19-year old Hannah Cohen should have been partying.
Living with multiple disabilities like paralysis, partial deafness, and blindness in one eye, Hannah also suffers from a brain tumor.
And five days ago, she and her mother were traveling home via Memphis International Airport to celebrate the end of her cancer treatment with the rest of her family.
That’s when Hannah found out how free she really is.
After her wheelchair set off the metal detector at the airport’s security lane, Hannah couldn’t hear or understand the orders that TSA officers barked at her.
Confused and disoriented from the alarm, she tried to move away from what was clearly a stressful situation, at which point she was tackled, thrown to the ground, and arrested, her face bloodied and bruised.
On June 16th, a class of third graders at William P. Tatem Elementary School in Collingswood, New Jersey also got a nice taste of freedom.
After one of the students used the word ‘brownies’ (they were serving dessert at an end-of-year party), another student exclaimed that the word was racist.
School authorities called the police, who arrived with their firearms to interrogate the 9-year old about his comments.
As we discuss so frequently in this daily letter, these events are not isolated aberrations… but rather have become a sad reflection of normalcy in the Land of the Free.
Two hundred and forty years ago the Founding Fathers of America explained to the world their motives for divorcing the United Kingdom in the Declaration of Independence.
Their reasoning was eloquent, and simple.
People have inalienable, natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Governments exist specifically to secure these rights for the people, and in doing so, they are awarded certain powers from the citizens they govern.
Whenever a government forgets this purpose and becomes destructive to these rights, the people may replace it with a new system that achieves its goal.
Look, it’s not like the US is some horrible place where citizens are constantly facing danger and peril at every possible turn like some third world African dictatorship.
That’s an absurd notion.
The US is a wonderful, safe place where people can achieve a high standard of living and have access to an abundance of opportunities.
But it would be intellectually dishonest to ignore these extraordinary trends.
The reality is that each year the United States becomes less prosperous and less free.
Every year the government produces 70,000+ pages of rules and regulations, on top of the countless pages of new and proposed legislation.
Many of these carry severe criminal penalties, regardless of whether you know about them or not.
As I often say, you can’t even apply for a passport in the Land of the Free anymore without being threatened with fines and imprisonment.
And while life may ‘feel’ normal, the strong arm of the police state can change that in an instant, just like it did for Hannah Cohen.
One day everything’s fine.
The next you’ve been thrust bloodied and face down by some government thug, or had your bank account frozen, or had your private property confiscated through Civil Asset Forfeiture, all for some innocent misunderstanding.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of state, local, and federal agencies with police-like powers. Even the Fish and Wildlife Service has its own gun-toting police force.
They can take your children away from you. They can deprive you of your savings and private property. They can regulate what you can/cannot put in your own body.
When the US Constitution came into force in 1789, there were only a handful of federal crimes including murder, counterfeit, and piracy of the high seas.
Today there are thousands, plus countless rules and regulations that carry criminal penalties.
If you find yourself serving time in the Land of the Free for illegally collecting rainwater on your own property, your cellmate might be in for letting her children walk to the playground by themselves.
That’s not freedom.
In 1819, the administration of US President James Monroe negotiated the Transcontinental Treaty in which the United States purchased Florida from Spain for the sum of $5 million.
That’s about $90 million in 2016 money.
Today the US government blows $2 billion on a website… and hundreds of billions more on pointless wars, sticking taxpayers with the bill, and unborn generations with debts.
That’s not freedom.
When America was in its infancy, the government passed the Coinage Act of 1792 and established the US dollar as precisely 24.1 grams of pure silver.
Today, an unelected committee of economists and ex-Goldman Sachs bankers wields total control over the money supply, with the power to manipulate asset prices and the value of your savings, for the benefit of a tiny banking elite.
That’s not freedom.
July 4th is the traditional day to celebrate the free and independent republic that America used to be.
But as millions of people wake up to the hangover of reality, perhaps July 5th may be the day to acknowledge what America has become… and where it’s going.