neighbours escaping to the West. I see our choices in govt gradually diminishing. I see a cultural war being waged by Progressives intent on denying Conservatives even a minor voice in govt. However the Legatum Institute says we’re free. How could I possibly be so wrong?
The Freedom index is just one section of the Prosperity Index, which measures a collection of factors the Legatum people have selected as indicators, and from looking at all these measures in context we get the the most prosperous country overall. Where and how does the institute get this data? Actually, they ask the people in the countries concerned. The index relates to the answers that were provided directly by citizens during the survey of each particular country.
The freedom scores are based on polling data from 2013 indicating citizens’ satisfaction with their nation’s handling of civil liberties, freedom of choice, tolerance of ethnic minorities, and tolerance of immigrants. The index is notable for the way it measures how free people feel, unlike other freedom indices that measure freedom by comparing government policies.
The perception of what freedom means in New Zealand, which has the highest personal freedom ranking, may vary from how Americans measure their own personal freedom. And that is the key point you see. People must know freedom to be able to identify it. Here in NZ they rate freedom by support for same sex marriage. By so called tolerance for minorities. By support for multi-culturalism. When the reality is, none of these are any true measure of freedom at all. The people have been told they are though, by a plague of progressive media commentators and academics and public figures so they believe it.
The confusion that backs this finding is easily portrayed by seeking out the other factors the report covers, and comparing rankings. NZ citizens are 15th in satisfaction with their economic situation. They’re 18th in the category Entrepreneurship and Opportunity. They’re number 2 in Governance. They’re number 7 in Education. They’re way down at number 20 in Health. They’re number 10 in Safety and Security, and number 2 in Social Capital, whatever that means. Its hard to find a consistent thread.
In broad terms what the survey shows is that NZers are generally fairly happy with their circumstance. But considering they live on an island quite detached from the west of the world and lack a pluralistic political situation, they would think that wouldn’t they? The truth is my grandfather when he was a young man could ride a motorcycle down the main street of any NZ city with a shotgun slung across his back and not wearing any kind of headgear. If he tried that today there would be a swat team callout. Speaking personally, I don’t see that as any real kind of progress on the freedom front or any front.