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Dec 03

7th Issue New Voice For Politics

7th Issue New Voice For Politics

In this Issue
Freedom From What: Responsibility or Tyranny? Is it better to be able to act free from hindrance or be free from responsibility?

Carried Away with Defense Spending? Is defense spending helping to keep us safe or causing our economy to go down with the ship?

 



Freedom From What: Responsibility or Tyranny?

By: Brian Samuels

Sometimes in politics, it seems like the only thing opposing political parties can agree on is to keep fighting with each other. Even when they agree with each other, they will often continue to yell at each other and hurl foul names. One instance where this odd persistence in quarreling occurs is in disputes regarding freedom. Those on the left and right of the political spectrum both claim they are fighting to protect every person’s right to be free. But if they are both in favor of freedom, why are they still carrying on like two children in the backseat on a five hour car ride? It all has to do with what it means to be free.

Many people have heard of the concept of freedom, but not everyone agrees upon what it means. How should one define this word; it all depends upon who you ask. If a reader would ask this author, they would be told that “freedom” is defined as a person being able to act to further their life in the direction that they deem will maximize their happiness without outside constraint. Freedom is a pathway that one can take to attain what they desire and not a final destination. Freedom does not guarantee financial success, safety, or happiness; but then again, nothing in life is guaranteed. When one is free they have the opportunity to pursue what they desire: whether it is money, a large family full of children, or peace and quiet.

While there are many advantages to being free, it is not without risk. When a person is free to act as they desire, both positive and negative results may ensue; nothing is guaranteed. When people are free, they will fail in some of their efforts due to a lack of effort, ability, or favorable environmental circumstances, but they will have the opportunity to try something else when their actions do not go as they would like. The path of freedom can be smooth sailing for some and a bumpy road for others; the only guarantee is opportunity.

Some do not agree with the above view of freedom; rather, they define a life of freedom as a world free of unhappy endings. They believe in an alternative reality where nothing can harm them and all their needs are met. This is a magical land where a person can party like a rock star, spend all their money and never end up in debt. In many respects, it is similar to living in a Disney movie; a fairy godmother is always able to bail a person out by turning a pumpkin into a fancy coach when a ride is needed. The ideal life is one where every whim is met at no cost to the individual.

In an attempt to create a life free from bad things ever occurring, people try to control everything in an attempt to eliminate all risk. The government writes laws and issues regulations to ensure that nothing bad ever happens. Unfortunately, childproofing the planet requires the government to take away one freedom after another: parents are not allowed to bring a birthday cake to school, someone might be allergic to an ingredient; do not drink alcohol, someone might accidentally harm another; and no one is ever allowed to fire a BB gun, they might shoot their eye out. Fearmongers argue that the government should make all of these situations illegal in order to make the world free from harm, but when the government bans all of these actions have they created freedom or shackles in disguise? A person might consider themselves free in such a world, but a more accurate summation would be that the individual has become a slave to safety. People are not allowed to take risks because they might hurt themselves. Ironically in such a world, people can still be harmed, the only thing they cannot be is free to do as they wish.

With all of this in mind, which type of freedom seems preferable? Making choices for one’s self would require grit to strive for success and might result in failure. The alternative involves relying on the Government to take care of us?  If allowed; government will try to meet our every need and keep us safe, but at a heavy price. By ceding more and more of our money through taxes, the Leviathan, which is government, will continue to grow as individuals’ freedom to act shrinks.  With less money, people will have fewer resources to do what they wish. With more regulations, the individual will be forced to do what government “knows is best” for everyone.

How should an individual respond to this continual growth of government? Should a person embrace and cheer its growth or push back and demand a less intrusive government?

 


Carried Away with National Defense

By Linda Jefferson

A friend of mine believes that personal safety is very important. In order to make sure that no one in his family is ever harmed in any way, he has taken a number of steps to ensure their safety. He has motion activated cameras and lights, triple deadbolts on his doors, bulletproof windows, owns 10 Doberman Pinschers that roam his fenced in property at night, and a safe room with a one year’s supply of food and self-contained ventilation system. Within his house, there is a small armory that everyone, including their youngest daughter, has been trained to use. It is his opinion that they could ward off an attack of 30 heavily armed individuals. Even though he lives in one of the nicest and safest neighborhoods in town, my friend does not believe he has gone too far. When asked how much all of his precautions have cost him, he says “you cannot put a price on safety.”

Safety might be priceless, but his home security expenses are not. My friend is now about to file for bankruptcy. He owes more money than he can possibly repay in the next ten years. Every month, he spends more than he brings in, and one of his biggest expenses remains home security. In the past month alone, he has committed to purchasing the latest version of home defense machines and 3 additional Doberman Pinschers. No one in his neighborhood has even had a house broken into since the 1940s, but he still continues to build up his defenses against an imagined enemy that might attack at any moment. When it is pointed out to him that what he is doing is crazy, he says, “Well if I am crazy, so is the United States government.”

My friend does raise a good point. The United States Federal Government is $17 trillion dollars in debt, because they spend more money than they bring in. A big chunk of this overspending is the result of funding the military. Seventeen percent of the proposed 2014 Federal Budget is committed to defense spending. After Social Security (33%) and Medicare (25%), military (17%) spending is the third largest expenditure in the budget. Is it worth it to spend so much on the military?

Putting aside the fact that we have not been attacked by another country since 1941, are there any countries that pose such a military threat to the United States today to justify such spending? Terrorists have attacked the United States, but no military has attempted to invade over the past 70 years. Why has no one tried to invade? One of the main reasons is that no other country even comes close to what we spend on the military. If you look at all the money that is spent on militaries by all the world governments combined in 2012, the United States accounted for 39% of all military spending in the world. In comparison, China came in second with 9.5% and Russia accounted for 5.2% in third place.

One of the best ways to see the lopsidedness in military spending is to look at the number of aircraft carriers each country owns. In 2013, the United States Navy has 10 aircraft carriers in service, 2 in reserve, and 3 under construction. The next two countries with the greatest number of aircraft carriers are the United Kingdom and Italy with 2 active carriers for each country. The only other countries with one active aircraft carrier are Thailand, China, Brazil, India, Spain, Russia, and France. Do we really need 10 aircraft carriers and another 3 under construction to defend ourselves from an attack from France’s one aircraft carrier?

Some are probably arguing that we are a big country and can easily afford the purchase of 3 more aircraft carriers, but such supporters should keep in mind that these beauties do not come cheap. The Ford class carriers that are currently under construction have the dubious honor of being extremely expensive, over budget, and behind schedule. Originally, one Ford class aircraft carrier was supposed to cost $12.8 billion when construction began in 2008. It is still under construction in 2013 and is now 22% over budget. It should also be noted that the original $12.8 billion price tag “does not include $4.7 billion in research and development costs.”

Obviously, it is important to defend one’s home, but are 13 aircraft carriers or Doberman Pinschers really necessary to do this? The primary responsibility of any president or parent is to protect their family, but what is the point of defending from external enemies, only to fall victim to an internal one with debt. It is important to spend money on defense, but we should not waste it. Defense spending is a balancing act; we must ask if external threats justify such exorbitant spending. Every penny spent on national defense is one less penny that could be spent on addressing other important issues: such as, education, mental health, reducing the debt, and a multitude of other issues. Do we need 13 aircraft carriers? Is it worth going into debt for them?

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