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Goodbye, Liberty! 10 Ways Americans Are No Longer Free

Our struggle for liberty is a fight against concentrated wealth.

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And it's not just vacations, either. As Michael Janati noted in the Washington Times, “Americans are working approximately 11 more hours per week now than they did in the 1970’s, yet the average income for middle-income families has declined by 13% (when adjusting for inflation).” Employers routinely use email and phone calls to intrude on workers' off hours.

Want to know what indentured servitude looks like? Look around.

6. We can't negotiate as free people with banks or corporations.

The buyer/seller relationship is no longer a transaction between free equals. Corporations routinely deprive us of vital information when we enter into a business relationship with them, aided by weak regulations and lax enforcement. Banks frequently hide balloon payments and other key loan provisions in complex and unreadable documents, for example, while bankers misrepresent the terms of the loan.

Many types of corporations are allowed to operate in as monopolies or near-monopolies, including cable television operators and health insurers. (Blue Cross of Alabama, for example, provides 90 percent of the health insurance coverage in the city of Birmingham.)

The combination of decepting marketing and near-monopoly situations destroys the “free market,” by any technical definition of the term. It denies us our freedom of choice and deprives us of our ability to negotiate our own contracts. And yet there's been a deafening silence from the libertarian movement, which has been commandeered by the Cato Institute and other institutions financed and controlled by large corporate interests.

Nowhere is our loss of liberty more apparent than in the banking industry, where MERS -- the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems – deprives Americans citizens and the courts of the ability to know who holds their mortgages or the terms of that contract. Total household debt is nearly 12 trillion dollars. Americans now owe more in student loans than they do on their credit cards, and new evidence shows that banks have been resorting to the same illegal tactics to collect credit card debt that they used on mortgages.

Want to fight back? You've lost that right. Banks control FICO and other credit-scoring agencies. Corporations walk away from bad loan deals with their banks all the time, or threaten to walk, simply because that loan is no longer in their financial interest. But even when bank customers were deceived by their banks, they have little recourse. If they don't pay back that unjust loan their credit scores will plunge and they'll lose their ability to borrow money, rent an apartment, even to get a job.

And it's not just banks. Corporations have used media manipulation and corrupted arbitration clauses to rob Americans of the right to sue even when they or their loved ones have been robbed, maimed, or kill by corporate greed and neglect. Instead, Americans have been forced to accept “arbitration clauses” from monopolistic forces that are heavily weighted in favor of the corporation. If they don't they're likely to be deprived of critical services like banking, power, and communications. 

7. We're losing our right to live or travel where we want.

There are 16 million underwater homes in the United States, housing some 40 million people. These homeowners owe an estimated $1.2 trillion in “underwater” real estate value that disappeared when the housing bubble burst.

The bankers to whom they owe than money created the bubble, and were wealthy beyond measure when it burst. These homeowners have been left holding the bag – and the debt, owed to the very people who misled them into taking out mortgages. The deception often included forgeries, lies about the loan's terms, and filing of false information.

 
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