OUR VIEW: What exactly are we celebrating?

Freedom.

It’s a word often used, especially this time of year as we near what used to be referred to as Independence Day: a time we celebrate throwing off the shackles of an oppressive government, giving birth to the notion of a society of free individuals.

But some ascribe different meanings to the word.

There are those who would tell you we are free. America is the freest country in the world. The troops died for our freedom.

Then there are those who would say that the freedom that’s glorified and commercialized with red, white and blue is merely an illusion.

The players have changed, but the game is the same: subjugation.

A constitution was drafted, with amendments outlining, specifying certain freedoms the people allegedly have.

But the legislative busybodies and courts have found ways to limit liberty.

Many of the amendments that have come since the first 10 grant instead of limit government power.

For nearly 100 years after the founding of this “free” land, many of its inhabitants were literally shackled. They were not free.

Subsequent laws kept them from exercising certain “rights.” They still were not free.

More than 100 years later, governments — local, state and federal — continue to enact ludicrous laws and absurd ordinances to limit liberty.

Growing certain plants that a handful of people don’t like can land you in prison.

People like Perry Parks, a U.S. Army veteran, are not free in half the states to use a plant to treat themselves for pain or other ailments — much less in a recreational way to unwind after a long day instead of drinking a cold beer — without risking being thrown in a cage or having to pay court fees and fines.

Kids across the country have had their sidewalk lemonade stands shut down by police for not first obtaining permission from local health officials.

“License to Work,” a 2012 study from the Institute for Justice, found that “occupational licensing is not only widespread, but also overly burdensome and frequently irrational.”

In 11 states, those wishing to work as natural hair braiders are forced to become licensed cosmetologists, learning skills they won’t use, requiring up to 2,000 hours of training with educational costs of up to $20,000 — just to braid hair.

Where’s the freedom to work and earn a living?

If you have to get government permission to do something, are you really free?

And when you do work, governments demand a tribute of a certain percentage of your earnings.

Where’s the right to the fruits of your labor?

Six years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to impose a tax penalty for adults who did not purchase some type of health insurance. Thankfully, that mandate has been repealed.

In a land of truly free individuals, we should be able to do what we wish, purchase what we wish and ingest what we wish into our own bodies as long as no harm comes to our neighbors.

These are just a few examples of the regulations that make us less free.

So this July Fourth, ask yourself: What are we celebrating?

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