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, our modern bureaucratic society has turned back the clock, transforming America into a nation where our freedoms — the right to speak freely, to earn a living, to own a gun, to use private property, even to take medicine to save one’s own life — are again treated as privileges the government may grant or withhold at will. In this new book,Timothy Sandefur examines the history of the distinction between rights and privileges that played such a crucial role in the American experiment, and the fight ahead to regain our freedoms. Illustrated with dozens of real-life examples — including many cases he himself litigated — Sandefur shows how treating freedoms as government-created privileges undermines our Constitution and betrays the basic principles of human dignity.