Once Bill Simmon said, on his local radio program, Poli-Sci-Fi Radio, that I was “spectacularly wrong.” I loved that quote so much, it earned a place of honor at the top of my “What people are saying about She’s Right” section in the side bar.
What exactly was I spectacularly wrong about? Well, probably all things political, and religious for that matter, if you asked Bill, but one thing that I want to focus on specifically is that Bill (or perhaps his co-host Steve Benen, I can’t remember which one made this exact quote, but they both agree with its sentiment) asserted without further comment that I was “flatly, obviously wrong” in my claim that any expansion of government power results in a loss of freedom.
Well, it’s not obvious that I am wrong in my assertion. I wish that Bill and Steve had realized that and expanded their response a little more, so I had something to work with here because to me, it is obvious that I am right.
Before I set about defending that I am right that any expansion of government power results in a loss of freedom, let’s first define what is meant by the word “freedom” here.
Merriam-Webster online defines freedom as “1: the quality or state of being free: as, a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence,” followed by c-h, but for my purpose, I want to focus on a and b.
Freedom means being absent from constraint in choice or action, free from the power of another.
To be totally free would mean to have no force or power limiting any of our choices or actions.
However, we do have the force of government limiting our choices and actions. Any time the government passes a law, it limits our choices or actions; that is the purpose of passing laws!
This is not to say that is a bad thing – it is necessary, to some extent – but, it is clear that any time the government is empowered to make choices for us, we become less free.
Not only is this claim NOT “flatly, obviously wrong,” but it is, by the very definition of freedom absolutely correct!
So what’s the big deal?
Well, it’s not always a big deal, in a negative sense. I mean, we need to limit the freedom of others to hurt us or our property. This is the main function of our government. We cannot have freedom unless those who would seek to oppress us are restrained. It’s kind of paradoxical; we must restrict freedom to protect freedom. But that is only true in a very limited sense, and that must remain limited.
There are many ways the government limits our freedom that are not necessary for protecting us. They serve to shape our behavior in ways that are deemed better than the alternatives. These things do not always seem like a big deal, as long as we are doing what the government wants us to do.
For example, in 2012, incandescent light bulbs will be banned in the US. This is an obvious limit on our freedom of light bulb choice. If you are already using another type of bulb by then, which most people will, since manufacturers are phasing out incandescent bulbs already, the ban will not seem like a big deal because you are already making the choice the government allows – no conflict.
But, if you, like me, have a health condition that is exacerbated, causing severe pain, by compact fluorescent bulbs, the US ban on incandescent bulbs is kind of a big deal.
When you want (or in this case, need) to do something that falls outside of what the government has mandated, your lack of freedom becomes glaringly obvious.
We have come to a point that most people do not care about the expanded role of government and its encroachment on freedom, unless it directly impacts them. Our freedom is taken for granted to the extent that well-educated, thoughtful men deny the basic truth that any expansion in government power has a direct impact on freedom.
This was never an issue to me, either, until I chose an alternative lifestyle that butts up against the government’s unjust power – I decided to homeschool.
The government has, in incremental steps over the years, declared itself the sole power over the education of our children. That was not always the case. That power used to lie with the family. These days, it is expected that the state needs to have that power, even when it contradicts what parents think is best for their own children.
Now, if you want to educate your child outside of the government-run system, the state controls and limits those choices.
If you want to use an alternative method that does not conform to the “school-at-home” model, you run the risk of problems with the state and charges of educational neglect.
The loss of freedom in education happened over decades. That is how many freedoms are eroded and government power is expanded. It happens gradually over time, in a way that most people do not realize, until the freedom is gone and the government power is accepted as the norm.
As long as one lives within the scope of what the government deems okay, the reach of government power into our lives is not obvious. It is not until one wants to exercise a different choice that the limitation of our freedom is felt.
I did not realize how important it is to oppose the expansion of government, thereby protecting our freedom, until it affected me, but the truth is, we should all care whether it affects us or not.
If I accomplished only one thing in the three years that I published this blog, let it be that I raised your awareness about why freedom matters.
If you do not care about the freedom of others, it may be too late when you finally realize that your own freedom has been limited.
If freedom matters, and it does, it is worth defending the freedom of everyone.
There is no problem that cannot be solved without sacrificing our freedom to do so.