Monday, July 29, 2013

"Liberty": What It Means To Me

Liberty:  Misused and Overused

The term "liberty" has been bandied about, used and abused by libertarians and conservatives for many years, but now many young people and a few far-left liberals are jumping on board.

I've heard right wingers on talk radio ranting and raving that somehow our "liberties" are being extinguished due to the Affordable Care Act mandate that all of us have health insurance.  I've also heard that "liberty" is somehow the opposite of paying taxes, as in "They are stealing from you and you are not free if you pay taxes".

Most recently, the term "liberty" is being used when people discuss the Edward Snowden revelations about the NSA (National Security Administration), the agency which is supposedly "reading" your emails and listening to your phone calls.  

The NSA?  Really?

First of all, I can't really understand what all the hullabaloo about the NSA is about.  I remember all of this coming to light back in 2006 and I didn't like it, but I didn't think much about it back then.      

Here's why all of this blathering about "liberty" in the context of health insurance, taxes, and the NSA doesn't send me pounding to the keyboards with either right-wing tirades or "Both parties are the same" nonsense:

To me, the biggest threat to our freedom, to our liberty, is anything that brings about the decimation of the middle and working classes in this country, anything that infringes on the financial security of the middle and working classes.

Let's face it:  "Freedom" and "liberty" is meaningless-
  • If someone can't get a stable roof over his head.
  • If a family can't pay for heat or electricity.
  • If a family needs to fight to find food.
  • If someone who is willing to work (and has skills) can't find work that provides reasonable pay.
  • If someone who is experiencing health problems can't get those problems properly diagnosed and treated due to not having access to adequate health care.
What does "lack of freedom" mean to me?  Well, sorry, but it doesn't mean the NSA looking at phone call  metadata or someone being "forced" to buy health insurance.  (Only a fool would go without health insurance anyway if he/she could afford it).  To me...  
  • Lack of freedom is a disabled person who can't work who has no income and no assets.  
  • Lack of freedom is an elderly person who, after working all of his/her life, has NO income and no assets for any of a dozen reasons.
  • Lack of freedom is a young woman who can't get birth control.
  • Lack of freedom is a young woman who finds herself pregnant and knows that she can't provide the emotional or financial support for a child.
  • Lack of freedom is a woman pregnant with a wanted child who discovers that the baby she is carrying will have a fatal disease and no longer has the freedom to make a decision about what to do.
  • Lack of freedom is a person who has voted for six decades who is told he/she can no longer vote because he/she doesn't have a picture ID.           

These kinds of situations mean REAL lack of freedom to me.  These kinds of situations provide the real assault on liberty in our country.  Not some uber-rich guy who wants the "freedom" to pollute or the "freedom" to funnel oodles of cash to the political candidates of his/her choice without any oversight.

"Liberty" is not about the NSA or the individual mandate.

To me, "Liberty" is not as much about the NSA digging through data to find terrorists as it is about hard-working Americans not being able to find a decent-paying job and then not being able to keep a roof over their heads or the heat on.  When you are worried you are going to be tossed out into the street, then you understand what lack of liberty is about, not when you read about Edward Snowden taking a high-paying job and shoveling documents to an English journalist just to show us how evil the NSA (and President Obama) are.          

In other words, to me, lack of freedom means poor treatment of workers and citizens and an inadequate, unattainable, or simply absent social safety net. It means lack of freedom to make decisions, to attain health care, or to vote.

I don't care if the NSA reads every last Facebook post I write; every last email I send; and listens to every last phone call I make.  Believe me, they'll be bored and I would hope that we aren't paying anyone to "listen" to the likes of me.  But the big bad gub'mint better not mess with Social Security, SSDI, Medicare, or ObamaCares.  Those are the programs that are going to provide "freedom" for me and my family starting now and into my old age.  Yes, I started working when I was 14 and my husband also started working when he was very young. We both at various times in our lives made good money, and I was a master saver and investor.  For a host of reasons, that isn't doing us any good right now.    

Also, I do worry that this whole NSA "Obama is bad" thing is just a diversion by the righties and Paulbots to divide progressives and liberals so those righties and Paulbot characters can strip away more of our real freedom as human beings and as citizens of the United States of America:

The freedom to live and die with dignity.  

If you are living on the street and eating out of dumpsters, if you FEAR living on the street and eating out of dumpsters, you are not free and "liberty" is an alien concept to you, no matter what the Republicans and the Paulbots tell you.   

Note:  It appears that my friends at are sharing my concerns.  In an article published over the weekend entitled As Republicans Make Millions Suffer, the Left’s Ideologues Obsess Over Edward Snowden, the author makes this point:     "At some level one can appreciate the devotion and concern so many on the left have for one man’s self-imposed confinement to a Russian airport, but while they are wringing their hands and fretting over one man’s predicament, their neighbors, family members, and workmates are suffering the effects of Republican assaults."
Note: The definition of "liberty" and "freedom" is not absolute. Wikipedia has a good, decent introduction to the discussion of what liberty means and what it has meant historically.  The introduction to the Wikipedia article on "liberty" states: "Liberty is the value of individuals to have agency (control over their own actions). Different conceptions of liberty articulate the relationship of individuals to society in different ways— these conceptions relate to life under a social contract, existence in an imagined state of nature, and related to the active exercise of freedom and rights as essential to liberty. Understanding liberty involves how we imagine the individual's roles and responsibilities in society in relation to concepts of free will and determinism, which involves the larger domain of metaphysics.

Individualist and classical liberal conceptions of liberty typically consist of the freedom of individuals from outside compulsion or coercion, also known as negative liberty. This conception of liberty, which coincides with the libertarian point-of-view, suggests that people should, must, and ought to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions, while in contrast, Social liberal conceptions of (positive liberty) liberty place an emphasis upon social structure and agency and is therefore directed toward ensuring egalitarianism. In feudal societies, a "liberty" was an area of allodial land where the rights of the ruler or monarch were waived."

A retort of John Locke to Sir Robert Filner's definition of "liberty", also found at Wikipedia:  "In political society, liberty consists of being under no other lawmaking power except that established by consent in the commonwealth. People are free from the dominion of any will or legal restraint apart from that enacted by their own constituted lawmaking power according to the trust put in it. Thus, freedom is not as Sir Robert Filmer defines it: ‘A liberty for everyone to do what he likes, to live as he pleases, and not to be tied by any laws.’ Freedom is constrained by laws in both the state of nature and political society."

Merriam-Webster defines liberty as:
1 : the quality or state of being free:
  • a : the power to do as one pleases
  • b : freedom from physical restraint
  • c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
  • d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
  • e : the power of choice
  • a : a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant :privilege
  • b : permission especially to go freely within specified limits
3  : an action going beyond normal limits: as
  • b : risk, chance <took foolish liberties with his health>
  • c : a violation of rules or a deviation from standard practice
  • d : a distortion of fact
Is there a difference between freedom and liberty? 
Interesting article here, but one quote, taken from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, that caught my eye: 
"Many authors prefer to talk of positive and negative freedom. This is only a difference of style, and the terms ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ can be used interchangeably. Although some attempts have been made to distinguish between liberty and freedom, these have not caught on. Neither can they be translated into other European languages, which contain only the one term, of either Latin or Germanic origin (e.g. liberté, Freiheit), where English contains both."

Friday, July 26, 2013

What Values Does Your Party Represent? (from MEME GOP)

From Meme GOP on Facebook: 

From the discussion:

actually neither the Democrats nor Republicans represent those values anymore. they are both corporate-owned and paid for.

Well, no, to whoever posted that one.  There is one party that has refused to fund food stamps, for instance, in current legislation and wants to significantly decrease funding for food stamps in proposed legislation.  And there is one party who is fighting this tooth and nail..

 No, both parties are not the same!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

After the Zimmerman/ Trayvon Martin Verdict:

George Zimmerman Walks...

The following was inspired by the disturbing verdict in the George Zimmerman trial:

Written by Margie and found on Facebook: 
"I want everyone to take the anger, their raw emotion, and take action. Not violence, no that would be wrong. We need to take this country back. We need to take back every county and small town. We need to take back every school, every city, every county, every judgeship. We need to take back every state, every state senator, every governorship. We need to take back every congressman's seat and senator's seat. We need to take back our courts from traffic court to Supreme Court. We need to take it all back, NOW!"
(Cross posted at Molly's Middle America)

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