True north strong and (subjectively) free

A new gallup poll finds that Canada is in the top ten countries in the world, when it comes to how much “freedom” its citizens enjoy (details here).

The question was, “In this country, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what to do with your life?” The number one country in the world was New Zealand, where 94% reported themselves satisfied. Canada was tied for 9th place with Finland, Denmark and Iceland, with 91% reporting themselves satisfied. Sweden, the other usual nordic suspect, was in second place with 93% satisfaction. Must have something to do with the fact that we enjoy more real freedom, as opposed to liberty.

Now I suppose most people saw this coming, but the United States did quite poorly, in 36th place, with only 79% of respondents declaring themselves satisfied. On the other hand, the trend shows a fairly steep decline since 2008, so I suspect a lot of this is just anti-Obama grousing.

In any case, I actually think that freedom is pretty much useless as a normative concept, so I’m just reporting this, not seeking to make anything out of it.

(h/t Matt Yglesias)



True north strong and (subjectively) free — 3 Comments

  1. >I actually think that freedom is pretty much useless as a normative concept

    Whoa, what? Have you written anything where you elaborate on this? Do you feel the same way about “equality”, “democracy”, and/or “well-being”?

  2. Didn’t mean to shock you. It’s because I think that concepts like “equality” and “welfare” are very useful that I am inclined to think that I can do without a concept like “freedom.” As for writing about it, my major strategy has actually been to not write about it — in all my writing, I don’t think I’ve once appealed to “freedom” to do any sort of work, in arguing for the various political or policy positions that I’ve argued for. If I were to write about it, however, the place I would start would be with Ronald Dworkin’s “What is Equality Part 3” paper — I don’t really buy the view, but I’m sympathetic to the general argumentation strategy he was pursuing there.

  3. Besides, since the countries that come in ahead of Canada (NZ, Australia, Cambodia, Sweden, UAE, Austria, Netherlands and Uzbekistan) are about as mixed a bag as can be, it is hard to know what to make of this from a descriptive p.o.v.,normative issues aside.