Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Liberty & Justice for All

I've been thinking a lot about the Pledge of Allegiance and the words liberty and justice for all. For too many years, the focus has been on the words under G-d which were not even added until 1954. Somehow, we've forgotten what this country is about. Liberty and justice for all has been made a mockery of by the War on Drugs, the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, and allowing torture, specifically water boarding. We executed Japanese soldiers after World War II for using water boarding on US prisoners of war. Some how it has become about who can get rich the quickest and thereby gain power. By the Supreme Courts ruling on Citizen's United, those with the most wealth will have the most speech. Speech is no longer free. It now costs big bucks. We do not even know who is donating all that money. It could be coming from foreign countries for all we know. People from around the world used to look to the United States. That admiration was so great that France commissioned the Statue of Liberty which has now been standing since 1886. The immortal words of Emma Lazarus' The New Colossus are engraved as hope:
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
We've long since shut the door on those huddled masses yearning to be free with the quota system that was initiated in the early 1900's. See the thing as I see it, is that there is too many in the United States who want to turn the United States into a vast company town. Too many laws are being passed that grant more and more rights to businesses while curbing the rights of individuals. I'm not talking just about employees, I'm talking about everyone. More and more of public spaces paid for by tax dollars are being given over to businesses. Prisons across the country are being privatized. A lot of these contracts state that the occupancy rate must be kept at around 90% for 20 years. A lot of new laws for felonies will have to written to maintain that rate. Can anyone say "three strikes, you're out"? Our prisons are being filled with people who because of their third charge, even if it is a misdemeanor, are now felons. Can you imagine facing a life sentence for stealing $153.84 worth of video tapes? This is not justice. It is cruel and unusual punishment. It is one of the reasons we declared independence from the British. The state of Tennessee has made it illegal for the word gay to said in schools because it might offend some religious people. Michigan has passed a law that basically states that if you bully some one because of moral or religious beliefs, you can. Kansas has passed a law that says a doctor can lie to woman who is pregnant and the fetus has major issues if there is suspicion she might choose an abortion. oh and the doctor can't be sued if the woman should happen to die after she was lied too. These laws are so un-American, it makes me wonder if we can ever overcome them. The procedures we now have to endure to travel by plane are a fiasco. Benjamin Franklin stated it best:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
The Occupy Wall Street movement and the protests against laws enacted against women across the country give me a great deal of hope that not all is lost and that we will once again be a beacon of justice. We just have to remember our history and strive to undo all those laws that have that have encroached for too long on our civil liberties.