Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Preserving Freedom

I had a brief visit this evening from a very passionate and pleasant young lady named Nina (sp?), who works for an organization known as PIRG (Public Interest Research Group). Nina's commitment to her cause really impressed me. Those of you who know me know that I can sometimes be pretty curt with people who promote things that I'm not particularly enthused about. But God, in His mercy, gave me a tender heart I think, and we had what I thought was a very pleasant conversation.

PIRG's stated mission is "to deliver persistent, result-oriented public interest activism that protects our environment, encourages a fair, sustainable economy, and fosters responsive, democratic government."

Nina's primary focus in our discussion was the environment. PIRG promotes alternative, renewable energy sources such as windmills, solar power, and fuel made from carbon absorbing crops such as corn. Like Nina, I believe that our nation needs to become less dependent on fossil fuels, particularly oil from foreign nations. We are held hostage by nations like Saudi Arabia.

But how do we get there?

My primary concern with interest groups such as this (at least my perception) is their tendency to look to our federal government to solve problems. I explained to Nina that government comes in a fixed or finite quantity, and that the more we as individuals fail to do things for ourselves, the more power we surrender to someone else.

Our massive bureaucracy in Washington testifies to the failure of many to manage life effectively. Civil rights, for example, had to be mandated by law (the Civil Rights Act of 1964). Why couldn't everyone just treat all people, regardless of color, with respect in the first place? If we had, our federal government would not be so oppressive today.

I don't want Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or even President Bush to tell me what kind of car to drive. And as much as I detest smoking, I am even more upset at the growing trend toward outlawing smoking in restaurants and other public places. I would rather be occasionally assaulted by the gross and uninvited invasion of cigarette smoke, than surrender one more ounce of my freedom to some bureaucrat.

Nina's smile went south when I told her that I thought Al Gore was a clown. Daggone it, I forgot to say "circus clown," because that is really what he is.

But yes, the environment is very important, and we need to do all we can to take care of it and find better and cleaner ways to supply our energy needs. I just think that, given time, the marketplace can correct many of these ills, and do so much more effectively and efficiently than the federal government.

In fairness, some of the other parts of PIRG's mission sound good to me: "we stand up to powerful special interests on issues to ... protect open space, stop identity theft, fight political corruption, provide safe and affordable prescription drugs, and strengthen voting rights."

Great goals!

But let's be careful to preserve our freedoms first. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis' thoughts on tyranny:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."


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