A new long train of abuses

The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, is a catalogue of grievances by the Americans toward the dictatorial policies of the British Crown, which was aloof, arbitrary, arrogant, and despotic.  Much of the document deals with how laws were either ignored or abused to the constant detriment of the Americans.  These abuses eventually became intolerable, resulting in revolution. 

Today, slowly, our nation, in fighting terrorism, is using more and more laws to restrict the American people and their constitutional rights.  Our elected representatives have created secret courts and special laws, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the USA PATRIOT Act, from which there is no or minimal appeal, giving the government the widest possible latitude in the guise of fighting terrorism foreign and domestic.

Laws upon laws are being drafted and passed that provide government with dictatorial powers.  In addition, there is little or no accountability for abuse by government officials.

Is this our future democracy?  There are examples of President Obama abusing his power with administrative changes affecting Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.  In the case of Medicare, changes include increasing out-of pocket-costs and lowering payments to doctors while increasing subsidies to insurance companies for the Affordable Care Act.  President Obama had unlawful immigration policies according to the Supreme Court and unlawful payments by for the Affordable Care Act, according to the Government Accountability Office.  Joe Biden has twisted immigration policy into a pretzel, making a mockery of the immigration system by allowing nearly five million people into the country in over two years. 

Thomas Jefferson wrote of King George III of England in the Declaration of Independence: 

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice,

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people,

Abolishing our most valuable laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments ... 

The circle of laws used and abused slowly began to cut into the life of the colonists.  The Declaration of Independence is about the lack of justice "in the long train of abuses and usurpations" by the distant monarchy.  Are there similarities today with our own government?  

James Madison, fourth president of the United States, said, 

Since the general civilization of mankind I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

We now live in a country where there are Secret Courts making decisions permitting nameless government officials unbridled power and access to whatever information is available on each citizen.  Can a citizen sue the government to obtain justice if government abuses the information it receives? 

I remember working in Esfahan, Iran with an American company in 1978, when the Shah of Iran was in power.  One day, I was sightseeing with a native of Esfahan.  We drove around the beautiful city and passed by a large, well built brick building.  It was the headquarters of the Secret Police, Savak. 

"That's Savak headquarters.  Once someone goes in, he never comes out," the native of Esfahan said, who was working for a major American company.  

"What do you mean?" I said. 

"If you are picked up, you are guilty.  They have all the power.  The courts belong to them."  

Our United States government supported Savak and the Shah of Iran at that time. The United States government actively assisted in overthrowing a duly elected government to reinstall the Shah in the early 1950s.  The people in Iran had no freedom, and they lived in fear of the Savak Secret Police.  The Iranian revolution did not bring freedom, but repression, and it was solidly anti-American.  U.S. meddling in Iran in the 1950s, overthrowing a democratically elected government, did not bode well.  

Our system has not gone down the road of Secret Police yet, but the January 6 defendants appear to be treated like prisoners of dictatorships.  There are Secret Courts with no public access and new laws making invasions of privacy information on all American citizens a normal part of daily government operations.  The defenders of these legalities now tell us it's all done for our safety and security.  To give us safety, they must take away our privacy.  

The threats to liberty are always looming, and those who impose them always seek obedience and complete trust without accountability.  Are we taking our freedoms for granted?  Do we need to be more vigilant in maintaining these freedoms we so cherish? Yes, we do.  Our founding fathers would it have it no other way, for they made tremendous sacrifices for freedom.  Those who dismiss our founding fathers dismiss the heritage of freedom bequeathed to us. 

In its quest for "Total Information Awareness," a chilling name, and despite "protections" for American citizens, the program could be twisted or revived to collect and reveal to government in a single database all public and private transactions of American citizens.  Is our government violating the Fourth Amendment — "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures"?  Your name and date of birth are punched into a computer, and your entire life is printed out for someone in government.  Where you have traveled, what you spend money on, credit status, credit card expense report, driving record, phone number, address, employment, and medical history will be available for the government.  What's wrong with that, you say?  It means your privacy does not exist.   

Laws badly administered, abused, or ignored were the injustices that caused this country's founding.  Government's constant need for greater power over the individual appears insatiable.  Is our government's financial obesity and unquenchable power devouring the nation?  It appears government power grows so easily while the individual's freedom is diminished into smaller and smaller bite-sized portions while government feasts on freedom.

Image via Max Pixel.

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