We’re winding down on another year. Much like recent years, 2011 represented challenges for liberty and the Constitution. These hurdles came from all sides, including the Obama Administration and Republicans in Congress, and we are ending the year a little less free than in 2010.
Below is a recap of some of bigger stories of the year that were covered here at United Liberty (though a couple are thrown in for fun). Thanks for reading in what was a record breaking year for this blog. We appreciate the readership and hope you’ll keep coming back in 2012
Happy New Year!
— The Death of Osama bin Laden (Jason Pye): On Sunday, May 1st, word broke that the White House had called notified the press of a major announcement. You could tell that it was a significant event since the president was making such a statement late on a Sunday evening.As you probably remember, wild speculation started almost immediately as many people said that it could have only meant a couple of things, either we were going to war or Osama bin Laden had finally been captured.
Around 11pm, President Barack Obama told Americans that, after nearly 10 years after murdering nearly 3,000 innocent people, Osama bin Laden was dead. Bin Laden, leader of the terrorist group, al-Qaeda, was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan by a group of Navy SEALS at a compound that he had lived in for five years.
The City of Brotherly Love may want to rethink their nickname when they get a chance. How about the City of Statist Tyranny. Doesn’t that have a nice ring? Why, you may ask? Because the City has arrested at least eight people over the last two years who’s only “crime” was to carry a legal firearm. That’s it.
Apparently, due to a quirk in local law, Philadelphia residents will get Florida gun licenses since the out of state license allows them to carry in their home state, but is easier to issue. It’s referred to as the “Florida Loophole”. Go Florida!
The “loophole” is unpopular with Philadelphia cops, who say that it allows those denied a permit here or whose permits were revoked to circumvent Philadelphia authorities and obtain it elsewhere.
But proponents say that it’s necessary because Philadelphia has unusually strict criteria for obtaining a concealed-carry permit. Philadelphia, according to police and gun owners, relies heavily on a clause that allows denial of a permit based on “character and reputation” alone.
“Character and reputation”? It sounds like a good idea, since it would prevent someone widely known to be a gangster from carrying his weapon legally. However, what provisions like this do in practice is give gun-grabbing local bureaucrats an out. Something bad has been said about almost anyone. The rumors that I know have been said about me alone would make me question my sanity and ability to responsibly handle a firearm…if any of them were true. Character and reputation are weapons used to disarm most of the population, so that population has attempted to find a way around it. With a Florida license.
It was just a couple of years ago. The housing market wasn’t doing so hot, and these things called derivatives were supposedly making things very difficult for the banks. President Bush stood behind a podium and addressed the American people. He told us that the government needed to buy these derivatives because it would help the banks, and then when the value went up, the government could sell them. It sounded fine.
What we got was something else entirely as various banks began to fail. Then auto companies were barely limping. There was panic in Washington, and they said we simply had to do something. But did we?
Economic matters are always tricky, and there’s always another point of view that will disagree with whatever you think. However, the biggest mistake we made was believing in the idea of “to big to fail”.
Take a hypothetical bank called Bank of Tom (BoT). BoT starts out as a small community bank, but grows and grows. Thanks to government assistance, it becomes one of the largest banks in the United States. It buys up smaller competitors with loans from the government, as well as lobbies Congress for laws that are favorable to it while hurting smaller competitors. It’s massive, employing thousands and controlling a huge part of the market.
Then the economy goes to crap and BoT is in serious trouble. If it’s going to stay, it needs help from the government. This is where we found ourselves just a couple of years ago. We already know what can happen if BoT gets the help. The economy stagnates for at least a couple of years and the company continues doing business as it always had, confident that they’re “to big to fail”. But what if we had taken the other road? What if BoT had been allowed to fail?
Freedom. It’s the most precious thing a human being can have. We all crave it. Wars are fought to achieve it. Oaths are sworn to defend it. Songs and poems are made to describe it. It is truly the most precious thing in this world. It’s more precious than gold, oil, or anything else.
Why then is it so hard to protect?
Freedom, as a concept, is nearly universal. Freedom, in practice, is quite a bit harder. In practice, actual freedom means that we all do as we wish, bearing the full brunt of responsibilities of our actions. Unfortunately, that’s to hard for some folks.
Far to many Americans say they want freedom, but have no problem asking the government to step in and regulate or eliminate practices that they find distasteful. Laws forbidding homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, firearm ownership, and any number of other things have all falled into the cross hairs of someone who thought that another’s freedom needed to blocked.
So why is it that people who love freedom are so eager to take it away?
The answer lies in the people who seek to regulate others. Rarely does a crusader seek to block a freedom they hold dear. Racists never seek to block hate speech, gun buffs never seek out gun control regulations. In the mind of those who want to take away these things, they will still be just as free with the new laws as they were without it.
The vast majority of Americans are blind to one inescapable fact: If you attack one freedom, you ultimately attack all freedoms. Any abridgement of freedom, even the proverbial “you can’t yell fire in a movie theater” abridgement, will eventually be used to justify another attempt to take away your freedom. The argument has always been “but we already do X”, as if that justifies the whole thing. It’s a classic example of the camel’s nose soon leading to the whole camel being inside the tend.
In a special podcast, Jason and Brett interview Rob McNealy, discussing his campaign, positions on issues, and his candidacy. McNealy is currently a Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Congress in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District.
This special edition podcast is the third in a series devoted to showcasing liberty candidates nationwide. McNealy talks about his liberty-focused campaign against an incumbent Republican in Colorado (Tom Tancredo’s former seat) and a pro-war Democrat.
What if we wake up one day and learn that the terrorist threat is a predictable consequence of our meddling in affairs of others and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?
Thursday evening I posted on my Facebook profile the speech that Congressman Ron Paul gave on the House floor, opposing the auto industry bailout (the so-called “bridge loan”), along with the following comment:
“This speech on the auto bailout speaks for itself. Congressman Paul really puts it all into perspective. Were that there were more in Congress like him.”
While Americans should at all times continuously educate themselves about the founding of this nation, its founding fathers, and its founding documents, this is especially true during times of great uncertainty and inevitable political change. I think it would be safe to guess that Thomas Jefferson is the favorite revolutionary American philosopher and politician of a majority of United Liberty readers, so I have compiled some of my favorite Jefferson quotes-
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.
It seems that The New York Times is pulling directly from White House talking points about Obamacare. In response to the devastating CBO budget report released yesterday, the paper’s editorial board says that 2.5 million fewer full-time workers in the labor force by 2024 is actually a good thing (emphasis added):
The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Tuesday that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million over the next decade. That is mostly a good thing, a liberating result of the law. Of course, Republicans immediately tried to brand the findings as “devastating” and stark evidence of President Obama’s health care reform as a failure and a job killer. It is no such thing.
The new law will free people, young and old, to pursue careers or retirement without having to worry about health coverage. Workers can seek positions they are most qualified for and will no longer need to feel locked into a job they don’t like because they need insurance for themselves or their families. It is hard to view this as any kind of disaster.
Uh. What? Obamacare incentivizes people not to work so that they can gain greater subsidies for insurance coverage, thus reducing their productivity. How can that be considered a good thing in the mind of any rational person?
If you’ve ever played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, you know about the level “No Russian,” in which the player goes undercover as “Alexei Borodin,” an American soldier who has infiltrated a Russian nationalist terrorist group.
In this level, the user joins the nationalists, led by antagonist Vladimir Makarov, in a massacre of innocent civilians at an airport in Moscow. It’s an important part of the game’s plot, as it sparks a war between the United States and Russia. The user can, of course, go through the level without shooting any of the fictional characters. The plot would remain the same, regardless.
But the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) wants video game companies to subject players to war crimes in the games if they commit illegal acts or kill innocent people:
The International Committee of the Red Cross have called for video games to punish crimes committed in battle by adhering to real-life international war conventions.
“The ICRC believes there is a place for international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) in video games,” the organization that works worldwide to provide humanitarian help for people caught in war zones said in a statement on their website.