Three things we hold deeply and most firmly secure in our hearts are family, friends and freedom. Independence Day reminds us of how profoundly sacred freedom is to our lives.
Freedom is a valuable human right. Classic individual liberty is the ability to do what you want or to satisfy wishes to the extent of available choices. This traditional negative liberty is freedom from unreasonable external constraint on action. Some thinkers have bastardized the notion of freedom by trying to redefine it to advance a socialist agenda. Positive liberty, it is argued, is freedom from poverty, starvation, treatable disease, etc. Leftist thinkers believe that this is just as important to the notion of freedom as negative liberty. They are wrong.
Economist Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992) pointed out that this is a deliberate socialist argument substituting collective power over circumstances for that of individual liberty. Emphasizing positive liberty “rights” debases the more legitimate and morally superior rights encompassed in negative liberty. A purported “right” that demands an end result (housing, education, medical care, entitlement income) is a right to enslave others. It’s wrong even though politicians run for public office on the argument. As George Bernard Shaw quipped, “a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul”.
Political economy is a battle between socialist and capitalist worldviews. Thanks to the U.S. Constitution, capitalism is the winning ideology. It all comes down to economic power relationships. People with no power or wealth lack control and security and the ability to do as they wish, so they feel oppressed. Those of us who are fortunate to have control over our lives have sufficient financial resources and do not feel oppressed. It’s the old Nietzsche master morality versus slave morality that I wrote about on 6/22/15. We are safe but should also be mindful that wealth redistribution laws enacted because the masses think they are oppressed would be detrimental to our economic position.
Last week, CNN pushed out an article finding that 71% of Americans believe the economy is “rigged in favor of certain groups”. 71%!!!
They’re correct that the economy is rigged – but it’s not rigged in favor of billionaires, it’s rigged in your favor. Our demographic is a secure segment of the population because of cumulative advantage over many generations. Children of the rich stay rich and children of the poor stay poor. If you have the power, you’re going to keep what you own and ensure that your descendants can maintain that same station in life if they work hard and make good decisions. I’m happy to report that our legal and economic system will continue to preserve existing power relationships. And that’s a good thing if you’re in the top wealth quintile. Be happy with what you have – constitutionally protected private property rights. Let true freedom ring! Happy 4th of July from the War Chest.