Wednesday, June 12, 2013

If You Can Keep It

Benjamin Franklin, has gotten a lot play in media and social media in the past several days. His quote on liberty and security is ubiquitous now due to revelations of active spy programs, some for domestic surveillance, run by the by the federal government's National Security Agency, among others. Seems to me that if you really stop and think about what he said, we've taken it out of context. In my view Franklin was talking about acquiescence, where, given the choice, some people would CHOOSE to be less free in order to be more secure.

There is another Franklin quote, which I believe to be a more apt representation of the state of the nation, if for no other reason than to contrast how we find ourselves today with how it all began. When asked what kind of government they had created for the United States, Ben Franklin replied,
"A republic, madam, if you can keep it".
The government we have now is not a cause of the problems we see, but a symptom of the fact that we couldn't keep it. Some may view it as a case of the chicken or the egg, but in my view, we lost the culture first, the government merely followed.

Government, after a half-century of unconstrained growth, no longer operates within its constitutional boundaries, and is now, both guarantor and arbiter of national, economic, financial, and social security. Government is no longer responding to these needs, but defining them for every area of our lives. What started out as an historically unique experiment with a republican form of limited government, has morphed into an authoritarian nanny security state of unlimited reach. How unlimited was finally made clear by the recent leaks of information on the domestic phone metadata captures, and Prism, where the top nine internet service providers colluded with the federal government to spy on offshore internet users.

Also abundantly clear now is that there is a cadre of statist enablers of this expansion, even among erstwhile conservative political and media figures. These are the people who have worked hard to assure us, for example that this domestic phone metadata capture is "lawful" and "legal", dismissing our concerns as unfounded and attributing our concerns to mental defect or unhealthy fascination with with tanks and helicopters. They hope we'll soon get tired and go back to carping at the IRS so they can have a peaceful adult discussion about this spy and get something done whatever that means.

Hopefully they won't get their wish.

Eternal vigilance is price of liberty, with apologies to Mr. Franklin and our posterity for having squandered our inheritance.

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