Commentary on “Redefining Freedom in America”

If you are not aware, there is a “journalist” by the name of Tavis Smiley. They have a show on PBS an also have their own radio show. They also happen to be one of those people who has a blog on Huffington Post, which happens to done for free. He wrote a piece called “Redefining Freedom of America” on that blog.

Now before I start I am going to quote something. I am going to quote from the Virginia Bill of Rights from 1776. This document was written by George Mason, and  was one of the Framers of the US Constitution. In fact, he never signed the Constitution because it did not have a Bill of Rights, which was not added on until a few years after the Constitution was signed and made the law of the land. And the Virginia Bill of Rights became a model of the Bill of Rights for other states and even the Constitution of the US.

George Mason says, “That all Freemen have certain essential inherent Rights, of which they cannot by any Compact, deprive or divest their Posterity; among which are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the means of acquiring, possessing and protecting Property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety.” 

Now let us keep this in mind throughout when talking about what Tavis Smiley happen to bring up in his article, and you might find that it is absurd.

Tavis Smiley, “President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941 imagined an America in which we would all experience not only freedom of expression and religion, but also freedom from want and fear.

Roosevelt’s words invite us to consider not just the freedom of speech, religion or choice; but also the freedom from joblessness, hunger or inadequate housing. As long as fellow citizens go hungry, have not a decent place to live, lack medical care, are unemployed or underemployed, receive an inadequate education, are hated for their race, gender or sexual preference, are subject to random violence, or are intimidated out of their right to vote — they are not truly free.

It’s high time we start to focus on the freedom from want in America. This is why the conversation about poverty can no longer be kicked down the road like a can…”

Let us see how absurd this position is with something more modern things. The Patriot Act was signed by President George W. Bush into law. This law violated some of our Bill of Rights, which are suppose to be protected rights under the US Constitution , which government is not suppose to violate. But this law violates our 4th amendment rights. One does not need Judaical oversight to search someone’s home or listen into their private conversations. The “Freedom of” is being violated. But why is this happening? This one is simple. It is because of “Freedom from fear”. People were afraid, and they want “freedom from” this fear. They want the government to do something to free them from this fear. The government comes in and gives you your “freedom from fear” by taking away your “freedom of being secure in your persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This allows them to search anyone’s home without any judicial oversight, and seize whatever they want from your house or property. They could take your puppies and kittens away from you, while you have no connections to any funny business and not tell anyone about they did. You are even one of those “If you have nothing to hide” type of people, and they can still take your puppies and kittens, or whatever they want. Probably even shoot those puppies and kittens it in front of you, gut them and stomp in their skulls, and throw it around their bodies in your house and on your face. Good to have “Freedom from fear”, isn’t it?

The same principle applies to any “freedom from” argument. Freedom from means you have to violate someones freedom of. It is about a trade off. Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said that  “those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”  Let us change that into, “Those who give up freedom-of to gain freedom-from, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

Let us take an example of “Freedom from being unemployed”. You have the freedom to peacefully assemble. Now let us see how this works. It means that the government cannot pass any law, or enforce any law, that violates your right to peacefully assemble. This assembly implies at least one other person. Now someone finds that they need help doing something and can’t do it all by themselves, and there is another individual who wants to do something but can’t find anything to do. But he sees another person and offers the other person an exchange of goods for helping out. This is a peaceful assembly between each other and  they come upon an agreement in how they are going to peacefully assemble with one another, without violating each others rights. But you also have the freedom to not assemble with that person. A person comes up to you and says “You want to dig this ditch for 4 hours in exchange for these goods?”. You can either decide to or not. No one is forcing you to assemble with this person. Unemployed want to form a peaceful assembly with another individual or group of individuals, but those other people will not accept them because of some criterion.

The other key point is that you have the “freedom of choice”. You choose to assemble with this person or not, and the government is not forcing you to choose to assemble with this person. But there is a trade off in your freedom of choice, which is that you choose not to assemble with the person, but if you took that persons offer of exchange, then you would have been digging that ditch where money fell from the sky. But you made the choice to not peacefully assemble, and you pay the cost of your choice that you made freely. Should we have “freedom from making our choices”? We made a choice and it turns out we did not like. I guess it is up to the government to enforce our right of “freedom from making our choices”.

But let us just say that we do have “freedom from making our choices”. By what criterion did they use to decide what I am to choose and what I am not to choose? How many people does it take to come up with what I am to choose or not to choose?  Do they follow their own advise? Have they gone through what they are telling me to choose? At what “expense” am I to them? The Borge were very good at “freedom from making our choices” being exercised.

Are you picking up on something? One can think of it as “freedom from want” and “freedom of want”. Freedom from want depends on you wanting something in the first place, and this want had the trade off to get rid of your wants. It would be like saying, “I am free, and I choose to give up my freedom to you.” Freedom-from always comes at the expense of  freedom-0f. When someone wants freedom from unemployment and finally gets employed, do you think that they will want freedom from unemployment be used to take away their freedom of employment? No, they will invoke that freedom of want! They want the job and don’t want it taken away because of anothers freedom from unemployment

Some people get so caught up in the “freedom from fear” that they want to have “freedom from want”. Well here is the problem, lots of people who practice their “freedom from fear” do not do it at the expense of “freedom of want”. When you try something and know that you could fail, you have a fear of failing and even sometimes fear of success. The point is, some people live with the “freedom from fear” and practice their “freedom of want” by doing what they personally can to do to alleviate their fears. But never at the expense of “freedom of want”, especially of other free individuals. “Freedom from want” is another issue because you want something and this will come at some expense to other individuals and their rights. Everyone wants something, and not all people have the same values, tastes, or wants. And us just wanting this one “freedom from want” by the government, it means it has to trample on the rights of other people. The government can only pay for it if you give up the money, but if you you don’t pay for it then that is the point of the government doing it. So where does it come from? The person next door to you, which means they spent more time doing something and getting less. The Gods give to one by taking away from another. In this case, the government gives to one person by taking away from another.

You have to take away everyone’s freedom of want in order to achieve a single freedom from want. This makes “freedom from want” to be absurd, and appears to rely on “freedom from fear”, but not implied by “freedom from fear”. “Those who want to give up freedom-of-want to gain freedom-from-want, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”


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