2012-07-07 / Editorials & Letters

We’re losing our independence

As we celebrate our independence with fireworks (it was another great BLASST show), a day off from work and family get-togethers, we must remember to vigilantly protect what was won through the hard fought sacrifices of so many. Millions have given life and limb for our freedom.

We typically view threats to our freedom as external – first winning our independence from a European monarchy and colonial power. We would battle monarchies again. More recently, we beat back threats to dominate us and the world from Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Soviet Communism. Today we face threats from radical Islam, that seeks to impose their beliefs on us all. Fortunately, our armed forces and our law enforcement officers can turn back this assault.

Though it is critical to continue to maintain well-trained and equipped armed forces, the most serious threat to our independence is now internal. Our Declaration of Independence adopted 236 years ago on July 4, 1776, emphatically stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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. ”

What does ‘liberty’ mean? There are a number of definitions with – “The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life.” – coming up first on Google and very similar to subsequent definitions.

The Founders, writing first in the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution, clearly recognized the dangers to liberty from a strong central government and the tyranny from a 50 percent plus one vote majority. In response, they created checks and balances with three branches of government, placed limits on federal power by protecting states’ rights and protected the rights of minorities. For example, every state, regardless of population, has two senators.

These protections have been worn down over the years. The erosion was particularly noticeable during President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration as his New Deal program vastly expanded government regulation of the economy and our liberty. A landmark U. S. Supreme Court decision in Wickard v. Filburn in 1942 affirmed the right of the federal government to regulate economic activity. Roscoe Filburn was a Montgomery County, Ohio, farmer growing wheat for on-farm consumption. His crop exceeded the limits set by the federal government designed to increase wheat prices during the Great Depression. He was ordered to destroy his crops and pay a fine, even though he never intended to sell the wheat. The Court in Wickard v. Filburn determined that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause gave the federal government authority to regulate Filburn’s crop even though it never entered into commerce. By growing his own wheat, the Court reasoned, Filburn was reducing his own purchases which would then affect the national market.

That decision fueled a huge expansion of federal regulation that has a tremendous impact on our personal liberty. Filburn could not grow wheat on his own property for his own chickens without governmental approval.

That 70-year-old decision was considered the legal foundation for ObamaCare even though it takes a huge leap forward by asserting for the first time that INACTIVITY (in this case not purchasing government approved health insurance) affects interstate commerce thus becoming subject to federal regulation. Filburn was at least growing wheat.

Last week’s narrow 5-4 decision upholding ObamaCare continues the assault on personal liberty by the federal government. Though Chief Justice John Roberts said the Commerce Clause doesn’t allow the federal government to regulate ‘inactivity,’ he outlined an alternative roadmap for more federal regulation. Congress may not directly force us to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily nor replace our fossil-fueled water heater with solar panels, but it could do so under its power to tax if the legislation includes penalties for failure to comply with those mandates. If that holds, federal power over our personal liberty will be limitless.

Some readers might think I’ve been out in the hot sun or without air conditioning too long. This is just about health care; it’s a special case that warrants federal control.

NO, NO and NO! The fact that it affects health care first makes it particularly dangerous. Once we become beholden to government for our healthcare, we have given up much of the liberty that others gave so much to uphold for us. We are ignoring that legacy and sacrifice if we give it up for ‘free’ healthcare.

Of course, nothing is really free. It’s just sleight-of-hand or taken from someone else. ObamaCare is built on a shaky financial house of cards. The economics make no sense, but that’s probably part of the plan. When the inevitable collapse occurs, single-payor national health insurance (the original goal of many of ObamaCare’s supporters), will be considered the only option.

It will then only take a few years, given the existing funding problems with Medicaid and Medicare, before we’ll be seeing the waits and restrictions on care common with national health insurance in Canada and Great Britain. Let’s hope Mom or Grandma don’t really need that new cancer drug; or Dad or Gramps can still get around without that knee or hip replacement after age 70.

Just remember what the government gives, it can take away! That’s what’s happening in Europe now. Government has given far more than the private economy can sustain. The ‘gifts’ sounded pretty good – reduced workweeks, mandatory extensive paid vacations, ‘free’ healthcare and more. Businesses can‘t compete with such expensive labor. Unprofitable businesses can’t pay much in taxes, so governments borrowed to keep the gravy train going. Now governments can’t pay their loans and looking for others to bail them out. Some have even suggested cutting back benefits, sending protestors/rioters into the streets.

We’re only a presidential election away from being in a similar position.

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