Freedom Vs. Charity

Our political impulses might be boiled down to these two competing priorities: freedom vs. charity.  Our devotion to freedom is to guarantee the unimpeded right to pursue our own lives as we see fit.  Our dedication to charity is to foster the well-being of our communities as much as possible.

The problem is that to absolutely favor freedom is to leave those in need of charity out in the cold, but to exclusively prefer charity is to infringe on the autonomy of others’ freedom.

However, consider this:

When freedom is the priority, private charity can and will still thrive.

When charity is the priority, private freedom always gets circumscribed.

Discuss.

 

 

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The Libertarian Internet: Wikipedia, Craigslist, and Ebay

The recent kerfuffle over SOPA got me thinking again about how relatively free the Internet is–not in terms of cost, but as a beacon of freedom.

Consider three of the online world’s greatest success stories, Wikipedia, Craigslist, and Ebay.  Each exists with minimal interference by the managing authority–those who run each site merely set up the forum and restrain abuse (in Wikipedia’s case, by checking edits to articles for accuracy; in Cragslist’s and Ebay’s by monitoring legality and honesty of postings).  Other than that, users are free to participate and contract with each other as they will.  The managing authorities of each site generally stay out of people’s way and let them live.

Isn’t that how government should work?  Maintain a framework for successful societal operations, as per the constitution, but otherwise stay out of the way?

If someone points out problems with these sites (like a Craigslist killer), I’d respond that punitive regulation causes more problems than it solves (OSHA, anyone?).  The freest society is the one that causes the fewest problems.

Truly, the Internet’s success is due to the unfettered innovation of individuals (Facebook, anyone?).  I think it would be hilarious to see a satire of what Wikipedia, Craigslist, and Ebay would look like if they were run by liberal governing ideals.  Does anyone really think that heavy-handed interference and proscription would make them better?

Ask The Founders

Here’s one for Independence Day.  This is the thrid time I’ve posted this now, and I like it more each time I read it!

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The Federalist Papers are a collected series of essays that originally appeared in New York newspapers during the period of debate and ratification for the new Constitution.  In them, the series’ three authors–Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay–very clearly explain the nature of the Constitution and how it was to implemented. 

Their authority is, of course, unimpeachable.  Hamilton would become the first Secretary of the Treasury.  Jay would become the first Chief Justice of the United States.  And Madison, the primary architect of the Constitution itself, would go on to become our 4th president.

Here are some of our most auspicious Founders’ answers to the pressing issues of the present day:

  • Is America a multicultural society, or a basically homogeneous Christian nation?

Answered by John Jay: “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country, to one united people, a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…”  –Federalist #2

  • Should American government be more Democratic (populist) or Republican (representative) in nature?

Answered by James Madison: “A pure Democracy, by which I mean, a Society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischief of faction.  A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole….A Republic, by which I mean a Government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”  –Federalist #10

“In a democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents.  A democracy consequently will be confined to a small spot.  A republic may be extended over a large region.”  –Federalist #14

  • Can America ensure that its citizens have equal success and comfort?

Answered by James Madison: Continue reading

Freedom Is Risky, Essential, and Wonderful

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. 

Benjamin Franklin

Source: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor, November 11, 1755.The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard W. Labaree, vol. 6, p. 242 .This quotation, slightly altered, is inscribed on a plaque in the stairwell of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

 

Think intrusive airport security.  Think bailouts.  Think unconstitutional gun control laws.  Think about an awful lot of things.

Freedom in the 50 States

I just found out about a recent study of how much relative freedom still exists in each of the 50 American states.  Rankings are presented for individual categories, covering financial and civil liberty factors, and then an overall aggregate ranking.  Here are the top five:

  1. New Hampshire
  2. Colorado
  3. South Dakota
  4. Idaho
  5. Texas

No surprise seeing Texas in the top five.  Utah just missed the top ten.  And my home, Nevada?  Nearly half way down at #24.  Earlier this week, New Hampshire legalized gay marriage, but did so with language that protects the rights of religious objectors to oppose it and not participate if they so desire.  Will this compromise be the way the legal aspects of this controversy are resolved?  At the very least, kudos to New Hampshire for their unflagging dedication in trying to preserve the freedom of every individual, not just a popular special interest. 

In my neck of the woods, the legislative session that just ended has raised taxes and saddled us with plenty of new regulations and nanny state laws.  Thanks to all of you California refugees who moved here and promptly started voting in the kind of socialist fools who ruined your state.  Good job. 

Texas and Idaho are looking better all the time.

California was #47.  New York came in dead last.