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Sunday, April 14, 2013

What is freedom?

Ever think about what freedom is?  Are we really free in the United States, or is the word just a sandpapered down farce to make us feel good about ourselves?  Allow me to reword this in the medical perspective:  Do you really get to keep your freedom when you are admitted to a hospital?

As soon as you are admitted to a hospital you are given a bunch of papers to sign, and you are told about your rights as a patient.  Then you are admitted, and you cannot be discharged until the doctor says you can be discharged.  If you leave early -- what we refer to as AMA (without medical advice)-- your insurance will not pay.  So, this means, you are not really "free" to leave when you get better and bored.

When you come to the hospital and you can't breathe, and you don't have a medical directive, and you are of sound mind and body yet the doctor doesn't think you are, he can intubate you and put you on a ventilator without your permission.  He can do this under the guise that he is saving your life. 

So, my question is: are you really free?

Consider it from the angle of the respiratory therapist.  You work your butt off all week, and you receive a pay check. Do you get to choose where your money is spent?  Well, some of it you do.  Yet many government officials have decided they are better at spending your money than you are, so they spend it how they choose.

Yes, are you really free?  You go to respiratory therapy school and you learn when to give a breathing treatment.  Yet you become an RT and a doctor writes an order, one you think is stupid, and you have to do it.  You have to do it and shut your mouth, because to do otherwise will means you will alienate both the doctor, and you may lose your job.  So, I ask, are you really free?

Well, I suppose you are.  You have a right to make bad decisions.  You have a right to take risks.  You have a right to be stupid. You have a right to tell that doctor the truth.  You have a right to complain to your boss.  But where will it get you?

Well, do we really have a right to make bad decisions.  It seems some doctors, and some politicians, want to take the risk out of your life, and to do this they make laws.  And every law takes away another one of your freedoms.  So, I ask, are you really free?

There is a law that you cannot kill yourself.  Seriously.  If you try, you can be mandated to a psych unit.  In fact, if you try to kill yourself, you will be mandated to a psych unit.  You can kill an unborn baby without as much as a permit, nor a proper education.  But try to buy a gun to protect your freedom, and you'll have to go through a background check.  So, are you really free?

They make laws saying you can't smoke in public places, you can't smoke marijuana, you can't have access to ventolin without seeking out a physician, you can't get a good price on healthcare unless you lie about exercising and not smoking, you can't get paid unless you lie that you like where you work, and you can't get blasted (for you low informed voters, that means drunk) before you come to work.

Well, some laws are good.  Laws are good when they protect other people from your bad behaviors.  For example, if you came to work blasted you'd risk hurting other people.  It's okay to make a law stating you can't kill other people (but it's okay to kill the unborn).  But if you want to eat KFC and drink beer and smoke pot every day and rot away your own brain and kill your own body, that's your business. But some want to make it theirs.

If you have a doctor gullible enough to give pain killers to drug addict, that's the problem of the doctor and patient, not the Federal Government.  Both those Americans have a right to be stupid.  And the NYPD has a right to be stupid too.  They recently proposed a GPS be put on bottles of pain killers to prevent crooks from getting pain killers.  Yet the NYPD didn't consider that a smart crook would simply not take the pill bottle. They want to take away your right, and the right of your doctor, to be stupid. 

Yet stupid to one person is wise to another.  So even the term stupid can be speculative.  So what one lawmaker thinks is stupid (say guns) another lawmaker may think is smart (like guns).  So is it freedom for one lawmaker to force another his ways?

You have a right not to plan for retirement.  You have a right not to.  Yet you are forced anyway with social security, which may not be there when you retire anyway.  And, despite contrary myth, you are not paying for your social security as you go: it's being paid for by current workers.  So are you free to retire when you want? 

This is an idea that's been rolling around in my mind like balls on a billiards table.

Freedom:  The right to make bad decisions -- like smoking cigarettes or marijuana -- that have negative health consequences so long as you don't violate the rights of others.  It's the right to be smart.  It's the right to be stupid.  It's the right to make good or bad healthcare decisions.  It's the right to plan (or not plan) for retirement.  It's the right to decide what to do (or not do) with money you earn.

Another interesting thing about freedom is that it is a birthright.  Some like to call it a God given right.  That means that it's inalienable, and we are all born with it.  Yet for you guys who don't believe in God, you can simply call it a natural right, or an inalienable right.  You are born with it.  You are born free.

It's only during the course of our lives that other people take away our freedom.  For example, the government forces you to pay taxes and it decides for you what to do with that money.  The government, in essence, has violated one of your natural rights.

You have a natural right to die.  Do you really?  Are you really free?  If not, then who is taking your freedom from you? Is it ourselves by tuning on our iPods instead of paying attention and seeing what's going on? 


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