The Permission Society: How the Ruling Class Turns Our Freedoms into Privileges and What We Can Do About It
Throughout history, kings and emperors have promised “freedoms” to their people. Yet these freedoms were really only permissions handed down from on high. The American Revolution inaugurated a new vision: people have basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and government must ask permission from them. Sadly, today’s increasingly bureaucratic society is beginning to turn back the clock and to transform America into a nation where our freedoms—the right to speak freely, to earn a living, to own a gun, to use private property, and even the right to take medicine to save one’s own life—are again treated as privileges the government may grant or withhold at will. Timothy Sandefur examines the history of the distinction between rights and privileges that played such an important role in the American experiment, and how we can fight to retain our freedoms against the growing power of government. Illustrated with dozens of real-life examples—including many cases he litigated himself—Sandefur shows how treating freedoms as government-created privileges undermines our Constitution and betrays the basic principles of human dignity.