Tuesday, August 03, 2010

"Our" Freedom

Most of those who follow the Wall St. Journal's editorial page, listen to Rush Limbaugh, or regularly watch Fox News seem to share a belief--no, actually a fact so obvious that it requires no proof--that liberals are constantly threatening "our freedoms," the freedoms that people like them--the salt of the earth--hold most dear. Liberals, those unworldly do-gooders, constantly advocate policies that increase the size and responsibility of government, and the required level of taxes. As opposed to people who live and work in the real world, this account believes that liberals generally come from academia, or pursue intellectual activities, and accordingly know nothing about the way the world actually works. Or at least that's what they think until they need someone who actually knows something, such as how the markets work, or how to improve a machine, or what motivates people. At that point, of course, these realistic folks are likely to seek out experts, aka liberals.

When we examine more closely just which of our freedoms are being attacked by the pointy-headed types, however, it turns out that the circle of "us" is rather small, and the "freedoms" for these few are rather harmful to the rest of us. "Our freedoms" include the freedom to spend what we want on political campaigns, a freedom treasured by more foreign corporations than American citizens, if you examine who will use that freedom. "Our freedoms" include the right of power plants and energy producers to heat the earth without paying the cost, indeed to receive enormous subsidies for doing so; the right of the top 1% of earners to have the lowest tax level since the Great Depression, the right of corporations to injure their workers or their neighbors without significant consequence to themselves, the right of financial firms to lie, cheat, and steal, and the right of people who negligently or deliberately harm the lives or property of others to be free of regulation or payment. To put it in other terms, "our freedoms," as the Republican base would have it, consist of the rights of feudal lords to act without regard to the welfare of the peasants.

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