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Freedom's erosion

By Charles "Trey" Wickwire
web posted February 7, 2005

I often visualize freedom as a fortification built by man to stand between the land and the sea of oppression. I see this fortification as a great wall of stone that the waves of tyranny continually crash into. Each time a wave expends its energy and sinks back into the sea it leaves the wall of stone standing firm, keeping the land of liberty safe.

This pounding of surf takes its toll though and no barrier can forever withstand the constant assault. Little pieces are broken away, some mortar is dislodged here and a stone is loosened there. The process is long and the weakening of the wall is slow but it happens; it cannot be stopped.

It is these thoughts that my mind turns to as I read about what is happening now in Germany. In 2002, prostitution was legalized in Germany in order to help combat trafficking in women and cut links to organized crime. Noble goals but recent events have shown how this legitimate idea can backfire.

German welfare reforms state that anyone under the age of 55 who has been out of work for more that a year and refuses an available job can be refused unemployment benefits. The new and growing sex industry in Germany has been quick to capitalize on this law. Brothel owners now seek out unemployed women and force them to work as prostitutes or lose their benefits. With German unemployment past the five million mark, they have a lot of women to choose from.

Businesses in the sex trade are not even required to identify themselves as such. Women receive employment offers from government job centers and do not find out what the job is until after they have contacted the brothel. Once contact has been made they can be forced to take the job or lose their benefits.

You could say that these women still have a choice, but imagine yourself in the role of a young single mother who needs medical care for her child. Now imagine being told the only way to receive that medical care is to sell your body. Now imagine that the government not only sanctions this, but is a working part of the process.

But what does that have to do with us over here in the United States you ask. Who cares what those crazy Europeans do; we would never let something like that happen here. But Germany is a part of the free world and a part that the United States helped to create. And I wonder how many Germans would have thought something like this possible in their country just a few short years ago.

And do not be so sure that the United States is not capable of such infringements. Weyco Inc., a Michigan based company that handles insurance claims has demanded that all of its employees quit smoking cigarettes. I am not talking about a smoke free environment. This company has demanded that its employees quit smoking cigarettes and/or using tobacco products entirely and requires mandatory urine tests to check for compliance.

Who needs Big Nanny government when you have Howard Weyers?
Who needs Big Nanny government when you have Howard Weyers?

Howard Weyers, owner of Weyco Inc., claims his no smoking rule is completely legal. Weyers states that his employees have a choice; they can quit smoking, or choose to work somewhere else. He does not view this as controlling his employee's lives. Twenty of Weyco's employees have quit smoking, and four have quit their jobs.

Now that smoking at Weyco has been eliminated, Weyers has turned his attention to his overweight employees. He has brought in an eating disorder therapist and plans to offer health club memberships. Weyers claims that this is all for the benefit of his employee's health as well as saving a few bucks in insurance claims.

And what do German prostitution and American non-smoking rules have in common you ask. They both illustrate erosion to our personal freedoms. Anytime we allow an individual or a group to take control of a person's life, we see a bit more of the wall of freedom damaged. In Germany, heartless pimps have the power to force women into sexual slavery with the government's help. Here in America, corporate officials have the power to dictate the personal habits and activities of any who work for them. These are just two examples that have been in the news recently, but like the never ending surf against the wall, the examples just keep coming in.

I think that it is also important to remember that the wall of freedom is built by man and as such can be repaired and when necessary, rebuilt. It takes diligence and a willingness to see the damage being done and that is what we have to work hard on. It is too easy to allow the wall to just stand against the tide and expect it to hold forever.

Charles Wickwire, aka Trey, is a Computer Specialist who likes to share his opinion with those who are interested and even those who are not. He can be contacted at trey.wickwire@wickware.com.

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