Talking ’bout Freedom
I’ve been looking at the evening news, D
Been looking down at my shoes, A
How people overcompensate, G
Go out and shout about being great. D A
Economy rigged to fail, you get D
Hungry families, kids in jail, you get A
Billionaires in La-la land, you get G
Dragged under by quicksand, D D7
While they’re talking, talking ‘bout freedom (2) G A D
Play with gamblers, play with fire.
You get all the promises you desire, you get
Pack of wolves scratching at your door,
Got it all, and they just want more.
But just take a look in their eyes.
It’s the Lord of the Flies, in disguise.
We’re so busy with toys and things that
We’re going back to being ruled by kings,
While we’re talking, talking ‘bout freedom (2)
Pentagons and Berlin walls, G
Proud thrones, empires fall. Bm A
Cross the line between right and wrong, Em
What you take for granted, soon be gone G A
Dark times and dark regimes G
Never wipe out brighter dreams. Bm A
Only way it’s always been. G – A – D
Brave will always conquer fear,
Guns and dogs and riot gear.
I see people arm in arm,
Free from want safe from harm.
And they’re talking, talking ‘bout freedom.
©Doug Hendren 2018
What’s it about? The concept of “freedom” is firmly anchored in the heart of every American. Yet, what does it really mean? While many Americans take political freedom for granted, our economic freedom has been gradually slipping away for several decades. Our European peer nations have robust support for health care, education and social security as well as far more vacation time than most Americans ever enjoy. Yet, whenever these subjects come up in American politics, they are attacked as “socialist” and “un-American.” For well over a century, it turns out, there has been a hidden war waged between economic “freedom” for business interests and the common good for all Americans, whether rich or poor. This history has now been exposed by Harvard and CalTech historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their meticulously researched book: “The Big Myth – How American business taught us to loath government and love the free market”(2023).
In the great depression, people gradually figured out that an unregulated capitalist economy was not stable, and could come crashing down, taking the rest of the world with it. Despite vigorous protest from American business interests, FDR’s New Deal succeeded in large part in rescuing ordinary Americans from poverty and starvation. FDR’s “Four Freedoms” were captured vividly by Norman Rockwell’s famous paintings. These four freedoms were very different from the stacked deck of laissez-faire capitalism that the business community had in mind.
We are again in the middle of a gilded age, where economic inequality is perhaps more extreme than it was even in pre-war times. Will we go back to being ruled by kings? Or will we find an economy that, truly, works for everyone.