You actually believe government makes us freer?

Ethan: Gov. Paul LePage claims government makes us less free. But America’s founders created a government that expands freedom by promoting business, education, transportation, research and much more. Our founders weren’t afraid of government, and neither should we be.

Phil: LePage was pointing out that Obamacare empowered the federal government to tax inactivity, dictate how private enterprise runs and forever intrude into our private lives, something the founders abhorred.

Ethan: Phil, in 1798 when Thomas Jefferson was president of the U.S. Senate, Jonathan Dayton was speaker of the House (the youngest person to sign the Constitution) and John Adams was in the White House, they created a mandated health insurance program. I think these dudes have the upper hand when it comes to knowing what the federal government was or wasn’t empowered to provide.

Phil: The king of England so tyrannized Americans’ natural instincts to be free, he unwittingly spawned the greatest form of government ever created in human history. Some believe the federal grip on us today is eerily close to a scene out of Back to the Future, only now we’re going back to 1775.

Ethan: “Some believe” all kinds of crazy theories. “Some believe” evolution is fake and dinosaurs lived with humans. That doesn’t make it true. The issue is what do you, a reasonable Republican, believe? Do you think the federal government ensuring retirement for my grandmother, health care for my niece with a pre-existing condition, safety for both of our families, and education for your children is the beginning of tyranny, or do you think it makes us freer?

Phil: “Crazy theories”? Ethan, read the Constitution. It doesn’t say anywhere that the federal government has the power to lord over retirement, healthcare or education. These are all essential to a more content life, but it is not a power enumerated in the Constitution. So, today we have politicians who have convinced people to vote for them so they will have free benefits.

Ethan: Did you really just say that people on Social Security are getting free benefits?

Phil: Of course not, we contribute part of our paycheck for Social Security. What the central planners do with our earnings is a topic for another day. Receiving welfare benefits is OK for the receiver, but the results show our Washington, D.C., centralized planners are bankrupting America, while our individual freedoms are slipping away one regulation at a time.

Ethan: Are you less free when the government passes a law against drunk driving that allows you to get home safe? Are you less free when the government mandates that restaurants serve clean food? Are you less free when a plane gets you home safely thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration? For me, just like having health care and education, these make us all freer.

Phil: The distinction is that I pay for my health insurance. My property taxes and hard work paid for my children’s local and higher education. I choose to forgo other enjoyments to prepare for these responsibilities. Freedom came from accepting the duty to be responsible and not to look to Washington to tell me how much of health care or education I will pay for and how much will be paid by someone else. Look at the War on Poverty — an idea to make us freer, as you say. Has it created more or less dependence? Meanwhile D.C. is bankrupt.

Ethan: America cannot be a place where those who can afford it are free, and those who can’t are left in the cold. That will make it worse for everyone.

Phil: America also shouldn’t be a place where people are trapped in a system of dependence, where in the name of a compassionate government program they are robbed of their best potential. Please don’t misconstrue my point. There are among us people who need our helping hand, yet we have millions who have been victimized by the system who will never know how great they could be.

Ethan: In my day job, I work with the poor every day, and I don’t see all this victimization you worry about. What I see is people trying to take advantage of opportunities that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

Phil: But when these programs fail to deliver the utopian results, more programs are needed. And more funds. The knowledgeable few, who use government to run someone else’s life, have often dashed one’s right to pursue happiness.

Ethan: Although we disagree on whether these programs hurt or help the poor, government is helping all of us. Social Security, Medicare and public education enhance our ability to pursue happiness and strengthen our unalienable right to life and liberty.

Phil: I see freedom through the lens of work, charity and equal opportunity based on the individual. We have more than 50 years of government creating happiness through social engineering. The results — based on how many people no longer need welfare and the exponentially growing costs — indicate we should try it my way, wouldn’t you agree?

Ethan: Nope. Because we had 50 years before the last 50 years, and I definitely don’t want to go back to that future.