Government and Freedom

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary." James Madison

Discussions about government and freedom usually go the way of mythology. I'm never sure what freedom means for the person arguing we need more freedom? For what exactly? Democratic nations and even less democratic nations provide an environment in which the individual can live freely even though she must obey certain laws that may or may not support the nation. The laws can be simple or serious. Consider smoking, seat belts, helmets for kids as the sometimes simple and maybe silly. If you want to be free to kill yourself smoking, have at it. It is the serious law that has the most effect. Consider Enron, Worldcom, or the recent banking meltdown as areas in which abuse of law can have great effect.

But culture and government get entwined and the result for some is finger pointing at the other. Markets and regulations come to mind, some have this naive - in my mind - idea markets are just super great things. They manage things because if they didn't they'd fail. That's well and good but there is a social consequence, and that consequence can be drastic. Read about the Great Depression as an example.

And where is that magical mystical center everyone says we should move to? In my world it would be a fair wage, universal healthcare, great public transportation, bicycle paths, less smog, beautiful forests, clean rivers, and sensible green housing close to work centers to name a few. Is that radical huh? But that is my center.

"The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts."


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