The Crumbling Foundation of Liberty

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
*An essay written on the belief that Corporate America is a new, rising threat to the external and internal forces within itself; Essay written in correlation to short story, "Black Box"*

Submitted: May 04, 2015

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Submitted: May 04, 2015

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Research Question: To what extent are citizens of the United States able to live privately, securely and independently today?

“We’re Not Safe in Our Own Homes:” The Corrupt Ideals Present in America

 

On September 17, 1787, in a dimly-lit hall with the candles running low, the nervous shuffling of chairs, the scurry of feet, and the crisp fold of papers was the ratification of the United States Constitution. This document hereby stated the rights and limits of the people, of the state, and of the government as a whole, and was ingrained with the promises of trust, fidelity, peace and security. As George Washington had once said, “The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.” Such a statement was held true for Washington. Yet now, 228 years later, such a thing cannot be said for the government as a whole, nor its consecutive branches. Today, in 2015, we see the drastic shifting of a once independent nation now riddled with secrecy, deceit, deception, and a lingering spirit for a time that cannot be revived. With the advancements of technology and expansion of capitalism and big-money corporations, no one is safe and secure anymore. A citizen of the United States today is unable to live according to the rights promised to us because they are often robbed of liberty; because our privacy is constantly and consistently infiltrated; because we do not truly have the ability to do what we will and of our own accord without interference by our government.

 

A citizen of the United States often has their liberties robbed of them. As writer and journalist Richard Eskow of AlterNet Corp described of an interview with lawyer Mark Trapp, “the freedom to speak your mind doesn’t really exist in work spaces. Or, in some cases, outside it” (Eskow 3). The first amendment of the United States Constitution states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” From what we are guaranteed to the right of is actually a false belief; we cannot speak our minds. In the workplace, an employer sets the standards for their employees so that a specific regiment can be followed; if these sometimes outrageous demands are not met or are questioned, the employer may choose to fire the employee, all for speaking their mind or stepping out of the line. Essentially, by taking away our rights of the first amendment concerning the freedom of speech, it also takes away our ability to think, making us mindless. While these corporations may not be Congress or the government, they are still, under law, supposed to enforce their workers’ rights, not take away from them. In addition, a post, “How Many Rights Have Americans REALLY Lost,” by the Washington’s Blog Senior Journalist, Danny Carmichael, states that, “There are several actions nowadays that can get a U.S citizen on U.S soil suspected of terrorism, and its especially bad if you’re a journalist or writer who is questioning the powers and/or abilities of the government; that, and if you’re a Muslim, now your entire people are suspected of terrorism!” (Carmichael 2). How would the government allow things like this to happen? Oh, wait; they’re the ones who are pointing the finger of terrorism at people in the first place. Despite the allowances of the Constitution which are given to all legal citizens here, there are apparently exceptions at work that apply to the taking away of, once again, the freedom of speech from anyone who defies the government, and freedom of religion, which, in turn, has been overrun with prejudice and association all over similar beliefs. As we see the losses of liberty that were once granted to us, we can also take a look at other countries that have traded in their liberty coat for a government-planned shawl. A report by David Galland on Forbes, entitled “Are Americans in Danger of Losing their Liberty to Tyranny,” reported on the situations in Portugal that have arisen in the recent 15 years, saying that, “EU bureaucrats have imposed their economic will on the Portuguese people. Among other dictatorial edicts, they decreed the destruction of a large percentage of Portugal’s fishing fleet and most of their annual harvest of oranges. The Portuguese had no will to resist this costly expansion of government control, so they complied with those directives” (Galland 1). We have been given an exemplary showing of what happens when the rights of a nation’s people are taken and the government begins to take over. The same thing very well may happen to the U.S, assuming we continue to allow bureaucrats and men of the lawless-law dictate how the American people are enforced or opposed in accordance with their rights. By these examples, we see that Americans cannot live securely because they have been, and continue to be, robbed of their liberties.

 

Apparently, as we have seen, our liberties are not the only thing the government is defying and undermining, as they are also infiltrating our privacy on a constant, consistent basis. An article brought to attention by CNN.com, We’re Losing Control of our Digital Privacy by specialist writer Rebecca Mackinnon, shows the legalities and over-induced limits of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). Mackinnon says that, “The Electronic Frontier Foundation published a report analyzing the FBI’s use of National Security Letters from 2001 to 2008, concluding that the FBI might have violated the law as many as 40,000 times during this period to gather information on its citizens” (Mackinnon 3). The use of National Security Letters is strictly admissible only by a reasonable basis of intelligence which the FBI would have gathered in order to identify criminally-associated citizens. However, despite having rules set forth by Congress, the FBI, being the powerhouse agency that it is, begins using classified documents to extract truths and faults from the average, middle-class American citizen. Therefore, this is according to the saying coined by former president Richard Nixon, “If it is in the act of any government organization, then why shouldn’t it be legal?” Yet government does not stand alone as it once did. Now, with the introduction of big-name companies, wireless networks, supercomputers, DSL routers, and technology as a whole, anyone can be tracked. In a post by Donald Grenier, who is an Atlantic Media Director for Strategic Partnerships funded by NationalJournal.com, he brought attention to the fact that, “One question elicited a remarkably broad sense that business, government, individuals and other groups are accessing a wide array of sensitive personal information from the internet without the owner's’ consent” (Grenier 2). This one question was issued to users of the World Wide Web, and ordinary people like the rest of us who exist in the United States. They were not all entirely aware of the treachery of the corporations they gave their money to until statistics were brought to light. These statistics were that, “Ranking among those that used users’ information, based on a study of 2,500 individuals, were as follows: financial institutions used 78 percent of data; health insurance companies used 75 percent of data; the IRS used 88 percent; online retailers, 71 percent; the government’s online, public branches, 95 percent” (Grenier 5). The outrage by the amount of sensitive information that had been used was unbelievable to most people, and they began to question sites they had visited daily for years, like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Myspace, and otherwise. Finally, in an analysis present in the docudrama America: Imagine a World Without Her by Dinesh D’Souza, he makes a statement that, “The IRS, DOJ, EPA, NSA; they are all collecting information and storing it on every American” (D’Souza). To tie-in another, more concrete component to this thought, D’Souza also pulls from the mind-work of philosopher Jeremy Bentham, saying that, “Bentham’s design, the Panopticon, gave the guards a god’s eye view, where there is no privacy. Now, what Bentham envisioned for a prison has now become the representation of digital privacy in America” (D’Souza). Privacy has always been at risk, no matter where you go; yet now, by this revelation, we see that we are always on watch, and that such sensitive information can be used against us at any time. The Panopticon is the physical, real-world result of having the full sight of power, literally. Today, we have developed our own Panopticon, and its new name is technology. Americans can be safe no longer, since our privacy is constantly and consistently infiltrated.

 

The final ability that Americans were scammed into believing was that we had the will to do whatever we wanted; this, however, is a false reality. As we examine in the full-length text Opposing Viewpoints: American Idealisms, written by a team of writers from the Opposing Viewpoints©, states that, “This modernized world that citizens of [the U.S] have believed themselves to be in are held convinced that by their presence they can exist as the only movingforce which guarantees their ever-lasting right to domineer over the world, while also bearing their own downfall due to an overly corrupt system which apparently gives freedom to the people” (OP 58). Essentially breaking down the content of the text, the books says that Americans have not only tricked themselves into believing the illusion of power, but they have also allowed that same assumption to slip into a different kind of power, and only in a manner more well-controlled and far more so under the radar. Once again, the government has gained another degree of control by proposing a direct democracy which will ultimately bring the power back to Congress, the White House, the President, and all of their associates and branches. These truths to Americans go even deeper, unfortunately. In an online article on happierabroad.com entitled ‘Debunking the Myth of Freedom and Democracy in America’ by Thomas Sheffield, he examines the nature, origin and intentions of our founding fathers, which most believe is to have set up a nation that existed as a democracy. In actuality, he states that, “There is no mention of the word ‘democracy’ in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Even the Pledge of Allegiance cited by school children mentions that America is a Republic: ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America; and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” (Sheffield 1). Our founding fathers never intended for us to be led as a democracy in our thoughtless endeavors, but rather be temperamented under the wills of the government. However, they did intend to limit the powers of that said government, should it ever become the domineering force that was once foretold; yet, once again, there are those that will rather intend to skate over the beginnings of the UnitedStates and the founders’ beliefs into many varied interpretations. Hence, such distorted thoughts are unable to guide an even more disturbing monster that is the United States government. So,now we have been, nonetheless calmly, and with a gently bitter-sweet sense, that Americans cannot do what they will, and entirely cannot live independent, or at least to no great extent without the crutch of the government.  

 

The American people have been deceived into a scandal of their own accord. The ambitions of every mind, young and old, cannot thrive because the constant itch of the government and its many branches that continue to spread a rash; a constant, beating pulse that refuses to go away unless we do something. The necessary thing to do is to take a more drastic measure; for us, we have been in sight of a unique ability to break down this government into something we can handle; by this, I say that we, the people: the people with beating hearts and the blue collar and the white shirt and the red tie; I say that we stand to interfere in this government. I say we break it down and bear upon our backs the stone of the walls we would look to construct to separate this one brute force. By erecting these walls, we can look at each problem individually, for what good is a cage if you are to let a beast roam free? By separation, we find the problem, we find how to get rid of it, and then we put it all together again. Ultimately, we reverse the government that stands, we see where we went wrong in history, we change what needs be, and we test our new world...Our ideal America. One that does not repress or suppress its citizens, nor one that infiltrates our natural right to privacy. Finally, a world that allows us to be and exist as we are. Only then, will we know that we have found what I believe is our ideal America.

Works Cited

 

America: Imagine A World Without Her. Dir. Dinesh D. Souza. Prod. Dinesh D. Souza. Perf.

Dinesh D'Souza. Lions Gate, 2013. Film.

 

Brownstein, Ronald W. "Americans Know They've Already Lost Their Privacy."

Www.nationaljournal.com. N.p., 13 June 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.

 

"Debunking the Myth of Freedom and Democracy in America with Facts and Overseas

Experiences." Debunking the Myth of Freedom and Democracy in America with Facts

and Overseas Experiences. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.

 

Egendorf, Laura K. The Legal System: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven, 2003.

Print.

 

Eskow, Richard M. "Ten Ways Americans Have Lost Their Freedom." Saloncom RSS. N.p., 31

Aug. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.

 

Hendrickson, Mark. "Are Americans In Danger Of Losing Their Liberty To Tyranny?" Forbes.

Forbes Magazine, 29 June 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.

 

 

MacKinnon, Rebecca. "We're Losing Control of Our Digital Privacy - CNN.com." CNN. Cable

News Network, 29 Jan. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.

 

"Scorecard: How Many Rights Have Americans REALLY Lost?" Washingtons Blog. N.p., 21

Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.


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