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Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act

Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, August 14, 1935

“Freedom is the Almighty’s gift.”

George W. Bush said this in a recent interview with David Frost. I find it to be a very interesting comment coming from a man who spends much of his time talking about the defense of freedom. He often states that we are currently occupying Iraq in the defense of freedom and that we need to curb our personal freedoms to defend freedom. I am not here to list philosophical inconsistencies in the president’s past statements. Even this electronic page is too short for that list. The one thing that I will say is that I agree with the president that freedom must be defended. But it is not a gift. It’s a hard-won prize.

Many lives have been lost throughout history in the defense of freedom. In 1776, 1812, and 1941, many brave Americans died so that today we can live in a free country. We fought a great Civil War to guarantee that a nation founded “by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Unfortunately we now find ourselves in a war of folly as we did when were fighting in Vietnam. Even though the reasons we went into this war were wrong, I cannot question the motives of the men and women who are over there in harm’s way. In their minds, they are there to defend our freedom. However, our freedom is not in peril from forces abroad; it is threatened by forces from within.

The Bush administration has used September 11 as an excuse not only to curb our constitutionally granted personal freedoms, but also to try to fundamentally change what it means to be an American. The administration is attempting to deconstruct some of the great advances this country has made over the last century.

Bush signs his Trojan horse Medicare Reform Bill

Bush signs his Trojan horse Medicare Reform Bill, December 8, 2003

The administration has passed a Medicare reform bill that is a Trojan horse to eventually privatize this program. It has sent thousands of manufacturing jobs out of the country with unbalanced free-trade agreements, weakening this cornerstone of the American middle class. It has repealed the Estate Tax, which was installed by our forefathers to prevent aristocracy. It has purposefully under-funded the EPA and is attempting to gut the Clean Water Act to steal away our right to live in a clean environment. It has run up unprecedented budget deficits that could bankrupt this country in the not-so-distant future, putting Social Security at risk.

The Bush administration would like to reduce government responsibility in providing such entitlement programs. Its goal is to privatize them all, to cut down the social safety net and hand it off to private corporations. What obligation does a private company have to hold up its end of the social contract? It is only entitled to provide profits to its investors, not to work for a common good.

With all of these programs at risk we must remember the people who fought for our freedom. We must remember the men, women, and children who toiled through 12-hour workdays with no rights to negotiate with management. We must remember our elderly forefathers who died sick, alone, and penniless. We must remember the young children who died from drinking polluted water and breathing foul air. We must remember the striking workers who had their skulls cracked in by Pinkertons. We must remember the people who died before there were programs like Medicare, OSHA, and Social Security.

These are all freedoms we hold as dear today as if they were written in the original draft of the Constitution. They were not. They were all hard-won prizes. Won not only by the blood of soldiers but also by the blood, sweat, and tears of millions of everyday Americans who passed before us. To allow the Bush administration to privatize entitlement programs would be to hand back these freedoms to the profiteers. It would be a disgrace to all of our ancestors. It is our responsibility to past and future generations to fight for all of our existing freedoms. It is a slow war of attrition fought in our everyday lives.

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