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Saturday, March 21, 2015

The "Freedom" To Buy Something Is Not Freedom

Americans like to hold America as this bastion of freedom. We are the free country, unlike those dirty commie/socialist/whatever else dirty countries. And in many ways we definitely do have more freedom than others! Marriage equality is almost nationwide, women can drive and vote, we’re not allowed to own people as property. Sounds like a low standard so far, doesn’t it? That’s because Americans have this weird conception that something being legal to buy or do is all that’s necessary for it to be a considered a freedom.

But is the freedom to buy something really freedom? Sure, you can tell someone they’re free to go to college, but does that mean anything to someone too poor to even get there? You can tell someone they’re free to have a home, but does that mean anything to someone who can barely afford to even eat? You can say you’re free to go to another job, but does that mean anything to someone rejected from every working place? If we are so free to eat, have a house, and get a job, why are there so many people missing one or even all of those?

You can tell me that I’m free to buy a house. And from this view or freedom, you’re right! Legally, nothing is keeping me from buying a house. But to get a house I would need money. To get the money I need to get a bank loan. To get a bank loan, I need to be approved first, which depends on my credit. And then past that I need to give more resources to the bank than the house costs. So I need to get a job to get this resource (Money.) In order to get a job I need to have the right credentials. In order to get the right credentials I either need previous work experience or the right degree. To get the right degree I need to get resources to give to the college. To get those resources, I need a job or a loan from the government, already putting me further into debt. Then, when I finally get a job (Or if, and only if it’s a good enough one paying enough) then I can give them my time and work for a specific amount of hours each week, regardless of if it’s something I enjoy (beggars can’t be choosers right?) in exchange for money. Then, once I get these resources that I earned in exchange for selling my time, then I have to give a portion of those resources to the bank, who gave it to someone for a resource (A house) that they weren’t using in the first place, just in order to have a roof under my head.

If I was so free to have the basic necessity of shelter, why does it require all that just to get it? If having access to basic necessities requires access to resources not everyone has, that sure sounds more like a privilege, doesn’t it? And in America, people have become conditions to believe that privilege is freedom. That some people simply have more freedom than others. Sure, you have the freedom to get a loan, but that CEO has the freedom to buy a house in cash if he wants. Sure, you have the freedom to apply to that job, but the employer has the freedom to just hire his best friend instead.

If I told you your options were to do whatever I say for a specific amount of time or starve, you wouldn’t call yourself free. That’s not freedom, that’s a threat! So why does this threat become “freedom” just because we limit the time a week and you have a (limited) choice whom you do things for? Is the (limited) ability to choose your master really freedom?

In America we need a better discussion over what freedom is. We need to really look at what we’re saying when we say we are a “free” country. Sure, it may be better than other places, it may be the better of situations. But so long as we still have people in our country that are homeless, hungry, and struggling to get by, I will never believe anyone who says it is a “free” country.

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