African countries had a poor showing on the where-to-be-born index for 2013, while there are no surprises there what’s worrisome is war and conflict will drive them further down any future index. Mali’s ongoing, DRC never ended, CAR and the Sudans were on the brink and the others are one crisis, coup or election away from war. What’s really strange is the perpetual nature of these wars/conflicts. What sort of war lasts for 20 years? Leo Tolstoy cannot be right to think “if all men fought for their convictions, there will be no wars”, I am pretty sure the Mali islamists fight for nothing but their conviction which on its own is a battle cry that must not be ignored, and when war is declared on you, you apply the Roman maxim – “if you want peace, prepare for war”.
Just how bad is the economic crisis anyway? I recently came across Pier Luigi Celli‘s open letter to his son titled “My son, leave this country” urging the about-to-graduate engineer to move abroad in order to find opportunities for skilled work in his chosen field. The motivation for the letter is not just the unemployment rate in Italy, apparently Italy has other problems to deal with asides the economic recession which are cited in the letter. While the letter was written back in 2009 and the worst of the recession is now over, the reality is lots of highly skilled workers especially from countries like Italy, which belongs to a group of nations known as the PIIGS of Europe (distasteful acronym I must say) have run out of patience as their countries experience unemployment rates above the EU average.
There are lots of indexes measuring freedom across the world, especially economic freedom; when three institutes embark on a project to produce a worldwide human freedom index, you should get excited. If the institutes happen to be Fraser Institute, Liberales Institut, and Cato Institute, then the index is surely worth looking at. The institutes have created a conceptually consistent index measuring human freedom in countries of the world, the first of its kind. The index is based on the negative definition of freedom – the absence of barriers or coercion that prevent individuals from acting as they might wish. Freedom can have an unexpectedly broad definition and you may be surprised to know you aren’t free in certain ways. If you currently live in the United States, India/Nigeria or Greece you may not be free from the power of private money, influence of religious institutions and cyclical unemployment respectively.
Americans love their guns, but what they cherish much more than guns are their rights as individuals which are entrenched in the bill of rights, and the average American understands his/her rights very well. The right to bear arms is one of the provisions in the bill, this was necessary at the time because there was concern the nation was going to descend into tyranny, attacks from Indians were common and wild animals roamed free. The original intent is debatable, some have interpreted it as a right reserved for the states to have a well-regulated militia and not a right for the individual but some Americans are not having any of that. Any suggestion of limiting this right is akin to stirring a hornet’s nest and woe betide anyone who dares challenge it. I heard Barack Obama say after the Benghazi incident that his first duty as president is to protect all Americans, how ironic the second amendment is about protecting yourself from the government.
There are certain things that should not have a price tag attached to them, citizenship is one of them. Apart from the three common factors that determine citizenship; right of blood, right of soil and marriage, most countries have a structured process of naturalization for foreigners who have met the requirements and this can include several years of residency, a citizenship test and sometimes renouncing of prior citizenship. Strategic programs are in place in some countries to attract investment from wealthy foreigners and job creators with the possibility of achieving citizenship later on. An investment worth just £1 million is all you need in the UK, $1 million in the US (depending on where you invest) and C$800,000 in Canada. This is just to get you started on the citizenship journey, usually it starts with the issue of an investor visa which leads to permanent residency and after a number of years, citizenship is attained. However, not everyone can afford C$800,000 or not everyone can wait 5-10 years for a passport.