How are you celebrating Independence Day? Whether your plans involve a fireworks display or a barbecue with friends, we hope that this 4th of July you have the opportunity to reflect on the freedoms we all enjoy as Americans.
At CEI, we cherish the bold vision of our Founders, who recognized that a free and prosperous society requires a substantial sphere of private action, unrestrained by government authority. Defending that vision means fighting the many regulatory roadblocks that limit our choices. Our work advancing liberty therefore means that we cover a diverse range of policy issues, from the environment and free speech to labor and consumer choice. So, as we celebrate our autonomy this 4th of July, here are five freedoms we consider worth defending.
Freedom to Express Your Views
The right to voice your opinion is a fundamental element of American democracy. Regardless of their position on the issues, all Americans should be able to advocate for causes they believe in. That’s why we reacted fiercely to a recent attack on our free speech in the form of a government subpoena. The subpoena was intended to intimidate us into silence for holding a politically disfavored opinion. These lawless officials sent the message that if you disagree with them, they will use their authority to silence you. We take this attack on the First Amendment seriously and are using everything we have to fight back. The constitutionally protected right to free speech is too important to do otherwise.
Freedom to Use Affordable Energy
Energy is fundamental to almost everything we do. Unfortunately lawmakers are considering a variety of policies that could cause energy prices to skyrocket. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard, for example, raises prices of fuel and food, costing consumers tens of billions of dollars annually. It even causes more air and water pollution than the gasoline it replaces. We’re also fighting policies like the Paris climate treaty and the Clean Power Plan that limit our access to energy and raise prices. Consumers are the ones harmed by these effects, especially the poor and middle class families that spend a greater proportion of their income on energy.
Freedom to Treat Yo’ Self
From sweets to drinks, regulators want to limit your choices. Nanny-state regulators lurk at every corner to deny you the pleasure of your e-cigarette, soda, poker game, cocktail, or fantasy sports league. They stand in the way of your enjoyment of businesses and products that they’ve decided aren’t good for you. Americans have long valued the diverse array of consumer goods and recreation options available in such a prosperous, innovative country, and government bureaucrats shouldn’t be allowed to veto those decisions. We believe that our fellow citizens are capable of choosing what’s best for themselves.
Freedom to Access Capital
Federal agencies shouldn’t be making your financial decisions for you, either. You worked hard for that paycheck and should be free to spend or invest it however you choose. Over the years, we’ve fought regulations that limit your access to investment choices and advice. We urged Congress to reject the government’s “fiduciary rule” on investment advice, which CEI’s John Berlau has termed “Obamacare for Your IRA.” We also believe that you should be able to borrow money when you want, even if it’s short term, and pool your resources with lots of other people to make investments. Removing barriers to capital enhances economy opportunities and helps spark entrepreneurship.
Freedom to Innovate
Speaking of entrepreneurship, America has long been a place that fosters exploration and innovation. Aspiring entrepreneurs have traveled to America from around the world for the freedom to hypothesize, create, test, and explore. Yet, threats to this freedom come in all shapes and sizes. Restrictions on commercial drones and driverless cars hamper innovators and delay products that could improve the safety of all Americans. In the app economy, many cities are looking to regulate or ban ride-sharing and home-sharing services. The app economy creates countless jobs, provides flexible hours and income, and brings in-demand services to the on-demand world.
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