Freedom Lost

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Fireworks over Charleston harbor celebrating our nation's birth.
Fireworks over Charleston harbor celebrating our nation's birth.

“None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license”.

An essay on Freedom

At first glance, it strikes me odd that our forefathers rebelled against England over such things as the Stamp Act, the tax on tea, restrictions on trade with their Caribbean neighbors, and other egregious acts of the Crown. I find myself thinking at times, what a bunch of wusses, a miserable group of complaining weenies. Still, I know that in many respects, times were unbelievably difficult for the colonists. There were health issues, poverty, economic jangling, problems for the aged and the young, crime, many of the same struggles we tangle with today. Nevertheless, we struggle under a regulatory burden many times greater with little or no overt rebellion. Some would have us labor under ever greater restrictions and limitations in favor of environmental concerns.

The battle cry early on in the American Revolution was "No taxation without representation". It seems the early colonists didn't object solely to various government regulations and taxes but objected on the basis that they had no voice in the legislative process of England's monarchy and parliament. After two hundred thirty some odd years, one has to look back to those early years of the Republic and wonder if we wouldn't have been better off as subjects of the Crown.

Those early stalwart freedom loving colonists had no sooner won their independence than the newly formed Congress set about constructing a host of regulations and amendments to govern its eager constituents. In 1799 the Continental Congress passed a total of 44 laws found today in the United States Statutes At Large. (According to the Government Printing Office Access webpage, the 108th Congress passed a whopping 498 public and private laws.) The resulting labors produced greater limitations by far than anything King George had imposed.

Legislative labors in the hallowed halls of Congress continued their growth unabated until, in 1860, the nation revolted a second time. The Civil War erupted over States rights (And slavery!) splitting our ancestors apart; the wound has taken more than a century to heal.

Rome, which served in part as a basis for our form of government, was ruled at different times by dictators, kings, and legislative bodies. At one point, according to N.S. Gill of, Rome codified their laws into twelve tablets after the fashion of the Greeks. With these twelve tablets they ruled the Roman Empire for a time.

The current United States Code is comprised of fifty titles divided into numerous chapters, parts, headings, sections, etc., not to mention the legislative codes of each individual state and their respective constitutions, the almost innumerable local ordinances and statutes, the codes related to building, fire, electrical, plumbing, energy, clean air, clean water, etc. In 1790 the total population of the United States numbered 3,900,000. According to the Status File of the Central Personnel Data File of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there are currently 4,027,412 government employees on the Federal payroll, both annuitants and employees. And each State has its own body of government employees, as well. All told, this vast corpse of local, State, and Federal officials is big enough to form its own country.

Is the mere presence of so great a populace reason enough to build such a huge legislative body of work? Or is it the intent of the government to actively suppress individual freedoms by virtue of financial oppression, boosting revenue and building, in turn, a fantastic infrastructure they can point to with pride? Or is this suppression of individual freedoms simply an unanticipated result of revenue collections and building infrastructure? Who can say? Is that what ancient Greece and Rome did? Is that what led to, or just contributed to, their eventual downfall?

John Milton (1608-1674) said “None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license”. Some one else has said (sometimes attributed to Bob Dylan) that “. . . with freedom comes responsibility”. Maybe therein lays the problem: We citizens of the United States have failed, in the main, to assume the proper responsibilities relative to the freedoms we have enjoyed for so long. Now we see many, if not most, of those freedoms falling by the wayside. Does the fault lie in a vacuum within the education system? Have we neglected to teach our children the level of responsibility required of a freedom loving citizen? Maybe the fault lays in the sheer number of humans occupying one geographic area and their subscription to the foolish dictum that if enough people do it, it should be legal.

I think the fault lies rather (or in addition to the above) in our primordial make-up. We are all like frogs living in a pond of steadily warming water. Oblivious to our self imposed danger, we spend our days in a languorous state in the shadow of governmental lily pads eagerly awaiting the next government sponsored shipment of flies. Awash in our government officials’ great flowing words of freedom and opportunity, we fail to notice them surreptitiously turning up the heat of the figurative burner on which we so giddily perch by virtue of ever increasing statutes, ordinances, regulations, and legislation.

I agree with John Milton. Unfortunately, America today appears to have more who seek license than liberty.

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Comments 2 comments

CT 6 years ago

bahut hi ganda hai

Jerry 6 years ago

Hello, CT. Could you translate your comment into English, if you please? Thanks.

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