Monday, December 3, 2007

How is it a Free Country?

What is it about the phrase, "It's a Free Country" that makes the phrase true? How is it that we are a free country? What is it that makes us free?

Does it have to do with the strong will and drive of so many in America who try to keep government limited, small, and out of our lives? Is it the constant effort by so many to increase the size of government in order to intervene and take care of us more? Does the work of so many who fight to keep the government on track with the Constitution have anything to do with it? What about those pushing a socialist agenda? Or a green agenda?

The answer to all of those questions is the exact same:

All of the above, and more.

T.S. Eliot once put it the way I think best describes what makes the United States a free country when he said, "The intense happiness of our union is derived in a high degree from the perfect freedom with which we each follow and declare our own impressions."

What does that mean? It means that everyone looks at the world his or her own way. Everyone has their own impressions. Everyone has their own perceptions. Everyone has their own desires, wants, and needs.

Attempting to find a one-size-fits-all for all of those impressions, perceptions, and desires is not only illogical, it's also unrealistic and foolish. Such an attempt is the reason for nearly all human conflict in the world and it provides an example of force and coercion - a lack of freedom.

But how, might you ask, can multiple preferences be utilized at the same time? There are a few, good solutions out there but, by far, one of the best is decentralization. This is what we have done (or did, a long time ago) in the United States. Instead of an all-encompassing, centralized government that controls everything, we have a decentralized government where the federal government is very limited over multiple states, each with their own governments.

So long as the federal government remains limited to the basics (national defense, a justice system, regulation of commerce and foreign trade, ensuring civil rights), every one of those state governments can act as a different experiment or variation of government.

At present day, we have 50 states. That's 50 different possibilities we could have for types of government. And that doesn't even include all of the local governments within those 50 states. Add in the local governments and we are talking about hundreds upon hundreds of possibilities and choices!

Decentralized down to the state level, we can/should have any form of government that we want, all under the same roof of a federal government that provides defense for them all (while still allowing for their own defense), unifies trade and commerce, protects all individual civil rights, and all through the insurance of a written Constitution.

That's freedom.

Currently, we are doing this in America (though it's getting more difficult as time goes on). For example, there is a very obvious difference in states like Michigan and New Hampshire in regards to the kinds of laws, regulations, and taxes that exist between the two states. Michigan is very liberal, whereas New Hampshire is very libertarian.

What about Massachusetts as opposed to Florida? What about Alaska as opposed to Alabama? What about Washington D.C. as opposed to Las Vegas? How much of a difference in regulation and laws are there among those governments? Answer: A huge difference.

The key, however, is a limited federal government. With limited federal government, not only can limited government enthusiasts have their way at the state and local level, but big government enthusiast can/should have their way at the state and local level as well. If the federal government expands, however, only those who enjoy big government can prosper at the state and local level.

For freedom to flourish, decentralization needs to occur, allowing multiple state governments to exist under a limited federal government, each with their own capacity to provide any level or type of government that the people want.

That's freedom, and that's how It's a Free Country!

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