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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Liberty is Freedom

Men have differed in opinion, and been divided into parties by these opinions, from the first origin of societies, and in all governments where they have been permitted freely to think and to speak.  The same political parties which now agitate the United States, have existed through all time.  Whether the power of the people or that of the aristoi should prevail, were questions which kept the States of Greece and Rome in eternal convulsions, as they now schismatize every people whose minds and mouths are not shut up by the gag of a despot.

Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, June 27, 1813

Liberty is freedom from governmental interference in the lives of individuals. 
The extent to which we are free to assemble, to criticize public officials, to acquire wealth and own property, and to limit the power and scope of government is the extent to which we enjoy political liberty.   

Libertarians want as little government as possible.  Progressives want virtually all aspects of life to be micromanaged and controlled by agents of the state.  Libertarians prefer a laissez faire, or live-and-let-live approach to government. 

Progressives want totalitarian government that rations speech, regulates thought, and eliminates private ownership through taxation and regulation.  Libertarians want to choose for themselves.  Progressives want the nanny state to limit choices only to the alternatives sanctioned by government.

This video is an encounter between a young Michael Moore—yes that one—and Milton Friedman.  Moore claims that it was wrong on principle for Ford Motor Company to use a cost-benefit analysis to decide whether to redesign Pinto automobiles that had faulty gas tanks.  Friedman points out that Moore’s reasoning is flawed, as it is today, and that everyone should be able to choose for ourselves how much risk to accept.

Friedman argues that government should provide courts of law in which consumers can sue business owners who knowingly hide potentially lethal defects in their products.  This is one aspect of market forces.  He also argues that if the defects are public knowledge, consumers should have the right to accept the risk knowingly if they choose to buy flawed products because they are relatively inexpensive.  Freedom to choose is an essential element of liberty.

O-tolitarians would have us believe that by government decree, we can have fuel efficient, completely safe, non-polluting motor vehicles that are also relatively inexpensive.  See me for some hurricane-proof real estate in Florida.  William F. Buckley often asked at what cost should we do this?  Progressives like to answer at any cost.  We could avoid many traffic fatalities by eliminating individually owned transportation; however, the O-bumites are far too beholden to the UAW for that. So, the at any cost argument is disingenuous.

Progressives hide their selfish, greedy, and controlling intentions with incrementalism.  They begin with seemingly innocuous programs, benefits, or subsidies such as WelfareHealthCare.  Then, citing costs, the nanny state’s totalitarian control takes away our freedom and makes all of our personal choices.  It is the Tony Soprano Rule.  The reason for the generosity is to muscle in on the operation until there is no one left but Big Nanny.

May your gods be with you.  

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