Monday, May 29, 2017

Life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of Happiness (Part 3)

What is Liberty, anyway?

Probably something to do with being free has popped into your mind at just the thought of that question but, politically speaking, liberty and freedom are not quite the same thing. Let me give you an example:

Let's say you're driving down the highway, speed limit: 65. You're a little behind schedule and, after doing some quick calculations... Wait, who am I kidding? No one does the math to figure out if speeding is actually going to save them any time. [Like the other day when some dude on a motorcycle came weaving through tight traffic at something around 80 mph only to have me pull up next to him at the exit I was taking. So yeah, he save a LOT of time by almost causing two accidents (that I saw) as he zipped between cars.] You're running late, so you step on the gas and punch your car up to 80. Are you free to do that?

Well, obviously; you just did it, right? And this is where it can be confusing, I suppose, because, while you are free to do that (anyone is free to break the law if he so chooses), you do not have the liberty to do that. It's a bit like the difference between "can" and "may." You know:
"Teacher, can I go to the bathroom?"
"Well, I assume you can, but you may not."
So, whereas you have the freedom to relieve yourself (because no one can stop you from peeing right where you stand), you do not have the liberty to go to the bathroom to do it.

Why is this important?

One of the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence is that we have the unalienable Right to Liberty. In practice, this means we have Right to a Government which does not place arbitrary restraints, especially oppressive ones, upon its citizens and takes into account the Rights of all. And it takes those Rights into account for all equally, not favoring the wealthy over the poor, for instance.

Of course, it is natural to think of this idea of Liberty from the perspective that the Government should not be making laws that disproportionately favors one group over another...

Oh, wait, so that means that all of these voter ID laws and all that shit the GOP has been doing in places like North Carolina is a restriction of Liberty of its people. It makes it difficult in a disproportionate way for certain groups of people to be able to vote.

But I was saying: It's natural that we should think of this in the sense of passing laws that restrict the liberties of particular groups of people...

Oh, wait, like laws that make it difficult for women to get the kind of healthcare they need from places like Planned Parenthood or that straight up make abortion illegal, effectively taking a religious belief and imposing it upon everyone. I mean, not only does that restrict the Liberty of women, it's a direct violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. But, then, the GOP doesn't seem to care about those kinds of things.

But back to what I was saying: It's natural to think of restrictive laws as being the kinds of things that restrict Liberty, but it's more than that.

Like, the GOP's refusal to raise the minimum wage amount to a restriction of Liberty (and freedom) for a huge segment of the population. It makes it so that people in low wage jobs have no choices. It removes their freedoms and, effectively, makes them slaves of the system, working for the profit of others with no hope of bettering their own lives.

There was this comedian, Jerry Clower, who used to tell this story about going 'coon hunting when he was a boy. One of the men he hunted with believed that a 'coon should never be shot of a tree; he thought that wasn't fair to the 'coon. He believed that the 'coon deserved a "fightin' chance" and that the 'coon should be set loose amongst the dogs (so he would climb the tree and throw the 'coon down into the dog pack). That way, the 'coon had the option of whoopin' all those dogs and walking away. It never happened, but at least the raccoon had the freedom to do so.

I'll let you make the connection.

Also, what DeVos and the GOP want to do to education, the funneling of money from the public education system into private and charter schools, is also a removal of Liberty from the non-wealthy. What they want to do will negatively impact something like 85-95%, at least, of the population. It's another of those things that actually takes away freedom from people in the same way that restricting their pay does. You might pay lip service to their Liberty but, when you take away people's access to education, you are removing their freedom to get anything other than low wage jobs. It's just another way to keep people trapped.

All of that to say, again, as I did in part two of this series, it is time for us to remove our consent to being governed in this way. The Government only derives its Power from the consent of the People; if it does not have that consent, it has no Power. The current GOP led Form of Government has proven, and has been proving for decades, that it is destructive to the unalienable Rights Jefferson points to in the Declaration of Independence; as such, we have Right to alter or abolish that Form of Government. It's time.


  1. The republicans have become the party that only advocates for rights if it's for themselves and people like them. Sharia law? Evil!!! Against the first amendment!!! Christian doctrine? Obviously what the founding fathers intended us all to obey.

    1. Jeanne: What I love about that is that the founding fathers didn't practice anything that modern "Christians" would have considered Christianity.

  2. Uh huh. So, what do we DO to get this done? Because the system isn't policing itself like it's supposed to.

    1. Liz: Quit consenting. I don't know how to translate that into practical action other than that it starts by getting people to vote in EVERY election and protesting through our actions that we do not consent to be governed by the GOP powers that be.

  3. Liberty goes hand in hand with democracy... and, sadly, the US has been stepping further away from both since Jan 20th. Yes, removal of consent is the only way. What that entails is, to an extent, up to each individual. But—yes. YES.
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

    1. Guillie: It's not just America, unfortunately. Some new studies have shown that there is a worldwide trend, especially among younger people, back towards authoritarianism. What is shocking is that it is in the US, too.