On Freedom

Yes, this is an economics blog, but I’d like to get a little philosophical.  Much of this post has laid the foundation of my economic and political beliefs.

What is freedom?  Think about that.  What is that concept that we have built our nation on?  Freedom of religion?  Freedom from fear?  Freedom of speech, assembly, redress, of baring arms?  What does all that mean?

“Freedom is not simply the right of intellectuals to circulate their merchandise.  It is, above all, the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their ‘betters.'”

This quote comes from Thomas Sowell.  Think about it for a moment.  Freedom is not just about speech or intellectual theories.  It is about living the way you want, free from harassment.  The ability to live as you wish, worship who you wish, consume what you wish, run your business as you wish.  That is freedom.  Every day, we come up against barriers to our freedom.  Movement is restricted.  I cannot go to Cuba, for example.  If I am a smoker, I cannot go out in public.  These ar erestrictions on freedom.

The role of government is meant to protect freedoms, not inhibit them.  However, we have a government (all levels, from town to federal) that constantly restrict our freedoms for some Greater Good.  Any issue that makes someone feel uncomfortable is banned (think about organ sales and drugs, to name a few).  Our ability to choose is being curtailed.  That’s what it’s all about: choice.  Can you not see that what’s right for you is not right for me?

Freedom is about accepting everything, not just those things we like.  If we only allow the things that make us feel comfortable, then we don’t support freedom; we just like the idea of freedom.

Let’s bring this back to economics for a moment.  Check out this post by Jeff Neal.

Ok, back to me.  Let’s wrap this up with a critical thinking exercise:

Think about what freedom means.  When you have done that, ask yourself the follow-up question “does this apply to all people? Does this apply to rich, poor, black, while, Chinese, Japanese?” If the answer is “no,”, then your definition of freedom needs to be reworked until the answer is “unconditionally yes.”  Freedom is not conditional.

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3 Responses to On Freedom

  1. Robin Murphy says:

    Well said!!!

  2. thewickermandlux says:


  3. vidyohs says:

    Jon, the people of America long ago lost any concept of what freedom is and what it means to the individual in his/her daily life. One of the biggest reasons this is so is that the people have never been shown/taught that the people created government, not government creating people. How many of us can say we were taught at home or in our primary schools the true meaning of freedom. We don’t know freedom and we don’t fiercely treasure it and defend it at the individual level, as we certainly should.

    There are two affronts to our freedom that have been allowed to be entrenched as law in this nation, and they have occurred since I was a kid. First we have had the freedom of association taken from us. It is our natural right to choose with whom we would associate, even down to those who we would serve in our business endeavors, and our association with government.

    Second we have had our right and freedom to suffer the results of our own mistakes and our own stupidity taken away from us. More than anything else this promotes the idea that we must have government to nanny us through all our actions and make sure we feel no pain or deprivation.

    The sad truth I have found is that only a rare few want to even think about it; and, when you broach the subject in conversations most let their eyes glaze over and their brains tune out. I have often debated with myself on the reasons why the American people can be such chest beaters about freedom, yet know nothing of it.

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