For the Tea Party, "freedom" means freedom for the money masters --- the big banks and big businesses --- not economic freedom for regular hard-working Americans who have nothing left to lose.
Excluding the Patriot Act and NSA spying (which is reserved for a different topic entirely), when you think about it, nobody has really lost any of their freedoms --- but those in the Tea Party, who insist on smaller government (or no government at all), would have you believe otherwise.
Regulations and laws are meant to protect people, not restrict their rights --- such as the recent outbreak of salmonella tied to Foster Farms chickens. We only restrict the "freedoms" of corporations who are constantly bypassing, skirting, bending or ignoring existing laws (or the intentions of those laws). That's why we have so many regulations and 75,000 pages in the tax code --- because of an army of corporate attorneys and lobbyists who are always pushing back to gain advantages that only serve themselves, and not the masses. We elect people to make laws and hire people to enforce those laws (government workers) to protect us and to provide us with a fair and equitable economy for all (Read: Capitalism Requires Government). But that hasn't been happening (More on this below).
"Freedom" doesn't mean that big business should have the freedom to do whatever it is they please in their quest for higher profits (just to enrich a few) no matter what the consequences are to everybody else. We still have the freedom to do pretty much as we please so long as we don't hurt others. What we really lack is "economic freedom", because with more money in our pockets, we could do so much more. But too many of us have had our "economic freedom" limited to barely sustain our mere existence (rent, food and electricity).
Back in the 1960s, during the era of the Vietnam War and Woodstock --- when Janis Joplin sang "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose" and Bob Dylan sang "When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose" --- America later experienced another counter-culture --- the corporate push back with their economic oppression of the masses. Ever since then, the New Deal has been under fierce attack by the uber-wealthy and their political representatives.
The Republican-led and corporate sponsored counter-offensive most likely started in 1971 with the Powell Memo, then progressed further in the 1980s during the Reagan years with Starve the Beast, and then more recently with the resurgence of the old Southern Dixiecrats (better known today as the Tea Party) who uses the word "freedom" to tug at the heartstrings of American patriotism, to nefariously confuse real freedom with the political and corporate strategy of economically oppressing the masses (regular hard-working Americans who work for hourly wages or bi-weekly salaries).
Then by 1979 (when the middle-class in the US peaked), union membership and manufacturing began to decline, as did the middle-class with stagnant wages as the better-paying jobs began being offshored overseas --- when income inequality began to skyrocket.
And to make matters worse, because of money in politics, Americans are having less and less to say about the way their government reigns in corporate greed or limits their political control, or corrects the extremely skewed tax code which favors the rich. We're not able to reject unfair free trade agreements --- such as NAFTA and the proposed TPP agreement, which gives multi-national corporations even more power and control over us and our government (the government being, us, the people). The TPP trade agreement has been described as "NAFTA on steroids" so that transnational corporations have the "freedom" to do as they please, not as we please.
Because of our corrupt system of government, the ultra-wealthy are allowed to use the tax code as a weapon in their class-war against the poor and middle-class --- and since the 1960s/70s, the "war on poverty" has morphed into a war on the poor. That's a lot of poor people when 15% of the country is "officially" defined as living in poverty --- but when you consider that 50% of all wage earners (regular hard-working Americas) are only taking home $27,000 a year or LESS, that is massive economic oppression in what is supposed to be the richest country in the world. The truth is, the country isn't rich, just the top 1% of the country are rich.
And because of the Supreme Court decision Citizens United, and now McCutcheon v Fec, the high court will give the super-rich an even bigger bullhorn to override all other free speech, which will help ensure that the status quo of the ultra-rich retains control of our government --- unless of course, more people vote to override all the GOP's gerrymandered districts (and only votes for "progressive" Democrats and not corporate Democrats).
From the New York Times >>> "In a recent Gallup Poll, the results show 33 percent of Americans cite dissatisfaction with government and elected representatives as their top concern, the highest level in a Gallup survey since the question was first asked in 1939. As Gallup notes, this is far higher than the 19 percent of Americans who label the economy their top concern. These two domains, however, can’t be neatly separated. Economics affects both the way we govern and our perceptions of who is governing." (Previously, the economy ranked as American's #1 concern until the recent government shut.)
- A recent global survey conducted by CBS International found that 64 percent of Americans felt the government was run by a few big interests, compared with 5 percent who felt the same in Norway.
- A political scientist finds that inequality is associated with an increased “probability of backsliding from democracy to dictatorship.”
- Those with money to invest in campaign contributions and lobbying exercise a disproportionate influence on political outcomes. Apparently, a few super-rich individuals can supersede the influence of a business community that has more to gain from political compromise.
- The reduced size and growing insecurity of the middle class weaken the political influence of a buffer group that has a stake in mediating conflict.
- Evidence suggests that many people don’t clearly understand how policies affect income inequality and grossly underestimate inequality of wealth.
- A broad summary in “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” shows that income inequality across states within the United States, as well as across countries, is associated with a higher level of socially dysfunctional outcomes.
- A new book “Envy Up, Scorn Down: How Status Divides Us” reviews research findings that powerful people “develop deficits specific to understanding others emotions and thoughts,” adding, “Power may allow scorn.” Envy also has a distinctive social signature that can lead to very bad behavior.
- “Class envy” is often derogated as a kind of moral lapse. Maybe we should consider it, instead, an inevitably toxic result of an unhealthy social and economic environment.
Here's what labor unions, such as the SEIU, can accomplish if the GOP didn't
oppress labor organizations:
The State of Washington already has the highest state minimum wage in the country at $9.19 an hour. Soon, voters in SeaTac (a city south of Seattle) will decide whether to push the local minimum even higher. If a majority of the voters here say YES to a referendum known as "Proposition 1" when their mail-in ballots start arriving this week, a minimum wage of $15 an hour would be required for many businesses in the Seattle metropolitan area --- more than twice the federal minimum of $7.25.
Opponents argue that increasing the minimum wage would lead to long-term losses as businesses adapted by cutting employees, raising prices or moving out. An "analyst" at the right-wing Freedom Foundation* said that if the referendum passed, its effects would erode job security across the board, saying the initiative would be incredibly hostile to employment (We've always heard this sad story from the right-wing since the dawn of time).
* The Freedom Foundation claims to provide non-partisan information, but they rant about the same exact things that the Tea Party complains about: government overreach, free markets and limited government. (Read this excellent explanation of why free markets are really fraudulent markets.) Here's the tell-tell statement from the Freedom Foundation's website about tax policy (note the scant details):
"The principles are pretty simple: taxes should be as low, simple, and fair as possible and budgets should be balanced."
Maybe they should have defined what they thought "fair" is --- as in fair for who? What their policy really translates into is exactly what the Tea Party advocates for: LESS GOVERNMENT --- such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits, food stamps, EPA (toxic waste sites), FDA (contaminated food), OSHA (work place accidents), the National Labor Relations Board (minimum wage violations), etc. etc. etc. --- and less taxes on the rich to pay for these social programs and government agencies. It's just more of the same of Paul Ryan's and Ayn Rand's philosophies: Feed the rich and starve the poor.
But back SeaTac's minimum wage: an associate professor of economics (at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) who has studied minimum wage policies, has said that localized rules did not appear to have much impact on staffing levels (San Francisco International Airport, for example, has a $12.93-an-hour minimum wage that was enacted in 2000.) He also says that higher wages do, however, attract more skilled workers and reduce employee turnover.
"Freedom" is a code word for workers who have nothing else to lose except for their actual physical freedom, like when they protest against income inequality. All the right-wing "think tanks" (representing libertarians, conservatives, evangelists, science-deniers, religious cults and snake oil peddlers), and the pro-corporate and pro-rich Republican politicians (the so-called "moderates"), and the Tea Party rebels (the radical anti-government anarchists) and the multi-millionaire Fox News pundits like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity (the right-wing's media propagandists) all maintain that we (regular hard-working folks) should all have the "freedom" to work for low wages and live in poverty --- but NOT receive any government assistance at all if we're barely surviving --- while at the same time, allowing the super-rich to have the "freedom" to keep their tax rates lower than the hard-working workers, offshore our jobs, oppress our wages, and do pretty much anything they please (like the banksters who avoided jail after receiving golden parachutes).
For the past 40 years "the right" has pushed for lower worker's wages, less worker's benefits and higher productivity from already hard-working American workers --- while the rich have earned more, paid less in taxes, and bought more private islands, bigger beach-front mansions and $30,000 handbags. The ultra-rich enjoys a lot of freedom...meanwhile, the top 1% and their reprehensible political representatives have been stripping away our "economic freedoms" for decades.
New York Times: "A 2011 study found that income inequality first started to rise in the late ’70s and early ’80s in America and Britain (and also in Israel). The trend became more widespread starting in the late ’80s...The gross domestic product of the United States has more than quadrupled in the last 40 years and nearly doubled in the last 25, but as is now well known, the benefits have gone to the top — and increasingly to the very, very top...American inequality began its upswing 30 years ago, along with tax decreases for the rich and the easing of regulations on the financial sector. That’s no coincidence. It has worsened as we have under-invested in our infrastructure, education and health care systems, and social safety nets. Rising inequality reinforces itself by corroding our political system and our democratic governance."
"In 1965, America’s big companies had a hell of a year. The stock market was booming. Sales were rising briskly, profit margins were fat, and corporate profits as a percentage of G.D.P. were at an all-time high. Almost half a century later, some things look much the same: big American companies have had a hell of a year, with the stock market soaring, margins strong, and profits hitting a new all-time high. But there’s one very noticeable difference. In 1965, C.E.O.s at big companies earned, on average, about 20 times as much as their typical employee. These days, C.E.O.s earn about 270 times as much. That huge gap between the top and the middle is the result of a boom in executive compensation, which rose eight hundred and seventy-six per cent between 1978 and 2011."
For the top 1%, the bottom 99% still has the freedom to starve...and for that, we should all be grateful.