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242 years of declining liberty

When Patrick Henry proclaimed the famous words, “give me liberty or give me death”, he did so because to him, death is a preferable alternative to a life without liberty. Some, myself included, believe that life without liberty is not much of a life at all.

The founding fathers clearly agreed, because when Thomas Jefferson wrote the greatest breakup letter of all time they were sure to include that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Liberty, as it is written, is separated from life by only one comma.

242 years later, Americans still cherish these words. Independence Day is a day of patriotism, where we all dawn our red, white and blue while drinking beer and watching fireworks. Even 242 years later, we celebrate the liberty bestowed to us by the country’s founders.

At least we think we do.

As it turns out, the good ol’ U-S-of-A isn’t the beacon of freedom it once was, if it ever even was one. The Fraser Institute now ranks the United States as 11th in the world for freedom – tied with Canada, actually.

On July 4, 1826, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams passed away – 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. With them, the last of liberty died.

For the past 200 years, we’ve sacrificed liberty for the sake of comfort and security. We’ve forgotten that those in control of our government are also individuals; they have their own motivations, ambitions, and desires to stay in control. Republican or Democrat, every politician following George Washington has worked to increase the scope of governmental control of our lives.

As the government grows larger and larger, it imposes more and more taxes on us to pay for its out-of-control spending. The founding fathers revolted over taxes of mere pennies on the dollar. What would they think of our current tax system?

We pay taxes when we earn an income, when we buy property, and when we purchase items at the grocery store. If you invest in the stock market, you pay taxes. If you leave more than a few million dollars behind when you die, you pay taxes. If you avoid paying taxes, you go to jail.

The government’s monopoly continues when you look at all the regulations place on pretty much everything, including pharmaceuticals, automobiles and construction permits. The government imposes regulations in the name of public safety, but what they’re really doing is creating another hoop of government bureaucracy for citizens to jump through.

A clear example is national “defense” – or national offense, as I like to call it. The 2016 budget for national defense was $580 billion. In the name of security, the government has funded trillions of dollars into military programs when we weren’t even officially at war.

As if economic policy isn’t bad enough – I’ll save tariffs for later – statutory law steals from liberty everyday. How many laws has the government created in the name of public safety in order to protect against victimless crimes?

We have laws against marijuana, despite overwhelming scientific evidence. We have laws against walking across the street in an unmarked area. We even have a law against suicide.

We have laws dictating what can be taught in public schools. We have laws that require the separation of families at the border.

Laws are frequently not justified. The government’s desire to take away an individual’s right does not actually disqualify the right. Every time a law is passed, someone’s right to something is being infringed.

Liberals and conservatives both use their votes and their voices to petition the government into creating more laws. Our founding fathers didn’t make a list of laws; they made a list of rights.

These rights shall not be infringed.

Our country has lost its liberty. If the crack in the Liberty Bell is symbolic of anything, it is that we must work to restore the liberty we once had. Liberty for all, not just for a few.

About The Author

Sam Palmisano

Sam Palmisano is a freshman dual-majoring in economics and marketing. Sam loves kayaking and ping pong. Outside of Eagle News, Sam is a member of the Honors program and Student Conduct Committee, and serves as President of the Palmetto Hall Area Council. His goals are to be a political economist and to one day run for Congress. You can find Sam getting into arguments on social media or playing frisbee on the library lawn.

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