Americans Want Freedom, But Do They Know What It Is?

The below is reposted from one year ago. A lot has changed in a year, but a lot has not.


It’s the 4th of July, and most Americans have no clue why it’s important.

The 4th of July ought to be about individual rights, liberty and freedom. While most people think they are celebrating these things, most have not taken the time to think about what freedom actually means.

In today’s America, “freedom” basically means the ability to have access to what you want. “I ought to have a good college education, and someone ought to pay for it, if necessary.” Or, “I ought to have the best health care money can buy, and someone ought to buy it for me, if necessary.” Or, “I ought to have a good life, and if I’m stopped by a lack of money, then my freedom is being violated.”

Behind all these “I ought to haves” is the unspoken, rarely acknowledged truth that someone else must foot the bill.

Freedom, as most people define it today, has nothing to do with individual rights or liberty; by today’s standards, freedom is entitlement to, well…to whatever our little hearts desire.

Freedom does not mean the ability to have or experience what you want. Happiness is not a birthright. The Declaration of Independence writes of the individual’s right to the pursuit of happiness — not happiness itself.

To pursue happiness means to be self-responsible. It means to be independent. It does not mean you never ask for or accept help; it does mean that nobody is obliged to give you that help, merely because you feel you need it or want it. And certainly the government may not seize and redistribute wealth in anyone’s favor.

Enforcement of charity was never the intention of the original U.S. Constitution. And let’s get real. What most of us expect from politicians today has very little to do with charity. It’s not a “safety net” people want; it’s a “happiness” net. Today’s massive and bankrupt welfare state has everything to do with sustaining and expanding the good life–always at someone else’s expense.

If the politicians are rotten — and they mostly are, in both parties — then it must say something about the people. Because it’s the vast majority of people who keep demanding what they offer: freedom from effort, freedom from responsibility, freedom from any tiny sense of not getting what they believe they’re entitled to have.

What does this lead to in practice? A government spending way beyond its means. Nobody in the presidential election even mentions the nearly $20 trillion dollar in federal debt. Nasty, power-peddling schoolmarms like Elizabeth Warren shriek that it’s “obscene” for people to make a profit off higher education. Or that it’s “obscene” for anyone to make a profit rather than to create anything of value — for what? Nothing? Nobody screams about the obscenity of a country living way beyond its means, while barbarians invade our shores to prey upon our weaknesses, as barbarians did in the decline of the Roman Empire.

Originally, Independence Day meant freedom for Americans from the British government. Later, Americans were freed from the bondage of slavery and the threat of Nazi and Japanese occupation in World War II. For what purpose? To establish and maintain the individual’s right to total sovereignty over his or her own life.

What does America stand for today? Other than fireworks or cookouts? Nobody seems to know; just more “free stuff.” Obama gave out a bunch of free stuff. Now Hillary Clinton waits her turn to do the same. None of this constitutes liberty or freedom; it’s merely plunder.

Today’s massively intrusive, expensive, expansive, morally and fiscally bankrupt government run by self-evidently corrupt politicians in both parties could not have less to do with the original American ideal of individual sovereignty. The First and Second Amendments are the final, fading remnants of that original spirit and idea. Individual liberty was always the thing to fight for, and it will always be the only thing to celebrate.

America may be in decline, but those ideals of individualism and individual liberty will never be forgotten. A minority will always grasp and appreciate their meaning, keeping them alive in the darker times. In their absence, their importance will only grow.

Freedom isn’t free stuff; freedom is individual sovereignty over one’s own life. Until or unless we get that right, all the fireworks and picnics in the world will not mean a thing.

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