Don’t Take Me for Granted

“Screw your freedom.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger, August 11, 2021

Freedom Lost

Freedom in America, and throughout the world, is in decline.  In fact, it has been in decline for many years.

Perhaps a little freedom lost in exchange for security and comfort may seem like a fair trade in certain cases.  But caution is advised.  As the idea of what freedoms are acceptable to give up expands, the air of freedom becomes polluted.

Small losses of freedom, whittled away incrementally, add up.  You may not notice it from day to day.  Yet over time the sum losses have resulted in a world that’s dramatically less free.

Compulsory seatbelt requirements or drivers licenses may not be a big deal.  One could argue this government regulation is a small sacrifice that’s intended to provide public safety.  Yet maybe the world would be a better off without it.

And what about body scan searches to board an airplane?  Or proof of vaccination to enter an indoor business or to cross state lines?  What about vaccine passports?

Do these measures make you safe?  What about government issued digital money, and the banning of cash transactions?

By and large, privacy in America, and throughout the world, no longer exists.  The surveillance state runs rampant.  Facial recognition technology is vastly improving.  The monitoring of financial transactions has become a staple of the 21st century.

The SEC, IRS, FCC, FDA, EPA, TSA, DOJ, DOD, FTC, CIA, FBI, DEA, Department of Labor, Department of the Interior, Commerce Department, and much, Much, More.  These bureaucratic agencies all have an intended purpose that was, at one time, deemed necessary by those elected to represent the people.

In practice, they all serve to centralize power and encroach on individual freedom and liberty…

Government Salvation

In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified, which legalized the federal income tax.  That’s when the welfare-warfare state really began its inexorable march.  That’s when freedom took a backseat to the pursuit of big government.

The Federal Reserve Act, the New Deal, gold confiscation, war spending, social spending, social security, Medicare, big business bailouts, COVID stimmy checks, generous unemployment payments, lockdowns, national eviction moratoriums, money printing…

By the close of the first two decades of the 21st century, a large part of America had become a nation of dependents.  Freedom had been lost.

At the same time, everyone says they love freedom.  In fact, everyone says they cherish freedom.  Yet this only holds true so long as freedom doesn’t interfere with their social security, Medicare, or other big government checks.

And therein lies the paradox.  People say they love and cherish freedom.  They’ll celebrate it on Independence Day with reverence and zeal.  Yet they will sacrifice it for safety and security.  They will incrementally trade freedom for the promise of government salvation.

The future democratic tyrannies, predicted Tocqueville in 1840, will extend “over the whole community,” and maintain men “in perpetual childhood.”  The government “provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry.”

It “covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd…till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

Alas, Tocqueville’s prediction has come true in America and in democracies throughout the world.  Moreover, once lost, freedom can take centuries to return.

Make of it what you will.  Say what you want.  Freedom, no doubt, is the ability to say, “screw your freedom.”

And freedom is also the ability to reply with, “screw you, I’ll do what I want.”

In America, today, there is still the freedom to say this; but, the ability to act – to do what you want – has been, and continues to be, regulated from existence.

Ultimately, freedom, like many things in life, should not be taken for granted…

Don’t Take Me For Granted

I’m your worn in leather boots.  I’m the warmth you find in your morning coffee cup.  A tank of gas and an open highway.  I’m the choices you get to make.  So make them wisely.

I was there when Eve ate the forbidden fruit.  I was there when Peter heard the rooster crow.  A gold coin and a handshake.  I’m the heart beat and the breath that keeps you alive.  Where’s your gratitude?

I’m the voice that speaks what’s on your mind.  I’m the integrity that comes with doing what’s right.  A 12-guage shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot.  I’m the time and security stowed away in your private property.  I am refuge.

I’m the pop in your left hook.  I’m the humility of a secondhand suit.  A pack of smokes and a six pack.  I’m the dreams you had on high school graduation night.  Nothing will ever stop you.

I’m stronger than a Spartan army.  I’m the softness of freshly fallen snow.  A rip roaring fire and your loved ones.  I’m the spirit in your Sunday morning worship and praise.  I am everlasting.

I’m the bounty of a fall harvest.  I’m cool water flowing from a mountain spring.  A pocket full of cash and the big city.  I’m the sour saxophone interlude in Rosie’s Angel Baby.  My imperfection’s my perfection.

I’m as rare as a four leaf clover.  I’m as precious as a warm jacket on a winter night.  Liberty and autonomy if you want it.  I am freedom and I’m here for you…

But don’t take me for granted.

[Editor’s note: Parts of this article were adapted from the song Don’t Take Me for Granted, by Social Distortion.]


MN Gordon
for Economic Prism

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