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Main page » Non-Fiction » Science literature » Linguistics » Whose freedom?

Whose freedom?


Ideas matter. Perhaps no idea has mattered more in American history than the idea of freedom. The central thesis of this book is simple. There are two very different views of freedom in America today, arising from two very different moral and political worldviews dividing the country. The traditional idea of freedom is progressive. One can see traditional values most clearly in the direction of change that has been demanded and applauded over two centuries. America has been a nation of activists, consistently expanding its most treasured freedoms:

  • The expansion of citizen participation and voting rights from white male property owners to non-property owners, to former slaves, to women, to those excluded by prejudice, to younger voters
  • The expansion of opportunity, good jobs, better working conditions, and benefits to more and more Americans, from men to women, from white to nonwhite, from native born to foreign born, from English speaking to non-English speaking
  • The expansion of worker rightsÑfreedom from inhumane working conditionsthrough unionization: from slave labor to the eight-hour day, the five-day week, worker compensation, sick leave, overtime pay, paid vacations, pregnancy leave, and so on
  • The expansion of public education from grade school to high school to college to postgraduate education
  • The expansion of knowledge through science from isolated figures like Benjamin Franklin to scientific institutions in the great universities and governmental institutions like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health
  • The expansion of public health and life expectancy
  • The expansion of consumer protection through more effective government regulation of immoral or irresponsible corporations and class action suits within the civil justice system
  • The expansion of diverse media and free speech from small newspapers to the vast media/Internet possibilities of today
  • The expansion of access to capital from wealthy landholders and bankers to all the ways ordinary peoplemore and more of themcan borrow money today
  • The expansion, throughout the world, of freedom from colonial rule for the most part with the backing of American foreign policy.

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