People say America is the most free country and in a lot of ways, why yes it is. Progress has been made and more people have rights who didn’t before and who were maybe somebody’s property at some point. But it is not a “free” country, if that is what you mean. There are many things you cannot do in America and if you tried to do them would either land you in jail or you would get a fine of some kind.
I am not talking about hitting people or taking their stuff. That you actually can do, so long as you work for the IRS, or even if you work for the parks department you can do that.
What I mean is something like, for example, doing business with people. Because you can’t just “do business with people”, which is kind of a funny thing to think about. You have to *technically* get the state’s nod in order to do business and which of course that involves paying for it. And then you have to give the state a cut of what you make after that.
In other words you are not free in the sense you are allowed to keep what you make. Through taxes you are forced to work at least part time for free, which that is the opposite of freedom. And there is a term for that, being forced to work without pay. I forget what that term is at the moment but it will come to me later, I hope.
I started my business in college because I felt if I couldn’t escape the grip of government, well maybe I could find some other ways of increasing my freedom. And if I was going to be forced to work part time for free, then I might as well do the kind of work that would allow me to maximum my income.
I think a lot of libertarians focus so much on getting out from under the foot of government that they forget to take steps toward improving freedom in other areas of life. We sometimes wait for a revolution. And while we would all love for that revolution to occur, this blog/website/podcast is more about creating a revolution in your personal life.
So what I would say is while we are all engaging in activism and supporting the cause of liberty, we should also be working on doing things in our own everyday lives to maximum the potential of the amount of freedom we already have.
What I mean is this. We do have the potential to work only for ourselves. That is a freedom that we have. Just, the problem is *most* people (libertarians included) don’t realize that amount of freedom in their everyday lives. They work for somebody else. “They” being most people. Libertarians included.
Which, you know, that’s fine so long as that is what you want and enjoy. But in talking with many people (libertarians included), it isn’t what they want and it isn’t what they enjoy. Most people (…) say they would love to work only for themselves, “someday.” So that is one area of freedom that a lot of people don’t have.
Another is health. We do have the potential to live free of many unnecessary physical ailments. But we act in ways to diminish that freedom by making the wrong calls on what we eat and whether or not we move. Now as libertarians we all are for people making their own calls, whatever they are. So there is nothing “wrong” with being unhealthy, if so long as that is what you want. But is it?
Who would you say has more individual freedom?
The point is the government (that is, our saviors and benefactors) is not the only force putting a dent on our freedom. Many of us limit the amount of freedom we have in our daily lives, completely by ourselves. And even though these choices may be “voluntary”, the effect is the same. We become beholden.