Ben Franklin probably should have been called "the father of the country" because of all the kids he had, but he was also the father of some pretty nifty sayings. One of the best ones is so short even I have memorized it: "They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety." Rolls right off of the tongue, doesn't it?
The novelist Somerset Maugham (among many other people) noticed the same thing Franklin did: "If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose that freedom, and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose those too." (I can't memorize that one, as it's too long.)
What they said is true, but why is it true? One reason, the main one and the best-known one, is that when people, who are unfortunately mostly nit-witted, give up their freedom for in exchange for security, that security is most definitely a fake one, a real con job, based on the unnecessary, indeed extraordinarily dangerous, expansion of government and its most-often-false laws. Said nit-witted people, much to their perplexed surprise, then end up without much freedom, shocked speechless that they are oppressed by a bunch of silly Twilight Zone laws that do no good whatsoever. One needs to look no further than the goofy nonsense going on at the airports, nonsense that requires people to give up nail clippers and Bic lighters, and march around without their shoes, like retarded children whose parents are afraid they might walk through mud and lose them. This stupidity in no way makes the passengers safer, and everyone knows it.
As R.J. Rushdoony put it: "So, the question is being asked, 'what is the balance between liberty and security?' I have an answer: there is no balance. There will be NO balance. In fact, once you trade your liberty, you'll never see that security. You're going to receive tyranny, in spades!. . .You're being searched at airports. You'll soon be searched on buses, trains, and subways. Eventually, you'll be searched on the streets."
There is another problem with giving up liberty for this fake security. Under the free market (which admittedly has never existed in its pure form in the world, but the U.S. has been the closest), there is a very small minority of the extremely wealthy, a very large middle-class, and not many poor. When the liberty of the free market is given up, what that society ends up with is a very small minority of extremely weathly, almost no middle-class, and everyone else poor and oppressed. Think of the Philippines and Mexico as examples of the latter -- examples which, in some form, just might be our future.
Some people -- perhaps the majority -- will not only voluntarily but eagerly give up their liberty for "security" because they think the government is going to take care of them. Are they adults or babies with wet diapers? This is what's happening in the U.S. right now: "Take care of me when I get old, through Social Security. . .give me free health care, through Medicaid and Medicare. . .gimme, gimme, gimme. . .take care of all my wants and needs."
When people look to the government to take care of them, that means the government ends up running the economy. That means, ultimately, ten percent of the people are gonna up end with two-thirds of the wealth, and the other 90% will share the remaining one-third. That's just human nature, and those who think otherwise have their hands glued over their eyeballs.
Or, we might end up with what is called Pareto's 20/80 law: 20% of the people will use the power of the State to acquire 80% of the wealth, and the remaining 80% will have 20% of the wealth. Either way, a very small minority will have most of the wealth, and the overwhelming majority won't have much at all, the ninnies.
Pareto, by the way, is one of the essential political economists to read. He noticed rulers tend to be either Foxes who use fraud, or Lions who use force. The mass of men he called "sheep." And everyone knows what foxes and lions do to sheep.
The other essential political writer to read is the notorious Machiavelli.
When people allow the government to take away their liberty to order to "take care" of them, the people invariably end up with no liberty, no security, and no wealth. Instead they end up poor, stupid, and oppressed. They voluntarily turn themselves into slaves. This will always happen, just as surely as night follows day.
This problem has been going on for a long, long time. It has in fact been the history of the world. The theologian Marcus Borg points out that during Jesus' time, the "elites" -- guess what? -- were the ten percent that owned two-thirds of the wealth. . .and the other 90% looked around and asked, "Is this all we get?" This disparity is why Jesus referred to the wealthy political elites of his time as "vipers" who would steal the last pennies of widows and orphans. Read his words, and you'll find viciousness in his description of the world's eternal enemies. Viciousness, but truth. And what he said was just as true now as then.
Speaking of Jesus' time (actually a millenia or so before), the reason Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years is so that all the slaves would die off, and with them, the slave mentality. That's how long it takes to get rid of that mentality -- at least a generation.
Do we really want to do that to ourselves? Apparently so, at least for some people. In the famous "Grand Inquisitor" scene in The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky has the Inquisitor say, "For centuries...we have been wrestling with...freedom, but now it is ended and over for good." Dostoevsky was commenting on the fact that many people want to give up their freedom to "authority." The Inquisitor goes so far as to claim, "they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet."
Dostoevsky also wrote, in The House of the Dead: "Tyranny...finally develops into a disease. The habit can...coarsen the very best man to the level of a beast. Blood and power intoxicate...the return to human dignity, to repentance, to regeneration, becomes almost impossible."
Or, as I put it: "Power intoxicates, and immunity corrupts."
People think that giving up their freedom to authority, in exchange for "security," will not invariably lead to tyranny but it will. It's why I don't think "people and their leaders," but instead "sheep and their wolves."
As for us, today, the writer Fredo Arias-King notes: "Madison, Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and others devised a system and embedded the Constitution with mechanisms to thwart the 'natural' tendency of the political class to usurp power -- to become a permanent elite lording over pauperized subjects, as was the norm in Europe at the time." Ancient Palestine, Europe, the Philippines, Mexico. . .why, ultimately should the U.S. be any different, especially since the Constitution means nothing except what the government says it means? Try defending yourself with it in a court sometime. You won't be allowed.
"Capitalism now seems to me," writes Edgar J. Steele, "always destined to morph into the dictatorial-collectivist sort of monopolistic, fascistic greed, oppression and exploitation of the common man that is all too prevalent in the world today, as the line between business and government increasingly blurs." Uh huh.
People will claim, "Oh, no, I want my freedom," and then turn around and vote for some sleazy-but-articulate politician promising them all kinds of goodies -- goodies taken by force from others, although it's called "fairness" and "taxes" instead of "envy" and "theft." People (and politicians) say one thing, then do the exact opposite. Actions, as always, speak louder than words.
You can have liberty, and all the insecurity inherent in it (which really ain't that much, anyway), or ultimately you can be poor and enslaved. I don't see any other options. So, what can I say? If you don't listen to people like Franklin and Maughan you're going to be really sorry? I'd say that's about right.