Freedom from a Dead-End Life: True Liberty Means Defeating the Right-Wing's Nightmare Vision for America
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When progressives advocate for better public transportation, they’re trying to increase ordinary Americans’ freedom of movement. When they promote the wonders of municipal WiFi, they’re talking about the freedom to work anywhere in a city, anytime you want, without having to suck down a cup of stale Starbucks coffee.
People like Mitt Romney call the basic functions of government – taxing in order to finance public services – “theft” and argue that we “can't afford” these things. But many of the examples above – good infrastructure, the ability to take risk without facing ruin and having an educated, healthy population -- yield greater economic output, resulting in more tax revenues. They are investments, not “sunk costs.”
Governance all comes down to a question of priorities. And, in rough figures, we spend about a fifth of our federal budget on the social welfare state, around 5 percent on the regulatory state, and about 10 percent on the infrastructure state.
And the security state? It sucks up around two-thirds of the national budget.
In the final analysis, the Right talks a lot about freedom and liberty while expending an enormous amount of energy to shrink down the very parts of government that afford us the most individual freedom until they're small enough to drown in a bathtub. Maybe progressives, who would actually shrink the growing security state, should reclaim these terms.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America . Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.