This Independence Day, It occurs to me that we Americans may not be that “Independent” after all. I’m not referring to us as a country, but as individuals. We fought a Revolutionary War in the late eighteenth century against King George III’s England to throw off the yoke of tyranny, and though we’ve maintained our independence as a country ever since, it’s equally important to maintain our individual independence. By that I mean independence from our own government.
A recent Rasmussen poll indicated that 70% of Americans believe we have more freedom than people in other countries. My reaction? It’s a shame that the number is anything less than 100%. We should be the “freest” country on Earth and one could assert that we still are, despite what many of us view as a steady erosion of liberty. Then again, a strong argument could be made against that assertion, depending on the criteria used. I’m not interested in making an argument one way or the other here, but rather in examining why nearly a third of Americans surveyed believe we do not enjoy more liberty than people in other countries.
Though the Rasmussen poll doesn’t go into specifics as to the reasons for such doubt, I believe it comes down to two words: dependency and control. A person cannot be both dependent and independent (or “free”) at the same time—one precludes the other. So just how dependent are the American people? There are 47 million Americans currently on food stamps, nearly 5 million on unemployment benefits, and almost half of American households don’t pay any income taxes, though many of them collect federal benefits in one form or another.
Then there’s the issue of control. We have centrally-controlled healthcare on the horizon that a majority of us don’t want, a tax-collection agency that persecutes political enemies, a security agency that has built a new 1.5 million square foot, 1.7 Billion dollar facility in Utah to collect data on us, and a Justice Department that’s admitted to wiretapping the telephones and hacking the email accounts of members of our supposedly free press. There’s also the fact that a number of powerful politicians want to license, register, ban, and even confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens. Americans didn’t consider themselves to be independent when under Great Britain’s thumb in the eighteenth century, so why would we consider ourselves to be such when our own Federal Government treats us the same way?
The fact that “only” 70% of Americans believe we are the freest people on Earth bothers me greatly, not because I think the other 30% are wrong, but because I fear they may be right. We are a unique and exceptional country in many ways, but primary among them is the fact that we were founded upon the principal of individual liberty. We should fight every day, as Americans, to ensure that the sacrifices of our Founders and of so many others since were not in vain. We should also bear in mind Benjamin Franklin’s warning: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Those who are dependent and under another’s control have clearly given up “Essential Liberty.”
On July 4th—Independence Day—I’ll be flying my flag while (still) feeling a great sense of pride in my country. But I also know that we should be much freer than we are. I have a sense that we’ve begun to squander an opportunity given to us almost two and a half centuries ago by people who were willing to risk everything to fight for liberty. And I wonder how many Americans would be willing to do the same today?
Rob Olive is the author of Essential Liberty, a novel that presents a disturbing scenario in which firearm confiscation has become a reality in present-day America. Find out more, read Rob’s blog, and purchase Essential Liberty at www.roboliveauthor.com.