October 22, 2009

Steve Pomper

Cops Feel Liberty is America’s True Public Option

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Chances are when you think of what cops do, in general (aside from ingesting copious quantities of coffee and donuts), you probably think they primarily protect you from criminals who want to hurt you or take your stuff. I don’t blame you; many cops probably think that too. However, I’d ask you to think more deeply on the issue. Consider that cops also protect your most important possession as an American: your liberty. Without liberty your quality of life, your pursuit of happiness, is diminished, if not extinguished. Communities should always use their cops to protect your liberty, never infringe upon it.


When our Founders created our republic they implicitly and explicitly set individual liberty as our young nation’s first public policy. Remember, what made us different from every other nation on earth at that time was this distinction: our commitment, devotion, albeit initially imperfect, to the individual American’s freedom. How have we allowed ourselves to drift so far from that original public policy? It’s ironic that now that our nation has evolved, through blood, sweat, and toil, to the point where all Americans enjoy liberty, our government has taken and continues to take so much freedom away—from everyone.


What cops do, or should do, other than protecting you from thugs out to hurt you, and capturing them for the justice system to deal with after they do, is to protect your liberty. Too often police are charged with protecting, ostensibly, your “safety,” or more accurately government’s power, rather than protecting your liberty. When people vote for socialistic laws, police are then, contrary to our founding principles, expected to protect your “safety” at the direct expense of your liberty. Patrick Henry said famously, “Give me liberty or give me death.” “Give me safety or give me death” has about as much of a ring as the Statue of Safety. Keeping us “safe” from our own behaviors and choices; what more perfect way to control a people exists?


Individual liberty should be every American jurisdiction’s public policy, but sadly it’s not. When an officer stops you exclusively for not wearing a seatbelt, or for failing to wearing an “approved” helmet, he’s enforcing a law intended to mandate how you protect your own body while engaged in a legal activity, which is an obvious infringement on your individual liberty.


People can argue whether or not each “nanny-statist” law is a good or bad thing, but there is no argument that these types of laws infringe on a person’s liberty. So, you don’t mind wearing a seatbelt or helmet, in fact, you’d choose to if it weren’t a law? Well, please remember, just because a particular law doesn’t bother you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t infringe on liberty; it only means you don’t mind the leash. The nanny-state proponent believes that the violation of liberty is worth the infringement.


What would our communities look like if we once again adopted liberty as a public policy, reflecting what our Founders intended for our great republic? How would it work? Well, whenever a law, at whatever level, municipal, county, state, or federal, were proposed, this preeminent question would have to be asked first along with cost analysis and such things is, “Will this infringe on an American’s individual liberty?” I call it the, Liberty Litmus Test.


As a nation, too many of us have gotten so complacent with our taken-for-granted freedom, we no longer appreciate where our liberty comes from and that real flesh and blood individuals have paid, and are currently paying, the price for our liberty. Too many of us seem so willing to turn our lives to ever greater degrees over to the care of Mommy government.


Is it that hard to understand that when we give the government the power to give us stuff, we also give them the power to regulate that stuff, or to take that stuff away? There’s nothing sadder in a free republic, which we still currently enjoy a tenuous hold, than to see that it’s not the government placing chains on us; all too often we’re clamping those shackles on ourselves.


So, let’s try to remember what our nation’s goals were—and should be—and use our police not toward social engineering, but toward individual liberty; just as George, Thomas, John, Ben and the boys originally intended.


The venerable and trite argument statists often use when debating nanny-statist laws is: “You must wear a helmet, seatbelt, raincoat, whatever, because if you get hurt—and if you have no insurance—we as a society incur the cost of your medical bills.”


What a slimy, insidious argument, after all, they’re the ones who made “society” responsible for certain individuals’ medical bills in the first place.


So I say, even though I do have insurance, I lose my liberty because the next guy who crashes doesn’t have insurance, so the government will have to pay? I don’t remember casting a vote to give up my rights in deference to some irresponsible deadbeat who won’t provide for his own care. Cover the truly needy, not every irresponsible person.    


The solution: “Don’t automatically pay for an uninsured person’s medical bills.” To which, as one local elected Democrat once said to me, “What are you gonna do, leave people to die in the gutter?”


How can you reason with the unreasonable? How insulting. Of course we don’t leave people to die in the gutter. In fact, I as a cop have pulled many injured folks out of lots of gutters; it’s not for me to ask the question of insurance or responsibility at the scene; that’s for folks to assess later on down the line. Whether or not someone has coverage had no bearing on receiving emergency care—and that Democrat knows that.


Look, if someone fails to pay any other kind of bill, utility, car, house payment, etc., there are courts and garnishments and various tools to recover the amount due, and in extreme cases there’s bankruptcy protection. People incur and are obligated to pay for other commodities and services all the time; what makes medical expenses any different? If the government doesn’t pay for people’s medical care (something far outside its limited Constitutional mandate), then they don’t have the power to tell people how to care for their own bodies.


For those on the political left, it seems, a person’s body is only sacred when it comes to terminating pregnancies. My wife and daughter are not allowed to choose whether or not to wear a seatbelt or helmet, but they would be well within their rights to abort a human fetus within their bodies. You’ve heard the left-wing mantra, “Keep your hands off my body;” to which we could add, “unless I want you to wear a helmet or seatbelt or not eat trans-fats, or smoke, or drink a soda or….” They practice a sort of selective sacredness.”


Liberty is America’s only legitimate public option. I get chills up my spine whenever I hear the national anthem, observe American’s bravery, or watch a TV show or read a book about the founding of our nation. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie, As Good as it Gets, when expressing his feelings for Helen Hunt’s character, “I’m proud of myself that, regarding the U.S. Constitution and our Founders conceiving a nation in liberty, I get it.” 


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