Donald Sensing wants to know if we're still free. He gives some interesting points to consider, and from a legal perspective I can understand why he'd suggest that we aren't.

What's fascinating to me, however, is that even though our government is tightening its grip on our liberty, people respect and obey the law less every year. Ideally we'd have a system with minimal laws and the population would completely agree with and adhere to those laws -- what we've got now is nearly the opposite, but is it functionally worse? An obfuscated legal system with many vague and loosely-enforced laws is certainly less just and fair on an individual basis, but will the aggregate effect on society be any different than an ideal system?

Probably so, because people will be frightened of being singled out for random enforcement. Still, until we're noticed and prosecuted for some trivial infraction, are we less free? I don't think so. If anything, we're more free than Americans 200 years ago, not because of the law but because of technology. We can go places and do things that would have been impossible (or prohibitively expensive) for our ancestors, and in a real way that balances against the strangle-hold of the government.

In fact, one could argue that the government has adapted to these new freedoms/abilities by imposing additional restrictions, thereby reducing our liberty to pre-existing levels. Is it possible that the government adapts to technological and societal advances to maintain some sort of "optimal" level of liberty? ("Optimal" from whatever perspective you want to discuss: the government's, the people's, both, economics, whatever.) As technology provides us with new freedoms, government may organically act to keep them in check... to protect us from ourselves? Is this balance an emergent function of government? Is it necessary or inescapable? It's obvious to me why a democracy may act in this manner; is there another form of government that might not (benevolent dictatorship)?

If this spurs anyone else's thoughts on the matter, please let me know.



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