When the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence to separate from the British empire, things were bad for liberty. Real bad. But how would it compare today? Are we better off due to technology and prosperity, or have things gotten worse?
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At the time of the founding, the people were well-aware of the dangers of what they left just a little over a decade prior.
The entire founding generation toiled under the tyranny of the King of England, a king that had virtually no limits on his power. He could make rules as he went, change them on a whim, and change them back. He could search and seize your property, take your labor or even your life – and you could do almost nothing about it.
The Framers of the Constitution regularly used words like “tyranny” to describe what they wanted to prevent – a government without limits. So they wrote a document that spelled out the limited powers delegated to the federal government. It was clearly understood that this government had no powers that weren’t delegated to it in the Constitution.
While it wasn’t true for everyone, it was generally understood that if tolerable political freedom was not guaranteed or obtainable in one country, migration to another might offer a refuge – an escape route, so-to-speak. Modern politicians have often called this “voting with your feet.”
But is there really any place to go? Unless you’re extremely wealthy, there is little chance that you’ll find yourself outside the reach of the National Security Agency’s surveillance grid. And, even if you are, your economic stability is constantly threatened by the boom and bust cycle perpetuated by the Federal Reserve.
While huge numbers of people could never afford to get to sanctuary even if they wanted to, there are still millions of people in a shrinking middle class who could. But they can’t.
The blatantly unconstitutional regime of permanent federal land grabs has taken what could theoretically be new space for people to move, settle and build communities – off the market.
The federal government claims the power to tell you how big your toilet can be, what kind of light bulbs you can use, what plants you can grow and use in your backyard, and how much they’ll tax or fine you for doing absolutely nothing. They can read your email, monitor your bank account, listen to your phone calls, and even detain you – forever – without access to a lawyer or any kind of due process.
While widespread chattel slavery no longer exists, and that is a significant improvement that can’t be overstated, things are much worse for liberty for the average person today than they were at the time of the Founders.
What most Americans do not realize – or accept – is that all of our rights are being systematically stolen from us. We are being deprived of the effects and limits that the Constitution and Bill of Rights were put in place to protect.
And while the federal government might not be using those powers on you today, they certainly claim the power to do more to you than any time in this country’s history.
It’s not really a matter of “if” – a person or event will come on the scene that advances these powers into practice, it’s simply a matter of when.
Our backs are against the wall unlike anytime in American history.
What do you think? Are things worse today, or were they worse at the time of the founders?