Janis Joplin sang the song “Me and Bobby McGee.” The song was written by Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin recorded her version of it very short time before her death. She died in 1970 of an overdose of heroin at the age of 27. Did she have freedom? Not really, because her entire life was tied up in drugs.
That happened more than 50 years ago. Today, we may wonder what freedom really means. I know that I do. The words that she spoke — Freedom is just another word for something left to lose it — have real meaning today in the United States. The concept of freedom Is supposedly central to our way of life. However, when you get right down to it, Janis Joplin is right. Freedom is really just another word for something left to lose. Most of the people in the United States think that they have freedom, but in reality, they are tied to a system which gives that very little freedom.
For example, supposedly every American over the age of 18 has the right to vote in elections. However, we are going further and further into a system which attempts to manipulate the voting system. There really isn’t as much freedom as people imagine. In other systems, there is far more freedom to vote.
In reality, freedom only exists if the basic the necessities of life are available to the individual without great difficulty. One must have food, clothing, shelter, education, and other necessities before freedom really means anything. One has to have the means of transportation if one is to be able to use freedom to its maximum purpose. After all, if your entire day is eaten up in having to work long hours and do other things that consume your time, the fact that you supposedly have freedom does you no good at all.
The only people with real freedom in the United States are those who have at least $1,000,000 in the bank. With that amount of money, they have the ability to make choices. It is the ability to make a choice for your own benefit, and in accordance with your own desires, that makes one free. If you have no money and are hitchhiking down the road, are you free? I don’t think so. You are basically living a ragged life. In theory, you can go anywhere you please, but in reality, you cannot. In fact, it is very likely that if you are out on the road hitchhiking the police will stop you And question you. On the other hand, if you have a lot of money in your pocket and a car you can drive, you can go pretty much where you want. If you come to a door and you want to go inside, you can pay for the privilege of doing so. Notice that this is a privilege, not part of your freedom.
We could have been really free if we had accepted as part of our society the Second Bill of Rights which Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed in 1944. Using that model, all individuals would have had enough money In order to be able to exercise their freedoms. But today, where it is virtually impossible for people to buy houses and few have a substantial amount of income, they do not have freedom. In other words, they are not free to have a house. And that means their freedom is just nothing.