Americans’ satisfaction with how free they feel to choose what to do with their lives has been dropping steadily for years, and now we rank a depressing 36th in the world. From Gallup:

freedom in life

It is interesting that many of the first world countries where people are more satisfied with their freedom of choice are the Scandinavian countries with very large social safety nets. Despite the Republican claim that a “government takeover” of health care would destroy our freedom, those countries with far more government involvement in health care feel freer.

A sense of freedom to choose one’s life is about more than preventing government from interfering with a small set of rights. Without a basic sense of economic security most people are effectively deprived of options. When it comes to addressing the “freedom from want,” America still trails behind much of the world.

Ironically, a pursuit of a conservative vision of freedom may actually be making Americans feel less free.