Exchanging Freedom for Security

untitledReal life makes the best classroom. Let me share a recent Facebook exchange. I posted an article by constitutional attorney Michael Connolly explaining some of the vague language and dangerous provisions regarding gun control that were recently signed into law as presidential executive order. It’s entitled “What Just Happened? Tyranny By Executive Order” and I highly recommend it. In response someone replied that “the Patriot Act and NDAA took care of that a long time ago. At least Obamacare will give us something back.”

Honestly, I cringed when I read that comment. The author didn’t disagree with me. She didn’t suggest that my take on tyranny was wrong. In fact, her mention of Obamacare could even be read to suggest that it is also an example of governmental overreach. But at least, as she said, it “will give us something back.” I wonder if she has any clue about the costs that will be associated with that “giving back,” both economically and personally. I wonder if she has taken note of recent studies indicating that it will cost much more than predicted.

If my Facebook friend pays for her own health insurance, she’ll soon be paying more–perhaps even drastically more.  If her employer pays for her coverage she might not know that it’s costing more. That blissful ignorance may be rudely shattered if her employer decides that it cannot no longer pay for her coverage. How ironic it is that some employers are finding the costs of the “Affordable Care Act” too high. They are dropping healthcare coverage from their list of employment benefits or cutting employee work hours so that they no longer are required to provide insurance. Even in the so-called “enlightened” environs of academia the cry goes up: “We didn’t know this would happen.”  They should have known. They were warned.

It’s not my intention to pick on my Facebook friend, but hers is an attitude that we hear all too often these days. As long as we’re getting something in return, then it’s somehow inevitable, perhaps acceptable, that we’re losing our freedoms along the way. Way too many Americans are satisfied with this while the list of governmental offenses grows.

The NDAA allows indefinite detention of US citizens without trial. But at least we’re supposedly safer because of it. Citizens are strip-searched in public in order to board an airplane. Our travel, we are told, is now more secure. A host of new and unreasonable taxes is going into effect (on medical devices, insurance policies, tanning salons, wages, home sales, drugs, and even illness)–but it’s okay because we’re all supposedly getting the health security we need to live our lives to the fullest.

The federal government, in effect, has seized control “over healthcare benefits and financing,” establishing “a one-size-fits-all health system,” and removing healthcare planning from our own hands by putting it in the hands of a vast new bureaucracy with invasive powers.  All of this is in exchange for our security. We are now supposedly secure from terrorism and from sickness. The same manner of thinking is being applied to gun control. If the government just seizes more guns we’ll all be safer.

History suggests otherwise. The philosopher Bertrand Russell once said that “most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so.” Seems he was right.

The people of the United States have become slaves to their insecurities. We are much like the serfs of medieval Europe, manipulated by the greedy lords in Washington for their own enrichment. Gradually, one liberty at a time, we’re giving our freedom away for chains that will supposedly make us safer. It’s a colossal tragedy.

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “the one who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”


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