Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Erosion of American Liberties - Part 1

Today, even with all the things that are going on in Washington which are, of course, huge issues and worthy of all the attention we can give them, I thought that I'd take a moment to address something on a much smaller and simpler scale. Smaller and simpler, perhaps, but an additional example of how the government has been imposing itself into the daily decision making of individuals.

This example is of one of those types of things that have been going on for a long time, that we thought were harmless. But when combined and brought into focus, we can see it is a part of the overall tapestry of governmental intervention into our personal lives that has led us to where we are today, where the government believes it has not only the right but a duty to take over banking, private businesses and corporations, and healthcare. It's like the larger picture that is made up of thousands and thousands of individual pictures. But for now, we'll focus in on one of those little individual pictures.

As reported in yesterday's Times Union in Saratoga Springs, Florida, 12-year-old Adam Marino and his mother ride bicycles together more than four miles each way from their home to Adam's middle school on nice days despite a policy by the school that students are not allowed to walk or ride bikes to school. Last school term, Adam's mother, Janette, challenged the school's policy and thought she had a nonverbal understanding that Adam would be allowed to continue to ride his bike to school until the policy had been reviewed. At the beginning of this school term, however, parents were telephoned the night before classes began to restate that bike riding and walking to school would not be tolerated. With their previous understanding, Adam and his mother decided to continue their plan to bike both ways along a state highway until they were confronted by school administrators and state police.

The Saratoga Healthy Transportation Network soon rallied around the mother and son by riding along with them an average of twice a week as they pedal their way on Route 9 from home to school and back. In the afternoons Adam's mother rides to the school to join her son and ride back home with him. Route 9 does not have a bike lane, but does have crosswalks and wide lanes. It also has less reported traffic accidents than the state average for similar streets and no biking accidents have been reported in more than three years. Other elementary and middle schools districts allow their students to ride their bikes to school if they provide a note from their parents granting permission.
The school administrator has admitted that the school has no legal responsibility over what occurs on Route 9. But here again, is an example of how the decision making process is being usurped from the parents by the school and government over-reaching its boundaries of authority.

Question: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time.

So, here we have an example of how government has taken the freedom of choice of transportation away from the parent. It's just one little picture in the overall bigger picture of governmental control. And the overall picture of government has been accumulating all these little pictures, one here and one there. It has stripped Americans of their individual liberties one little bit at a time until, now it has become impatient for total control. It wants to gobble up larger and larger chunks, faster and faster – without chewing (debate)!

Question: When was the last time the government granted Americans a freedom? Really granted Americans a freedom? Answer???

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as the supreme law of the United States, outlined American's freedoms and enumerated the rights to choose what would give them life and liberty and allow them the pursuit of happiness. Over the past hundred years or so especially, our lawmakers and the Supreme Court's interpretations of those laws have methodically chipped away at our rights, bit by bit, imposing restrictions here and there, allowing certain interpretations that favored one group over another. Now, they don't want us to think for ourselves -- at all.

Thus far, we have lost many of our basic rights to make personal decisions like the example I have given above. The Obama Administration is now trying to gobble up the last portions of the freedom Americans have, to take control of everything they don't already control. We must become educated on the issues and we must act to preserve the rights that remain before it's too late, before they take away our final right to speak out in public, and, yes, even to vote.

The election in 2010 is our next real chance to make a difference, to express our concerns and to remove those from office who are part of the problem in Washington. Concerned groups should make plans to help get people out to vote. We, who have been silent Americans, must start expressing with urgency our opposition to the destruction of the Constitution and the American core values at every opportunity. We have an obligation to future generations to be heard, and especially right now while we still have the power to remove those who would do us harm through denying us our liberties - even those as simple as your personal decision for your own child to ride a bike along with you to school.

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