Freedoms Requiem

By David P Shirk

It is foolish to attack what you do not understand. Being foolish is being ignorant of the facts and acting upon your limited knowledge. It is not possible for one person to know everything, and therefore foolish to act more than they have too. However whenever you place a power over you to make decision that you could not, than you are twice the fool.
The problem with being a governed people is that we all too often want our politicians to fix the injustices of this world as we see them. The problem is that in the pursuance of this, we are often blissfully unaware of the collateral damage until it becomes too late. This has a multitude of unintended consequences that only serves to further divide our nation. This creates a very diverse set of rules that attempts to please everyone, but only has one conclusion – a collapse.
For instance, Hamilton thought that the only way to protect the newly formed union was by making a standing army with a solid navy. At the time, there was only one way to accomplish this, and that was to create a fiscal military state. This means that the lion’s share of the national income goes to paying for said entities. However he recognized from earlier examples of other nations that the only way to build a sizable military was to institute a central bank that could fund such a debt that is inevitably created by having standing armies.
In this particular case he met well, but was blissfully naive as to the side effects. The first one was that he had to institutionalize a central bank that would be able to fund his army. Making arguments to Washington against the better advice of Madison and Jefferson, he finally accomplished this. Yet the problem was that it went against the newly formed constitution, and proved that it can be circumvented. This gave clear signals to future generations that if you can persuade the rest of the governing bodies that something is necessary, then the constitution can be set aside.
The second consequence was that the American people were never trusting of government and soon saw this breach. Given the rest of the current political instability of the time, the dreaded question finally was put out – ‘If we can circumvent the intent of the constitution to accomplish that, what else can we do it for?’ That was well over 200 years ago. Since then, people have developed the mindset that the constitution was met as nothing more than a general guideline rather than the limitation of government that it was meant to be. This attitude has unfortunately rendered the document useless.
The most impacting of all is the diversity we have in country. Diversity can be a very powerful tool when it comes to fixing a problem for it allows different angles of a problem to be brought up that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. However once backed by the weight of the law, everyone soon feels like their way of life is under attack or under-appreciated, and seeks to change it through an elected official. After all, if Hamilton – one of the nation’s founders – can make a fiscal military policy, why can’t Woodrow Wilson set a new foreign policy? If Abe Lincoln can deny a states right to succeed using slavery as an excuse, why can’t Lyndon Johnson enact social security to fight poverty?
The point is that people will always find new and inventive ways to do something stupid. Like a spoiled child with parents who do not know how to say no – people use the protective arms of the government to renounce their common sense, and go the way of the do-do. They buy into the idea that government is there as a trusting source of protection, information, livelihood and general well-being. What has been lost is the once accepted idea of self governance that I like to try to get out there so much.
You see government has its logical limitations. 1 – It can only be as smart as the people who elect it into being. 2 – It can only provide services to the extent that people are willing to pay for. 3 – It cannot please everybody. The problem is that people rarely take this into consideration, and thus make the following amendments to common sense: 1 – Government is smarter than the people and therefore knows what’s best. 2- Government has an infinite amount of funds that can be spent as long as I agree what they spend it on. 3 – Government does not have to please everyone – just me.
So I find it an absolute act of irony that our society continues to complain about things going wrong, and looking to government to fix it instead of themselves. What is referred to as Jefferson democracy was not about everyone having a say in government, but a say in their own perspective areas. He knew full well that the majority is a fickle thing, and all too often runs less on reality and more on common perception. For instance, he saw Paine’s Common Sense as a valuable work for getting the people interested enough in the governing authority to show it for what it was. Yet on the same token, he saw it as a very dangerous work that people would soon abandon when a new government was found more to their liking. He was right. To this day people cite the book, yet because of their lack of context, the words are nothing more than platitudes.
Mention the word anarchy and the first thing you usually get is a bunch of dirty looks or sarcasm laced comments. This leads me to believe that people like to be governed – even Americans who constantly like to claim that they are free and brave. I find this hard to stomach at best as it subscribes that the worst of human behavior will always be prevalent. The Bill of Rights was issued to a people who would be willing to be responsible on the whole and would have no need of a governing body to tell them what’s best. It acknowledged the fact that people who value their freedoms and livelihood would have no need of a governing authority, but rather a paid for public service. I am not sure why that concept is so laughable to most people. Everyone claims to be a decent person on the whole, so why is it so hard to accept?
As time has plodded on, we have a government that would be unrecognizable to most of the founders, and I believe even Hamilton would be wondering what the deal was. It has become such a mess that people still believe that there is a difference between republicans and democrats – heck, such labels have made any kind of meaningful change impossible. People have relied on the education system to tell them what they need to know, and it failed miserably because it never taught the core principle that the greatest teacher is life itself – not a schoolroom textbook.
Finally, if you believe that if its bad then the government will ban it, and therefore if it’s not banned then its ok, then you’re missing two points. 1- Censorship degrades the ability of a people to govern themselves as it is not up to government to censor anything – remember that government cannot force a people to do something they will not do by themselves unless tyranny is involved. 2 – Censorship makes people forget why something is bad – both on matters of morality, and on governance. After they forget, the problem will resurface, and they will not know how to handle it.
What we have become is indeed a far cry from what we could have been. A limited government was supposed to exist only as a means to protect our rights – not to usurp them to please the majority. I cruise at the speed limit of 55 on my way home, not wanting to pay 200 bucks for daring to drive at the insanely unsafe speed of 65 mph. I do not feel free. Sitting in a courtroom full of people who never hurt anyone in any way – each getting charged enough money to pay an electric or grocery bill, and I do not feel free. Having to listen to a judge tell me that because I did not know an insanely stupid law is not an excuse for an infraction, I did not feel free. Turning on the radio and hearing about some new tax or fines made on new laws pass, I do not feel free. Flipping through channels and watching congress in session making even more laws – well…enough is enough.
I seriously do not know what it will take America. Are you so afraid of your God given rights of freedom and the pursuit of happiness that you feel the need to ask big brother to make the world a better place for you? Are you so terrified of your neighbors that you continually vote for stricter laws that will prevent crimes that never happened to begin with? Are you so incapable of doing any investigation on your own that you feel lost without your precious FOX or CNN? I am going to say it because it makes me so sick to my stomach that all this is allowed to continue. Hundreds of thousands died and learned many hard lessons to give you your freedom, and here you are voting it away in a popularity contest. You have lived for so long in a state of mediocrity that you either vote for the lesser of the two evils thinking it will make a damn bit of difference, or are in fact dumb enough to believe that a better society can be instituted by the very same people who put us here to begin with.
I have talked with only twenty or so people personally who I have met in recent months who claim to be tired of the same things any freedom lover would be. When I sat in court waiting for my turn in the lobby, I talked to five other people alone who were astounded at what they were about to be forced to pay for a minor infraction that hurt no one. Land of the free is it? As if taxes weren’t already enough. However whenever you mention they should write their congressman, vote for someone else, or even try to formulate a solution, I received the same answer: ‘there is nothing we can do about it’. Home of the brave is it? Simply put – I am amazed at how our society continues to show throat to the very same ‘governance’ that we fought against in 1776. My only question – is time to write a Requiem for what used to pass as a free country?

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