fenced-in-sheep-b.jpg(A Populist Capitalist Blog Post)

One of the most beautiful things in nature is a wild animal in its natural habitat: free, independent, beholden to no one. Think of the wild mustang running free on the open prairie.

You know how you capture a wild animal, steal away its freedom?

You put out some ”free” food, some grain, a salt lick, whatever bait that works. The animal may be suspicious in the beginning but after a while it will begin to partake. Once it is used to the free food, you put up a bit of fence, just a straight line. No danger there, right? The animal may shy away for a short time but the free food is tempting and obviously there is no real danger. Once the animal returns you add another section of fence, making an “L.” The process repeats and after a while you add another section of fence making a big “U.” The process repeats again but now you add a huge gate that you leave wide open. Eventually, the animal gets used to even this, free food is after all free food, and the fence is now the norm and trusted, familiar. The formerly free animal is now yours any time you wish to close the gate.

I am reminded of this story because I feel my personal liberties, including my right to privacy, being eroded one by one. In just the last year:

– My local government has added numerous “stop light” cameras that will digitally record my comings and goings. This is for my own good, of course, to increase the public safety. The fact that it is hoped they will create substantial tax revenue is secondary.

– My state legislature has upgraded the seatbelt law to make not wearing one a primary offense, allowing virtually anyone to be stopped at virtually any time. (Formerly it was a secondary offense; an officer needed a valid reason such as a moving violation to pull over the car.) This, again, is for my own good because it is yet another area in which our government knows better than we what is good for us, another area in which the government wishes to make choices for us.

– My state legislature also has authorized the collection of DNA samples for its database of anyone merely charged with a felony, with no provision that I know of to have it expunged if charges are dropped or if you are found innocent. You may think this is not important, that it does not concern you, it does not apply to you because it will never happen to you, you are a good person who would never be charged with a felony. Well, you’d be a) surprised how little it takes to be charged with a felony and, b) it is a common prosecutorial technique to massively “up charge” in order to have lots of chips with which to plea bargain and, c) it may not be you, it may be your son or daughter or good friend who all of a sudden finds themselves with their DNA permanently in a government database. That may not bother you but I cannot think of many things more personal than my DNA or more invasive than having it taken from me by force.

If you are not concerned by any one of these or even by all of them, then be concerned by the trend in an increasing digital age where surveillance is becoming the norm. All information ever gathered can be stored inexpensively in perpetuity and duplicated/transferred/shared at the push of a button, sent around the world or posted publicly, where no database is truly secure.

I am astounded at how passively Americans accept increased government intrusion in their daily lives, how quickly a nation of patriots founded on “Live Free or Die,” willing to fight for their freedom, has evolved into a nation of sheep. We willingly, even cheerfully, trade our freedom for a little bit of comfort, giving up our liberties to our “Big Brother” in return for a promise of protection, for an often illusionary sense of security.

I close with a highly relevant quote from one of our founding fathers: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin