Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hey, It’s A Free Country!

“Hey, it’s a free country!”  Remember that expression growing up?  Do people still say that today?  I can’t imagine why. 

“Free country” never meant you could do whatever you wanted without consequence.  It never meant everything could be yours for free.  It meant free from tyranny.  It meant free from arbitrary and capricious rule.  It meant free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  It meant free to speak your mind, free to trade, and free to associate.  It meant free to do pretty much whatever you wanted, provided you hurt no one else or interfered with their freedoms. 

In short, free country meant that government’s very limited role was to ensure your individual freedom, nothing more and nothing less.  Since 1865 and the thirteenth amendment, that was something we could all be proud of.  It made us unique.  It made us exceptional.  It made us Americans.  It made us great.

But there’s another common expression – “It’s a small world”.  Our free country was always under assault because the idea of a limited government ensuring individual freedom was unique in our small world.  Most governments were designed around collective or autocratic control, not individual freedom.  Eventually those ideas arrived on our shores and began to transform our free country into a “controlled country”. 

I would argue the process is nearly complete.  Consider the following:

Look at the above list:  Housing, Healthcare, Education, Finance.  All crisis areas since our slip from free country status to controlled country status.

But controlling money and finance is only part of the story.  Many areas of control are harder to measure.  How do we quantify an IRS that controls political speech through intimidation?  How do we quantify a President who does the same by intimidating radio hosts and TV networks?  How do we quantify a President who controls the implementation of laws at will?  How do we quantify a Supreme Court that similarly controls the rewriting of laws?  How do we quantify a federal government that almost entirely controls the states, eclipsing all pretence of states rights? 

The truth is, the opposite of a free country is not just a controlled country, it is an un-free country.

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