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November 30, 2009 / TildeWill

Government: Freedom vs. Safety

I think about the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. These documents spell out exactly what freedoms we, as citizens of the United States of America, are promised. They do not talk about a “right to public transit systems”, nor do they mention a “right to affordable health care.”So it makes me wonder what is government’s role? All I really need from my government is the protection of the promise it made to me: freedom.

But the older I get, the more I feel like government has become a tool for keeping people safe. But safety and freedom are orthogonal goals. You can relate to what I mean if you have ever had a “corporate security policy” in place on your work computer. Your network admin does his best to keep you safe, but the cost is that you are not free to surf all of the web, you cannot download the important attachment from your vendor to move your project forward. For freedom is restricted, and you cannot make much forward progress.

There are services I need, don’t get me wrong. Things like fire fighters, and ambulances, and roads so they can get there quickly and reliably that I don’t need all the time, but I’m willing to pay a slice for alongside my fellow neighbors so that we all may enjoy the safety of those services when the need arises.

What bothers me is that the government (via the people) seem hell bent, not on protecting their freedom, but protecting a way of life. They want to preserve a thing that is showing itself to be inadequate, needing adjustment. They want regulations, and bail outs. People have become afraid of failure, afraid of death, afraid of the very frailty that makes us take chances.

If we lived forever, there would be mo need to take risks. We could simply wait until we arrived upon the correct way to do everything. But we don’t have “all the time in the world”, most of us have seventy years at best. So we have to guess, we have to take chances. We have to do things that put us and sometimes others at risk if we are going to move forward.

You see, we have to be free. Free to speak. Free to defend ourselves. Free to vote. And most of all, free to take a chance.

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