This essay was submitted as part of the First Annual Libertas Essay Contest, with cash prizes totaling $2,000! You can view all of the essay submissions here.
This essay won the $500 people's choice prize for receiving the most Facebook "likes" during the contest.
Liberty is clearly under attack everywhere that we look. A lot of the media focus seems to be on other nations, or even neighboring states, but what about here at home? Are Utahans as free as other people are? By reviewing a Freedom Index that was completed last year in 2011, we see that Utah is ranked 20th in the nation for personal and economic freedom. While this is better than half of the other states in the nation, the people of Utah could do much better.
Earlier this year, the U.S. fell to 47th in the world for press freedom due to recent crackdowns on the public. Since 2006, The United States has held the record for the highest number of incarcerated people per capita. When we look at the bigger picture, Utah may not be doing as well as it may have initially appeared.
The liberty of every Utahan is jeopardized by Utahans themselves. While this is a hard truth to hear, it is the truth. We are the guardians of our own liberty. If we are not informed, if we do not study what bills are being considered, or research whether or not they are going to protect freedom and liberty, then we are at fault. Utahans continue to vote for individuals that pass more and more laws every year. Freedom has never come from legislation. Legislation was designed to protect the liberty of the individual, not continually restrict it. Many Utahans have begun to notice that it is harder to run a business, and harder to do things they used to do all the time. Ask any resident who has had a driver’s license for the last 50 years what changes they have noticed, and you will get an earful. Gone are the days of neighbors recognizing each other when they come to renew their driving license. Gone are the days of not having to sign a statement that you are willing to submit to a breathalyzer test if requested, and are willing to give up your license if you refuse. Welcome to the days of piles of paperwork to prove your identity. Welcome to a time where permission is needed to raise your own livestock, grow your own garden, and manage your own property.
Things in Utah have so starkly changed, that it is hard to imagine how the pioneers would have been able to have the liberty they sought when they arrived here with all the laws that have been enacted. Would they have been able to save rain water for drinking? Would their children be taken because their housing was not up to a set standard? Would they have their first crops and land taken because of unpaid taxes? Utah definitely is a far cry from her early days, but she doesn’t have to stay this way.
The simplest way to be free in an unfree world is to simply live free. In order for this to be the case, more Utahans need to become educated about what liberty and freedom are. They need to understand that there is more freedom in protecting liberty rather than controlling the actions of others. There are more ways to fund the needs of the people than through excessive taxation. It truly is unjust to force others to pay for systems that they do not use. By having less government and more community involvement, a lot of liberty would automatically be restored. It is Utahans desire to let other people and other programs take care of everyone else that has gotten them into their current situation. If we simply loved our neighbors as ourselves, did not support them in being legally plundered, and helped them with their needs, we would have a very free Utah.
There are people taking steps to make Utah free again. Restoring honest money, taking back the land that belongs to the people, saying no to unconstitutional federal laws are just a few things that some Utahans have been doing. It is a great start, but more people need to get involved, more people need to care. Utahans can reclaim liberty by becoming self –sufficient as individuals as well as a state. By getting into a financial position where Utah no longer needs to rely on the financial assistance of the federal government, Utah would restore her own liberty. Over 50% of the budget of Utah comes from the federal government now. By taking steps to become financially independent, Utah can move forward because there will be no need to deal with the money that has come to Utah with strings attached. There are a lot of creative ideas that a lot of Utahans have, that could cut the money needed for education and other programs. A community school, where the parents are involved and hire their own teachers is just one way that the budget can be altered significantly. With so much money going to education, changing the way it is financed and run would go a long way to balancing the budget. A true balanced budget would not include any federal funds. Utah can be free again, if her people will take the initiative to get involved, and make the hard choices now that need to be made in order for the budget to be balanced, and the laws to be reduced.
Note: This essay is user-generated content not reviewed nor approved by Libertas Institute. No endorsement of this essay is implied.