Threats to liberty

This morning I woke up and as part of my typical morning routine, I was checking the news, Facebook, and email, in the hopes that one of my classes may have been cancelled (no luck). While visiting CNN’s website, I was astonished and discouraged to see the results of an online, nonscientific poll that showed 70% of participants approved of the recent “resignation” of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner.

Under normal free market circumstances, I wouldn’t think a second thought about this new development. After all, CEOs come and go just like companies; all part of a functioning and healthy free market. This instance however deserved far more than just a quick glance because, as many of you (hopefully) know, this was no ordinary resignation of a CEO from a troubled company. This was the direct result of what more or less amounted to a government order. Rick Wagoner resigned because the sections of our government overseeing the “restructuring” of GM, namely the Obama administration, ordered him to.

This in and of itself already highlights a significant problem, that being that the government has already meddled enough in our economic freedom that it’s now running companies (as if a government that’s over $11 trillion in debt and run by an administration asking for a budget deficit in excess of $1.7 trillion has any moral authority to claim that it can be fiscally responsible with a company). That’s an issue for another day, however; one that I’ve also already beaten to death in previous columns.

Today I’d rather focus on that seemingly small issue of Rick Wagoner’s forced resignation and what it really means in a society that prides itself on freedom and individual liberty. The truth is that while this is only a subscript to the larger problem of government interference, we can look at it and start to see just how dangerous governmental interference can be.

So let’s look at it in the purest and simplest form: the government told a (nominally) free company’s CEO that he will resign. He obliged to this gross misappropriation of government power, despite the fact that there was little to no demand from GM shareholders or the GM board that he do so. Rather than respond to the demands of free people in a free society, he responded to the despicable despotic demands of our government.

The interference in the free economy, our greatest bastion of individual liberty, that our government continues to assert is both shameful and worrisome. The truth is that while the resignation of one man by government order might not seem like much by itself, taken in context with the great movement toward increased government control of our economy, it goes without saying that it constitutes in microcosm a huge threat to our liberty.

What is the most troubling, however, is that if the CNN poll I wrote of earlier is any indication, 70% of the country seems to approve. Plato seems to have hit the nail on the head when he once philosophized that dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy. Our government is slowly squeezing our liberties away in the name of preserving economic stability. Given President (comrade?) Obama’s recent declaration that GM and Chrysler may have to declare bankruptcy in order to warrant even more federal “assistance,” it seems pretty obvious that that same government clearly has no idea what it’s doing, given that bankruptcy seems to only be okay after $17.4 billion of taxpayer dollars has been spent to bailout the companies first. How’s that for “spreading the wealth around?”

The point is that every time the government illegitimately spends your money or illegitimately threatens or tramples the rights of a free company, it constitutes a threat on not just your liberty, but everyone’s liberty. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for men of good conscience to remain silent.” I fear that 70% of this great country is doing just that; remaining silent and allowing the potential for tyranny to gain a foothold.”

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