Freedom In Name Only

Sit-in protests seem to follow a pattern. A group of protestors takes over the president’s office in the dead of night.  After the protestors are settled into their temporary home, a spokesperson emerges. With surety, articulation, and at least some learning, the spokesperson enumerates the rights and freedoms that have been denied by an overreaching and indifferent establishment.  Then, to validate the righteousness of their cause and the decadence of their oppressors, maybe they trash the joint a little.  Eventually, the protesters realize they can’t actually run things, fatigue sets in, and the adult staff is returned to their offices – just possibly the wiser for their unexpected vacation.

So far, the governmental sit-in taking place in Washington is holding roughly to form.  Certainly Team Trump has taken over, declared the establishment to be restrictive of rights and freedoms, and set to work trashing the place. As for the Return of the Adults – well, their vacation isn’t over yet.

However, unlike an ordinary sit-in, many of us find it very difficult to understand what in the hell these guys are taking about, or whom they represent.  Let’s look at the matter of those rights and freedoms the government has supposedly been abusing.   With Team Trump, freedom mean free market, with a laissez faire economic policy that allows providers to provide the services they want however they want, and consumers to make rational, informed and optimal choices however they want.  Freedom of choice, that’s the Trump Way.

Accordingly, the government has proposed measures enhancing our freedom of choice – so we’re told.  First, the government proposed the American Health Care Act.  The AHCA would have enhanced freedom of choice by providing healthcare options that millions of people could never afford.  Next, Trump signed an order allowing internet providers to sell our information without our permission. That enhances freedom of choice by assuring that we must now worry about who might track our online inquiries and why – from other providers, to the government, to criminals.   Loss of information control virtually guarantees our information will be obtained by someone not having our interests in mind.  Finally, Trump signed an order that would eliminate net neutrality.  That enhances freedom of choice by increaasing bandwidth for large providers like Netflix and Disney,  by potentially restricting bandwidth for smaller providers, and by removing guarantees of web content expression.

Irony of ironies: the federal acts and regulations of Obamacare (who now remembers that Obamacare has its origins at the conservative Heritage Foundation?), internet privacy and internet neutrality actually promote economic freedom of choice. These regulations and laws give citizens to make the informed and rational choices, if they so choose. There are now affordable (if imperfect) health insurance choices for everyone.   There is now wide-ranging information access, legally unfettered by interference from government or corporate interests.

Team Trump would overturn this all, acting against – not for – freedom of choice. What happens in Trump’s World if I want to look up information about a health condition?  Unless I use an alias and a public location, any number of vested and potentially unsavory interests are going to know about my problem.  Not only is that not freedom, that is taking a giant-sized step towards oppression.  Irony of ironies, Trump’s policies of nominal choice are precisely the policies that will instead restrict freedom of choice.

One thing is no irony:  the Trump governmental sit-in remains far more clueless and unresponsive to the true nature of freedom than the regulation-supporting liberals they so mindlessly oppose.   Enabling citizens to make good choices is one good role for government, and a role that will be unfulfilled with any policy of arbitrarily setting aside government regulation.

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