Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Freedom for Thought

"The great threat to freedom is the concentration of power."
~Milton Friedman

"In proportion as you give the state power to do things for you, you give it power to do things to you."
~Albert Jay Nock

9 comments:

  1. In what sense have you or I 'given' the state power to do things for us? I am in no way trying to be abrasive, I am just wondering what contract I have ever made to empower the state to do anything. Sadly, government ascribes legitimacy to its own liberty-infringing actions through the idea of 'tacit permission.' That's a scary thought if I ever heard one. Your thoughts?

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  2. Anon: We (in the sense of voters at large) give the state power to do things for us when we elect officials based on promises of financial assistance. If we are not already there, we will soon be at the point where more than half the voting population pays no taxes at all - and a non-trivial minority actually receives money from the government (in the form of tax credits & stimulus checks disguised as tax cuts).

    This most recent election was in large part a request for government to dig us out of our financial woes.

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  3. John,

    Once again, not trying to be abrasive, but I don't feel like that is a fair conclusion. What if someone doesn't vote, or doesn't wish to participate in the process. It hardly seems right that other "voters at large" should be able to make a decision for that person. Voting and paying taxes are used as tacit permission by the state to make people do that which they have no desire for. If a man is forced to pay taxes or go to jail, he will (usually I guess) pay taxes. Now that he been compelled to pay taxes, he might feel compelled to be involved in the electoral process just to make sure his money is not used against him, or for causes he disapproves of. This seems illegitimate to me. Either way, it's compelled with no request or agreement on the part of the citizen.
    The coming presidential administration will have to work overtime to even approach the damage that has already been done to American liberty.

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  4. I'm going to defer to the founding fathers on this. When crafting the Declaration of Independence, this is what they acknowledge the rights that individuals have:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    However, they also knew that because of man's nature, those rights need to be protected: "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

    As citizens, we have a right to participate in the selection of our leaders. Unfortunately, as time has progressed, we have moved from a nation that asks for government to protect our liberties to one that ask government to fix our problems.

    This is by no means a new problem - and at this point, I don't believe it is even possible to go back to the framers intentions, however if we as individuals don't continually make the case for right, we will constantly move further and further into bondage.

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  5. I'm a wee late on this one, but it seems to me that this is an issue that has very little to do with fairness. The "ripple affect" of any decision to vote foolishly or ignorantly of these truths or even to fail to vote at all will in some way affect the general populace. Not only does it send messages to the "powers that be" that they may do as they please because that many fewer of their constituents are holding them accountable, but it also undermines the votes of those who do vote conscientiously since those few are so few as to be ignorable. This is not fair. This is life. And it isn't something we have the power to fix. That is why it is crucial that we do become involved faithfully enough to make an informed vote. That is the point of the quotes in the original post.

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  7. Anon:
    I guess if you repudiate the idea of the social contract [i.e. on some fundamental level, government has the right to tax in order to enforce just enough laws to protect our liberties, and the governed have a responsibility to help keep that government accountable] then I guess you're right: the only reason to pay taxes is craven conformity.

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  8. Jeremy,

    I got the point of Joe's posted quotes, thanks.

    Consider the comments my addendum to the original "Open Topic Tuesday" post, which I missed.

    " This isn't fair. This is life. And it isn't something we have the power to fix."

    "it also undermines the votes of those who do vote conscientiously since those few are so few as to be ignorable."

    I'll pass along this interesting quote from author Sheldon Richman(http://sheldonfreeassociation.blogspot.com/)
    regarding voting, or not voting.

    "No one will say what should already be obvious to any thinking person: the electoral process is a distraction, a massive effort in misdirection to keep our minds off what is really going on. The illusion of popular power hides the fact that real power is securely beyond the people's reach."

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  9. Jeremy: You said "The 'ripple affect' of any decision to vote foolishly or ignorantly of these truths or even to fail to vote at all will in some way affect the general populace"

    IMO, it is better to not vote at all than to make an uniformed vote. In what way does it help the individual voter or society at large if voters are essentially pressing random buttons?

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