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Freedom isn't free

By Henry Lamb
web posted January 23, 2006

It could take a hundred years, or as little as a generation, to rediscover the freedom our Founders hammered into the U.S. Constitution. Much of our freedom has already been lost, but the rediscovery cannot even begin to emerge until the weight of government oppression grows too heavy to bear. Early Americans felt the weight of King George's oppression, until they could bear it no more. Then, they acted.

Not all of the early Americans had reached the tipping point in 1776. In fact, many, if not most of the people, preferred to suffer oppression by the king, rather than to pay the cost of freedom. Many, if not most, of the people in America today, prefer to suffer governmental oppression, rather than to pay the cost of freedom. So far, governmental oppression is not too heavy; people can still do almost anything they wish - if they can get a permit.

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech...." But Congress has made laws that abridge the freedom of speech, calling the effort "campaign finance reform." The law forbids political speech - for certain people - 60 days before an election. Many "reformers" in government want to extend the prohibition of political speech to all individuals who use the Internet.

Cities and counties around the country routinely abridge free speech by forbidding the use of political yard signs and billboards. And in many public places, any reference to God is absolutely forbidden. The loss of freedom has been quite dramatic over the last decade - and the rate of loss is increasing.

"...Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation..." But government routinely takes private property, not for public use, but to be given, or resold to other private owners. From thousands of property owners, government has taken away the owner's right to use their private property, not for public use, but for use by bugs, bats, and beetles. Freedom is, indeed, racing into the history books.

Most of the people in the world prefer, even expect, their government to provide for their basic needs. The people who created and ratified the U.S. Constitution, demanded that their government provide nothing more than the Constitution required. They preferred to meet their own basic needs, and worked to produce much more.

Two centuries ago, these people reflected a narrow majority; now, the majority prefers, and many demand, that government provide far more than the Constitution allows. Government reflects the will of the majority.

As this majority continues to erase the freedom earned by the blood of our ancestors, the weight of governmental oppression grows. The inevitable outcome will be total collapse of the economy that sustains both the government, and its citizens. The collapse of the Soviet Union is a classic example of what's in store for America as government continues to erase freedom, in order to meet the demands of this majority.

The cost of freedom is whatever it takes to convince the majority of people that government must be contained in its Constitutional cage. Every election is an opportunity to re-cage the government; it is also an opportunity for more government to escape. Simply casting a ballot, however, doesn't begin to cover the cost of freedom. Still, most people fail to pay even this small price.

There are nine months left during which every community will hold primary and run-off elections, before the general election in November. Those who are willing to pay the cost - to do whatever it takes - will find candidates who prefer freedom over government. These people will talk to their circle of friends and recruit them to help convince their friends and neighbors to support freedom candidates. They will write letters to the editor, they will erect yard signs and billboards - if their government will allow it. They will contribute to campaigns, volunteer to work phone banks, hand out literature, hold barbeques and public meetings. And they will try to get everyone they know to vote - for the freedom candidates.

But that's work. It takes time, effort, and commitment. Yes, that's the cost of freedom, and the cost will never be less than it is now. Unless the people who prefer freedom over government convince the majority to reverse the trend, freedom will be lost. It could take a hundred years, or as little as a single generation.

Once lost, the cost of rediscovering freedom, and retrieving it from the rubble of what once was the land of the free, will be much greater for our children, than the cost paid by our Founders.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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