The amount of freedom that has been taken from citizens is shocking. Slowly and relentlessly government has stolen it, altering the nature of the country and the quality of life. There are few things that still can be done which are not subject to direct or indirect government approval or permission.
In economics, the total pie is not fixed. Free markets generate an increasing level of wealth. If someone gets rich, it is not at the expense of someone else becoming poorer. All benefit from a growing pie. The phenomenon of wealth creation is frequently referred to as a none zero-sum game. That is, just because person A has improved his position it is not necessarily at a cost to person B. A, improving his position, can actually improve the positions of B, C and other people in society. Bill Gates may be the richest man in the world. None of us have been injured by his success; all of us have better lives as a result of it.
Freedom, on the other hand, is a zero-sum game. The amount of freedom is fixed. You cannot create more of it. If government grows bigger or more powerful, it means that the private sector loses freedom. Government growth does not add to the amount of freedom, it takes away personal freedom. The more power government has, the less available to citizens. Freedom does not expand or contract, it shifts. Powerful government means non-powerful citizens or less-free citizens.
Nat Hentoff has a column discussing what has happened to freedom in America. In particular, he worries about the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This act means the essence of freedom can be taken away merely upon suspicion of wrongdoing. It allows the government to imprison citizens without charge or trial. He cites Winston Churchill’s warning on this kind of legislation:
“The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers (at trial) is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist” (Future of Freedom Foundation, fff.org, April 27).
Mr. Hentoff goes on to question whether we have a government of laws or of men:
Is it the foundation of our government run by Barack Obama and Eric Holder?
We have reached a very dangerous point in the history of this country. For more than 200 years we were “the shining city on the hill,” admired around the world for our wealth and freedom. Sadly, that all seems to be crumbling. For a list of steps which lead toward totalitarianism, see this article.
It is not too late to reverse this trend, but one wonders why it was allowed to go this far. Are our citizens so complacent that they don’t realize what is happening to them and their country?