Not long ago I got into a debate with a friend of mine. I said to him, "we're not nearly as free as we once were." He responded that we, as Americans, were just as free as we had ever been. This struck me as so ludicrous that I laughed out loud. Now understand, this friend is a bit younger than myself, some thirteen years younger, and he had not experienced first hand the level of freedom that I had in my youth. To prove my point, I tossed out a few examples off the top of my head.
I remember when;
...there were no laws requiring a waiting period to buy a handgun.
...there were no laws requiring seat belts in cars, much less a law requiring that they be worn.
...there were no laws demanding that small children, when in a car, ride in car seats.
...there were no laws preventing anyone from riding in the cargo bed of a pick up truck.
...there were no laws requiring motorcyclists to wear a helmet.
...there were no laws against smoking just about anywhere you felt like having a smoke.
...there were no laws against displaying a creche on public property at Christmas time.
...there were no laws against having a drink at age 18 if you felt like it.
My friend was not impressed but very quickly changed the subject.
Okay. So what? At first glance all the laws that now exist that didn't back in my youth may seem like perfectly good laws. After all, all were designed to save lives and improve the safety of all Americans, and maybe some of them have actually accomplished that. But ask yourself this. When did it become the role of government to save us from ourselves? When did Americans allow their adulthood, their right to pursue happiness, their right to make their own decisions, be hijacked by an all-pervasive nanny state?
Try this experiment. Every time you hear or see the word "government", substitute it with the words "your neighbors." After all, in a representative Republic, which is what we're supposed to have in this nation, laws passed by local, state and national governmental bodies such as city councils, county boards of supervisors and state and national legislatures are in essence the majority view of, you guessed it, your neighbors. The majority rules, unless the black-robed mystic shamans of the Supreme Court consult the oracles and declare otherwise. But that is another argument.
If the lady that lives across the street from you thinks carrying a concealed weapon is a bad idea and should not be allowed under any circumstances, and she advises her elected state representatives of that opinion, and enough of your other neighbors have the same opinion, then in all likely hood carrying a concealed weapon will be outlawed in your state. If you are of the opposite opinion, it doesn't really matter, because you have been out voted by your neighbors. Ah, but the question then arises, do your neighbors have a right to dictate to you that you may not carry a concealed weapon in defense of yourself, your family and other innocents, against threats to your life and the lives of others? I would argue no, she does not. Why not? Because my carrying a concealed weapon is of no consequence to her, except that if the unthinkable should happen, I might be in a position to save her life, which is not a bad thing no matter how you look at it. Laws allowing concealed carry but requiring background checks prior to issuance of a carry permit strike me as reasonable. As much as I have the inalienable right to protect myself, I don't want convicted felons or psychiatric patients carrying.
The bottom line is that your neighbors are foisting a lot of laws on you, diminishing your individual liberty, when they have no rational reason or right to do so. If I don't want to wear a seat belt, what do you care? I may die in an auto accident that I might have survived had I been wearing a seat belt, but what is that to you? Am I not in charge of my own life? I may want to smoke a cigarette while sitting in my favorite tavern listening to Lucinda Williams belt out a 'love gone wrong' song on the juke. As long as the tavern owner doesn't object, who the hell are you to tell me I can't light up? If you're afraid for your own health, go listen to Ms. Williams elsewhere. Surely there's a tavern owner down the street that doesn't allow smoking in his joint. The decision is not mine nor yours to make. Property rights used to mean something in this country, meaning smoking or non-smoking in the tavern used to be the sole decision of the property owner, the tavern keeper. Not any more. The nannies have won that battle.
For all of you dear readers who might reside in New York City, I feel for you. Your Mayor Bloomberg has taken it upon himself to improve your health, whether you like it or not. He has personally outlawed trans-fats, so a lot of your favorite foods like french fries and Chinese food and buttered popcorn aren't quite as tasty as they used to be. Now he's working on a huge tax on non-diet soda, trying to discourage the drinking of said beverages, because he's afraid you're getting too fat for your own good, and God knows it's his business how much you tip the scales at.
The mayor of Los Angeles is working on a law that limits the number of fast food joints in minority neighborhoods because it seems minorities are particularly fond of fast food and hence are getting a little too portly to suit the mayor. I can hear it now, "No Mickey D's, no peace!"
Oh, and lets not forget that that law outlawing incandescent light bulbs is still out there, waiting to go into effect in a few short years. 'Your neighbors' have decided that they're energy inefficient and you can't use them anymore. God help us!
And please, don't give me that cliched argument that when taxpayer's money is involved ( in treating the effects of obesity using Medicare or Medicaid funds ) the public has a right to dictate such things. If that were the case we'd outlaw getting old, because when it comes to spending taxpayer money on health care, nobody racks up the medical expenses like geezers.
So what's the bottom line? It's this; we're all on the fast track to being serfs. Every aspect of our lives is to be dictated by a nanny state made up of pretend Princes, Dukes and Viscounts that we have allowed to bore into our legislatures like ticks on a junkyard dog. Any pretensions we might have of being free citizens, in charge of our own lives and free to make our own decisions are evaporating like fog on a Summer's morning.
Free, truly free Americans, are an endangered species. Maybe the EPA can save us, but don't hold your breath. Spotted Owls and Snail Darters are worth saving...apparently all of us humans, all of us tired, poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free, are just a cancer on Gia the Earth Mother.