Friday, April 27, 2012

Public Safety vs. Liberty

By Dan A. Mefford, D.C.

I enjoy the study of history.  It gives us the clues that should help us avoid making the same mistakes that have been made over and over.  The old saying is, “those who fail to study history will repeat it.”  EVERY TIME!

One of my favorite and most amazing stories occurs in the early days of our country; the story of the Pilgrims.  By looking at the motivations of these early pioneers, we can begin to see what they valued more than life itself.  Let’s start by looking at what they didn’t move for.  The Pilgrims did not move for the purpose of increasing public safety, public health, education, health insurance, public welfare benefits, etc.

They were dropped on a distant shore after a hard and discouraging voyage with much sickness across the Atlantic.  Safety did not exist.  They had no shelter.  There was no way to get rich, and if they did get rich where would they spend it?  There was a shortage of food supplies and other material goods and bad weather was not far off.  There was no security.  There were wild beasts, “wild” Indians, dangers from starvation and the potential for many unknown calamities. 

So back to our question, why did these folks take their families on this arduous, hazardous voyage to an unknown continent, this land of, essentially no opportunity?  What was this most precious “thing” that would drive them into the unknown fraught with peril?  The driving force was the possibility of finding a measure of Liberty; enough Liberty to practice their faith as their conscience dictated, and not as their government demanded. 

My question then becomes, “How much of the currency of Liberty are you willing to spend for some imaginary perceived safety, security, public health insurance, public welfare, etc?  It is essential that we understand that for just about every new rule, law, ordinance and regulation that is passed we have a proportionally decreasing measure of Liberty.  Founding Father, Ben Franklin, said it best, “They who can give up essential Liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor safety."

My final questions, to which I have no good answer:  “What are you willing to do to prevent a government, even our own county government, from inadvertently, and perhaps though meaning well, robbing you of any more Liberty?”  Will you get out and vote? Will you go to committee meetings, even though it is possible those you have elected to represent you will ignore you?  Or, will you just complain as the government throws off the chains of the constitution and in turn binds We the People with regulations for: the children, the elderly, the handicapped, the poor, so called public safety, and the ‘you-name-it.’ 
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!”  (Samuel Adams, Founding Father)
One hundred percent Public Safety is an illusion.  This illusion requires a Ruler, who is human with the normal motivations of humans, which include greed, compassion, and all the like feelings and temptations humans have, to oversee We the People.  My opinion is that the People are the best Rulers of themselves.  There is too much temptation for the average person to resist in the process of Ruling.  One look at the history of Illinois governors makes it clear.  The classic Illinois joke is our governors serve two terms, one in the State house, and one in the “Penhouse.”  As Citizens do not be lulled into approving well meaning rules by well meaning rulers, that ultimately steal your Liberty.

In addition to the Chicago Machine, I have been hard on our local officials recently.  I don’t believe for one instant that our county board has one bad intention.  I do believe they have good intentions.  They work hard for no significant pay going to, many times boring, committee meetings.  Attending other functions; answering many phone calls with complaints about all types of things.  However, I believe that inadvertently We the People and our local leaders can get in a trap that continues to try to get government to fix every issue.  The real truth is every issue cannot be fixed by government.  The People have to roll up their sleeves and fix it themselves or accept some risk, such as bad lettuce, a faulty cooler door seal, a trashy neighbor, or any of a number of other issues.  If We the People continue to say, “There ought to be a law;” then we will pay the price of being overburdened by government.

Just for fun, ‘google’ “dumb laws in Illinois.”  You will find a lot of laws that are truly stupid.  Laws like the City of Normal, “It is against the law to make faces at dogs.”  Or, Ottawa, “Spitting on the sidewalk is a criminal offense.”  And many others…  Remember though, that while these are funny, all laws are enforceable at the point of a gun.  That is not funny.  Therefore maybe we ought to have a law against enforcing ignorant laws…  (grin).  You can legislate against stupid, but that ain’t gonna fix stupid.
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