Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ben Franklin And The Real Meaning Of Freedom

During the Bush administration, liberals often brought out one of Ben Franklin’s more notable quotes “Those who are willing to give up a little freedom for a little security, wind up with neither freedom, nor security”.

Whether they were referring to “illegal phone taps” or the monitoring of money transfers, or the detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, they said that the President had overstepped his authority and sacrificed our freedom for our security. It’s difficult to say if the left purposely misused the comment of Ben Franklin -- probably not -- they are not that smart. They truly believed that President Bush sacrificed freedom for security. In doing so, the left and the Bush haters showed a remarkable lack of understanding about what freedom means.

Not understanding freedom, liberals are helpless in comprehending the constitution. There was another quote of Ben Franklin’s that is lesser known than the first. When Franklin got out of the constitutional convention, he was asked “what kind of government have you created a Republic or a Monarchy?” His response was “A Republic, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT”.

The words “IF YOU CAN KEEP IT” mean that there is vigilance and work involved in maintaining the republic and the individual freedoms that the constitution looked at as something that was a natural right, not as something that had to be “given” to anyone. So, what exactly is freedom? Try looking it up on and you’ll get 17 different definitions. Freedom is a concept, not a word.

Every time I’m stopped at a traffic light, my right of movement is obstructed. Is this a restriction on my freedom? Take away traffic lights and we’d have chaos on the roads. Road anarchy would rule the day. Driving on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, it’s obvious that road anarchy already rules the day. Without traffic lights, freedom of movement would be more restricted, not less, because the lack of organization means that no one would get anywhere. Is freedom being sacrificed for security by installing traffic lights? Of course not --laws in a society are for everyone’s benefit. There are situations where one person’s freedom conflicts with another person’s freedom and we need common sense laws so that everyone’s freedoms are protected.

A society with common sense laws is the difference between a Republic and anarchy. If you get on a plane, you have to take your shoes and belt off. This isn’t a government gone crazed with power; it is a common sense response to a real threat. President Bush took actions that were necessary based on a situation that he did not create. Whose freedoms were lost by phone taps anyway?

So if it is OK to make common sense laws that result in the benefit of everyone, when does the government go too far? The answer is the real definition of freedom. Freedom is the ability to make your own choices for your own benefit. You give up freedom when you cede the right of your own well being and put the decisions that affect your life in the hands of another person or entity.

If you are a member of a union and the union goes on strike, you may listen to the arguments pro and con and decide that you want to go on strike with the union. What if, after listening to the arguments pro and con, you decide not to go on strike. You have no right to disagree because a vote was taken and the union voted against you. They are going on strike whether you agree or not.

When the constitution was formed there was a distinction made that many people are unaware of. The United States has often been referred to as a democracy. In fact, it is a constitutional republic. The framers of the constitution wanted to avoid the mob mentality that often arises by pitting groups against each other. This pitting of groups against each other has always been the specialty of the left and dictatorships in general. When Ben Franklin was asked what kind of government they created, a democracy was not even mentioned.

So in the union example, you may be a person who is willing to work at a salary that someone else is willing to pay you, in conditions that you both agree are beneficial, and yet neither of you have the freedom to go forward with it because a majority of union members wanted to go on strike. Both you and your employer have ceded your freedoms to another group. This is the “mob” mentality that the framers wanted to avoid. Anyone who has seen the way unions sometimes behave can’t say the mob analogy is very far off. Unions may have done some great things but if a person wants to work at a salary that someone else is willing to pay, no one should have the right to stand in the way.

Gun control is another area where people are being asked to trust someone else with their freedom. Sometimes, political decisions are made as to who will be protected and who won’t be. People should never be asked to give up their right of personal protection to politicians who too often make decisions based on the political consequences, avoiding risky decisions that may cause controversy, often causing even more controversy by their inaction and cowardice.

Here are three examples of government making decisions for “expedience”. All three of these examples involve race in one way or another but race is not the issue. The issue is about giving up the right and responsibility of personal protection.

The first case is documented in Richard Poe’s book “The Seven Myths of Gun Control”. During the civil war, Black Americans served in the Union army. People coming home often kept the weapons they used in battle. However, in the case of black Americans, there was an organized effort to take away those guns. The Ku Klux Klan and other militia men ransacked their homes. The government did little to stop this. The end result is that because of a government decision, black Americans, after serving in the army, were left defenseless. There are incidents of those who refused to give up their guns and those are the ones who were able to defend themselves -- certainly, at no help from anyone other than themselves.

The second and third examples are more recent. During both the Rodney King riots in LA and the riots in Crown Heights in Brooklyn, local and state politicians decided to withhold protection for citizens who were under attack. People were rioting in the streets while police were, allegedly in Crown Heights, told to do nothing.

Liberal’s talk of gun control, as most things liberals talk about, is based on a false assumption. They are trying to create a “secure” environment by taking away the very tools that create a secure environment. In personal defense, no individual should be at the mercy of a decision made by a politician. People must have the right, if they deem it necessary, to have the last line of defense in the protection of themselves and their families.

Now there is Obamacare. We may be about to make the most stupid move in the history of this Republic. Hypocrites on the left don’t bring up Security-Freedom tradeoffs when it comes to unions or gun control. They don’t bring up tradeoffs in Social…uh, Social what? Oh yes, Social “Security”. That thing that says you have to pay some of your money so the government can put it away for your old age. When there is no money left in social “Security” you can take solace in an old age where you won’t be able to hire the doctor you want because the government may not consider your life “important” enough. Those defending Obamacare say “You already don’t have complete freedom to choose a doctor”. This is true enough but you don’t solve a problem of this magnitude by creating a much bigger problem. This would be like having a $500 dollar debt and trying to solve it by spending $10,000 more, or a few trillion but who’s counting.

During the Bush years, the United States did not sacrifice freedom for security. The one job of the government is to provide for the common defense which the Bush administration did admirably. No individual liberties were lost under the Presidency of GW Bush. Where is the left, so concerned about individual rights during those years, as Obama tries to take every personal choice out of the hands of the people and put it into the hands of beaurocrats who don’t care about the people they serve (Yes, they serve US!). Amazingly, they do this in the name of “morality”. All dictators do.

What kind of government? A Republic – If you can keep it… let’s hope we can.

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