Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Freedom? Whazzat?

If you ask 100 different people what exactly freedom means to them, you'll probably get 100 different answers. To liberals, it may mean the right to marry whomever you wish (even a dolphin), smoke what you want, or the freedom to abort whatever you want (ignoring the right of the unborn to live)...but I can't think of many more pro-freedom positions they take. Progressive Democrats are very good about taking away your choices/freedoms. Another way to look at it is to look at what liberals consider rights. A right to Social Security, a right to health care, a right to food stamps, unemployment "benefits", etc. None of these are real rights, because to provide them you first must take from someone else, and who gets the goods is purely based on the benevolence of the government. AKA, we can get votes "providing" a right or a freedom we deem worthy. Conservatives do not believe that rights are granted by a chest-beating, power-hungry government to whomever they please; they are universal guarantees that apply to everyone equally without taking away another person's rights.

Conservatives offer something greater: economic freedom. The Declaration of Independence states that we have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Life was put first. Why? Well we certainly have the right to have our lives protected from harm, but I feel in this context it means a whole lot more. How would you define a good life? I define it as being financially able to live out your dreams. Being able to sleep at night because you easily paid your bills. To be able to see the sights you want to see. To work your dream job. To be able to feed your kids without having to worry about how. I interpret it as a right to a life as you see fit through your own efforts. To pursue your own definition of happiness.

Let me put it this way. Liberals will try to help the poor by taking from the rich and providing assistance to those in need in some form or another, which creates some dependence, rather than creating independence (freedom). They try to bring the bottom up, and those on top down, making us all some form of middle class. How is that really allowing/encouraging people to pursue their dreams? The message is that we'll raise you up just to where we want you, and then we'll hit you hard with taxes to bring you back down.

Shouldn't the goal be to get as many people as possible to the point where they can start to take advantage of compound interest and investing, freeing people from the 9-5 job cycle and putting them in better position to pursue their dreams? To live? Redistribution will not do that, it only disincentivizes ambition and promotes mediocrity. Only economic freedom and opportunity to fail/succeed based on one's own talents and to keep the money that you rightfully earned will guarantee the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as each individual sees fit.

Imagine you're walking head first into the wind toward a door. On the door is the phrase "financial independence". The closer you get to the door, the harder the wind blows, making it harder for you to walk and take another step. Harder and harder until you finally get your foot in the door and it's calm and peaceful. Wouldn't it be nice if the wind blew more gently as you worked your way to the door?