Duff O'Melia

By What Right?

I just read this interesting article by Johnny Kramer about the current presidential race. In it, there’s a fascinating quote:

Going back over the last generation, what was the urgent difference between George W. Bush and John Kerry, George W. Bush and Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, or George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis?

In reconsidering these races, don’t look back on them in terms of relatively trivial distractions like gay marriage, stem cell research or medical marijuana; think in terms of fundamental questions about the legitimacy and nature of the state:

For example, by what right does the state presume to tax your income at any level? Are you still a free person when you have a portion of your income confiscated as the price of making a living? If you believe you are still free now, at what level of (arbitrarily determined – but, of course, not by you) confiscation would you no longer consider yourself to be free?

By what right does the state presume to steal another 15% of your income, supposedly on the assumption that you’re too inept to save for your own retirement?

By what right does the state presume to tell you what you can put in your own body? Does the state have the right to protect you from harming yourself? If so, should it also prevent you from drinking too much alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating fast food, or not exercising? If not, why should it try to stop you from ruining your life with heroin, but not with gambling, bourbon or cheeseburgers?

By what right does the state presume to tell you whom you can hire to perform a service for you, through things like licensing laws? If an unlicensed professional offers cheaper services and can provide evidence to reassure your doubts, what business is it of the state’s?

I’m wondering when Americans will start to ask these fundamental questions about the role of our government. One would think that free citizens would protest when confronted with losing some of their freedoms. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. The erosion of our freedoms has happened over such a long period of time that folks don’t seem to realize that they’re no longer free.