May 2, 2001

Remember Sunday? It was sunny and bright, pleasantly warm, and the air was still. It was just a perfect day for doing absolutely anything except perhaps for snow shoveling. My wife and I spent much of the day building a path through the woods to a flowing spring in our "back corner".

The telephone rang during our mid-afternoon lunch break, and the voice at the other end exclaimed "Bob!.. Why aren't you flying!" The only thing I could say in reply was that it was almost too nice to go flying, and he was taken aback. I reassured him that the other reason that I wasn't flying was that I was only halfway done installing some new engine gauges in the airplane.

It was an idyllic day at the end of a beautiful week. Its easy to forget that there are bad guys out there. Think about the small plane that was recently shot down in Peru... I never heard too much play about it, except for the loss of a mother and her child, and the harrowing experience of the survivors. The explanation was that the plane was mistaken for a "drug plane". Things like that happen in places like that.

Things like that happen in places like that because they do not have a Constitution which guarantees every living soul the presumption of innocence until proven guilty! It concerns me that I never heard that aspect of the story mentioned in any of the news reports. It concerns me that too many people take our way of life for granted.

The Constitution is not self- enforcing, people must speak up when it is violated. Police and executive branch enforcement agencies sometimes feel that our constitutional rights make their work less productive. Our own drug people made a serious attempt to gain authorization to shoot down suspected drug planes in the U.S. several years ago.

CNN parades a steady stream of crisis through our living rooms, and there is an undercurrent of demand for the government "do something". Many of these demands seem sensible in an analysis- after- the- fact, but in the broader application, they infringe on the rights that the Constitution guarantees all of us.

People must learn to be more careful what they wish for. The price of "more efficient" law enforcement is a reduction in freedoms. Look around the world and look at history; To my knowledge, there are no law- and- order problems in Red China, nor were there any in Nazi Germany.

I am sorry if this week's column is a bit short on airplane talk, but once a government gains unrestricted power, it secures a monopoly on criminal behavior. All of life's pretty things no longer matter.

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