It turns out that John Silveira has pondered this paradox…
Here’s a quiz: Which is the freest country on earth? The answer’s easy. It’s the United States. Ask anyone. And why are we the freest? Not because we’re the richest. Long before we became the world’s richest nation we still regarded ourselves as the freest, and millions flocked to our shores to enjoy that freedom. The reasons we are free are: First, because of the philosophical basis upon which this country was founded. It is assumed that individuals have rights, e.g., free speech, the right to bear arms, the right of a jury trial before our peers should the government try to imprison us, seize our property, or deprive us of our lives, etc. Second, we have a Constitution that limits the powers of a central government to intrude into our lives. And third, our rights have been enshrined in the First 10 Amendments to our Constitution.
“None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.” — Goethe