Monday, February 09, 2009

Freedom vs. Four Freedoms

(Ouch. This post was designed to go up on Angry Bear but went some other directions. I stand by it but want to rework it in more economic terms.)

My last post (ed. at Angry Bear) led to some confusion. I was trying to suggest that much of the current debate over the stimulus package boiled down to world view. Well lets take it to the basics. What does freedom mean? For Democrats it boils down to this taken from the State of the Union in 1941:
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.
Now some of us believe this is just an attempt to fill out the plain reading of the Preamble to the Constitution
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Whereas the right wants to reduce everything to Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom
The citizen of the United States who is compelled by law to devote something like io per cent of his income to the purchase of a particular kind of retirement contract, administered by the government, is being deprived of a corresponding part of his personal freedom. How strongly this deprivation may be felt and its closeness to the deprivation of religious freedom, which all would regard as "civil" or "political" rather than "economic", were dramatized by an episode involving a group of farmers of the Amish sect. On grounds of principle, this group regarded compulsory federal old age programs as an infringement of their personal individual freedom and refused to pay taxes or accept benefits. As a result, some of their livestock were sold by auction in order to satisfy claims for social security levies. True, the number of citizens who regard compulsory old age insurance as a deprivation of freedom may be few, but the believer in freedom has never counted noses.
My obligation to free this group from any social responsibility to provide for retirement security for others somehow doesn't equate to a right to ask them to get the hell off the public road because they were interfering with the Commerce Clause in that same Constitution. For some people freedom only flows one way.

To put it another way the right has reduced 'freedom' to 'personal autonomy

1 comment:

Bruce Webb said...

2045::: $0::::::::::::$0