El_diablo, in reference to how and whether Europe/NZ are more "free" than the US, there are a few key areas:
1) Freedom of the press. There's a great deal of political interference in the media. Less so in Europe.
2) More transparent judicial system. The US judicial system is extremely opaque. Miscarriages of justice are disproportionately frequent and legislation concerning drug possession and laws like the 3-strike rule inhibit individual freedoms greatly. Then there's the farce that is the death penalty.
3) Business. Much harder for resident aliens and foreign nationals who are afforded the same rights as citizens during their time in the US to own and operate businesses. Opaque business taxation system and IRS as judge, jury and executioner. No independent ombudsman to address complains regarding business law and taxation.
4) Basic civil liberties. Higher degree of freedom from harassment or persecution based on race, religion, gender, sexuality or disability in Europe. Constitutionally enshrined public oversight for intelligence agencies and law enforcement. Arguably better protections from cruel and unusual punishment, torture, extraordinary rendition and detention without trial.
well first off, I would say please don't preface your rebuttal by simply lumping New Zealand in with all of Europe given the context.
tree-hugging yokel anomalies do not count in this discussion
but lets get down to brass tax.
I need examples. without serious examples this debate goes nowhere fast. you'll notice already that I've tried to provide Freedom House scores as a general reference point for my line of argument. it's just a jumping off point. but you're already going too wide-range here with your response. without specifics, this will just be endless "he said, he said." I'll take the points in order.
1) what exactly are we talking about here? our press couldn't be more free if it was tripping acid and skydiving over Vegas. our press and our media (and any citizen, for that matter) can say ANYTHING they want about the government. and they routinely do.
and I mean, of course there's a great deal of political interference in the press. but is it infringing on our rights? I'll be the first to agree that significant aspects of our press have become weak and are sleeping with the enemy too often. it's threatening our prosperity a little. it's hurting our electoral process a little. but is it infringing our rights?? I'll need to hear something a little more convincing than how there's "a great deal of political interference."
are you just talking about our (lack of) political choices at the polls?
are you talking about access of the press to government agencies?
2) can't really argue with this.
but again Sivis; what are we talking about here? I'm not sure I agree to the terms. is a miscarriage of justice an infringement on our rights? I thought this started because The Admiral was convinced that the US "has no rights," since apparently the words of George Carlin are scripture. judges can be corrupt and juries can be totally inept. but this is by no means unique to the US nor is poor judgement necessarily an infringement on our rights. right now it still sounds like a non sequitur to me. convince me.
once again; I'll be the first to agree that the death penalty is absurd.
but in the context of the discussion, does the fact that North America executes more people than Europe make us less free than Europeans? it's not a blanket context either. you know as well as I do that numerous states in the US have abolished capital punishment. sure, I wish it were a national policy though.
3) this point I have to concede.
our capitalism is run amok. utterly. the wealthiest / most powerful corporations absolutely control all access points to the elite club by working their way hand-in-hand with our government to keep down anyone who is not one of them. they literally trample the underclass to maximize personal financial gains and maintain a specific, highly loyal, and completely malleable ruling class (AKA Democrats and Republicans). they ensure that laws are written to abscond and benefit themselves while criminalizing and suppressing those who cannot take advantage. it's disgusting and if we don't seriously shake up this system then it is doomed to ruin the country as we know it.
so... yeah you got me on that one.
4) I'm going to have to disagree. and that's before we get into the whole France, UK, versus the Arab world thing.
I mean, you're really going to have to get more specific. are you talking about harassment legally? harassment in the workplace? harassment socially? I can't argue the point about our intelligence community, but I take issue with your broad strokes on law enforcement. again; the US is a hodgepodge in this regard with every individual state running its own police force from the Governor's office.
your final point is also too vague.
I would be a fool to argue in support of the way we treat enemy combatants, POWs, and those we label as suspicious or "terrorists" during times of war. our record in this regard is not very proud. but when it comes to civilians and/or during peacetime then I really cannot concede the point. I haven't exactly noticed anyone disappearing in the middle of the night to the hidden Gestapo underneath the Washington Monument... though Guantanamo Bay is another story.