My first taste of liberty came when I was 16 years old. I was hired by my grandfather to work on the township road crew. It was also the first year I could legally drive. Looking back at my time working on the road I can tell you it was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done; however it was extremely rewarding because I learned so much about work and earning a living. It was also the first check I earned outside the 1 mile radius of my home. Most of the money I earned prior to that was from helping local farmers hay during the summer months. The one thing I will always remember about that summer is it was the time in my life when I got my first taste of liberty and I loved it.
I earned minimum wage ($3.35 an hour) working 25 to 30 hours a week depending on the weather. I was paid every two weeks and I still remember that first check. It was more money in one paycheck than I had ever earned and a feeling of independence enveloped me. I could use the money anyway I saw fit. I could save it or spend it, the choice was mine. It was an amazing feeling; one that I never forgot. What I was experiencing was an overwhelming sense of liberty and I embraced it.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary 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. Back then that’s what it was really about for me, the power of choice. The wages I earned were mine and the choice was mine as what to do with my new found wealth. As I said the power of choice IS liberty.
When the government confiscates wages from you through a flawed tax system and forces you to accept a bankrupt social security program that offers weak returns on your “investment” you do not have the power of choice, which means you do not have liberty. When a government overburdens small businesses with draconian regulations that take away choices, they do not have liberty. When a government mandates you must purchase a healthcare plan you no longer have the power choice and that means you have lost liberty.
It’s a well documented fact that over the last 80 years the American people have given up or delegated their power of choice to the state and federal governments. Piece by piece we have freely given up our liberty in exchange for security and this security has come in all shapes and sizes. We have allowed the government to tinker with our free market system to the point where it is no longer a free market. We can’t even raise our children as we see fit without some sort of governmental interference. Let’s face it, each day we lose more and more of our capacity to choose our own destiny and this means we’re losing our liberty. Our founding fathers pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to fight to secure liberty for themselves and a nation. They realized that the power of choice was an essential branch of the tree of liberty. I learned this very simple truth as a 16 year old kid working on the road with my grandfather.
The power of choice is liberty and liberty is freedom. The next time some politician promises more security in exchange for liberty no matter how insignificant it may appear, we need to take measure and ask ourselves if losing the power of choice in America advances individual freedom. I think you already know the answer.
Liberty forever, freedom for all!