I alluded in an earlier post about a moral value that we cherish more than any other value in this country: freedom. It may not be unique to our nation to prize freedom as an important value, but it is certainly is unique to our country that our freedom is paramount to the way we view all other values. It is the gateway through which we can acquire, shape, and express all of our other values. It is evident in the documents that founded our nation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (Declaration of Independence)
Second only to life itself is liberty. The signers of the Declaration knew that despite being citizens of a free colony of free country that their freedoms were being overruled and thwarted by their government in far off England. And rather than suffer the grievances levied against them by their distant government, they risked everything to uphold liberty in the land known as the New World.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Preamble to the U.S. Constitution)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution)
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. (2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution)
There are more examples of the importance of freedom in the founding of our nation, but these should serve as ample evidence for my purposes in defending freedom as our most cherished value. With that being said…
The citizens of the United States are gradually, willfully, and knowingly handing our freedom over to someone other than ourselves. Namely, the government. So what if our Senators, Legislators, and Executives are elected by us. If we continue to hand the right to make our own choices, for good or bad, then our participation in elections becomes a rather moot point. All a politician will need to secure power over us is a simple majority of people willing to vote for him or her. All they need to do to get people to vote for them is a promise that they will take care of us once elected. All power will cease to reside with the electors and will instead reside with those who get elected (fairly or unfairly, justly or unjustly).
A lot of noise has been made about the Patriot Act destroying our individual liberties. I would challenge anyone to demonstrate that more liberty has been taken from us with that single act than with a series of more subtle and innocuous legislation and regulations that are supposedly for our welfare. I am not an expert in law, nor am I a historian with ample time to research the origins of our slide into welfare tyranny. But let me lay out some examples of our fading freedoms and demonstrate how we are in peril of ultimately giving up our freedom altogether.
The Income Tax
Now, by itself the income tax may not have been harmful to our way of life, but subsequent meddling in the nature and execution of that tax has wreaked havoc with our freedoms. I find it tough to swallow that Theodore Roosevelt was on watch when the 16th amendment to the constitution passed and that he advocated for a progressive tax. Any tax that is levied more on one class, or group, of people than another is not a fair tax. Just because person A has more money than person B does not mean that they should be treated unequally under the law (in this case via a progressive income tax). Of course, taxes also inhibit growth when they are excessive and our brilliant (eh hem) legislators recognized this and have created numerous “loop holes” to provide incentive for economic growth. Those loop holes change from time to time, but the results are the same. Those that can afford to exploit the loop hole benefit while those who can’t are burden with making up the difference.
Likewise, now that government has used legislative power to smite us with the income tax and its subsequent loop holes, they are able to play favoritism with their constituents to the detriment of people from other states. More likely, they are going to play favorites with people that have the means to get them reelected when the time comes. This comes in the form of tax breaks, or credits, that advantage one group of people over another. Again, people are being treated unequally under the law. Where is the justice?
Sure sounds like a good idea, until you realize that it is a scam of gigantic proportions. It may – I stress may – have worked if the funds set aside for social security payments remained sacrosanct and untouchable even from the greedy hands of congress and the executive. Of course, now that congress spends that money too, Social Security has been in jeopardy of drying up for some time now. And knowing that congress has its fingers dipped in the troth, we continue to give money that we have earned to the government for “safe keeping”.
Worse still is that we never actually see that money. Thanks to tax withholding most of us never even have our hands on our own money long enough to miss it when it’s gone. Even though I may get paid $100 for my work with an employer, he is required to set aside some money for my portion of the Social Security tax (called something much more mysterious on my pay stub), and I am required to declare how much I want withheld in order to pay federal and state income taxes. Let’s see (the following chart is a gross simplification)…
|Gross vs. Net pay|
|Social Security tax||-6|
And that’s probably taking it easy on the government!
Now it gets tricky. Depending on how much I make annually, the government may decide (bless their hearts) to give me back all of the federal taxes that I’ve paid. Of course, if I make “too much” then they’ll keep everything they’ve taken (and probably try to take more). Never mind the injustice (as illustrated in the existence of a progressive tax code), where is the freedom to use our money as we see fit? In the example above, I may have earned $100 but I only have the freedom to spend $75. Did the founders of this country envision its citizens to have only 75% freedom?
I could go on (and I will pick this up at a later date because I haven’t really finished illustrating my point), but time has caught up with me once again. I sign off with this: through taxes alone, we’ve given up a significant portion of our freedom to live and pursue happiness. What happens when let government tell us what we can and can’t eat?