The last line of our National Anthem asks the question: O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? Does it?
The time away has me wondering what freedom means to me, as if I were a 5th grader writing an essay on the matter. Now that I’ve had a little time to reflect on the economic and cultural differences, I’m conflicted about which system is better. I kinda like the Bill of Rights and not paying 70% of my take-home in taxes. But at the same time it was really nice to drive on roads that didn’t knock parts off of my car, <gasp> smoke a cigarette in a cafe or move on to the next shop because the owner of the one I went to had gone on vacation. This is the key difference, I think.
We happened to be in Europe during the most popular month for the yearly vacation. While it was a little frustrating to have to go another block to find a bodega for a bottle of wine, how profound is it that small business people can let their entire staffs leave town for 2-4 weeks? That’s economic freedom! It’s been a recurring theme in what I wrote over the course of this trip, but they (Europeans) just seem to have figured out something that we don’t get here in the US.