I was born a US citizen who isn’t living stateside at the moment. I am also Canadian and European by birth and I currently live and have permanent residency in a country that does not comprise of any of these places.
So, I can surely answer your question.
The country where I live has a far-right winged government and is officially defined as a democratic federal republic.
It is also defined as a third world country, though it’s far from that where I live – there are amazing schools with an incredible infrastructure, excellent hospitals, modern and efficient public transportation, super high speed internet, good roads, clean tap water and electricity that’s always on. There’s also a federal health service that’s absolutely free and actually usable and there’s cellular coverage just about anywhere.
In all of the six countries that I have lived in over the years, including the Good ol’ US of A, this one is certainly the freest.
Let’s see if you can figure out which country I am talking about by the end of this post, if you can’t, I’ll tell you at the end. Keep in mind as you are reading this that it is not an English speaking country!
- Here I have the freedom to walk down the street with a beer in my hand without being harassed by the cops. I don’t even need to paper bag it.
- Here I have the freedom to remodel my house in any way I choose without having to get permits from the city or any homeowners association before I start (all I need to do is hire an architect to design the alterations to code, submit them to the city and then build it).
- Here I have the freedom to sit on the beach and drink whiskey straight out of the bottle on a Sunday afternoon (or on any other day in fact) until I pass out and wake up on the sand the next morning. Not that I do this, but I if I were to, I would not get arrested nor fined for possession of an alcoholic beverage in public, public drunkenness, having a visible container in public or staying on a public beach overnight.
- Here I get at least 30 days of paid vacation every year (usually it works out to be something like 36 days) along with a large number of public holidays, for example this weekend happens to be six days long.
- Here I have the freedom to be responsible for my own credit rating. Meaning, if I am late on any bill or payment I am denied new credit absolutely everywhere from the moment I am late, as soon as I pay it I can get credit again everywhere. So my credit rating isn’t following me for 20 years.
- Here I have the freedom to not send my kids to school. It’s not obligatory, although I would never choose to not send my kids to school but there are those who choose to home-school when a perfectly good school is just around the corner.
- Here I have the freedom to have a loud raunchy party at my house and the police won’t come knocking at my door (There’s etiquette associated with this, I will tell the neighbors long beforehand so that they can make arrangements to go out but generally I will invite them all to the party. The music also gets turned down at 11pm, without exception).
- Here I have the freedom to not pay outrageous cellular usage fees (I pay less than 10 dollars a month for unlimited cell to cell calls, even when roaming, unlimited cell to landline calls within my own area code, which is huge, unlimited text messages, unlimited Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp usage and also get 18 giga of 4g bandwidth a month).
- Here I have the freedom to casually touch people in conversation and they will not be offended. Actually, if you don’t touch someone on the arm or shoulder to reinforce a point then they will take what you say with a grain of salt and think that what you are saying isn’t so important.
- Here I have the freedom to not pay my taxes on time. If I don’t have the money I don’t pay it. Eventually, many years later, the government will send me a letter saying that I owe back taxes and they will offer me some incredibly low payment plan of something like 10 dollars a month for 200 months. Of course I will have to pay eventually, the question is when. I will never have my house, my car or any of my possessions confiscated because of non payment of taxes.
- Here I have the freedom to eat lunch at a restaurant every day and my employer must pay for it. Every month a credit card is charged in my name for daily food purchases. It is obligatory for every employee of every company across the country to have one of these credit cards.
- Here I have the freedom to play music as loud as I want all day long, again the same rules of social etiquette apply that I mentioned above, people simply respect it.
- Here I have the freedom to dress or alter my body however I choose and no one will judge me or refuse to hire me. 44% of the population have at least one tattoo and over 20% have a visible piercing.
- Here I have the freedom to retire after 35 years of work, so basically if I start working at 18 and keep my job until I retire, I will get full benefits at age 53, or 48 for women.
- Here I have the freedom to start up a conversation with a complete stranger at any time and it will be a positive experience. People here like to talk to each other and you aren’t restricted to subjects like the weather, so you can talk about absolutely anything with a stranger.
- Here I have the freedom to send my son to a school that doesn’t have a metal detector at the entrance and doesn’t have its doors chained shut during school hours. My son has never suffered bullying or degradation because of his looks or social class and he has never been witness to a school shooting (sure these things can happen here, although they are extremely rare in comparison to the US).
- Here I have the freedom to have friends of any race, creed or color without being judged or rejected by anyone, as racism based on color is pretty much non-existent. Absolutely every race is represented here, for example I have a good friend who’s 27% Somali, 10% Nigerian, 23% British, 5% Japanese and 19% German and 16% indigenous native.
- Here I have the freedom to see a boob on television while eating my dinner. There are no blurry boxes nor are there bleeps when someone swears on television. Here a breast is considered the same thing as a male pectoral because there exists no taboo in the showing either one as they are both the same thing, just the gender differs. Obviously and correctly so, nothing below the waist is shown during prime-time.
- Here I have the freedom to walk around knowing that there will not be a terrorist attack today, tomorrow or next year. Despite the fact that this country is exceptionally far from being a country that is in any way muslim in its majority, it’s actually 68% devout roman catholic here.
- Here I have the freedom to proposition a woman for sex without it becoming a MeToo thing, in fact she’s usually flattered at the proposition, and even if she says no (where the man will respect her choice) and move on because there are so many women to choose from.
- Here I have the freedom to take my wife, girlfriend, lover or escort to a place where there are no embarrassing looks at check in nor are there any questions asked. There are motels everywhere with every conceivable theme for the exact purpose of making out because sex isn’t taboo here, it’s simply considered a fact of life that everyone needs and participates in, though I will say that it’s no easier finding a willing partner here than in any of the other countries that I’ve lived in.
- Here I have the freedom to sell things on the street without expensive and restrictive vendors permits, one can even sell food. Roasted peanuts on the street corner, hot-dogs in a push-cart, fried shrimp on the beach. Of course, franchises and fixed establishments are much more regulated and controlled and have to answer to to things like the health department, but a financially poor individual has much more freedom to sell things here without all the hassles and regulations that Americans face when trying to do the same thing.
- Here I have the freedom to buy a car that won’t tell me to put my seat-belt on every time I start the engine, a big plus if you ask me.
- More importantly, here I have the freedom to watch the news from various political viewpoints. We get CNN, FOX, the CBC, the BBC and also various European news channels. We also have all of our local news channels, each of them politically biased just as CNN is democratic and FOX is republican. The fact here is that in the USA you can only see the American democratic and republican viewpoints and there is little to no coverage of what’s actually happening in the rest of the world. By my watching of the same news story here from five different sources I can actually form an concrete idea of what really happened in regards to any certain event, where the average American doesn’t have viewing access to all of these reporting angles. Thus the general population here is so much more aware of world events than the average American is.
- Here I have the freedom to choose along with the other citizens of this country “in mass” if a law passed by the government is going to stick. How can I explain this, it’s kind of like, okay, there’s a new law, let’s see if my neighbors and my friends are going to respect this new law or not, before I choose to do so. This concept is completely dumb-confounding to people who have only lived in the first world because laws there are paramount and are non-negotiable by the population. For example, the law that said that you must not smoke in restaurants was instantly respected by everyone here, but the law that said that a motorcycle cannot pass a car within the same lane was totally disrespected by everyone when it was passed, so basically everyone ignored this law and the government won’t even try to enforce it, therefore no one will ever get fined for disrespecting it even though it’s on the books. It’s like the government here realizes that it’s a moot point to try and enforce a law that the population doesn’t want to accept. When you think about it, this actually gives a population a lot of power in respect to what a government demands of it. Think about that for a moment. If no one is willing to pay a 2% income tax increase and no one actually pays it come tax time, what is the government going to do? They are going to let it slide, because enforcing it will cost them more than it’s worth. There’s serious power to the people in that, but the peoples of first world nations including America are so accustomed to accepting any legal changes to their laws over the last five centuries that it wouldn’t even be fathomable to consider disrespecting them “in mass” to show their respective governments that any new law isn’t at all acceptable.
- Here I have the freedom to write, say or post anything I wish, even negative things about the government and nothing will happen to me. My email won’t get monitored and my phone won’t be tapped and no government organization with or without a formal name will ever threaten or try to coerce me.
- Here I have the freedom to visit a house of prostitution, as it is a legal profession (although pimping is not legal and is rigidly enforced here). The women who work at a house are not coerced nor are they forced to work there under any circumstance, they do so by personal choice and just like any other profession they can quit at any time and receive the same government benefits as anyone else, including unemployment insurance.
- Here I have the freedom to vote for more than one of only two political parties, actually there are some five or six major parties and some fifteen smaller political parties who all currently have representatives in the house and senate, as I said earlier, currently the far-right is the majority in power at the moment.
- Here I have the freedom to buy absolutely anything I want in installments on my credit card without a credit check, even food from the grocery store. And I can do it even if my name is restricted on my credit rating, that’s because a restriction on my name only applies to new credit applications and not against any of my existing credit limits.
- Here I have the freedom to call myself an atheist without being attacked with religious doctrine by other people, even though I am not an atheist and that this is an extremely religious country, I can still do this here. Actually, this is one of the most religious countries in the world. Still, people here will never judge me on my religious choice.
- Here I have the freedom to not to have to put my own gas in my car, hang my outdoor Christmas lights, cut my grass, clean my house, wash my clothes and prepare my dinner, all of these things are done for me by other people for very reasonable rates.
Let’s be perfectly honest here – no country is perfect, every single country has its problems and some of them have more problems than others, that’s because we are all human and we err. No system of government is perfect as we are all imperfect beings who are still searching to create the best form of government while we are learning what that concept actually is.
Should we be more to the left? Should we be more to the right? Should we be more somewhere in the middle? That’s for the people to decide, and here they do decide, democratically, through an extremely transparent voting process done through electronic non-internet connecting voting machines.
We know the total count within two hours of an election closing where certain American states and counties are still unable to offer a true count ten days after the mid-term elections. And yes… I voted for my American district representative and my senator last week as I voted for president two years ago.
Does the fact that I am currently living in a far right country directly affect my life? No… not in the least.
Because here, I get up in the morning, take a shower, commute to work, do my job, commute home, take another shower, do my son’s homework with him – five days a week – just like I did there and just like you do there today.
Sure there are huge social problems here, crime is rampant in certain areas far from where I live, the politicians are corrupt in certain respects, but that’s no different in any way to what my life was when I was living there.
And now I ask you, do you still think that the USA is the freest country in the world after reading the thirty-one freedoms that I have written here which I never had stateside?
Of course I’m not US-bashing, I love the United States, it’s a wonderful country, just as much as I love Canada and the European countries that I was privileged to grow up in. But I also love this place for its unique freedoms and way of life.
Today I live in peace and tranquility and in paradise, just an hour away from a city of 12 million people. Have you guessed where I live yet?
No? Okay, I’ll tell you… It’s Brazil… On the seaside, where I can walk 500 feet to the North and be inside the Atlantic rain-forest and walk 200 feet to the South and be swimming in the ocean, which is something that I do so quite often when I get home from work, even in the winter.
For me this place is home, just as much as San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Toronto, Geneva and Greece have been my beloved homes in the past. Right now my life is here and I have nothing at all to complain about and despite what people say about this place, this is a good place to live and I love it here.
So before you assume that the US is the freest place in the world, look around, because here I can be who I want to be, express myself how I wish to express myself, act how I wish to act, say what I wish to say and do what I wish to do without anyone ever being offended by it or trying to convince me to be something different. Can you say the same?
Really, we live on an extremely incredible planet where freedoms are more diverse than you might have ever realized. Be open minded about other places outside the USA before passing judgement on them, as this was my hardest lesson after I left the states because I had no idea of how closed minded I was when I arrived here.
Will I return someday? Of course… someday, because it’s also my home.
Jay Douglas, American, Canadian and EU citizen by birth. Brazilian by choice.