Stop Talking About Freedom and Start Protecting It

Lawmakers pay lip service to liberty while trampling it under foot.

This year’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, California featured the Department of Defense’s “Freedom Isn’t Free” float. While nothing is close to free when DOD is involved—the B-2 bomber that made a fly-by as parade-goers cheered cost more than twice its weight in gold—the rose- and carnation-covered replica of the Korean War Veterans Memorial got me thinking about the state of America’s freedoms as we ring in the New Year.

The news isn’t particularly encouraging. Maintaining a free society involves more than standing up, militarily, to un-free ones. Many areas of our society are disturbingly authoritarian, and the voting public seems less concerned about freedom issues and more interested in the “free” stuff politicians promise them. Government grows at an alarming rate regardless of which party is in power.

Many Americans are facing higher taxes after Republicans caved in to the administration’s bogus plan to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. The federal government is indeed a mess. But I’m most concerned about the future of my home state of California, given that one party—the party that believes that “more government” is the answer to every question—has total dominance in the political system.

Democratic leaders in Sacramento already are taking aim at Proposition 13, as they eye removing tax protections from business-property owners and making it easier for localities to raise property taxes for myriad purposes. Taxation is a freedom issue in that the more government takes from me, the longer I have to work to serve the needs of the bureaucracy.

But your wallets are not the only thing endangered when California’s Legislature is in session. Legislators will ramp up their efforts to regulate everything in sight that isn’t already regulated. The sheer volume of legislation is staggering. Former radio talk-show host Cameron Jackson found that California legislators have passed 12,097 laws since 1993 and another 10,224 resolutions. More than 800 new laws went into effect in California beginning January 1.

Not every new law is an assault on freedom, but the cumulative effect can be daunting. Try starting a business or building something anywhere in this state and you’ll quickly learn the high cost of our supposed freedoms—it’s really expensive, as you pay the taxes, conform to the endless regulations, and beg for the approval of multiple legislative bodies and bureaucracies.

Most of this year’s new laws are ridiculous, unneeded, and annoying.

Legislators, for instance, banned the open carrying of unloaded long guns after gun-rights activists staged “open carry” protests to demonstrate their Second Amendment rights. The Legislature certainly showed them! A new law quadruples fines for junk dealers who buy copper stolen from utilities. California parents must now receive information from a government-approved health provider before choosing to exempt their kids from mandated immunizations.

There are new rules on health-care providers mandating that they provide additional medical services, a law that allows certain illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses, and a ban on therapists who provide a therapy that is supposed to cure them of homosexuality. As you can see, there is no area of life so personal that the state Legislature won’t intervene.

Just as California’s real-estate market is rebounding, emerging from a busting housing bubble caused in large part by government-mandated lending- and land-use practices, we have a package of laws granting homeowners new “rights” not to be foreclosed upon—something that will slow down the natural market-oriented process of foreclosure and resale, and basically enrich lawyers.

Legislators can now get special vanity license plates, but you can no longer use dogs to hunt bear, as if that was ever a big issue. A few measures actually increase, albeit modestly, your freedoms, such as a bill that allows Californians to sell food products out of their home kitchens, although even this good law adds government oversight to the process.

Republicans didn’t have much luck controlling government’s growth, but they did pass a law that authorizes a privately funded statute of Ronald Reagan to be erected at the Capitol. If you can’t limit government, you might as well remind us of a politician who, rhetorically at least, was in favor of that seemingly outmoded concept.

The result of this endless sea of legislation is a society mired in bureaucracy, taxed to the hilt and where the citizenry always is at risk for violating an incomprehensible and miles-deep list of regulations and rules. As a friend has noted, we have morphed from a nation of laws to a nation of rules, enforced by a well-paid group of officials who continually lobby for more protections and benefits for themselves.

Freedom certainly isn’t free. It takes a tireless commitment to protect it from encroaching government. I can do with a few less parade floats and a lot more commitment from Americans to defend our founding principles in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

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  • ||

    First.

    And I fear you are wrong here; "Maintaining a free society involves more than standing up, militarily, to un-free ones. "

  • $park¥||

    Are you sure?

  • MoreFreedom||

    You're right. It also involves dealing with those who'll initiate force against us or our property: thieves, vandals, burglars, rapists, murderers, etc.

  • Redmanfms||

    The first two paragraphs read like a Friedman column.

  • bmp1701||

    Well, it could be Friedman'd up a bit:

    "The news isn’t particularly encouraging. Maintaining a free society involves more than standing up, militarily, to un-free ones. Many areas of our society are disturbingly not like China's, and the voting public seems less concerned about freedom issues and more interested in their own personal gain, not the greatness of America as a whole. Government grows at a rate inadequate to meet the demands of the 21st century."

  • Ron||

    Another new law in California that won't help construction. All lumber is now taxed at 1% rate separate from the sales tax. It has to be accounted separately as well, an accounting and programing expense. where does this law come from and what is the basis or purpose of this law I don't know the lumber companies don't know the contractors association doesn't know. Burocratic largess run amok. the rest of the country will like this a law that has been in place for a few years is you have to document where your waste building material went, to land fill or recycled or whatever.
    I'd move but I'm not sure if that would be of any use.

  • SIV||

    Not every new law is an assault on freedom

    Gay marriage?

  • SIV||

    Any other examples?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Depends on how the law reads - if it turns into the "gay activists get to sue anyone who won't accommodate them in every way - church, synagogue, mosque, photog, B&B" Act, then it may be a wash.

  • MoreFreedom||

    Everything government does is an assault on freedom to some extent. After all, force is used to take money from us to pay for creating/enforcing the law.

    That even includes things government does to protect our freedoms (finding and prosecuting burglars, rapists, murderers, etc.). But mostly government laws protest our freedom and make them illegal.

  • John Galt||

    Freedom isn't free, it costs $1.05.

  • JWatts||

    "the B-2 bomber that made a fly-by as parade-goers cheered cost more than twice its weight in gold"

    I had to double check this

    Some math:
    B2 Bomber weight: 158,000 lbs
    Cost $737 million (1997 dollars) - roughly $1,025 million (2011 dollars)

    Current price of gold $1,657 per oz
    $1,657 x 16 = $26,512 per pound

    158,000 * 26,512 = $4,188,896,0000

    So, no not really. A B2 cost a lot of money, but only about 1/4th its weight in gold and the majority of that was probably engineering costs.

  • Sigivald||

    Gold's sold in Troy ounces, 12 to the pound.

    So it's even less than 1/4 its weight in gold, since you get more gold per pound than your math assumes.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Gold was roughly $350 an ounce in 1997, approx 1/5 current prices. So the quote is not so far off.

    $350 * 12 * 158K = $663,600,000 in 1997.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "But your wallets are not the only thing endangered when California’s Legislature is in session. Legislators will ramp up their efforts to regulate everything in sight that isn’t already regulated."

    Regulations are the much larger danger to your freedom. Take away a dollar - and I stop my lowest marginal utility expenditure. Regulate away a freedom, and I lose that freedom, however high it's marginal utility to me.

  • MoreFreedom||

    Regulations are not a danger to your freedom, they most definitely take away your freedom. Given that it's commerce being regulated, all regulations do is prohibit transactions in which we might otherwise engage for a profit of one kind or another. Or you can read Matt Welch's article on "The C Word" which states:

    "December saw the passing of a great American: the academic and bureaucrat Alfred E. Kahn, father of airline deregulation. Kahn was a liberal Democrat who, after applying rigorous study to the impact of federal regulation on industry, came to the conclusion that in many cases regulation served to raise prices, blunt innovation, form government-sanctioned industrial cartels, and discriminate against new businesses. The market, not the government, was the most effective tool to discipline big business, because corporations that punished their customers were doomed to failure. In short, Kahn understood that misguided regulation produced exactly what Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claims to despise: big business and government entwined in unholy corporatism."

  • uythsb||

    Happy New Year,NBA ,NFL 2013

  • ||

    Political and religious beliefs have become secondary to those that understand without the payment of their bills they will become homeless and unwanted by family and friends. But despite this reality an illusion must be maintained that we are of a higher order.

  • شات صوتي||

    Thank you so much for this thank you for the info

  • zhonga||

    we have morphed from a nation of laws to a nation of rules, enforced by a well-paid group of officials who continually lobby for http://www.cheapbeatsbydretradeau.com/ more protections and benefits for themselves.

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