BY EDWARD GUTTELING – We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Unfortunately, these noble words are from the Declaration of Independence, not our Constitution. From these principles Americans claim a unique and revolutionary legacy: that every person possess their own sovereignty just by being born, and that these rights don’t come from any government or person.

Individuals have all the rights and give a few of them up voluntarily to our governments. This is the basic principle on which our country was founded, but they are not the law. This is in direct contrast with an opposing view: that government has all the rights and powers and gives whatever it decides is appropriate back to individuals.

Note the incredible distinction: Who is the master, and who is the servant?

Most folks expect that our government leaders were elected with this concept in mind, to keep us safe, to manage our grouped resources most efficiently for our mutual benefit, but to otherwise respect our sovereignty to live our lives as we each choose. Nearly all of us grew up understanding this intuitively as part of American culture. Bit by bit, however, it’s been turned on its head. Like frogs not noticing the boiling temperature if the heat is turned up slowly, our community lets our freedoms die progressively and allow politicians more and more power over our daily lives.

A small recent example is the Hawaii County ban on plastic bags. Apart from the bogus “voodoo environomic” claims about the benefits — all of which are contradicted by scientific fact — it is another small grab of power by our government. Five of the nine council members and the mayor tell 185,000 people another tiny detail of how to live their lives without even the courtesy of a referendum, where at least we’d all get a vote.

This is the latest of many such laws micro-managing daily life: what light bulbs to buy, shower heads, toilet bowls, water heaters, windows, types of fat in our foods, salt content, what to pack our kids for lunch in school. Next up, banning paper bags and Styrofoam. There is even pressure to tell us what toilet paper to use. (No, I am not making that up.)

At the other end of the rights spectrum is the Obamacare law mandating everyone obtain government-specified health insurance. If you are alive and breathing, you must obey — no exceptions. The Supreme Court will decide if this is unconstitutional, but if it stands the entire fabric of our country will be changed, forever.

There will be nothing the government cannot require or prevent us from doing. They would have the legal power to require anyone to do nearly anything: join a health club, buy vegetables daily, buy a new General Motors car yearly, etc. There would be no legal limit to prevent that, only the whim of the politicians.

They are the master, we are the servants, and we will only receive whatever liberties they decide to dribble out to us. With enough public relations and spin to give them support, they can decide every detail of our lives. For our own good, of course. Because we’re just not smart enough to know how to live our lives on our own. It takes a village, with them in charge.

There is no end to it, once the politicians taste the power of telling us what to do. When was the last time a law was passed giving us back an individual right or power? Never. The ratchet only goes one way — only towards less personal sovereignty and rights, and more government power and control. So what can freedom-loving Americans do? First, recognize the problem and resist at every turn.

Demand accountability from our council members and mayor and that they respect our individual sovereignty and stop passing such laws. Change our county charter to put the power back in the hands of the people, for true consent of the governed. Refuse to vote for any politician who does not respect our freedoms, including President Obama and all the other Obamacare supporters. There is a better way. The founding fathers got it right.

Ed Gutteling, a Hilo physician, is vice president of the Conservative Forum for Hawaii.

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