A January 31 report from the PEW Research Center shows that the American people feel that the government is a threat to their personal rights and freedom. The survey of 1,500 people showed that 53% of American believes the government cannot be trusted. This charge led by Conservative Republicans has little substance, but the mere idea that a majority of Americans believing their own government is out to get them reflects the reality of ignorance among the US electorate.

What freedoms and rights are threatened? When that question comes up, those surveyed are a little less specific except in the idea that their guns will be taken. With 300 million guns in the US it would take a special collection teams decades to locate and confiscate all the guns in the United States. Additionally, if it was a hostile movement AK-47’s, large clip weapons and handguns are not much help against mortars, 70 mm cannons or missiles, not to mention supersonic fighters and drones.

The right of free speech is firmly in place. And, since the Reagan era the equal response law is no longer an issue as conservative talk and TV shows dominate the airways. Religious freedom? Christianity dominates as the major religion in the United States. Although other denominations are growing Christianity is still the largest segment in the country.

Perhaps, it is that religious concepts as law or education cannot be promoted taught or proselytized on public property. However, religious school are free to teach it just as the unreligious are free to have no beliefs or to be being bombarded by the beliefs of others. By law, women are free to procure an abortion even though conservatives have diminished that right.

Additionally, any rights and freedoms infringed went that route voluntarily with programs like the Patriot Act. Repressive legislation fostered after the 9/11 tragedy were given away freely and passed by the very people claiming their freedoms and rights diminished. Keep the damn guns; they are worth little more than political fodder.  No one is coming to get them and if the Chinese attack the weapons they bring will turn our 300 million rifles and handguns into cap pistols.

Guns are off the table. So, what is the issue? You’re already denying women their right to a legal abortion. Freedom of religion is still in place although record numbers of Christians are leaving the faith each day. No, it seems the only right or freedom disappearing never was such and that was the arrogance of a group people thinking their ideas should be imposed on a country where there is a chance for true freedom.

Sadly, the truly free recognize that it is filled with responsibility, not license; accountability, not selfishness and most importantly, compassion, not avarice.

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on February 12, 2013 at 11:58am
We live on the grid and it's been that way at least since 1984--my first ride on the Internet. People have willing given up their personal information for a variety of people with no need. We don't see the grid, all we see is slick marketing, smooth public relations distracting entertainment that allows us to be robbed and feel good about it. Even before the Internet your name and information about you was being sold. A book named "Entertaining Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman details how short the American attention span really is and we walk away from perfectly good facts to gamble on something that has no basis in fact, like day trading. All the ones I ever knew have regular jobs now.
Comment by Alan Perlman on February 12, 2013 at 11:23am

Tom...change accepted and point made.  The present system DOES satisfy enough people.  Close to half of us are getting more in govt. benefits than they pay in taxes.

So, unlike truly oppressive societies, you do not see Americans rioting in the streets, mainly because requirement #1 for social stability is met: prosperity. Well-fed people sitting in their air-conditioned cars and toying with their iPhones are oblivious to the debt, the wars, the govt. corruption and screwups, and everything else that puts this country in such a precarious position.  They see the rest of the world living under dictatorships and surviving on $1 a day, and see no reason to be dissatisfied.   

In addition, 24/7 marketing and entertainment (remember "bread and circuses"?) keep the populace amused and distracted from their out-of-control government and the horrendous things it's doing to "protect" them (9/11 created a giant govt. bureaucracy and a huge security industry).  The President trumps up a fake war, thousands of people die, America inavdes a country, triggering large-scale chaos and conflict and...hey isn't it time for "American Idol"?

Also, lying politicians routinely promise change, thus stoking the false hope that things will get better, while doing whatever their campaign contributors and lobbyists tell them to do. 

Finally, the state-approved parties and state-controlled media do everything possible to marginalize third parties so that no other point of view is heard (just like in the good ol' USSR, which I visited).

I would rather have the unhappiness that comes from seeing and facing the truth...than the narcotized, happy dream world in which most of my countrymen live.

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on February 11, 2013 at 8:57pm

Alan: "If nobody sees any point in changing the present system,...."

I hope you will accept a revision: "If too few see any point in changing the present system,...."?

The present system satisfies enough people and we idealists make our own unhappiness. Why?

Comment by Alan Perlman on February 9, 2013 at 7:08pm

Donald...No argument there.  They had a great idea, and their successors blew it. 

Alexander Tytler, the 19th c. Scottish jurist (aka Lord Wodehouselee), made the generalization that democracies seem to last about 200 years.  When the people find they can vote themselves special privileges from the public trough, it's the beginning of the end.

Comment by Alan Perlman on February 9, 2013 at 7:04pm

I am SO glad you asked.  I freely admit that I don't know!  Smaller government doing fewer things would mean fewer opportunities for corruption.  But I think that this is a long range consideration. 

What is first needed is the political will to move in the opposite direction: cutting spending, reducing the military, bringing home the troops, auditing the Fed to see WTF they're doing with our money, abandoning the hideous drug war, doing something about the debt (NOT printing more money or trillion-dollar coins, what crap), and, very importantly, cutting back on the National Security State at perpetual war on our freedoms as much as on potential enemies...support for these things is widespread among Americans.  Sadly, only libertarians are pushing them.

If ever we get these things done, then it's time to consider cutting back on the worst offenses of the welfare/pork state.  Scottie Pippen gets a farm subsidy: that says it all. Dozens of nanny-state and government-teat programs could be eliminated/phased out.  As for pork, hell, I could write a binding resolution that all legislation be subject to content analysis and contain nothing irrlelevant.

If the political will is there, any plan for cutting back government will work.  How about: any govt. agency not serving a constitutional function has 5 years to phase itself out and give everybody generous packages -- or go private.

In short, I don't know what it would be like if libertarians gained power, except that they would favor all of the above.  So...first things first.  I can't overemphasize the importance of political will.  If nobody sees any point in changing the present system, it will not change.  

Comment by Donald R Barbera on February 9, 2013 at 6:10pm
I don't trust any political party. None! They all share one common trait--people! "For the people, by the people" are quaint words written by some serious men that had a better idea, but as history records, greed and corruption by those representing those institutions and entrusted with being protectors of the public trust are responsible for gaps in the social safety net that makes the US one of the worst developed country to live in when it comes to basic social services.
Comment by Tom Sarbeck on February 9, 2013 at 5:08pm

Okay, libertarians (big L or small l), if earth were a planet on which you could win a majority in a legislative body, how will you keep the people who now rent Dems and Repubs from renting your legislators?

What provision will you add to the Constitutional to assure that we the people regain, and retain, sovereignty? Will it be a national initiative and referendum?

On what planet? How?

Comment by Alan Perlman on February 9, 2013 at 3:43pm

Thanks, Steve and Spud.  Libertarian politics (emphasis on liberty, responsibility, and value and autonomy of every human being) follow from humanistic philosophy - no coincidence that the Founders were influenced by Hume, Locke, other political philosophers of the day. 

Government of, by, and for the people was pretty advanced thinking after thousands of years of divine right of kings.  But it flows quite naturally from humanism of the Enlightenment. Pursuit of happiness??  Now THAT was radical.  But it all presumed a limited government with enumerated powers - and awareness that a govt. big enough to do anything for you can also do anything TO you.

Comment by SteveInCO on February 9, 2013 at 2:02pm

If I, as an atheist, don't trust God, whom I can't see, why would I trust politicians, whose antics and corruption are on display 24/7?

Hear, hear.

Too many atheists simply want to replace god taking care of them with government taking care of them.

Comment by Idaho Spud on February 9, 2013 at 1:25pm

Well put Alan.  I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I'm a libertarian also, because it seems much preferable to either of the major parties.

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