Through executive decree, President Obama is graciously easing restrictions on travel to Cuba and restrictions on sending money to Cuba. The decree, however, applies only to Cuban-Americans who have family members in Cuba. The rest of the American people will continue to be subject to harsh federal criminal and civil penalties for traveling to Cuba and spending their money there.
What is wrong with this picture? Well, it perfectly encapsulates how modern-day Americans have come to meekly accept the supremacy of the federal government and the subservience of the individual in American life.
It wasn’t always that way, of course. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the words he used reflected the commonly held convictions of the British colonists who would go on to establish the United States of America.
Jefferson emphasized that people had fundamental, inherent, natural, and God-given rights and that such rights preexist government. People call government into existence to protect the exercise of these rights. The government becomes the servant and the citizen remains the master.
As a servant, the government has no legitimate authority to deprive its master, the citizenry, of their rights. If the servant (government) decides to take away people’s fundamental rights, the people have the right to alter or even abolish the government and bring into existence a new servant, one that acknowledges its proper role of protecting, not infringing upon, people’s fundamental rights.
What are the fundamental rights that people have been endowed with? Most everyone would agree that freedom of travel is one of them. Everyone has the natural, inherent, God-given right to travel anywhere in the world he wishes, so long as he isn’t trespassing on anyone else’s rights.
Even U.S. officials implicitly acknowledge that freedom of travel is a fundamental right with which the federal government cannot legitimately interfere. That’s, in fact, why they haven’t made it illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba. Instead, in a clever sleight of hand, they made it illegal for Americans to spend their money in Cuba. That way, U.S. officials could continue to proclaim to the world, somewhat hypocritically, that the U.S. government respects the fundamental right of freedom of travel.
However, there’s a fundamental flaw in that reasoning. The right to spend one’s money as he sees fit is as fundamental and inherent a right as freedom of travel. After all, it’s your money, isn’t it? Why shouldn’t you be free to do whatever you want with it, including traveling wherever you wish and spending or investing it the way you want? Under what legitimate authority does a servant dictate to a master what he can and cannot do with his own money?
Today’s Americans, notwithstanding their annual July 4 celebrations honoring the Declaration of Independence, have a totally different way of viewing rights and the federal government. In their minds, freedom is a conditional gift bestowed by the federal government, one that U.S. officials can rescind, regulate, and control at will. That’s why they see nothing wrong with the federal government, their master, controlling where they, the servants, travel and spend their money.
How many Americans will ask themselves the following important questions: Under what authority is President Obama easing restrictions on the freedom of the American people? Isn’t freedom a natural and God-given right that no government can legitimately regulate or control? If the government has the legal authority to punish people for exercising fundamental and inherent rights, then how can such rights truly be considered fundamental and inherent? Why should fundamental, inherent, God-given rights be subject to the control of government, especially when government is supposed to be the servant and the citizenry is supposed to be the master?
Cuban-Americans have long accused the Cuban regime of having abandoned the principles of its own revolution. As Cuban-Americans expressly gratitude over President Obama’s easing of restrictions on their freedom, while other Americans give nary a thought to the continued deprivation of their freedom to travel and spend their money the way the want, can’t the same be said of Americans and their Revolution?