The current mix of political and Olympics news involves swimmer Ryan Lochte and 3 of his swim teammates. They claim they were robbed at gunpoint, and now Brazilian authorities have prevented two of the swimmers from leaving the country due to possible inconsistencies in their stories. Lochte was also supposed to have his passport seized, but he had already left the country.
I typically don’t like commenting on fresh stories because there will inevitably be more details that come to light. My initial reaction is that I doubt that four Olympic swimmers would make up such a story. It’s possible they could have embellished certain things or not recalled certain details. They were returning from partying late into the early morning and were all likely intoxicated.
The crime is really bad in Brazil. It was a concern about having the Olympics in Rio di Janeiro. The swimmers were probably stupid for leaving the Olympic village. But the Brazilian officials wanting to question the swimmers more and possibly bring charges against the athletes, only makes Brazil look worse.
The Brazilian officials don’t want to look bad, so they are, in effect, punishing these swimmers for reporting on this crime. But they are just going to make the Brazilian government look more corrupt than it already is. This is a high-profile story and public opinion will be against the Brazilian government. It will be interesting to see what the U.S. government does if they try to extradite Lochte. I think American public opinion will keep him here in the U.S.
This is a good reminder for Americans that they really should be thankful for what they have. I know that libertarians get hung up on injustices. And to be sure, there are many. But the U.S. is still far ahead of most other countries in certain key areas. There are three areas where I see American individualism and liberty coming in far ahead of other supposedly free countries.
The first area is free speech. Again, I understand things are not perfect in the U.S. Dinesh D’Souza was sent to prison for essentially making a movie critical of Obama. The charges were for illegal political contributions, but the handwriting is easy to see.
For the most part though, Americans can say pretty much whatever they want, as long as it isn’t threatening violence. There is harsh criticism of politicians and other government officials. This is not tolerated in other countries. And it isn’t so much that it is tolerated by those in power in the U.S.; it is just that public opinion protects free speech in most cases.
The second area where the U.S. is far better than most other places is homeschooling. Perhaps this is more symbolic, but it is important nonetheless. It is a view that children belong to their parents and not the state. In the supposedly free country of Germany, homeschooling is essentially illegal.
The third area is gun ownership. The American public owns more guns than anybody else in the world. The Swiss supposedly have widespread gun ownership, but this is basically mandated by the government for their militia. Voluntary gun ownership in the U.S. is by far the highest in the world on a per capita basis. Despite the attempts by some to institute further gun control, the public support just isn’t there. Americans don’t trust their government to be the sole owners of guns.
In conclusion, the U.S. has certainly declined in many areas in terms of liberty. But there are areas where things have gotten better. And compared to a third-world country such as Brazil, the U.S. really is a paradise.