Has Our Definition of Freedom Changed?
By Jason Bradley
I’m sitting here trying to find the inspiration to write something… anything. It’s not like there’s a shortage of material. I mean, there are so many topics we could discuss from government shutdowns, to Cities raising taxes despite increased LGA, to anti-bullying legislation that will, in effect, use bullying tactics to keep our children silent in our local schools. Yet, all I hear in my head is a big, resounding “meh”.
Is that how people feel? I mean, these are all important issues, but I think that we begin to get fatigued from the constant barrage of ridiculousness from government. You see, we’ve gone and allowed for the entire power structure to be flipped on its head over the last 150 years. Don’t get me wrong, I admire Abraham Lincoln. He was one of our best presidents because he was in an impossible situation, and led us through it. The Civil War was a dark, yet necessary, period in our history. To preserve the Union was the only way to help the slaves gain their independence. That said, Lincoln violated the constitution in a number of heavy-handed moves, but restored the government to its rightful place after the war. Since then, however, men of not so pure intentions have used Lincoln’s example to expand their powers over individuals. We see its beginnings in the expansionist policies during the Spanish-American War, where Teddy Roosevelt cut his teeth, in preparation of his progressive policies. It was he that took unprecedented amounts of land in the name of conservation for Federal Government ownership. He also believed that no man should be looked down upon for earning a fortune, so long as he spent his money for the good of the people. (We do see heavy-handedness earlier in American history, such as Andrew Jackson’s treatment of Native Americans and Manifest Destiny, but it was more of an anomaly than a trend at that point, as our Constitution was generally followed.) Woodrow Wilson put German Americans in work camps, followed by FDR with the Japanese Americans. FDR did not allow for individuals to run their own business without the blue eagle in the window, which kept certain entrepreneurs from becoming too successful.
In Minnesota, we have our own tradition to be “proud” of. The revered Governor Floyd B Olson is held up as being a Great Depression-era savior, of sorts, having brought us the minimum wage, collective bargaining, and a progressive income tax. He didn’t stop there, however, as he also wanted state ownership of meat packing plants, electric utilities, grain elevators, mining, and other similar industries. He was a card-carrying member of the Industrial Workers of the World out of Chicago, whose goal is to achieve “One Big Union” for all workers, where they are united as a social class, and that capitalism and wage labor be abolished. Olson brought these socialist tendencies into the governor’s seat. He was quoted as saying the following, “I am making a last appeal to the Legislature. If the Senate does not make provision for the sufferers in the State and the Federal Government refuses to aid, I shall invoke the powers I hold and shall declare martial law. …A lot of people who are now fighting [relief] measures because they happen to possess considerable wealth will be brought in by the provost guard and be obliged to give up more than they would now. There is not going to be misery in this state if I can humanly prevent it.” (Time Magazine 4/24/33) He did, in fact, invoke martial law against a Teamster’s strike in 1934.
Floyd B Olson for all of this violence he perpetrated against Minnesotans (and let’s be clear, any time government takes private property from an individual it uses violence or the threat of violence to do so), gets Highway 55 named after him, and is remembered as one of the greatest governors ever. Why do people love their bondage? That’s what really gets me. I mean, look at what we’ve done in this state. We have recently been recognized at having the third highest business tax burden in the country. We’re seventh highest for individual tax burden (www.taxfoundation.org/state-tax-climate/minnesota). We continue to elect people to City Councils that capitulate to the Met Council. People are forced out of their homes and businesses to make way for light rail and Transit-Oriented Development projects. Gangs are allowed to terrorize people that go to downtown Minneapolis at night. Despite wide spread abuse of the welfare system, no steps ever seem to be made to fix the holes that allow that abuse to occur. All the while, the people that play by the rules are punished. The people went to work now have to work two jobs. The people that stayed at home to raise a family while their spouse worked now are working one to two jobs. We’re so busy that it has become next to impossible to connect with our friends and neighbors. People are burdened and tired… and they seem to love it.
Do they really love it? I don’t think that they do. I think they are not sure what will fix things. It’s kind of like being in a food coma. You’ve eaten so much turkey dinner that even though everyone seems to move normally around you, all of your motions appear to be about half the speed, and you think that waiting it out is your only option. This, however, will not get better as we wait it out. We’ve got to (excuse the graphic explanation) put our collective finger down our throats and purge ourselves of the government overload we’ve been feasting on. I’ve been accused in the past of being an anarchist. With statements like that one, I can understand how those in power might think that. I believe that government has its proper place, but it is a minimal one. Its place is to provide just enough glue to keep things from falling apart. Because men are not angels, we need some kind of government. The best kind of government is one that empowers the individual to be successful, not penalizes the individual, or provides incentive to stay on the system. It is the same kind of government that our forefathers believed in and practiced.
Here’s the answer: stop electing politicians that enslave people. If you elect someone that wants to go join the party, then un-elect them the next time around. Stop standing by your political party, and start looking at what a politician actually does. Get rid of those that refuse to loosen the bonds that hold you down. Learn what freedom really means. Freedom is not food stamps, transit-oriented development, or a new government framework. It is the ability to grow your own food, drive where you please, and freely work to earn a living (and if possible, a fortune). If others can make it, I can make it. If I can make it, then you can make it. That’s the kind of future I want… one where any of us can do our best and succeed. We need to reevaluate who we vote for and if they support that kind of freedom or not.