How Free Are We?

Posted on 2013 May 15

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“Do not allow to slip away from you freedoms the people who came before you won with such hard knocks.” — DH Lawrence

When I was young, a favorite thing to say was, “Go ahead, do what you want. It’s a free country.” Nowadays I never hear anyone say that.

 “Society had a crime problem. It hired cops to attack crime. Now society has a cop problem.” — Tom Robbins

People love to pass laws that regulate others. They think society is filled with incompetence, evil, and immorality, and that the government can fix it for them. So they hand great power to politicians — who, of course, are filled with incompetence, evil, and immorality.

“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” — James Bovard

It’s popular to assume that democracy was the big contribution America made to the world. But democracy existed more than 2,000 years ago in Greece. Having a vote doesn’t make you free: we vote restrictions on ourselves all the time. What made America great was liberty. That’s an old word for freedom — specifically, freedom from government intrusion — and though it needs a ballot box for protection, it can also be canceled by the same box.

“Because the tyranny of the majority can be as dangerous to freedom as the tyranny of a madman, all use of governmental power should be challenged and questioned.” — Andrew Napolitano

How is it that we are competent to vote in elections but not competent to decide for ourselves whom we may marry, what recreational drugs we can use, how our children will be educated, how we will defend our families, what medical procedures we may undergo, and so forth?

“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.” — Salman Rushdie

Everyone denies they’re “politically correct”, yet everyone does it. Of course, we don’t wish to offend, in part out of politeness. But if we cannot express our true beliefs without someone always taking umbrage and insisting we apologize, then we have no freedom of thought.

“Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt.” — Herbert Hoover

The main thing rich and poor have in common is that both rely on government handouts, privileges, and entitlements. And neither need pay for them, as the government simply issues long-term bonds against their children’s earnings.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.” — Alexis de Tocqueville

We have no real idea what the future will bring. Inventions change society, calamities cause seismic shifts, and political movements wreak mischief. To assume we’ll always have our freedoms, or even our democracy, in a time of constant change, is to assume Mommy will always be there with milk and cookies.

Leaders use control and imposition rather than participative, self-organizing processes. They react to uncertainty and chaos by tightening already feeble controls, rather than engaging people’s best capacities to learn and adapt. In doing so, they only create more chaos.” — Margaret J. Wheatley

We think society is a machine that can be controlled from on high. In fact, it’s an ecosystem that evolves from the ground up. To treat it like a machine, that can be compelled to do things for us, is like having Ranger Rick cut down the pines and spruces because we voted for palm trees.

“I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous — if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men.” — Robert Green Ingersoll

If we cannot answer our critics without suppressing them, our beliefs are wrong.

No important figure in the Bush administration, or among that administration’s political allies, has expressed remorse for breaking the law. What makes anyone think that they or their political heirs won’t do it all over again, given the chance?” — Paul Krugman

“Top Obama Administration officials increasingly see themselves as above the law and emboldened by the belief that they don’t have to answer to anyone.” — Darrel Issa

If a government usurps a power and the opposing party loses the fight prevent it, that same party, when in office, will use the same power.

“A Republic, if you can keep it.” — Benjamin Franklin

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…WAIT, THERE’S MORE:

” . . . by the time the opportunity comes along to ‘toss out the rascals,’ often cited as democracy’s greatest virtue, whatever evils they have perpetrated become faits accomplis that cannot be undone. Moreover, as those policies are implemented, people become so inured to them that they come to consider undoing them unthinkable . . . ”  Robert Batemarco

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Posted in: Politics