Manhattan Liberty Machine

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Welcome to the land of Lady Liberty , please watch your thoughts, nothing here is free.

Can you hear me now?

Recently my 13-year-old daughter and I flew the friendly skies. I don't believe in whitewashing life for my children, they need to know just how bad things really are. So for the record I felt I should spell out for her what not to talk about in the airport or in the air. Don't say the words 'bomb, explosion, box cutter, kill, kidnap, hostage, hi-jack, gun, weapon, knife, or terrorist.' Sadly, she knew enough not to say the word 'Muslim.' We don't even think these dangerous words within government sniffing distance, lest one should accidentally come out of our mouth. It may prevent us from getting where we need to go and possibly get us into a whole lot of trouble. Our names could wind up on a secret list that could prevent us from ever flying. I took secret pride and delight with my daughter's outrage at the insanity and injustice of it all.

Knowing you can distract a group of security personnel by saying a 'bad' word does not make us safe. In fact, it makes everyone else less secure. The morons would probably miss a real threat because they're so busy swinging at windmills, or because they're human, or they're tired that day, or whatever. GOVERNMENT CANNOT KEEP ANYONE SAFE . In fact, our security is inversely proportional to bureaucratic intervention. If our right to bear arms had not been infringed, I doubt anyone on any flight would attempt piracy, and the heroes of 9/11 would not be dead.

I've learned the hard way that the person who has the most to lose takes the most responsibility. For instance, my husband and I used to take turns painting and cleaning up. At first I was a messy painter. After cleaning up I realized the importance of minimizing the drips. I became a better painter. If someone else is always willing to take responsibility for my carelessness, I have no need to take responsibility.

This is the problem with the nanny state. People are put to sleep through learned irresponsibility. Government interferes with the natural learning process of making mistakes and correcting them, feeling pain about the choices you've made and making different ones. No artificial government induced environment can actually help anyone. Only real life with real experiences and cleaning up your own messes can mature you.

But government doesn't want a mature you. It wants power over you and it gets it by offering to take responsibility for you. And we accept en masse, even though we know somewhere deep down it can't work and comes at unimaginable cost. It starts with the offer of 'free' schooling for your child and builds it through safety nets of every stripe ' college scholarships, bad credit mortgages, free healthcare, free prescriptions, free food, free housing, free retirement. (But they'll tell you freedom isn't free! It's because they don't have it to give and they wouldn't recognize it if it hit them on the nose. They'd call that terrorism.) Each safety net interferes with a vital learning process.

No bureaucrat can ever be as interested in my health, safety and well-being as I am, so just get out of the way and let me pursue life, liberty and happiness, or fail trying. (Where have I heard that before?)

How about now?

We visited, of all places, New York , the city where opposites meet, we are told. It was once the center of the anti-slavery movement as well as the center of the pro-slavery forces. Finance meets fashion, concrete meets water, wealth meets abject poverty, chaotic traffic meets mind-numbing bureaucracy.

While we stayed in Manhattan , we were told that a terrorist plot to bomb a tunnel and flood Wall Street was averted, thanks to the bumbling buffoons of Homeland Security. (Even if there is a grain of truth to the story, and knowing nothing of civil engineering, I have to ask: Wouldn't a collapsed tunnel obstruct, rather than expedite, the flow of water?) We heard constant entreaties by disembodied voices announcing over the subway system to watch for suspicious behavior and not to keep our suspicions to ourselves. Okay, then! Who could ride a subway in New York and not see suspicious behavior? They need to narrow that down, but how could they without using a dangerous word? The announcements seemed suspect to us and, as requested, we're not keeping it to ourselves.

Also, while we were there, we heard that a three-story building had somehow exploded. Now I'm convinced the government has dirty hands from the destruction of the World Trade Center, so if there had been any way to use this explosion to their advantage, it's clear to me that the whores in Washington would not hesitate to do so. Either the general feeling of terror it engendered was enough, or they just couldn't get the spin to spin on this one ' the lazy days of summer and all that. Maybe it just happened too fast ' they can get better spin on a disaster if they know about it in advance. Government has a lousy post-disaster track record, even for lying, and that's their specialty.

Speaking of the WTC, visiting Ground Zero was quite an experience. My daughter and I were among many other wet-eyed visitors. It was shocking to see, where once stood a Mecca of business and commerce, nothing, nothing at all. I wondered aloud why, with this horrifying amputation still in its midst, New Yorkers don't demand the truth about 9/11. But then, they could very well have been demanding the truth for years without anyone ever hearing about it. The watchdog media certainly wouldn't tell us.

Hillary Clinton getting booed off the stage by police and fireman after 9/11 seems like good headline news to me, but we heard not a whisper of it in the mainstream press of New York or anywhere else. I don't think it's because reporters had not witnessed it. The mantra of the 'watchdog' media seems to be 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.' My Dad would say they've taken the bait and swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

Through the miracle of modern technology, my son called me while I was atop the Empire State Building . We've often debated the merits of the urban legend that claims you'd die if you were hit by a penny tossed from the top of it. He asked me if I had tested the theory. Actually, no, I don't want to hurt anybody and I certainly don't want to get arrested and enter the dark world of the 'justice' system. I have a palpable fear of disappearing in the night as an enemy combatant. A forgotten tube of lipstick in my pocket had already brought me under enough screening scrutiny for one day. Note to Homeland Security: terrorists don't wear pink.

How about now?

In Battery Park, across the shores from Liberty Island , we watched as patriotic Americans posed for photos. They literally draped themselves in a flag and sported a spongy, green crown on their heads and hoisted a fake, plastic light in their hands; that'll be five dollars. It struck me that I was witnessing our nation in microcosm. Our proud leader and his cohorts are posturing as patriots and defenders of liberty for the great unwashed, ignorant masses, the flag draped around them as a colorful but meaningless prop, the artificial light held high, not a harbinger of liberty but a symbol of government intrusion into our privacy, exposing the intimate details of our lives to the highest bidder. (And you thought free markets were a thing of the past!) The artificial light of the police state is hoisted higher and higher up our backsides every day, much like the most unpleasant aspect of an annual physical.

All this, with the promise of liberty juuuuust over there, just out of reach. Sorry, tickets are sold out for a glimpse of liberty today, but don't step out of line and keep waiting for your chance. Don't forget to buy some souvenirs for the kids! After all, you came awfully close to freedom, America .

Like our ancestors who landed at Ellis Island full of hope for a better, freer life, we find ourselves still searching for liberty. If you squint, you can almost make out the shape of it from here. Liberty won't be found in a hollow statue or a politician's hollow promises. It is to be found in the beat of your heart and mine.

Can you hear me now?

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Retta Fontana's picture
Columns on STR: 53

Retta Fontana is an atheist, anarchist, baker, potter and parenting teacher.  Children are her favorite people.