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JUNE 30, 1997

Opinion

Liberty vs. Security

Liberty vs. Security Our celebration of Independence Day this July 4th gives us pause to remember the wisdom of our founding fathers. These wise men, who were serious students of history, took great pains that the foundation they laid for America would preserve the coming generations from the bondage endured by peoples of many nations then existing and gone before. They were great analysts of what it was which denied men, created equal by God, their God-given rights of liberty.
   As they fought, both by words to persuade the minds of their contemporaries and by putting their "lives, property, and sacred honor" on the line to give birth to a nation where freedom reigned, they faced those who were willing to forego that freedom for the security and protection of Mother England. These lovers of security were not of one mind with the lovers of liberty whom we now know as our founding fathers. The founding fathers themselves had little patience with these faint-hearted.
   Does not the hot blood of our founding fathers, fervent for freedom, also course within our veins? Are not our minds stirred by their words and their passionate love for liberty? Do we find ourselves any less "lovers of liberty?" Are we not willing to forego security to remain at liberty?
   These are timely questions, because, you see, some things never change. Lovers of liberty today face the same threat from lovers of security. Threat? Yes ... In the name of security, we have collectively given up many rights--property rights, second amendment rights, individual rights, parental rights, etc.
   Enemies of liberty are as much those who do not understand what comprises liberty as those who deliberately and knowingly desire the government to make all decisions. These are the folks who desire, propose, and pass the "good deed" legislation.
   An example of this that we can all understand is the provision of government for the needs of the poor--our welfare system. Are the poor more free? No, indeed. In many cases, they have been trapped in a generational cycle of dependency that has robbed them of their pride, their creativity, and their power to help themselves. Their dependency has often led to indolence, intemperance, immorality, illegitimacy, and criminal activity. This is not to say that many could not use a helping hand. The government, however, has no heart, no compassion. It lacks the power to really help the needy. Whenever impersonal government takes upon itself a responsibility belonging to compassionate human beings, it compounds the problem and strips individuals of liberty. All suffer, the "helped" and society as a whole.
   Just what is government's job? "All political power is inherent in the people, and the governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights." (Washington State Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 1).

Lois McMahan, Executive Director, Washington Legislative Network, former 26th District Representative