Danger lurks when people have nothing to lose

If we don’t take care of our average citizens, we risk turning into a nation of individuals with nothing that binds us together.

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ to left to lose.”

These words from the song “Me and Bobby McGee,” penned by singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson, epitomize the mindset and the back story of Nikolas Cruz, as he went on a killing rampage at his former high school in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day.

Freedom for Nik Cruz meant that 17 students and teachers died and 15 were wounded. In Parkland and across the nation, thousands were traumatized.

Charles Koch, multibillionaire industrialist, stated his view of freedom in a speech he gave to an audience of libertarians in the late 1990s. To him, property was the basis of human freedom and the state – along with any public institution or even the idea of “public good” – was the very definition of “tyranny.”

World War II was already raging in Europe as President Franklin D. Roosevelt enumerated his “four essential human freedoms” in his January 1941 State of the Union address: “Freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom from fear and freedom from want.”

These three individuals gave their definitions of freedom. Each differed widely in his perspective. The question for all of us is: which of these views will prevail in America in 2018?

Let’s examine each definition to reveal the underlying principle of freedom.

Cruz was viewed as weird and creepy by those who knew him. He felt powerless and isolated, according to an article in the “Daily Beast” by Gideon Resnick and Elisha Brown, entitled, “White Supremacists Claim He Trained with Them: Students Said He Wore a Trump hat in School.” Perhaps rage and anger were what motivated him. Perhaps it was mental illness.

One thing is sure about him. A gun gave him power and he used that power to wreak havoc and death.

He also had, as Kristofferson defined freedom, nothing to lose. He had lost his mother and his adoptive father had also died. He was a social reject and he and his brother Zachary did not get along. That’s the danger of people who feel powerless. Everything that they value has been stripped from them. Such people who have this level of “freedom” are a danger both to themselves and to others. This is the effect of our national emphasis on individualism and individual rights.

Koch and his brother David cannot be put in the same category as Cruz. They have wealth and power – $81.4 billion and counting. Charles Koch is organized and methodical and he’s doggedly persistent. He’s got purpose for his life and that is to make the United States a nation where all the social nets, set up over the past 100 years, are destroyed: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and public education – the list goes on.

Freedom for the Koch’s is “no restrictions upon property.” Economic freedom is their goal, according to writer Nancy MacLean in her book, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.” That means any government regulatory agency must be dismantled. The problem with the Koch’s view of freedom is that it means rule by oligarchy – rule by a few.

In contrast to the Koch’s philosophy, Roosevelt’s view of freedom gets closer to the ideal balance between individualism and the public good: Freedom of speech and of religion, freedom from fear and freedom from want. These were the goals with which we fought against fascist tyranny during World War II and against communism during the Cold War.

If we don’t take care of our average citizens and protect them with affordable healthcare, with a safety net as found in Social Security, and regulatory agencies such as the EPA that give us clean air and water, and the Federal Reserve which protects us from depressions, we risk turning into a nation of individuals with nothing that binds us together.

The problem with the Koch’s approach goes back to Kristofferson’s lyrics: If you take away everything a person possesses, where only the privileged few have any freedom or power, you will create a nation of people with nothing to lose – in other words, a nation of people like Nik Cruz. That is the danger facing us with the “Dark Money” organizations created by the Koch’s and their billionaire allies. America’s freedom is at stake.

P.S. It’s been widely reported Cruz was a member of a Florida white supremacist group, but according to Stratfor’s article, “Russian Meddling: A Highly Ordered Effort to Disorder U.S. Politics,” this is false, or the very least, unproven.

“In the hours following the attack in Parkland, white nationalist trolls on 4chan egged each other on to propagate the rumor that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was a member of a local white supremacist chapter. The Anti-Defamation League first fell for the story, after which major news networks spread it to hundreds of thousands of readers,” the article reads. “Though the trolls behind the Nikolas Cruz rumor were not nearly as organized as the Russian campaign, they were following the same basic tactics. In fact, Russia’s tactics can be copied by virtually anyone with access to a computer, with the resulting disruption depending upon the skill of the operator.”

More in Opinion

Thank you Murray for increasing Alzheimer’s research funding

As someone who helped care for a mother with Alzheimer’s and who now misses her every day, I understand firsthand the impact this disease has on families across America.

Tribalism led to the loss of Vietnam, Iraq wars

Knowing and understanding tribalism can offer a solution to the divisions at home and abroad.

The Fennel Creek Trail will benefit nearby communities

Contrary to the beliefs of some, the increased number of people using trails discourages criminal activities by increasing the number of eyes watching what is going on.

The sweetest revenge? Sometimes it’s just being nice

Being kind to others, especially those who have harmed or hurt us, comes as a result of seeing others as our equals.

Mental health competency delays cost state millions

Soon, some of those languishing lengthy periods behind bars might need to be released and charges against them dismissed.

Thank you, Enumclaw, for all of your support

I’ve seen these types of things happening throughout my life in Enumclaw, but recently I have been overwhelmed with the outstanding amount of support the community has shown me personally as I prepare for an internship in Washington, D.C., this summer.

The four cornerstones of arguing irrationally

Don’t get caught up in the techniques people use to ignore rational arguments.

State Dems may abandon caucus chaos in time for 2020

Washington also is considering becoming more significant by moving its primary to early March.

A taste of Krain history, from its dive-bar days

I first went in the place one winter’s evening when I was 8 or 9 years old.

Supreme Court resets the playing field

The ruling on the Masterpiece Bakery v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case wasn’t a win for the right or a loss for the left; it’s a chance to do things right the second time around.

Supreme Court ruling shows sanity, moderation

The 14th Amendment equal protection clause does not negate the First Amendment religious freedom clause.

Initiative signatures are the new greenbacks

As of Wednesday, June 6, petitions for four statewide initiatives were getting circulated.