Billy is out of order:
[I]t’s a startling coincidence that the wealthiest, freest countries in the world – generally speaking – are functioning democracies or on that path.
I don’t see it as a coincidence, I merely conclude you have the causal order reversed. From what I have observed, I conclude that freedom leads to wealth, which may or may not lead to democracy, which subsequently leads to decadence, tyranny and societal collapse.
The United States has more democracy as measured by the number of voters enfranchised but less freedom and economic growth than it had at the end of the 19th century. A century from now, I expect it will have very little of the three, assuming it even exists as a sovereign nation.
Freedom and democracy are not synonymous, from ancient Athens to modern Switzerland there are many examples demonstrating how the relationship is intrinsicly hostile. Consider the results of three of the most one-sided democratic results ever recorded on a national level: averaging 95.9 approval with 95.5 percent of the registered voters showing up to vote, the German Reichskanzler was able to affirm that the will of the German people supported his decisions to assume dictatorial rule, seize the Rhineland, and annex Austria.