Friday, January 11, 2013

Freedom Lost

That's the title of a weekly column by Bill O'Reilly. Let me clarify something right from the top. I've mentioned several times this blog is not political. It does not represent right, left, conservative, liberal, Republican or Democrat views. This blog represents ME and my attitudes. I fall in the middle of everything somewhere - sometimes I'm a bit more conservative and sometimes I'm a bit more liberal. I have no agenda or ulterior motives to have you, the reader to be like me, change who you are or do any grandstanding. You will, on occasion suffer through a rant I might get into over something that really torques me. But, that's my right and privilege as the owner of this blog and by what's left of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If you don't like what I'm saying, you have the freedom of choice not to read it. I do my best to write honestly and from my brain, my heart and my gut. But you won't offend me if you choose to not read a post or disagree with me.

Bill O'Reilly

First, I am not an avid fan or follower of O'Reilly. I find him sometimes enlightening, sometimes rude, sometimes combative, sometimes informative, sometimes educational and sometimes just downright offensive. When I watch news on the cable channels, I typically surf between Fox, CNN, HLN, CNBC and MSNBC. Like most men, I'm attracted to very pretty women and, especially, intelligent and accomplished professional women. So, yes, I have a certain preference to Fox. But, that being said, HLN has some pretty foxy ladies, too. CNN is okay, MSNBC doesn't rank in the higher grades in this department, other than the intelligent part of the equation and CNBC - numbers, it's all about numbers. Being totally honest in my disclosure, I watch CNBC and MSNBC the least and probably share the rest of my limited news time somewhat equally between Fox, CNN and HLN.

The men of the news channels are okay. I have some preferences, but generally, I think most of them do a reasonably good job and aren't too offensive with their personal biases - with a few exceptions, of course. Bill O'Reilly seems to cover the gambit. He is, by his Irish Catholic background, typically a right leaner, though I've seen him chew up and spit out some obnoxious righties. I guess what I do like about him is that he takes on important issues and he's not intimidated by any of his guests - right, left or in the middle. He attempts to ask hard questions wanting REAL, straight answers - not the usual political, government speak puke that we are so accustomed to hearing out of the mouths of members of Congress - both parties - even the independents, the president, his cabinet and his press mouth piece and especially, the overpaid bureaucrats (protecting their asses and their retirement plans).

I often sit there when I happen to catch an episode of O'Reilly (I don't go out of my way to do such) screaming at the guest "ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION!" I'm inclined to suggest that the left leaning, liberal politicians and pundits are so well versed in "spinning" everything that when an interview or sound bite is done, I've learned nothing and am frustrated by the waste of my valuable time and expensive "air" time these "clowns" have abused. The conservatives may be a little better, but if they are, it's not much.

O'Reilly seems to work hard at putting these people on the spot and hammering them to get Real and Straight answers. He's not always successful and you can see his frustration. In his weekly column, sent to me by a conservative friend from my college years, Bill scored some important points with me. I'm about personal freedom and living free (no kidding, huh?), so anytime a topic with the word freedom pops up I'm all over it. Today's title, "Freedom Lost," instantly drew me in. And that's why I'm writing about it today.

"Me and Bobby McGee"

Bill started out quoting a line from Kris Kristofferson's great song "Me and Bobby McGee." I'm hearing Janis Joplin singing it in my head as I write this, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." The words grate through my sensibilities and ring in my ears. Bill suggested that, perhaps, this thought is both sage and appropriate for 2013 America.

876 New Laws

Yep! You read that right. There are 876 new laws on the books that have to be obeyed or there are legal consequences. Oops! I forgot to mention, these 876 new laws were signed into law by Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown of the great and most populous state of California. They all went into effect last week. Ha! I'll bet you thought I was going to say that President Obama signed them as national laws. Uh-uh! These are just those impacting the citizens of California.

Now, I don't know how they go about proposing and passing new laws in California, but since former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, a Californian, herself, told us how they do it in Washington, I'm sure California isn't too different. Remember former House Speaker Pelosi said, " We have to pass the bill so YOU can find out what is in it." I'm sure that since Congress is so busy passing laws that there is no way they can take the time to figure out what they are really about and what their impact will be. Actually, they are mostly adding earmarks and other laws inside of laws that no one really knows about, so who has time to worry about the actual law itself? With 875 new laws going into effect on January 1, 2013 in California, can they use any other system to mass produce less freedom?

What Are These Laws?

So, obviously, these new laws have to be vitally important to the state of well-being of the citizens of California. Bill O'Reilly included just four examples and I'm including them here so you can see how people's lives will be impacted.

In California you can no longer . . .

- Hunt a bear using trained dogs.  (O'Reilly comment - Untrained canines are okay, I guess. And how would the authorities be able to tell? Would the dog have to take a test in the forest?)
- Sit in an off road vehicle without being in a seat. (O'Reilly comment - You can't sit on the floor. Or on the roof. Do off road vehicles even have roofs? I don't know.)
- Use a boat in a "freshwater body" without paying a separate fee. (O'Reilly comment - That's to raise money to control the influx of "invasive mussels." I thought that was a 1950s monster movie.)
- Drive a party bus without a special license. (O'Reilly comment - Can't wait to see that test. Do you know the words to "Celebrate" by Kool and the Gang?)

Okay, I'm sure there may be a few of these laws that really impact the common well-being and welfare of the populous of the state of California. But, how many of them are like this? And we actually pay representatives and a governor and all the staff people and cost to operate the government to do this? Where did I miss the boat. It's time to get a law degree or a degree in political science so I can live well off the public dole, too.

Now, remember, these are just California laws added to who knows how many already existing laws. Now, add onto these all the new federal laws that we'll find out what's in them since they are now laws. We didn't actually have anything to say about, probably, the vast majority of these existing and the new laws, BUT - we are responsible and required to obey them or suffer the criminal or civil or both consequences. And, don't forget if you are foolish enough to leave your own state and cross into another state, you are now required, by law, to obey the laws of that state, too, whether you know them or not. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. And just in case, here it is in Latin, "Ignorantia juris non excusat." In the event this isn't clear, the link will take you to a great explanation.

Every New Law Means Less Freedom

So, what am I getting to?It's actually quite simple. This blog is about Living Free. This post is about how year in and year out our "supposed" representatives go out of their way to pass new laws, laws that many, if not most of them don't have a clue as to how it will impact their constituents - that's you and me. In other words, every new law, regardless of whether the law mandates something we must now do or must not now do takes away another piece of our personal freedom. Many, and possibly, most, of these new laws are about insignificant little things that impact only a very small group of people or some aspect of our society and benefit a special interest group of some kind. We already have, I dare say, hundreds of thousands of laws on the books - that we are each and everyone of us - responsible to know and accountable to obey - period! New law = less freedom. It's really simple.

I have done my best throughout my lifetime to live further and further off the radar because, quite frankly, I didn't want to have to learn and be accountable for hundreds of thousands of laws. It's like living in a community with a homeowners association, just another form of government. I don't want someone telling me what kind of front door I have to put in my house or what color paint it can only be and what brand of paint I have to use to get that specific color or if I can have a flag pole on my property and how tall it can only be or, if, as an amateur radio operator, I can erect a tower on my property to mount antennas on to enjoy my hobby. Get the picture?

So, "Freedom Lost," Bill O'Reilly's take on it. "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose" is Kris Kristofferson's way of expressing it. And Cicero asked and answered, "What then is freedom? The power to live as one wishes." And two of our great statesmen, President Lincoln and President Kennedy said, respectively, "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." and "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." 

How free are you? How do you exercise your human right to personal freedom? What can you and we do to stop losing more freedom? Are you content to just continue living in a system that doesn't allow for more freedoms, but continually chips away at the remaining freedom we have? I dare say, the vast majority of the population of the U.S. is content with that and will continue down that road. Are we rapidly going in the direction we fought to break away from? I surely don't have the answers, only the questions. But, I know, for one, I will do my best to conform only to the absolute minimum degree possible to not lose all my freedom and end up in some kind of physical prison in the country (yes, the United States) with the highest rate of incarceration per 100,000 people, by a significant margin, over every other country in the world.

Just 876 more laws to obey Californians?  Just 876 more chips off the Freedom block. 

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