Friday, March 06, 2009

Now Is the Time to Protect Liberty

Throughout my life I have seen times when a goodly number of Americans have willingly desired to relinquish liberties when the reasons for doing so have been painted in an altruistic light. While some would have us believe that this began with the Bush II administration’s post-9/11 security measures, a study of American history shows that episodes of this have occurred at fairly regular intervals, beginning prior to independence.

As people today cast wildly about for solutions to our present economic problems, it seems that some are willing to jettison precious freedoms for a promise of economic security, much as many were willing to give up liberties for protection from terrorists after 9/11.

I came upon an important quote by Louis Brandeis, who was an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1916-1939. Brandeis often aligned himself with progressivist thought, so I find plenty of his writings with which I disagree. Still, Brandeis’ writings include many timeless principles, such as those embodied in this quote:
“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.”
The financial gyrations of our federal government over the past six months exemplify “insidious encroachment [on liberty] by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.” While some still trust the centralized ‘we’re so smart we know how to fix this’ approach by the late Bush and current Obama administrations, it increasingly requires a willing suspension of disbelief to do so.

While most Americans hunker down and hope for the best, declining numbers have confidence that our federal politicians have any solid idea of what they are doing. Hopefully this means that Americans will stop looking for solutions in all the wrong places and start looking more closely at what they can and should do. History shows that Americans have a pretty good track record of doing so.

2 comments:

rmwarnick said...

So, will you join me in calling for the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA Amendments Act?

Reach Upward said...

I'm all for a more sensible approach to the issues that all of these acts purport to address.