I receive a great publication called Imprimis. It’s published by Hillsdale College (of which I am not an alumni) and has a circulation of 1.7 million readers.
In the April 2009 (Vol. 28, 4), the essayist is Mark Steyn. His titled work, “Live Free or Die!” (he is also the author of America Alone) highlights the degradation of freedom, at the hands of the government, by the citizens own request. I chose this topic due to the seemingly proliferation of DC articles asking, begging, and demanding for government support to right whatever social wrongs we’re experiencing. The interesting part of Steyn’s writing is that he points out BOTH American and European problems due to increased government. I say this because many of the DC articles point to the European structure as more superior to or more productive than ours.
I want to highlight the gradual and sometimes blurred (when you refuse to see them) stages that mark the loss of freedom and the rise of government paternalism. Government paternalism is attributed to Steyn’s reference to P.J. O’Rourke commenting on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s quote, “It takes a village to raise a child.” O’Rourke replied, “The government is the village, and you’re (citizen) the child.”
Steyn writes that Stage One is a, “benign paternalistic state [promising] to make all those worries … disappear.” Business receiving 2 percent government supports are faced with 100 percent government involvement in their work. Government health care to cure you has basis to prevent you treatment. (The hands that gives taketh away) Britain has “health auditors” going home to home determining your fridge contents; next is snack food confiscation. British National Health Service denies services due to “lifestyle choices” such as smoking and obesity. Government imposing costs and taxes on passports, visas, airport, and ticket fees (my last airline ticket was $25 but the fees were $150) that effectively prohibit or decrease the freedom of movement.
Stage Two is marked by “societal enervation.” The government that provides your needs will begin to regulate your needs and behaviors. The analogy Steyn posits is, “… grown [adults] say: I want to be able to choose from hundreds of cereals … movies … songs—but I want the government to choose for me when it comes to my health care.” When the government becomes your parent, your freedom is reduced to childlike proportions. Government securities such as education and health care is readily accepted as long as you pay, no COD, up front with your decision-making freedoms.
Thought regulation (if it hasn’t already begun) occurs in Stage Three. Citizens who become government children are a whisper away from thought regulation. Those of you who are fond of citing Canada as a perfect place to retreat from the States (not truly willing to commit to a wide berth, huh?) don’t know that Canada prevents foreign news, television, and book owners into their country. Some may say, “Of course! Buy Canadian!” But the lack of diversity (remember we’re the melting pot) permits the narrow one way road of government information destined for your brain.
Finally, if you’re not truly convinced that the government hasn’t assumed “pod people” capacity (I know they can’t do that right?!) then Stage Four puts the cap on your independence; the promise that ideas and words of dissention are considered “hatred.” Britain has capitalized on the use of close-circuit TV (CCTV) (the real Big Brother) Smile you’re always on your local police TV. Scotland Yard’s Community Safety Unit for Homophobic, Racist, and Domestic Incidents investigated an interviewed author due to their remarks on BBC Radio regarding gay adoption. Local police officers dine undercover to listen to community “chatter.” I know that in my home state of Arizona there is a lot of disgust for red-light runner cameras. Perhaps that goes for being a western “don’t fence me in” state, but it reminds me of the thirst and fire we had for freedom. Apparently we’re two hundred and thirty three years removed from it?
Some will not have an inkling of interest or thought process about this issue at all. Some may consider this “conspiracy theory;” the government couldn’t possibly go this far. Perhaps World War Two has faded from your mind? Saddam doesn’t ring a bell? Do you remember that China and North Korea still exist?
Minor example but it might reiterate what Steyn is saying. Recently I commented on another DC story regarding vacation benefits of Europeans compared to Americans. The authors states that legislated time off in European countries benefits workers more than what is provided to Americans. Granted, the author noted that Americans tend not to utilize their earned benefits while Europeans eat it up (they’re governed to). However, they miss the point that Europeans, being family-friendly in government subsidies (with less incomes to show for it), are having less families. They work fewer hours, don’t pay for health care, don’t go to church, don’t marry, and don’t have children to use education programs. So what do they do with their friends and family vacation time?
I love this quote, “Give people plenty of security, and they will fall into a spiritual torpor,” stated Charles Murray in “In Our Hands.” Steyn cites this quote, noting that Europe has been stunted on art, science, and world-beating company innovation. With so much time, there is less expectation to produce or create. Legislated vacation benefits remand citizens to a paltry existence of being a “government child” waiting for its allowance from the parent state. When you don’t earn your vacation through work (like we do) what incentive do you have work and two, produce at work?
(This is not part of Steyn’s thesis, but I believe that earned work benefits are part of the capitalism we enjoy. You enjoy it although you say it’s dreadful. What makes companies competitive when you search for work? Benefits packages! What a benefit? Vacation time! If everyone gets the same vacation and earned leave benefits, what can companies now do to lure talent and innovation? They don’t have health care benefits anymore—that’s the government. They don’t have education—that’s the government. Companies are crippled by government children.)
Another beef is the “for the children” adage that has seeped into our minds; everything for the children because they are our future (sorry Whitney). Yet the more we ask for the government, especially in the sense of childhood programs, the more we churn out “government children.” Steyn, capitalizing on a Gerald Ford quote, “A government big enough to give everything … is big enough to take it away,” takes a half-step back and says, “… is not big enough to give you any of it back.” The more we pour into our children’s future, the less they will be able to withdraw from it.
Have we forgotten freedom principles of limited government, self-reliance, and talent and skill exploitation? Once we get to the point of inertia, the ability to regain freedom takes more than asking, begging, or demanding it. It requires a second Revolutionary War which will be internal and instead of the heralding cry of “The British are coming!” it will sound more like, “The Government is coming!”
A final Steyn quote attributed to Oscar van den Boogaard who said, “I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.” He, who is given all, gives nothing in return. If your country gives you everything that you do not have to earn yourself then what will you fight for? Government children do not thrive under the paternalistic government hand. They wither and become shells of what were once Americans ready to fight for freedom.
If you’re willing to be a government child, perhaps your government parent will read you a bedtime story that begins with, “Once upon a time, there was a liberty called freedom …”