You Must Want Our Freedom

Published 2:50 pm Thursday, March 22, 2012

Editor, The Herald:

Thomas Jefferson, because he was an educated man, relied on all that he knew of historical human behavior, governance, and philosophy and put it together to make the statements that establish our form of government. Without that education and experience, he and the rest of the framers of our constitution would not have produced the world's latest, greatest roadmap for freely living together in large numbers. It took the combined knowledge and experience of those men, and their wives, to create all of our Charter documents, including the Constitution of the United States of America. We have patched and cross-patched that document with amendments throughout our history, to address the problems of our society, as we have recognized those problems, while trying to maintain our basic vested human rights.

To live in this country as a citizen takes work, but it all begins with education as the background for dealing with the concept of freedom. Obviously, this concept is interpreted by a lot of people to mean a lot of different things. Our Constitution spells out what this means, but then it has to be interpreted by other educated minds – specifically the minds making judgments now sitting in our Supreme Courts, state and federal. We, as citizens have elected the people who appointed these minds to make judgments on our behalf. Those we elected have appointed people whose political leanings are in line with what they believe. But it all began with We, the people. We have a form of governance that is from the bottom up, not the top down.

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When we say we do not want government in our lives, we are basically saying we do not want We, the people, in our lives. WE are the government. The government is US. It was put in place to work on our behalf, to aid us in the travails and hardships of living with others. It is made up of employees who are our family, friends, and neighbors, and those we have elected from our districts – we should know them, since they represent us, if we do not!

There have always been those who prosper more than others, and who are looking for ways to maintain that prosperity (nothing lasts forever and you have to prepare for that change – especially in government). There is nothing our elected representatives are charged with, and empowered to do while in office, that is not done, in theory, on our behalf. They are there to work for the common good, prepare our country and its citizens with laws for the future they, in their educated understanding, see as ours. If they become beholden to members of their districts or lobbyists, who represent business interests and their own wealth, and make laws that do not promote the public good, we have the option to cast them out, and, in some cases, to legally charge them with a crime. A federal institution, the Department of Justice, and its attorney general is charged with doing just this.

Freedom is spelled out in our Constitution. We learn the how-to of freedom in our public schools, which is why we have public education – it is supposed to produce good citizens who can think and act. What we know also presupposes action -we have to act on what we know to bring the future into being. Therefore, we have to allow for innovation and changes in our social, educational, scientific, financial, business, and governmental structures. We, the people, through our vote, get to decide how much change we want to allow.

When our courts gave corporations the same rights as people, which includes free speech, they brought us all into a new realm of We, the people. We, the people, as individual actors, are held accountable for our actions under the law. If we break a law, it is usually in the public arena, and can be seen or found out. We have police departments to protect us in this way. We have churches to help auto-correct behavior in their congregations. Corporations are made up of boards of directors, trustees, shareholders, employees, and their work is mostly with papers they create. These are in the form of memos, emails, reports, minutes of meetings, and official documents filed in the courts. The papers remain each day – the people go home. Unless there are whistleblowers, we mostly do not ever see what they do by these paper creations. And when it does come to light, through turmoil in the marketplace and our institutions, we are appalled and incensed by what they do. Now, with the same rights as persons, they have privacies that even we no longer enjoy in how they conduct themselves. Businesses have rights, without obligations, except through professional standards, we, as citizens, do not have. Corporations have double rights, when the rights of personhood are added. And again, WE elect the people who make the law, and who APPOINT the people who interpret the law.

I am curious about the sudden interest and action on the part of government in the reproductive rights of women, and their rights over their own body. It has always been a contention in our world, this tussle between men and women, but where did this sudden onslaught of rhetoric and action come from so rapidly? What is going on in this overpopulated world that would cause the possibility of more reproduction, rather than less? It would seem to be more a matter of control, but in whose hands, and for what end?

Is it possible now – just a question, since corporations have the same rights as persons – that corporations can reproduce? We can make robots, and this seems to be the future of science. It is a form of reproduction through manufacturing. We can easily clone cells (animal and human), even though human cloning is against the law-at this time. We can grow fetuses in a test tube. We can provide a willing womb in society and within the corporation – for the right price – and current law upholds that anything produced while employed and at work in the corporation is the property of the corporation. How does human reproduction fit into this? If an employee is impregnated while on the job, who is the father of the child? Who is legally responsible? What is the child's last name? Supposedly, that of the humans. But if it were legally challenged, how would it turn out? Especially since the eggs (and sperm?) have rights. It is a curiosity to me to know where the legal lines will be drawn. Especially since most of the wealth, here and in the world, comes through and belongs to corporations. It begins to look like someone is thinking things through – and way ahead of us – in the Occupy Wall Street groups. These youth are our future!

If we had a pandemic that wiped out most of the human population of the world, and the corporations were all that were left (a corporation is a legal entity, and can only be dissolved by failure to file reports and pay fees, or the willful act by vote of its board) are they the new humans with rights? Paperwork is needed to run a corporation. Humans, if pushed to the brink, can live without it (and most prefer to do so). No messy divorce with the sharing of property in a corporation. It is all spelled out by paperwork (contract) in advance. And corporations can be merged by a vote and just by filing paperwork – which is probably much less costly than a wedding. Is this the world of the future?

Most people do not vote. They do not see voting as the act of freedom we are given and expected to use. If, as has been suggested in this age of social networking, elections are decided by popular vote, instead of the system we use of caucuses and plurality, and electoral votes, I believe we would have as many problems as before. We might have more people voting, but also more room for voter fraud. But we would have individuals at the heart of elections, not groups with special interests.

Since corporations have the same vested constitutional rights as humans, where will the ultimate line be drawn?

It is very important, in all election years, to vote as your right of expression of free speech. It would also seem very important to use freedom as a verb – to act as free in your life, to do freedom. You have freedom simply by the act of using it, within the laws we use to live. It is not so easy as it sounds (just look at the news from around the world). You have to want our brand of freedom to have it.

Sandra Everson-Jones