I am here sitting in front of my computer, trying to think of something to distract me from work I *should* be doing, and I got to thinking about our discussion on the Patriot Act the other day.
We both know how many things we disagree about, so it's nice to know we do have some common ground. We both seem to appreciate individual freedom, and we both seem to appreciate how the power to snoop into a persons private life is itself destructive of individual freedom. I read up on it, and discovered that it was the 1761 rebellion of James Otis against the "Writs of Assistance" (which allowed the British military to enter anyones home at any time and look for stuff to tax) that gave rise to the 4th amendment to the Constitution. That amendment protects our privacy today. It's just too bad they don't still use it to protect us from taxes. :)
It makes me wonder how many other things we might agree on, and not know about. After all, if we both appreciate freedom, then it is not rediculous to think that we would both appreciate policies that give people more of it, and oppose policies that take it away.
For instance: To bear arms-- a right that a free people possess, and the plebs of despots (whether communist, fascist, or feudal) do not. And the reason is obvious! Unarmed people can be controlled through fear, while armed people tend to shoot back when you try to control them. Just like the right to privacy, the right to be armed is a preventative measure against the fate that met Weimar in the 1930s.
And again: To be free from slavery and the theft of our labor. Money, the symbol of mankinds labor, has been the exchange medium since humans gave up the inefficient bartering scheme in ages past. If you control an hour of a persons wages, you control that hour of labor. When this was done privately, we called it slavery. When it's done publicly, it's called the income tax. Either way, lovers of individual freedom should hate it.
And again: The right to free contract. Free persons should be able to make an agreement for the exchange of their labor, whether the labor is represented by the goods produced from their labor, or the money given in exchange for it. However, every time the government steps between two free persons and invalidates their contract (or punishes them for making the contract), those people are less free. Business regulation, socialized health care, forced unionization, minimum wages, zoning laws, smoking laws, labor regulations, etc. all fall within the scope of negating and curtailing the right to free contract.
And again: The right to control the property we labor for. We exchange our labor for money, and our money for property. The property becomes ours through the exchange of our labor for it. When that property is taken away from us, through property taxes directly or through EPA and FWS edicts indirectly, it is the same as having taken away our labor for public use. We are not the slaves of the state, and should not be treated like it. All lovers of freedom should agree on that.
And again: The right to free expression. The right to express ones political beliefs peacefully, and to express ones ideas in whatever way one sees fit is central to liberty. Yet, every day college speech codes, campaign "finance"[sic] reform bills, sexual harassment laws, and the creeping scope of political correctness threaten to put people in jail not for the things they do to others, but merely for WHAT they say, and HOW they worded it. All the true lovers of liberty cringe!
And again: The right to free association. One of the most revolutionary and astoundingly beneficial of all freedoms is our right to form groups peacefully and freely associate with each other. And yet the movement has just begun to punish, fire, or otherwise deny anyone who belongs to a legal, private organization, such as the Boy Scouts of America, or the Augusta National Golf Club. Hardly the KKK or Black Panthers, but the guardians of Political Correctness sure act like it!
And again: The right to the free practice of religion. Religion is as old as mankind. People bonding together to practice their faiths is an association many still protect and cherish. Except in schools and other public places, where every day we read about little kids being expelled for praying, reading a Bible or Koran in public, or wearing a cross on school property. We hear about kids expelled for saying "Merry Christmas", or for giving out candy canes or other Christmas symbols on school property. Politicians today deny government positions to those thom they can show have had religious leanings at some point in the past. Atheism is the only belief about religion that won't get you in trouble it seems! We should all wonder how, with the scope and bredth of the public sphere ever expanding, how long will it be before we must all hide in a closet somewhere and whisper gods name, lest we be heard and put to the whip for trying to impose religion on others?
And again: The protection of liberty through the free selection of the members of government. The priviledge to vote for those who make our laws, and to have a voice thus in their making is essential in the preservation of all of our freedoms. And yet every year we hear about unelected judges usurping the power to legislate, handing down "opinions" which amount to little more than coup d'tat against the legitimate elected legislature. Since the judges serve for life, and exercise the unbelievable power to make, adjudicate, and ENFORCE (through court order) their own opinions, it is a wonder that a free people would stand by for it!
And again: The protection of liberty through the rule of law. Since the only alternative to the rule of law is the rule of man, it is little wonder that free people look to this idea as the lynch-pin of their guarentees. And yet, again, unelected judges change our laws without even consulting our elected legislators. By ignoring and becoming the law, acting as lawmaker, judge, and cop in any case they choose, they undermine and help destroy the rule of law. By way of another example, when an acting President commits purgery while in office, it is little wonder that those who love freedom shout for his dismissal.
And again: Equality under the law. All human beings are born of equal worth, regardless of sex or race. It is the most important underpinning both of Christian thought and later of liberal institutions. And yet every day we hear about the application of law in everything from government hiring, to student selection for colleges showing favor to some races, cultures, or ethnic groups and denying others precisely because those denyed are deemed less worthy of that favor.
And again: The brilliance of federalism. Born in the notion that freedom is choice without permission or forcible hinderence, our founders recognized that the greatest freedom is and ought remain in the hands of the individual. To protect that freedom, governments were given authority over men. Due to mankinds corruptable nature, a brilliant system was set up to administer this government. In it, the greatest authority over men was placed in the smallest, most local government institution: the city. In it the fewest votes could swing an election, and the voice of the individual in protecting his liberty was loudest. Less authority was given to the county over the city, and less authority yet to the state over the county. The least authority of all was given to the Federal government over the state. This delicate and brilliant system was once the prize of the western world. All it has taken was the nieve passing of the 17th amendment, followed by the determined socialist power of Roosevelt and other progressives to turn this brilliant system on its head. Today the body most powerfully capable of taking away individual liberty is also the most authoritatively capable of doing so. This is contrary to the brilliance of federalism, an arrangement once uniquely suited to keep the most authority over our own lives in our most local institutions, where we can best control them.
It is obvious that, due to our common admiration for personal freedom, we must indeed have a great many opinions in common that we never knew.
As an unrelated aside, isn't it ironic how English has so turned on its head that what was once called a "liberal", a liberator from tyranny, has become a "Liberal", a statist liberator from a life of freedom and all the pain and misfortune that may go along with it. And what was once a "conservative", a defender of the divinity of the tyrannical British crown, has become a Conservative, a defender of the old institutions and policies of individual freedom?