Friday, October 31, 2008

Will security trump freedom?


“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom — go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!”

Samuel Adams (172-1803) American Patriot, Speech, State House of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia—August 1, 1776


Over the past few weeks, I have been very concerned by the blatant intrusions the government has made into our market. What started as an extra-constitutional "bail-out" of a flailing economy through extreme financial measures has mutated into nationalizing our banking system as well as several privately held companies. What I considered to be good men, have taken upon themselves powers that weren't granted through the constitution. My feelings about the leaders of this country have been tried.

What we are seeing happening right before our eyes is another example of how the American public can be manipulated into giving up certain rights as they seek security. Seven years ago, we suffered from an attack unlike anything our countrymen had ever witnessed. In the aftermath, many willingly argued to support the actions of our leaders as our freedoms were severely suppressed in the name of security. The likelihood that we will see a restoration of those freedoms diminishes with every passing year. My concerns addressed to my congressman and senators were dismissed with little or no consideration. At that time, most of the citizenry were on board with the changes to our world. Fear led them to believe it was necessary.

Benjamin Franklin wisely stated, "“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.” (Respectfully Quoted, p. 201)

As we began our fight against an ambiguous enemy, these words echoed in my mind repeatedly. I worried then as I do now that we would not realize the truthfulness in this statement until it is too late.

As the markets began to collapse under the enormous pressures of the falling sub-prime catastrophe, our leaders acted again. I suggest they acted on a certain level of panic that they fostered through the media. I was heartened that I like many of my fellow countrymen were not accepting the fear mongering at face value. The initial "bailout" package was rejected summarily by the citizens of this great country. Mobilized by the significant burden this was going to place on our children and many generations to yet unborn, Americans rallied to protest this action. Whether some motivation might have emanated from the implications of nationalizing certain market sectors or businesses, I could not say. However, I was gratified that so many were moved to action in any case.

Much to my dismay, a second round of politicking was not thwarted. Both presidential candidates as well as the rest of the senate mostly signed on to the even more exorbitant bail-out package deemed a rescue plan. Those who would shy away from government interference in the financial markets embraced this 850 billion dollar monstrosity. Free-market gave way to the safe security of government intervention.

“If America is destroyed, it may be by Americans who salute the flag, sing the national anthem, march in patriotic parades... but Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free— Americans who have been lulled away into a false security.”

- Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) Quorum of Twelve Apostles, General Conference—April 1968


I'm starting to sound rather a bit like those conspiracy theorists and the paranoid militant living in the backwoods of rural America. The concern, however, is real. I am not driven by extreme motivations unless you consider embracing the constitution and freedom as radical.

About the time that George Washington gave his farewell to the Republic, a British professor, Alexander Fraser Tyler, wrote: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can exist only until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse (defined as a liberal gift) out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by a dictatorship."

Addressing the Salt Lake Rotary Club on June 8, 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball declared, “The only way to keep our freedom is to work at it. Not some of us. All of us. Not some of the time, but all of the time.”

It is time to rally to a greater cause. We need to fight for our freedoms. Let others concern themselves with security. Security at the cost of freedom is not the kind of "safety" I seek.
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