Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Give me Freedom or Give me Money

Freedom is a strong word and a condition to be desired. Patrick Henry said it with ultimate emotion when he said "Give me Liberty or give me Death". The problem is not in the strength of the emotion, but in the content of its character. 

 The Beloved Comedian Jack Benny had a great story about being confronted with a mugger who said, "Your money or your life." After a long pause the mugger said "Well?" Benny replied , "I'm thinking, I'm thinking!!". You will know freedom when you can define your needs or desires and have a means of achieving them.

The battle cry for Libertarianism is small government, low taxes, and maximum personal liberty. That is also the battle cry of Right Wing Republicans and helps explain the Libertarian alliance with Anarcho Capitalism. Then when you throw in the Right Wing Christians who are needed to furnish the votes necessary to win elections, you have the problem of a strong group that want Government Power to legislate morality and turn us into a Christian Theocracy. That gets in the way of the personal liberty that pure Libertarians want.

The problem is in how one defines personal liberty. What is the content of its character? Do you want freedom from ...or... freedom to... or both. Are you a Capitalist Libertarian or a Social Libertarian.

Capital Liberty is about:
1. Right to life
2. Right to property
3. Freedom of Speech
4. Equality before the Law.
5. No restriction on adult behavior that is not harmful.

Social Liberty is about.
1. Right to cultural identity.
2. Right to gainful employment
3. Right to food, clothing, and shelter
4. Right to education.

The first group of standards is about freedom from interference with the ownership of property and impositions on personal liberty. The second group of standards is about entitlement to community service from the Commonwealth and recognition of individual values. 

The first group is supportive of unrestricted Capitalism . The second group prefers a social network to support personal survivial within the community. Both groups claim to support Representative Democracy as the solution to achieve their aims. 

 In most of the standards of Freedom or Liberty they are in agreement. One of the main areas of disagreement is in unrestricted Capitalism which history has shown often leads to unproductive Greed and authoritarianism . The other is that entitlement to share the commonwealth can lead to high taxes, big government, and sub level productivity.

If both groups remain true to their commitment to democracy as a form of government, America will continue to find creative ways to encourage both efficient competition and to insure individual survivial  above grinding Poverty.  If we continue on our current path of confrontation and misinformation, we risk a loss of freedom and the triumph of Special Interest in the form of Extremism and possible Dictatorship. 

 We must decide if we want to live with freedom and Liberty or be ruled by the pursuit of wealth and Power. We must decide the future of America and do it now. 

William Hodge