Now that the dust is settling in Boston and our legislative bodies are coming out of hiding, I am beginning to wonder if we as a nation might ponder again the question of personal liberties and personal safety. How do we feel about sacrificing some of our personal freedoms in order to gain personal safety? Are we comfortable with the number of security cameras that take your picture each day as you walk down Main Street in the course of your everyday activities? Advocates would correctly point out that if you are doing nothing wrong or illegal you should not object to these minor intrusions into your personal freedom to travel freely without Big Brother’s watchful eye. But the ruckus raised over the placement of “red light” cameras in some major cities implies this is a big issue for many.
How similar is this to Wall Street decrying what they perceive to be over-regulation of their businesses—preventing them from maximizing profits for their shareholders and investors? The financial collapse of the last decade has shown how well served the public has been by the lax regulatory environment deregulation has brought. Assuredly, if all businesses possessed the corporate values which placed public good at a level similar to shareholder profits, fewer regulators would be needed to keep the economy on track. And, if drivers could overcome their propensity to run red lights and endanger the rest of us on the road, “red light” cameras would not be necessary.
Maybe it is human nature to think it is okay to inhibit the rights and personal freedoms of those we think will harm or endanger us. But how soon will our freedoms—and our privacies—be sacrificed as our leaders seek to protect us from real and imagined danger. Where shall we draw the line?