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Bucheit writes: "As inequality destroys our economic security, and the prison population grows, and religion continues to impact public policy, and our privacy is invaded, our precious freedoms become more and more a failed American dream."

(image: drooker.com)
(image: drooker.com)


4 Freedoms in America That Don't Exist Anymore

By Paul Bucheit, Alternet

29 January 13

 

reedom seems to exist more in our minds than in reality.

If asked why we live in a great country, an American is likely to respond: "Because we are free." Fortunately for the respondent, explanation is rarely required. Freedom is difficult to define, and today it seems to exist more in our minds than in reality.

In a 1941 Message to Congress, Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to explain what it means to be free. He outlined the "four essential human freedoms":

The first is freedom of speech and expression.
The second is freedom of every person to worship.
The third is freedom from want.
The fourth is freedom from fear.

The 2013 version shows how our freedoms have been diminished, or corrupted into totally different forms.

Freedom from want? Poverty keeps getting worse.

For every three people in poverty in the year 2000, there are now four. Almost 50 million people were impoverished in 2011. Over 20 percent of our children live in poverty, including almost half of young black children. Among industrialized countries only Romania has a higher child poverty rate than the United States.

It goes well beyond economics. Not long after the FDR era, in 1960, the U.S. ranked near the top among 34 OECD countries in life expectancy and infant mortality. By 2008 we were close to the bottom. A 2007 UNICEF report ranked us last among 21 OECD nations in an assessment of child health and safety.

Freedom from want has been least attainable for people of color. For every $100 a white family has, a black family has $2. For every $100 a single white woman has, a single black or Hispanic woman has 25 cents.

Freedom from fear? The new Jim Crow.

In the decades before FDR, young black men were under constant threat of arrest for "vagrancy," and the resulting slave-like conditions of forced labor. Today vagrancy has been replaced by petty drug offenses. In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander documents the explosion of the prison population for drug offenses, with blacks and Hispanics the main targets even though they use drugs at about the same, or lesser rate as white Americans. In Colorado and Washington and New York City and Seattle the patterns are disturbingly similar: minority arrests are vastly out of proportion to their percentages of the population.

Freedom of worship? Distorted by visions of the Rapture.

In 2005 Bill Moyers wrote about the far-right evangelical beliefs that dominate much of conservative American thinking and which impact social and environmental policies. He repeats a theology professor's summary of the Rapture credo: "The world cannot be saved." Believers are not responsible for the environment, and should focus only on personal salvation. Droughts and floods, which have been occurring with greater regularity as the earth warms, are simply signs of the apocalypse as foretold in the Bible, and thus should be welcomed.

With this attitude, freedom of worship is twisted into a radical dogma that threatens the health and safety of our entire population. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), like many on the conservative right, favors the Bible over science. "My point is," notes Inhofe with reference to a verse from Genesis, "God's still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."

Extremists also welcome war with Islam in the Middle East, for it is an "essential conflagration on the road to redemption." At a Florida conference on "Biblical Prophecy about End Times," diatribes poured forth with a vengeance: "Islam is an intolerant religion...Islam is a Satanic religion." A reporter came away convinced that "A terrible, final war in the [Middle East] is inevitable."

Freedom of speech? No, surveillance and harassment.

In De Jonge v. Oregon, 1937, the Supreme Court decided that the right of peaceable assembly is "cognate to those of free speech and free press and is equally fundamental."

Recently released FBI documents reveal that the agency repeatedly monitored Occupy Wall Street activities, viewing them as possible terrorism.

Peaceable assembly and free speech might also describe the act of young men gathering on the streets of New York City. But their First Amendment rights, along with the Fourth Amendment prohibition against illegal search, are constantly violated by stop-and-frisk abuses by the police, which at times border on sexual assault.

In addition, our freedom of expression is increasingly compromised by advanced surveillance technologies. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act gives the government license to spy on us. New techniques such as iris scans, license-plate recognition, GPS devices in pharmaceutical products, and facial recognition technology may invade our privacy. Drones are flying over our homes. The National Security Agency is building a data center big enough to store every email, text, phone call, web search, and video in the United States. With the Electronic Communications Privacy Act on its side, the government is authorized to take anything it can get.

Franklin Roosevelt once said, "True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security." As inequality destroys our economic security, and the prison population grows, and religion continues to impact public policy, and our privacy is invaded, our precious freedoms become more and more a failed American dream.

 

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+19 # Walter J Smith 2013-01-29 18:07
Let's not forget it was Harry Truman and the Democrats who reversed the policy of fighting against fear, and created the policy of cultivating fear. It all began with the fear of communism, and now that we really do have several very big challenges, and really should fear our US Government's radical incompetence preventing it from addressing these very big challenges, we have become immune to all the chicken littles who chastise us for not fearing enough.

Fear can be healthy; it can get our attention, and nudge us to be exceptionally cautious. I learned that in combat, being one of the few who learned it before his fear sent him home in a cheap box. But where are the political leaders who can teach this to the nation?

Please, do not spare the Democrats (we all know the Republicans have nothing to offer the nation worth having). Help us encourage the non-partisans to take on the bipartisan hack parade (now obviously led by astonishingly corrupt Max Baucus, Orrin Hatch, and Mitch McConnel).
 
 
+19 # tclose 2013-01-30 08:20
Harry and the Dems who were hardly responsible for reversing "the policy of fighting against fear" (if there ever was such a thing). The Dems were swept up in the national paranoia that was mostly fired up by the Repubs and conservatives - witness Dick Nixon's election campaign of 1950, and Joe McCarthy campaign of paranoia throughout most of the 50s. Democrats were reluctantly forced to go along with the bunkum as most of the US electorate had bought into this paranoia, and they would have been swept out of office if they resisted - and many of them were swept out for this reason.

Now we move to the present: after 9-11 fear has returned, and again it has been stoked by right wing. Once again, the Dems have capitulated and gone along with such travesties as the NDAA.
 
 
+34 # Cdesignpdx 2013-01-30 00:52
Fear of the "Other" has been a political tactic for as long as long as power struggles have been traced.
In defense of Truman et al, we should always correct information that could besmirch someone once in power, but who now can't shake a finger in defense.

Joseph McCarthy waged that campaign of fear—even had a list of Communists infiltrating US politics and entertainment (PR).
His fear campaign defeated Bob La Follett
McCarthy's ginned-up fear campaign even found itself on the cover of my Weekly Reader in the fifth grade. The cover graphic was an outline of Laos and Vietnam as sheets hanging with other regional colonies on an all-American backyard clothesline. Some sheets were held to the line with one clothes pin, others secured by two...

The fear of communism so permeated our public policy throughout the 50s and two ensuing decades. My mom applied for a job at a local university (60s), she had to sign a statement avowing that she was not and never had been a member of the Communist party.

Truman was not responsible for the flaming the Communist fears that swirled through his administration.

Senator Joseph McCarthy was exposed for the fraud that served his rise. Very unfortunate was the destruction of the many productive, creative people, who always had the right to be either left or right–a constitutional "freedom."

FUND EDUCATION. If the school your child attends does not teach civics, demand it so we don't all go to some "hell'.
 
 
+15 # cafetomo 2013-01-30 01:50
The first is freedom of speech and expression (English only).
The second is freedom of every person to worship money.
The third is freedom to want everything it buys, regardless of global repercussions.
The fourth is freedom to fear what you are told, to enable those quite literally banking on mass hysteria.

There you go. All updated for 2013.

Pray it bites them in the ass.
 
 
+4 # Depressionborn 2013-02-01 09:58
I was taught that freedom meant being able to be yourself without hassle. What's wrong with that?

(And my family spoke Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian, but I forgot them all.)

(Push one for English?)
 
 
+12 # Mrcead 2013-01-30 06:52
All of these lack of freedom rationales can be summed up into once social construct - In group advantage / out group disadvantage.

Basically, if one is different, one is kept out of the loop. The best education, food, jobs, housing, and statuses are reserved for the people who best embody the ideals of the group in power. If one wishes to become part of this group, one must jump through any hoops placed before him / her (without complaint - very important unwritten / unspoken rule!) and assist in keeping any "undesirable" outsiders - out.

See gated communities, suburbs, exclusive social clubs, denominational churches, minorities bringing property values and quality of life down just by breathing, etc. - all social constructs to keep insiders "in" and outsiders "out".

This is the core belief system of a Christian based society. There has to be "evil" to motivate the "good" to build and be better. It's really sick when one thinks about it because some people feel this dynamic needs to be reinterpreted and given a push (new laws that target specific groups of people) to speed things along.

When a society has the ability and resources to fix all that troubles it but chooses not to, one has to wonder why. I have my theories but that is for another day. But the "Us versus Them" dynamic in this country is all too apparent.
 
 
+14 # reiverpacific 2013-01-30 13:10
The whole country has slid into a pit of Corporate monopoly, making largely nothing here and it has become harder and harder to make it as a small business owner.
The old "Can-do" attitude I first admired so much when I came here in the mid-late 70's has been stifled and replaced with "What am I going to do?" or angry resignation.
 
 
+4 # wrodwell 2013-01-30 16:58
In regards to the above article, particularly in reference to the pernicious influence of crazy Christianity, I say "Amen".
 
 
0 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 19:23
What about the spread of the violent Moslem Cult? How many embassies have been blown up in the name of Christianity? How many Christian, Jewish, Hindi, or Shinto suicide-bombers are there, and what were their targets? Dates&location, please!
 
 
+1 # Ray Kondrasuk 2013-02-01 21:46
Northern Ireland comes to mind, with Christians killing Christians.

Zionist terrorists blew up British hotel facilities in Palestine '47-'48...
 
 
+1 # Trapper Killsmany 2013-02-01 08:09
Everyone's 4th amendment rights are in danger. We need a good civil rights lawyer & signatures PLEASE! This link is to promote the Truth for Trapper Petition. It is up & going now & statements & some evidence (there is much more) is up on The link:
https://www.facebook.com/TruthForTrapperKillsmany
Go to "Aug 8th incident" for what happened that day. The rest is evidence I broke no laws or did anything illegal.
There is tons more evidence, but we put up what is most important to show how serious this is & we need everyone's support in this to preserve everyone's rights to live free. Please make this go viral & get as many as we can to sign & comment if they want. We need many signatures to have a voice & fight back. Thank You to all my friends & family in this fight for our freedoms. Here is the site to sign the petition & get your voice heard & justice done for everyone. Please spread this link & the word! This is free to sign. Just stop at the part asking for money. That is a donation to facebook to keep these petitions going & is voluntarily. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/truthfortrapper/
 
 
+3 # DaveM 2013-02-01 22:53
You know why we have lost those freedoms, and many more besides? Because, during a brief time of crisis now more than a decade past, the American people cried out to the government "keep us safe!" but did not say a word when they realized what they government was doing and that they didn't feel any safer.
 

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