Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Land of Liberty

A patriotic favorite, "My Country Tis of Thee," calls America "sweet land of liberty."  Is it?   Liberty is the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority.  People with liberty have rights, I believe, natural ones, given to them by God.  We don't get our liberties from government, but they are natural, God-given rights that the authority of government in a land of the free agrees not to restrict.  Our form of government says that we have liberty, and government will be limited by a constitution from destroying it.

We have a clash in liberty today.  Some see liberty as a right to happiness, not the pursuit of it, but happiness itself.  They see liberty as a right to equal outcome.  Some see those liberties as given to them, not by God, but by government fiat.  Women's rights.  Homosexual rights.  Abortion rights.  Children's rights.  Are these given by God?  Of course not.  Do we have a God-given right to say whatever we want?  Can we scream fire in a crowded building?  Is health care a right?  Does everyone deserve to have their needs or even wants taken care of by government?  Those aren't God-given rights.  They haven't been.   Liberty also provides equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.  A free market says people have the opportunity for an idea, to make something, to work hard, to produce, to offer the product, and then keep what they've earned.  Government regulations---minimum wage, taxation, worker privileges, etc.---take that liberty away.  Men lose opportunity, then jobs.

Others see liberty as freedom from government coercion.  Government should protect liberties, true ones, ones given by God.  The government doesn't have the right to coerce us to live like it wants us to live and buy what it wants us to buy through oppressive and punitive taxation.  We can choose to drive on federal roads and, therefore, buy car insurance.  We can choose to buy or not buy medical care.  All of this is liberty.

For true liberty to work, self-government is a necessity.  Without self-government, men lose their liberties.  Government becomes onerous and intrusive.  Regulations multiply.   Government chooses the winners and losers in the marketplace.  Big Box stores out.  Green business in.

Our country's pledge of allegiance ends with "liberty and justice for all."  Liberty and justice are inexorably tied together.  You really can't have one without the other.  Criminals have more rights.  Victims have less.   Homosexuality in.  God out.

Are we okay with all this?

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