The following was published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, MA on 7/7/09
Every June 6th I watch the movie 'Saving Private Ryan'. It's become a custom that I hope will stay with me as long as I live. What could possibly motivate those men to face the withering machine gun and mortar fire on a stretch of beach code named Omaha in Normandy, France? The question is a difficult one, but the answer may not be so. For over two hundred years we've seen and heard of countless acts of bravery and heroism in the heat of battle. Men and women facing almost certain death or horrible wounds so that a belief in something greater than themselves can endure. That belief, that desire, is freedom, The freedom to live your life as you see fit; to enjoy the fruits of your labor for both yourself and your family.
But freedom, the freedom that our Founders bravely articulated so many years ago is fast disappearing. The following demonstrate key elements of our American life style that may soon no longer exist.
Choosing our own healthcare plan: A government run healthcare system will put pressure on private insurers to lower costs which is certainly a desirable result. But ultimately, private insurers will not be able to compete, forcing everyone to join the government plan. Private insurers must be concerned with the bottom line, but government has no such concern. You, the taxpayer, are the bottom line from whence all funding originates. Think medicare, currently near bankruptcy, is working well? Imagine 300 million on medicare. The logical result will be a rationing of care, a disaster for everyone especially the elderly.
The car we want to drive: The Feds now have a controlling interest in GM and Chrysler. Sorry consumer; soon only hybrids and small vehicles will be available. Too bad that you want to drive a more substantial vehicle such as an SUV for safety’s sake. And those car manufacturers that produce SUV’s? Ever heard of a surcharge on purchasing a vehicle the government doesn’t approve of? It’s coming to those manufacturers and consumers who dare flaunt the nanny state.
The American Energy and Security Act: This monstrosity would be better served to be named ‘The American Energy Tax Act’. The act requires all new construction to follow the building code of the State of California. California! Is it really necessary to proscribe these codes on the other 49 states? Both climate and the economic health of all regions of the country vary greatly. I shudder to think of the new added costs in building a home in the very near future not to mention the energy audit that will be performed on all homes, new or old, to be sold. Homes will now be subjected to a new energy rating assessment that could penalize you for older construction, windows, fixtures and appliances. This bill is riddled with favoritism and back room deals. Critics charge all this regulation will have only a negligible effect on CO2 emissions and the loss of jobs in current energy sectors would be substantial.
Is this what our Founding Fathers stood for? Is this what the brave men and women of Lexington and Concord envisioned as our future? The Americans who fought at Belleau Wood and the Ardennes wouldn't think so. Through the steaming jungle at Guadalcanal to the horror of Iwo and Okinawa; to the Marines dragging their frozen comrades from the winter hell of the 'Frozen Chosin'; from the Mekong Delta to the encircled troops at Khe Sanh; from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan these brave Americans fight not just for survival, but for the cherished belief in the freedom of their countrymen and the idea that nothing is more important than 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'. They didn't fight for people to just have the right to vote, but to know and understand what they were voting for.
Today our leaders tell us there's a new way to live that avoids all the failed ways of the past. Surrender our individuality, become a servant of the state and look forward to a bright future collectively. Even though this method has been tried countless times before with very little success our new leaders will exhort us to move forward. They will tell us the free market has shown that it has reached its limits and must now be discarded. Government, large and powerful will provide all our needs. What more could be so inspiring, so audacious, so hopeful!
No, I don't think those who gave their all throughout our history would be so enthusiastic, nor do I think they would be just looking forward to an improvement in our condition; they would be stunned, ashamed and dismayed at our surrender and capitulation to the altar of socialism. Call it by any other name, but it is still the same; a rejection of our sovereignty and a cowardice beyond description and a rejection of our personal responsibility to improve our own lives.
Obviously, you could point to the necessity for us, as concerned citizens, to change the way we use energy and the methods we use for transporting ourselves and manufactured goods. The real question is--should it be done by government mandate or through the use of the free market? I believe the marketplace is more beneficial to the betterment of society. Government has shown a propensity to reward favored parties and punish those that reject its mandates. Personal freedom is inhibited rather than advanced with government intervention. The classical interpretation of socialism is that the economic means of production are run by the state. Our financial, automotive, and healthcare systems are close to being there.
Two of the greatest documents ever devised by man should remind us of the difficulty in securing freedom and how easily it can slip away should we not guard against its demise through apathy or false promises. The Constitution outlined the powers of limited government and Thomas Jefferson reminds us in the Declaration of Independence that to support freedom the founders must "support to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor". Let us hope that we have enough honor to support freedom lest this great country and the ideals it represents become a footnote in history.