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.