Daily Kent Stater

Other countries offer freedoms plus more benefits

Dear Editor:

Don Norvell’s view in “This is my land; that is your land” is a triumph of slogan over substance. According to Norvell, freedom makes the United States exceptional — freedom to bear arms and freedom from unfettered capitalism. He argues that an armed citizenry protects itself from potential martial law dictated by a president. How so?

As the selling of Iraq and the PATRIOT Act attest, it is just as likely that a U.S. armed citizenry will accept whatever its president says. Living in their fear factory, they will take their guns out, play frontier cop and merrily gun-trot suspects down to the government’s “American Values” office rented in the nearest Wal-Mart.

Norvell’s views align with decades of studies into the historical understanding of elementary students. Overwhelmingly, U.S. students believe that freedom makes the United States different from other countries: “Unlike other countries, we have freedom of speech, and other countries don’t have that kind of right” is one example from research into this myopic “view.”

Norvell’s freedom fantasy takes place in the market-place: “only in America can a college drop out … become a millionaire.” Well, no. There is Canada (whose citizens have more guns and less gun violence per capita), Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Europe and almost any other country where hard work, connections and luck combine. (Citizens in each of these places can expect to live longer, a key to enjoying freedom; the United States currently ranks 27th in life expectancy in the world).

In these countries, while they strive in their basements for their dreams, their kids don’t suffer from non-existent health/dental care, under-funded schools and a lack of public transportation.

Freedom? Ask an American parent with a kid who has special medical and educational needs desperately trying to pay student loans. Or ask an American gay person, a minority, a poor person, a conscientious objector, a peace activist on a government list or someone that smokes da pot about freedom in this country.

Perhaps, so many Americans like Mr. Norvell believe they have freedom only because they never test it, go anywhere else (who has the time or money?), and believe the government’s textbook propaganda that’s been spoon-fed to them since they learned to read.

Kent Den Heyer

Kent, Ohio