By Henry Lamb
web posted March 21, 2005
The world was stunned when the Ukrainian people refused to
accept the election-as-usual travesty, and forced a new, free and
fair election of Viktor Yushchenko. The Palestinian people went
to the polls, and for the first time, elected people who were not
hand-picked puppets of Yasser Arafat.
Eight million Iraqis stared death in the face as they walked to the
voting booth to cast their ballot for freedom, and then wave their
ink-stained fingers in a defiant celebration of liberty. From this
epicenter of democratic change, shock waves are rumbling
through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and beyond.
Freedom has not yet been won in any of these countries, but
people, who for decades have had no hope of freedom, now see
that they too, might be able to cast off the bonds of tyranny.
Ultimately, neither the murderous, terrorist thugs, nor misguided
religious despots can prevail against the spark of freedom once it
The flame of freedom, however, is not perpetual; It can be
reduced to a flicker when apathy and indifference allows
government to smother it with excessive regulations.
For two centuries, America stood as the beacon of freedom to
the world, and is still lighting the way for millions of people
around the world. At home though, freedom has lost a lot of its
Once, in America, government intrusion into private matters -
except for murder, theft, and fraud - was considered to be
excessive, and free people expected to make their own way, and
to blame no one else if they failed.
Now, the opposite is true. Like the socialist nations of Europe,
many - but not all - Americans have come to expect government
to require a permit for all private matters, and to provide a safety
net for those who fail to make their own way. It may be a distinct
minority, but in both America and in Europe groups of activists
are fanning the flames of freedom among the apathetic and
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a
D.C.-based policy institute, is building a network of
organizations across Europe to advance the principles of
freedom in nations steeped in socialism.
CFACT was among the founding organizations that launched the
Freedom 21 Campaign in 1999.
This campaign now works with grassroots organizations across
America, all working to advance the principles of freedom in
More than 300 leaders of these grassroots organizations gather
for an annual Freedom 21
Conference to learn how to better shape public policy to
protect freedom from erosion by well-intended, but misguided
The Freedom 21 Campaign has produced a
Sustainable Development Guide for public officials.
Thousands of these booklets have been distributed to county
commissioners and state legislators around the country.
There is now a Freedom 21
Internet & E-mail Service that provides a gathering place
for freedom activists to share ideas and information.
The freedom movement at home is having a positive effect.
Oregon voters approved by 61 per cent, a referendum requiring
government to compensate landowners if regulations result in
loss of value to private owners - or waive application of the
Supported by local people, the Michigan Supreme Court
reversed the infamous "
Poletown" decision, which now prevents Michigan
governments from abusing eminent domain power through which
governments were empowered to take private property from
one individual and sell it to another private individual.
The U.S. Supreme Court is now considering a similar
case. If Susette Kelo prevails over the New London
Development Corporation, no government will be able to take
private property to sell to another person.
In Missouri, a small grassroots group affiliated with the Freedom
21 Campaign, took on the state legislature and is very close to
repealing a state law that created multi-jurisdictional regions that
usurped the power of local elected officials.
In Santa Cruz, California - the launching pad for sustainable
development in the United States - a local Freedom 21
organization has emerged to
educate and inform local citizens about better alternatives than
heavy-handed government mandates.
In almost every state, freedom-loving activists are forming local
grassroots organizations, educating themselves, and launching
strategies ensure that the principles of freedom are not ignored as
the bureaucrats and professionals formulate public policies.
While these efforts may not be as dramatic as the Iraqis going to
vote, they are no less important. What good will it do the United
States promotes freedom abroad, and allows it to be snuffed out
Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental
Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty
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