Freedom, or fairness?

You never know what story or what issue will inflame the passions of large groups of people. In the past weeks, David Green, the CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby, expressed a heartfelt epiphany of the dangers of tyranny and the loss of freedoms and liberty.

Kevin Clark is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter @kcstock

Kevin Clark is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter @kcstock

On December 14, the country was stunned as a crazed gunman brutally murder children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In an attempt by Hollywood stars and political opportunists to bring about the most wide-ranging gun control laws in our nation’s history, this tragedy is being used to push their agenda.

These stories have ignited intuitive moral issues that people throughout the political spectrum are feeling and expressing righteous indignation over, with very different conclusions being drawn.

Is this a question of freedom and liberty? Is this a question of moral crisis? Is this a prophetic glimpse of what’s to come for our democracy? Why should a fiscal cliff settlement, an economic issue, play into a national debate on freedom and liberty?

Consider the following paragraph:

Taxation in National Socialist Germany was sharply “progressive,” with those of higher income paying proportionately more than those in the lower-income brackets. Between 1934 and 1938, the average tax rate on incomes of more than 100,000 marks rose from 37.4 percent to 38.2 percent. In 1938,  Germans in the lowest tax brackets were 49 percent of the population and had 14 percent of the national income, but paid only 4.7 percent of the tax burden. Those in the highest income category, who were just one percent of the population but with 21 percent of the income, paid 45 percent of the tax burden”.

~ D. Schoenbaum, Hitler’s Social Revolution (1980), pp. 148, 149.

In Germany, from 1930-39 the diabolical and demented leaders of a great and productive people used social, cultural and economic engineering to bring about a façade of prosperity. They diminished — in extraordinary ways — the basic concepts of freedom and liberty, eroding the human dignity of millions of honorable people. History reveals the daily struggles of nations and people, exposing the actual results of thoughts and actions.

I recommend the book In the Garden of Beasts by best-selling author Erik Larson. His book reveals, in great detail, the pedestrian nature of the German economy and the birth of the Third Reich’s influence.

We have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off … I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made, but I’m not satisfied. I’m confident in the future, but I’m not content with the present.

These are familiar words and slogans, phrases heard throughout history, when in times of crisis nations reach inflection points where bold corrections are needed and political action becomes the blunt force instrument to accomplish that goal. These words seem to be ripped off the front pages of our own daily newspapers, but they are not words by a German leader. They are words from President Obama, quotes from his first 100 days in office tour.

I am bullish on America. I am confident we will learn from the hard lessons of history and chart a course for future generations to prosper. However, I’m not naive; the German economy of the 1930s had flourished under the heavy hand of the Third Reich, but the cost to their nation, and indeed the world, was a nightmare of morality and a dark moment in world history.

In periods of economic depression or financial crisis, most people are looking to rewind the tape and regain the life they once had. These moments test the national character of free people, as the road to recovery is scared with individual stories of loss.

History has shown the great mistakes of economic recovery have been sown with the seeds of class warfare and the division of national purpose.

David Green’s letter is touching the soul of conservatives, but it is not enough. Until the nation at large embraces a future with a firm foundation of freedom, rather than fairness, the average American will be susceptible to the seduction of the beasts in our own gardens. Through freedom, there will be fairness, but fairness without freedom is the recipe for decline.

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  1. Excellent points . Am reminded of Obama’s staff using crisis as means to an advantage. Citizens should be reminded often to safeguard their rights.

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