Transcript: The Great American Debates: 'There's Too Much Government In My Life'


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to "The Great American Debates." The resolution on the table, there is too much government in my life. And right now, we're going to talk about where government should be in terms of individual liberties and privacy. We have a question to my right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a preschool teacher in a university town, where dangerous driving is an issue. I read the headlines when I was leaving town that the camera, red light camera surveillance issue was not approved. And my question is, when does safety trump personal -- people feel that's an invasion of privacy, to be videotaped. We use it in convenience stores, many places, we use it to catch criminals. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Eminently sensible. George?

WILL: Well, I'm worried, actually, by the mad proliferation of cameras following us through our lives. It does seem to me that when you say when does X trump personal liberty? Almost never.

AMANPOUR: When it's a matter of saving lives?

WILL: I don't want to make safety parallel with, equal to, let alone trump personal liberty.

FRANK: I would welcome -- I do -- there's a complication when you're driving a car, because it implicates others. But I would assume, George, you're going to sign on with me and Ron Paul in removing the criminal penalties on the use of marijuana and on stopping this terrible regulation of the Internet in which we tell adults that they can't gamble.

And frankly, here is where the right wing is very much for big government. They are the ones who want to regulate personal choices. Birth control, whether or not -- we'll leave aside abortion, which is more controversial -- they want to regulate the use of birth control. As I said, gambling. Private sexual practices. Who can get married. I have never understood why heterosexuals who want to get married, believe that if I were to marry a man, they would somehow lose interest in their wives. I am not -- I am not aware of what my attractive role would be there.

So, in fact, it is the case -- there's also the case of course with the military, and again, we didn't get any take-up of that, but a major reason for the expansion in American government, taxation, et cetera, is an overly extended American military, which is committed all over the world to accomplish all kinds of social and economic purposes far beyond defense.

But, let's talk about individual liberty. Gambling, marijuana, personal sexual practices, what people can read -- here is the case where, frankly, it is the right wing, particularly the social issues component of the right wing, that has been the ones fostering big government.

REICH: But this is another issue, area, where so-called liberals and conservatives actually don't feel all that much differently. I mean, for example, when we talk about surveillance, most people don't want cameras everywhere. Most people want to be able to count on their individual freedom. Most people don't like the idea that is contained in the new defense act, the authorization act, that any American could be deemed an enemy combatant and lose all of his or her rights with regards to indefinite suspension, habeas corpus. That's not the America we know.

AMANPOUR: What about what some people see as a paradox, that the right--?

RYAN: Big Brother-ism.

AMANPOUR: Big Brother-ism, that the right wants to keep the government out of the boardroom but in the bedroom, so to speak.

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