America, Land of the Free (but get permission first)

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be tomorrow.” — James Madison, Federalist No. 62 (1788)

Having celebrated the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence this past Thursday, I was once again reminded of what a great country we live in; the “Land of the Free” where man is free to pursue happiness as he determines that to be, where you be anything you want to be and do what you want to do…anything at all!


You want to choose your own health care plan, one that meets your needs and doesn’t force you to pay for coverage that you don’t need, that doesn’t make you pay for alcoholism coverage even if you don’t drink, coverage for smoking-related illnesses even if you’ve never smoked, pre-natal and maternity coverage even if you are a single man or a great-grandmother whose child-bearing years ended sometime around the Carter administration (sorry, you can’t do that).

You should also be careful about espousing views that are unpopular among the political powers that be (like the idea that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman, or that illegal immigrants have committed a crime by entering our country in violation of the law and should not be given preferred treatment, or that homosexuality is a sin), because you could be charged with a hate crime. Just to be safe, you should probably not mention it publicly if you think that it is not only unfair, but morally wrong, that the top 10% of income earners (very few of which, by the way, are “millionaires and billionaires) pay nearly three-quarters of all income taxes while the bottom 47% or so pay none; or that we are creating a nation of parasites when we have nearly a fifth of the populace on food stamps, and people are eligible for nearly two years of unemployment checks should they decide it is easier to get food stamps and unemployment checks rather than just get a job.

Of course, you are free to earn a living pursuing any profession you like, so long as you get the approval of government in the form of a permit or business license. Because heaven knows, we sure can’t have people giving manicures and pedicures, cutting or braiding hair, mowing lawns, arranging flowers, teaching yoga, doing interior design, baking, cleaning houses, making balloon animals, washing cars, taking photographs, selling vegetables, running a road-side lemonade stand, or bathing dogs without first having paid a fee to government for the much desired imprimatur of some bureaucrat who knows little or nothing about your particular line of work (but at least we all feel better knowing that no one would ever be able to get a license in an area that they were not imminently qualified…right?).

If you look at the unmitigated record of failure of the Social Security program, realizing that the ratio of workers-to-beneficiaries has dropped precipitously in recent decades, and can see the writing on the wall that the program will be bankrupt long before you start collecting benefits, despite having spent decades of your working life paying into the program…sorry, you can’t opt out of the system and take your chances with that money investing in, say, the stock market, bonds, real estate, etc. Why? Because you are stupid and can’t be trusted to make such vital decisions for yourself…those are big decisions best left to the politicians in Washington, D.C. who have a long and distinguished record or making brilliant financial decisions and correctly predicting which emerging companies and technologies will succeed in the free market (like Solyndra, and wind power).

Oh yeah…don’t try to buy a toilet that flushes more than 1.6 gallons per flush, because that is also illegal because we save water by having low flow toilets (when you flush the second time because the first one didn’t get everything, that doesn’t actually count; just ignore that one when calculating benefits). Sure, there is the occasional problem with having so many low flow toilets, as San Francisco discovered when they had to pony up for $14 million worth of bleach to disinfect the already-treated water before it was dumped into the San Francisco Bay. Why the bleach? Because the lack of water coming from low flow toilets created a sludge back-up in the city’s sewers which gave off a rotten-egg stench, making many residents a bit ill. But hey, that is a small price to pay…right?

If you try to get on an airplane in the U.S., you are also not allowed to have a pocketknife, or more than 3.4 ounces of shampoo. On the bright side, you can bring a snow globe, provided, of course, that it “appear[s] to contain less than 3.4 ounces (approximately tennis ball size)…[and] the entire snow globe, including the base, is able to fit in the same one clear, plastic, quart-sized, re-sealable bag, as the passenger’s other liquids, such as shampoo, toothpaste and cosmetics.” Seriously…it’s right there on the TSA website. Some might complain about these restrictions, but those annoyances are offset by the fact that you get a free prostate or breast exam any time you go through airport security.

All of this freedom is just one of the many benefits of living in the freest land on all the Earth, the United States of America. In addition, you also get free, offsite-back-up of all your email, web searches, phone calls, texts, Facebook posts and tweets, courtesy of the friendly, service oriented representatives of the National Security Agency. They even do content searches for you! Likewise, the super-competent and ultra-friendly agents at the IRS will go through every scrap of personal data you possess to help you make sure that you have a government-approved health insurance plan, which is good because the regulations written from the 2,500+ page ObamaCare law already number in the tens of thousands of pages, and they are just getting started!

You can also send your child to any school you see fit to insure that they get the highest quality education available (provided that it happens to be the approved school for your address, otherwise you can get arrested). You can also be critical of any politician that is not doing as you think they ought to be (provided you have checked to make sure your comments are not in violation of any of the conditions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law). You can also gather groups of like-minded people to protest oppressive government (provided you get a permit from the government beforehand). You can also freely exercise you constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms (after checking through all of the federal, state, and local regulations pertaining to firearm possession).

You also have the right to a speedy trial by a jury of your peers, to face your accusers, to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, to have those searches and seizures be constrained by the terms of a warrant obtained by government agents after showing probable cause of having committed a crime (unless they claim you are suspected of anti-government or terrorist activities, in which case they can dispense with the formalities and take whatever they want). Then again, that hasn’t stopped them from reading virtually every form of digital communication of virtually everyone in the country. Hmmmm…

The Land of the Free indeed…

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