"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"
What does this quote mean? It doesn't mean anything, when it is disconnected with the full of its author's words. Franklin wrote this in his Reply to the Governor in 1755, but how many people even know that? His letter is less than 2000 words, so it is not a long read. I recommend everybody read the full letter, because that is to the detriment of progressivism.
So, what does this quote mean? It only, only means what Franklin himself meant at the time he wrote it. It does not mean anything else. Here is a large part of what Franklin wrote to the Governor, in 1755:
Our Assemblies have of late had so many Supply Bills, and of such different Kinds, rejected on various Pretences; Some for not complying with obsolete occasional Instructions (tho’ other Acts exactly of the same Tenor had been past since those Instructions, and received the Royal Assent;) Some for being inconsistent with the supposed Spirit of an Act of Parliament, when the Act itself did not any way affect us, being made expresly for other Colonies; Some for being, as the Governor was pleased to say, “of an extraordinary Nature,” without informing us wherein that extraordinary Nature consisted; and others for disagreeing with new discovered Meanings, and forced Constructions of a Clause in the Proprietary Commission; that we are now really at a Loss to divine what Bill can possibly pass. The proprietary Instructions are Secrets to us; and we may spend much Time, and much of the Publick Money, in preparing and framing Bills for Supply, which, after all, must, from those Instructions, prove abortive. If we are thus to be driven from Bill to Bill, without one solid Reason afforded us; and can raise no Money for the King’s Service, and Relief or Security of our Country, till we fortunately hit on the only Bill the Governor is allowed to pass, or till we consent to make such as the Governor or Proprietaries direct us to make, we see little Use of Assemblies in this Particular; and think we might as well leave it to the Governor or Proprietaries to make for us what Supply Laws they please, and save ourselves and the Country the Expence and Trouble. All Debates and all Reasonings are vain, where Proprietary Instructions, just or unjust, right or wrong, must inviolably be observed. We have only to find out, if we can, what they are, and then submit and obey. But surely the Proprietaries Conduct, whether as Fathers of their Country, or Subjects to their King, must appear extraordinary, when it is considered that they have not only formally refused to bear any Part of our yearly heavy Expences in cultivating and maintaining Friendship with the Indians, tho’ they reap such immense Advantages by that Friendship; but they now, by their Lieutenant, refuse to contribute any Part towards resisting an Invasion of the King’s Colony, committed to their Care; or to submit their Claim of Exemption to the Decision of their Sovereign.
In fine, we have the most sensible Concern for the poor distressed Inhabitants of the Frontiers. We have taken every Step in our Power, consistent with the just Rights of the Freemen of Pennsylvania, for their Relief, and we have Reason to believe, that in the Midst of their Distresses they themselves do not wish us to go farther. Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Such as were inclined to defend themselves, but unable to purchase Arms and Ammunition, have, as we are informed, been supplied with both, as far as Arms could be procured, out of Monies given by the last Assembly for the King’s Use; and the large Supply of Money offered by this Bill, might enable the Governor to do every Thing else that should be judged necessary for their farther Security, if he shall think fit to accept it.
So, what is he talking about?
He is talking about wealth redistribution, in the context of the legislation itself. What was the Pennsylvania legislature doing at the time? Franklin describes how they were putting together "Supply bills". Supplying what, exactly? It was appropriating money and handing out guns to people who seemingly needed them to fight against the
invading British French and Indians. But as Franklin made clear, the people in question not only left the responsibility to others to procure their guns, but they also left the responsibility of actively defending themselves to others.
Now I know a lot of you are going to be shocked to learn that an American government was using wealth redistribution as a means to hand out guns to some of the citizens, but Franklin makes it clear that they were not exactly bitter clingers here. They weren't interested in lifting a finger for themselves in this context. And we shouldn't have a government that redistributes money for guns. Franklin is correct here. Wealth redistribution is evil, and the object sought is completely irrelevant.
He does have a different context for this quote as well, it should be stated. He also means a reference to these people who were beneficiaries of the new colonies, but would not help defend those colonies. They sought safety and security instead with the British crown. But because the King did not represent Liberty and was not offering it either, these people deserved neither safety nor liberty. In this context its actually quite brilliant. To use a word, these people were punks. But I digress.
Let's compare the Patriot Act with Obamacare.
Does the Patriot Act redistribute wealth? No, it does not.
Does Obamacare redistribute wealth? Yes, it does.
Not only that, but a large portion of the arguments surrounding Obamacare are rooted in safety and security. The arguments sound a little like this:
"My family ...... safety and security ...... in times of job loss ...... "
"The evil corporations ........ keep raising their prices ...... we need to be safe from them ......"
We have heard them all and we have heard others as well. There's the constant caterwauling about people who can never afford any kind of healthcare, and are thus insecure. And then there's this: Gallup and other polling agencies are out there running polls from time to time about "healthcare insecurity"!
Well guess what Gallup. Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
So then at the end of the day, by definition, Franklin could not have been referring to something like the Patriot Act. To claim as such, is taking him out of context.