Competent Consumers, Not Guns, Secure Liberty

By Jim Van Der Pol

There are those who think the entire constitution is the Second Amendment, the one about the right to keep and bear arms. They proudly state that their guns are what secure all of the rest of our rights.

And so they strut around carrying them at health care hearings and wherever else they can get in front of a camera. These people are dangerous to anyone who disagrees with them. They may be dangerous to the President, if they can ever get within range, and they are lethal for Congresswomen and men who would like to meet their constituents.

They are deadly for innocent bystanders. But they are no threat to the government of the United States, no matter that the government is interested in trimming down as many of the people’s rights as it can.

I believe in the Second Amendment. I keep guns. I use them to execute the occasional pig that is down on its luck health-wise and to keep the skunks (the pretty ones, not the two-legged kind often found in Congress) away from the yard when spring floods their culverts.

One of my guns, a Stevens 20-gauge single shot, means a lot to me as it was a gift from my father. I am not a hunter. I was for awhile in my youth, though never a very successful one. Since, I have let farming interfere too much with hunting and fishing and other worthwhile activities. I like hunters. I wish we had more of them. They perform a real service in keeping the game animal population in check and also in injecting a sense of reality into a population which is otherwise so very divorced from the practicalities of life on earth. But really! Deer rifles and automatic pistols against the most advanced military the world has ever seen? It is past time to admit that the Second Amendment, along with Jefferson’s musing about the tree of liberty needing to be watered occasionally with the blood of patriots and tyrants, is a relic of the 18th century.

I don’t mean that the amendment should be cancelled by a later one, or that it should be the excuse for rewriting the Constitution, but simply that it should be viewed rationally. Perhaps then big city mayors could have a clear chance at getting some of the guns off their streets, thus helping to keep some of their kids alive.

And it certainly is useful to notice that the people of Egypt and Tunisia have begun major change in their countries with no firearms.

So if the Second Amendment cannot logically protect and guarantee our liberties, what does? What guarantees our right of free speech, freedom of press and to assemble, freedom of religion, as well as the right to a fair and speedy trial, the right to face our accusers and so forth? Well, who runs the country? Given the events since the Citizens United decision only a most fanatical libertarian might argue that the corporate elites are not in charge. Many of us have thought for years that the corporations are not only in charge of the government, but of the entire world.

The international structure of agreements on free trade pretty much demonstrates that. So we who are accustomed to defending our rights against politicians will need to see through the screen to the entity that controls the politicians.

Now how do we defend our rights against the corporate elite, which is the real enemy of them? The corporations have made themselves more necessary to us than the government was ever able to do. And so not illogically, many who are always and rightly suspicious of government seem to be able to trust corporations with everything. We have become absolutely and completely dependent upon them. We are born in a corporate hospital, cared for all our lives by a doctor who is an employee of a corporation, wear corporate made diapers, are entertained by corporations, eat corporate food, drive corporate made cars that use corporate owned petroleum. We are “educated” in an institution that if it is not already corporate, understands its mission to be that it makes future corporation employees and especially customers. We work for corporations, are thrown away and then nursed in our declining years by them, and are finally cremated or buried by a corporation. Notice sometime how very little of the “final respects” to a deceased person at a funeral are carried out by the representative of our much ballyhooed religion, or by the deceased’s closest friends and relatives, the pall bearers and others, and how much is handled by the corporation that is in charge of death.

How do we make an institution that controlling of us respect our rights? Only by making that institution understand that we can live without it. The Second Amendment cannot secure our freedoms in this atmosphere. Only competence can. Egypt has no Second Amendment.

Egypt, with 30% of its children malnourished, has no shortage of people who know how to live on the edge. We can start liberation by getting control of our buying habits. Can we get competent fast enough?

Jim van der Pol writes and farms near Kerkhoven, Minn.

From The Progressive Populist, May 1, 2011

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