Saturday, July 7, 2012

Quotations Of The Day: Threats To Liberty Edition

Conor Friedersdorf nails it.

Short version and the post's headline: "The Individual Mandate Isn't Even Close to the Biggest Threat to Liberty."

Long version:
If you're the type that worries about precedent-setting behavior and its slippery-slope implications, note that we've effectively empowered the president of the United States to wage war without Congressional approval, kill American citizens without due process, indefinitely detain prisoners without charges or trial, and secretly spy on everything from our telephone calls to our email messages in massive data-mining efforts. Alternatively, if you're the sort who self-identifies as a cynical critic of unchecked government except on matters of national security, where you slavishly and ahistorically trust that the president won't abuse the extraordinary power you want to give him -- let's be honest, there are a lot of you in America -- then consider some of the domestic affronts to liberty that are everyday parts of life in the United States:
  • Though more than 40 percent of Americans, including our past three presidents, have tried marijuana, we continue to arrest and confine in metal cages a certain subset of people caught possessing the drug, though it causes less harm to others than legal substances like alcohol.
  • Merely being suspected of drug possession is enough to get your door broken down by a battering ram.
  • Police departments nationwide practice asset forfeiture, a civil procedure in which they can take your property if they suspect it was used in the commission of a crime, and you can't have it back unless you prove to them that it isn't so. (I know that sounds unbelievable, but it's true.)
  • The government locks millions of people up in prisons where there is a decades-long ongoing epidemic of rape, often perpetrated and more often overlooked by employees of the state.
  • In order to fly on an airplane now you must choose between a government employee running his or her hands over your genitals in a intrusive pat-down or step into a scanner that reveals to a government employee an image of your naked body.
  • Countless thousands are prevented from entering into the profession of their choosing -- hair-braider, interior designer, lawyer -- due to onerous professional licensing requirements, despite zero evidence of their efficacy.
  • Congress routinely redistributes money from taxpayers to private corporate interests, most egregiously during the bailouts. It's one thing to collect taxes from me for public goods, even ones with which I disagree, and quite another to use my taxes and yours to shore up Goldman Sachs.
This is hardly an exhaustive list. But it's sufficient to explain why I am made so cynical by a conservative movement that invokes freedom and liberty at every opportunity, only to overlook most of the issues I've just mentioned in favor of protecting me from having to buy health insurance. 

1 comment:

D.E. Bishop said...

Yeah! What he said. Exactly what he said.