The Rising Cost of Safety

All Seeing Eye
Securing Your Freedom
Which one of your human and civil rights are you willing to cash in for the promise of enhanced security?

If thinking about human rights from the American perspective isn’t too radical for you, consider Mr. Jefferson’s approach in the Declaration.  He said government is a social institution created to preserve natural rights.  Government’s whole reason to exist is to make sure you and I are able to live freely.

Not to implement social justice (whatever that means right now).  Not to manage economic outcomes.  Not to perform grand social experiments with people’s lives.  Not to superintend healthcare, manufacturing, shipping, coal processing, light bulbs, soft drinks, or school lunches.  But simply to preserve everyone’s rights as human beings.

If government came with instructions, they’d read something like: “Apply equally to all citizens to preserve their rights and freedoms.  Any misuse may cause severe hardship or death.”

That misuse we recognize as oppression, abuse of power, and dictatorship. Or – it’s only a “necessary trade-off between privacy and security” when you’re a bureaucrat exercising unelected authority over other people.


Rights Versus Rights
What happens when two rights, or two freedoms, appear to be at odds?

Yelling “fire” in a crowded room is illegal because it could cause people to get injured in the rush to escape.  To protect the right to Life, the right to Free Speech is constrained. But – where does this restraining of rights for safety ever end?  Is the right to Life so overwhelming that all other rights are ultimately doomed?

Allowing the government to determine, without recourse, which of our rights they will set aside for our security, is self-evidently dangerous.  The government could simply outlaw civil liberties altogether, which is what happens under totalitarian fascism such as North Korea.

The burden of proof for reducing any human or civil right must be completely on the government.  The default position in America is supposed to be maximum freedom applied equally to all.  The government would have to prove beyond any shadow of a reasonable doubt that the need to curtail a single liberty is genuine, urgent, and imminent – and only so as to preserve another human right.

Otherwise – it’s not rights versus rights.  It’s freedom versus tyranny.


A Policeman On Every Corner
In California, it’s a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $1000 fine to throw a football or Frisbee on the beach.  The rationale: public safety.

The EPA has become synonymous with federal over-regulation.  From usurping states’ rights at a record pace, to regulating rainwater as a pollutant, the EPA seeks unlimited authority to micro-manage the entire natural world, affecting all aspects of production, farming, and commerce, as well as consumer purchases, travel, and residential property rights.  The rationale: public safety.

Police cameras on stoplights.  Traffic cameras tracking your movements across multiple jurisdictions. Police wearing hidden cameras. Surveillance cameras flying on drones. The rationale for eviscerating the 4th Amendment: public safety.

The NSA capturing and storing all internet activity worldwide, including: the subject, to/from addresses, contents, and attachments of all emails sent and received; internet keyword searches; websites viewed; passwords; and all other data transmissions.  The rationale: public safety.

How far into your life, your freedom, your private property, your information, your computer, your family, the car you drive, the water you drink, and the air you breathe, should a social institution go to provide you with protection?

At what point since Jefferson declared his independence from “a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States” in 1776, did it cost us our very lives and our souls for the government to protect us from such omnipresent, omnipotent dangers – whether real or invented?

This is not a nation preserving its rights and freedoms.  This is a nation strangled by overprotection.


  1. Agreed Lightening Walker, "In California, it’s a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $1000 fine to throw a football or Frisbee on the beach. The rationale: public safety.", where does the oversight end? The cost is too high today, we need to scale back regulations so that entrepreneurs today can have the same freedom to innovate as Thomas Edison did during his time.

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