Issue #55 • January/February, 1999
As the one-year countdown to the year 2000 commences, I, like many of you, am preparing myself and my family for potential disruptions in food, electrical, water, medical, and other supplies. I am doing it in spite of the fact that I do not believe the Millennium Bug, the computer date problem that many say has the potential to cause a widespread collapse in our society’s computer-dependent delivery systems, will cause as much damage as the doomsayers predict. However, the risk is significant enough that I am taking no chances with my family. Also, the risk that the world economic collapse will hit America is also great enough for me to act.
Luckily, my home is pretty self-sufficient because I practice self-reliance. I am far away from a city, have my own water source and purification system, good wood heat system, a pantry loaded with food and essential supplies, and have enough guns and ammo to handle most anything. To supplement this I am installing a photovoltaic system at my home for electricity, am increasing the size of my pantry, and am acquiring medical necessities and knowledge, among other things. I’m also getting my boat up to snuff since I live next to a great food source—the Pacific Ocean.
However, I am still worried. Not that I won’t be prepared for whatever physical dangers might threaten my family, but for the political dangers that threaten them. Because the political dangers are the only likely long-term catastrophes my family and yours will experience from the onset of the millennium. Even if other problems materialize, they will be of a relatively short duration, but the political dangers, such as a major loss of freedom because the government decides to step in and “help us,” will, if history is an indicator, be a long-term disaster. Political disasters, such as a major loss of freedom, tend to take generations to recover from, if ever.
That’s why it’s important for all of us to think about our freedom, and the tentative hold we have on it, at the same time we are planning for our physical safety for the coming millennium.
Consider the last big loss-of-freedom event in our history: the Great Depression of 1929. People gladly gave up many basic freedoms to government in hopes the government would save them. World War II saved them, but the freedoms the government took are still gone in the form of the massive welfare society we have today in which government takes, on average, 40% of our income and transfers it to someone else, and in the form of the regulatory nightmare we all live in.
What freedoms will government try and take this time? Will it use the millennium panic to clamp down on the Internet, which I believe is the most significant freedom tool in centuries, equal to the invention of the printing press? I think that’s a good possibility, since government wants desperately to control the Internet and since most of us are too busy protecting ourselves against computers to be bothered about saving them. Or will it make a grab for something else?
Freedom, and the tools that make freedom possible, cannot afford many great losses. The people of America got freedom about 200 years ago, and ever since they’ve been letting it slip away, primarily because they’ve been preoccupied with protecting themselves against other perceived physical dangers. Each year politicians convince enough voters that we need new laws to protect us against something or other, and so we heap freedom-restricting laws and regulations on ourselves. Would we were as vigilant against these sinister, freedom-robbing laws as we have been against this Millennium Bug.
Does anyone remember Patrick Henry? In the early days of our country, while we were still fighting for our freedoms, he said, “Give me liberty or give me death!” That’s how important freedom was to a person on the verge of securing it, in an era when few people had it. Physical safety was barely a contender in importance.
Perhaps we should consider what freedom is in the midst of our struggle for physical safety in the new millennium. Freedom is the philosophical idea put into practice by the American Revolution that holds that a person who is willing to be responsible for himself has a right to run his own life, in whatever way he pleases, so long as he doesn’t harm others. Government has no say, but acts only as a policeman to prevent domestic and foreign aggression.
It took several millennia—since the time of Aristotle—to develop this idea, and many people including American patriots who fought off a powerful British army more than 200 years ago, gave up their physical comfort and their lives to achieve it. People prior to the American Revolution had lived under one secular and religious tyranny after another; notions of people free to pursue their own happiness and protected under the umbrella of freedom were ruthlessly crushed, just as King George tried to crush the American Revolution.
The American Revolution, with its philosophy of freedom for the individual, became the greatest political achievement in the history of mankind. And with this achievement, mankind’s spirit was set free to achieve our modern civilization with all its labor-saving conveniences.
So while you and I prepare ourselves for the physical dangers that may accompany the onset of the new millennium, let’s be at least as vigilant against the real danger that lies ahead: that government will make another major grab for our most valuable possession—our freedom.