PREMISE: Living in a society void of binding “Obamacare” legislation is very different from being unburdened of such oppressive legal mandates by paper thin waivers (selectively) granted via Washington, D.C. benevolence. While obvious on its face, it strikes me that the preceding statement serves as a suitable jumping off point for delving a bit deeper into the meaning of liberty in America and how tyranny affects our everyday lives. The following is not intended to be comprehensive by any means, please chime in at the end.
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“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.” – United States Declaration of Independence
A few weeks back I heard part of a conversation on the Fox News Channel during which a very smart polling expert was explaining how it was important for those on the Right to stress the word “freedom” instead of “liberty” in their rhetoric because Americans seemed to better understand and have a more favorable reaction to that term. Not being a linguist (cunning or otherwise), I guess I am like most Americans in that I probably couldn’t recite proper definitions to distinguish a meaningful difference between the two and yet I do sense a certain reverence for the wonderful “L” word given its prominence in the most important sentence ever formulated by man (above). I discussion seems warranted…
First, a few definitions via Wikipedia and Mirriam-Webster, respectively:
“Liberty is a concept in political philosophy that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions.”
“Tyranny – …oppressive power exerted by government…a rigorous condition imposed by some outside agency or force…an oppressive, harsh, or unjust act”
My initial reaction here is to side track into a discussion of “a concept in political philosophy” versus an “unalienable Right” “endowed by (the) Creator” but instead I want to focus on the second term…tyranny. This concept is so easy for all of us to identify in news stories of the blatant, unvarnished Middle East variety or even the in-your-face Hollywood depictions. Unfortunately, most are blind…or just numb…to the more insidious (but not brutal) types that hit much closer to home.
I started to call this a “soft tyranny” – a term made more common lately – without fully understanding the meaning but the Wiki-definition references “social conditions of a particular community hinder(ing) any prospect of hope among its members” and that just doesn’t fit my premise here. The most accurate term I can think of is functional tyranny (or maybe, bureaucratic tyranny…but that isn’t quite accurate either).
Anyway, on some scale we all experience this. The most obvious manifestation of this phenomenon in my life is through my career job at a very large corporation. It is a very good job and I do not live with any overt threats to my continued employment but there is a pervasive undercurrent of fearful compliance with an impossibly (unbelievably?) large web of corporate policies and other regulations. Over the years things have become very clear…there is absolutely nothing subtle about it…that the information is already on file or exists somewhere waiting to be retrieved that anyone could be terminated for cause (no matter how minor) if the need arose. We all work at the mercy of the Human Resources department. (To make it more unsettling, the face of this organization to most of us in the middle to lower ranks is a 22-year-old punk/punk-ette in new formal business attire that is well versed in HR lingo and knows not a lick about our core manufacturing business.) Needless to say, there are few vocal troublemakers and the periodic anonymous confidential employee feedback surveys are usually very positive experiences for the company. Please don’t mistake this for complaining, I’m just describing a not so unique modern American corporate situation.
Of course, I realize this is a very imperfect example of “tyranny”. It’s a job and I know I can choose to leave at any point. However, we can expand the scope for broader examples. Look no further than your state. At some point in the last half century I would guess that just about every state in the union has had its share of federal highway funds held hostage at least once to force compliance with some mandate from the federal behemoth. Hmmm…entire states being separated from their “unalienable rights” (liberty, free will) by an entity that exists and derives its powers from the consent of those now the target of its oppression. You may suggests this is but a minor infraction…of course, it is all for the common good…but it is the principle and now the precedent that grows like a weed.
That brings me to “Obamacare”. To narrow the scope of this initial discussion, let’s just focus on the impacts of a waiver granted to a state…let’s call if “Maine”. In such a case, the population, state government, and representation to the federal government of “Maine” all get to exist within an artificial condition of advantage…free from oppressive fiscal mandates…over others not by binding legislation but by being temporarily shielded from binding legislation through the grace of a politically motivated (agenda driven) executive and the bureaucracy under his control. This executive will continue to “request” support from the many levels of “Maine” on things related and completely unrelated to the protective waiver. More directly, U.S. Senators from “Maine” will be asked to cast votes on aspects of “Obamacare” that may require them to support the infliction of extreme measures on others at the risk…stated or otherwise…of losing that benevolent waiver. Now consider the nature of the principles and backbone required to be a U.S. Senator today and you see where I’m going with this. (Or just look into the voting record of current office holders from Maine.)
Now think of all the other waivers that have been granted. All temporary, of course, but all very useful tools for dealing with states and entities addicted to the relief.
Obviously, this did not start with President Obama but his vision of America and this expanded functional tyranny is grotesque. These new boundaries…these insidious, tyrannical cancers…infused throughout the federal level will be painful and destructive components of the American condition for many years ahead.
The history of this era shall not be forgotten and the roll call of shame will be quite long: Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Nelson, Snowe, Stupak, Sebelius, Geithner, CBO, …
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