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Hi, all.  There is some good stuff on Mr. Williams' homepage (http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/wew/index.html).  This very issue has been weighing on my mind for a while.  We are not free!  We must educate our fellow citizens.  The majority of Americans do not realize that things are not as they should be in this country.

Regards,
Ray

Tethered Citizens

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, "No one is as hopelessly enslaved as the person who thinks he's free." That captures the essence of "Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State," written by Sheldon Richman, a senior fellow at the Fairfax, Virginia-based Future of Freedom Foundation (fff.org).

We just celebrated the 225th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence. We listened to speeches about the liberties bequeathed by our Founders, but according to Sheldon's convincing, compellingly marshaled, evidence we're not as free as we think. Yes, we can think of ourselves as free but only relative to the rest of the world; but in terms of the Founders' vision of freedom we're little more than serfs.

You say, "What do you mean, Williams? I'm free!" Sheldon Richman would ask you: Are you in charge of the amount of money you set aside for retirement and at what age you'll retire? No, the government mandates that you join its retirement program. If you insist on being left alone and don't obey, you'll go to jail or otherwise suffer at the hands of government. What's more when government changes Social Security rules, unlike a private retirement plan, you can't sue for breach of contract.

Sheldon Richman asks: Is it you who decides when your child will go to school and for how many weeks and study what? No, it's government that not only makes these decisions, they also attack and undermine values taught at home. What if you think your child is capable of having a job at age 12, as I was? No dice, the government determines the age at which one can work, and for how long and at what pay.

Suppose you want to save money. Your money and privacy is subject to a web of regulatory offices from the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve System and the Securities and Exchange Commission. If you make deposits or withdrawals of &#365000 or more your bank must report it to the government. If you attempt to stop government's prying eyes, by making deposits and withdrawals just below the reporting threshold, you face fines and imprisonment for "structuring."

You own land but you don't control it. You might have purchased land as an investment, only to find that when you retire and are ready to build or sell it you can't. It might have been designated a wetland (swamp) by environmental authorities or declared a habitat for an endangered bird, rat or insect, whose rights the government deems more important than yours.

Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America," has a chapter titled "What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear." He said citizens of modern democracies faced a despotism of a different character that ". . . would be more widespread and milder; it would degrade men rather than torment them." De Tocqueville went on to say, "I do not expect for their leaders to be tyrants but rather schoolmasters.", adding, "It only tries to keep them in perpetual childhood." It does so by providing security and necessities, assuming responsibility for their concerns, managing their work, and more, "It gladly works for their happiness but wants to be the sole agent and judge of it."

Democracy gives an aura of legitimacy to acts that would otherwise be deemed tyranny. That is precisely why the Framers gave us a constitution that sought to protect us against the abuses of majorities. That's what our Bill of Rights is all about, those congressional shalt nots. It's just too bad that Congress, acting on the will of the majority, have abrogated those protections. "Tethered Citizens" is an excellent, informative and easily read 150 page book that would have been much shorter had Sheldon Richman chosen to list our remaining liberties.

Walter E. Williams
c30-01
July 23, 2001
 

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Some truly interesting observations. I agree with the fact that we are not totaly free in an absolute manner.

The thing that I don't think is realized in that passage is that some of those imposed limitations, most notabley the child working at twelve, are in place to protect people. A child working on a farm with his family, under parental supervision, is not the same as a child working for the city on a garbage truck. As we can observe in modern corporations, without checks for control of these situations there would be explotation of the children. It has already happened in this countries history and it was stopped for the overal betterment of society and protection of our children.

I am sensitive to the "Big Brother Factor" also. If I have the good fortune to come across 5000 dollars am I going to try and deposit it on two occasions to avoid investigation? Nah, I know I don't have anything to worry about because if I came across it ligitimately I know it doesn't matter. Yet the fact of being investigated for it is a little unerving. More than likely they are looking for patterns in the deposits. A tool to catch criminals.

Both these things are infringments on your absolute freedom to do anything when you want without anyone questioning you. But they are there to provide security for the masses. And that is what the majority of the masses want. It is a trade off in the fine print of the social contract here in America. The structure has it's flaws and loop holes and it deserves attention to correct oversites and continue to improve the quality of life for our citizens, but by all standards and scales we are living much better than everyone else in the world. By living here we agree to it, and if someone finds the short comings unbareable they are FREE to leave if the want to go to a better place for them.

Those passages have an ultra right wing tone to them. Definately propaganda like, if they were meant to stir up some responses heres mine .....lol. <!--emo&:p--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':p'><!--endemo-->

~Jon
 

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Jon:

Absolute freedom is not the issue here.  We should not be absolutely free to steal, murder, etc.  The issue is that the federal government essentially ignores the constitution.  The "masses" just don't realize it because they have no sense of history, and have no familiarity with the Constitution.

Your statement that "we are better off than the rest of the world" reflects the prevalent attitude that allows the current system to continue.  As long as we keep saying, "Well, we are still freer than the rest of the world," we will remain enslaved.  

Dr. Williams' remarks are not "ultra-right wing," they are simply a reflection of the ideals of the Founding Fathers.  Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and company would all be denounced today as "ultra-right wing," and "extremist."  As Goldwater said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

The system does not merely have "holes and flaws," it is rotten to the core.  The point of Dr. Williams' column is that the federal government has steadily increased its unconstitutional influence over practically every aspect of our lives.

The 10th Amendment states that (and this is not an exact quote, but close enough) all powers not expressly given to the federal government under the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people.  The federal government has no authority to check up on my business transactions, nor to force me to participate in social welfare programs, nor to dictate to me what I can do with my property, nor to dictate to me how I raise my children.  Sure, laws have been passed to allow these intrusions, but an un-Constitutional law is invalid.

I do NOT agree to the current infringements on my liberty simply by living here.  There is nowhere else to go.  Things will not improve as long as we sit back and accept our situation.

What this country needs is a huge dose of extremism, of very angry citizens who have just realized that they have allowed their government to enslave them.

Regards from the ultra right-wing,
Ray Floyd
 
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