When I honestly try to list the personal freedoms which I have lost to government, I don’t come up with many. When the law requires me to wear a seat belt, I don’t feel oppressed. I don’t particularly feel oppressed at the airport when I have to sit in a chair while someone fetches a wand to verify that yes, indeed, I have metal knees. When I became eligible for Medicare, I was more relieved than anything else. And I can find no discernible difference between the private coverage I had and the Medicare coverage I have now. All I lost was the privilege of shucking out $12K per year for COBRA benefits.
Since I love animals I am unaffected by animal cruelty laws, but the animals deserve them. The animals are important and the way we treat them says much about civilization. I’ve gotten used to separating my weekly rubbish into various containers. Even the little message that tells me not to stick my fingers under a running mower doesn’t bother me; but then I don’t underestimate the number of people who might.
Gun control? Well, somewhere around my house I have a 22 caliber pistol. I’m being facetious. I know exactly where it is but I don’t know if I have any bullets for it — maybe a handful. I suppose I should fill up my magazine and be ready for danger. You know, keep the clip on my nightstand under the Mentholatum jar. At the same time I don’t have any immediate plans for joining a militia and I can’t think of one instance where a loaded pistol — ready to fire with safety on — would give me more happiness, liberty or security I have no desire to shoot a damn thing. I’ve always been a little soft.
But I do feel the loss of freedom, mostly my God-given right to dispose of my time as I so chose. I feel oppressed every time I cannot talk to a fellow human being when I have an issue of customer service. I feel a loss when I cannot find a personal banker closer than 800 miles away whose qualifications are unknown to me — and yet I must discuss with her my refinance questions. Every time my Internet service glitches. I resent the time it takes to have a techy ask me if the thing is plugged into the outlet. I feel like I have more to fear from creeping corporatism and New Paternalism than Frenchmen bearing pommes frites.
I’ve asked a few small business people if taxes keep them from hiring or expanding. Most say no and tell me they need customers, customers, more customers.
When I get the message that I am less a human being than a consumption machine, just one of millions, then I feel oppressed. My freedom frankly has been seriously infringed by commercials. If they are amusing or creative, I enjoy them — particularly the little green Geiko gecko or E-Trade’s little babies. I don’t watch the National Geographic Channel or the History Channel because there are too many commercials. It’s my choice, of course, and the producer’s necessity, but I miss some good content due to my peeve. I miss a strong, influential PBS.
No one is forcing contraception on anyone. To my knowledge no agency is forcing anyone to marry, sleep with or otherwise fraternize with an “other” whatever the current other is. Knowing about the “other” is a good thing. Actually I fear the self-appointed morality militia more than government. They will, of course, lead to their own invidious “government” and in a form of stifling intrusion or omitted action far worse than a “liberal” can describe. Rightist extremism bothers me more than socialism.
When the Supreme Court cleared Citizens United for takeoff, I definitely felt oppressed. No, these days restriction of my freedom results from a little arthritis, the challenges of retirement, notably the fact that I don’t have an active job “out amongst ’em” like I used to. But these are existential matters of natural processes and making way for the young, not hanging on, and finding usefulness in new ways. The latter is a form of free enterprise. In short I can’t find a lot to blame on government.
We need more of what’s best for all and then lots of live and let live in this country.
Cautious and steadfast,