Commentary, People

Jim Gray: Do We Really Want Liberty?

When it comes down to it, Liberty can be scary.  In reality, since the world can be a hard and even cruel place, many people actually would give up their Liberty in place of wanting “Mother Government” to take care of them.  So many people around the world would voluntarily give up their Liberty and self-rule in exchange for being taken care of by some “benevolent ruler” or tribal leader.  That is certainly true today in Russia and Afghanistan.  (Actually, in many ways this approach seems to have been working quite well for several generations in Singapore, but the problem comes in ensuring that the subsequent rulers will always be equally benevolent.)  Other countries like China, Vietnam, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are going through the some stages of wanting Liberty and self-rule, but they have many generations of subservience to overcome.  Nevertheless, be that as it may, the main question presented to us today is, really – and let’s be honest with ourselves – what do we want?

It is clear what our Founders wanted.  To a man, each of the delegates to our Constitutional Convention in 1787 believed that the most important function of government was to protect our Liberties from encroachment by the government.  (The second most important was to keep us safe.)  As such, each delegate would be aghast that our federal government is involved in such things as dictating our health care and education and licensing so many jobs.  Bluntly speaking, the Founders’ approach literally distilled into the understanding that, if I were literally bleeding on the street, you would have no legal responsibility to help me (unless you had helped to cause my injuries).  But, in actuality, we will, because that’s who we are – we are a compassionate people.  That means that the difference between the two approaches is that, in Liberty, no one is entitled to receive assistance.  So, under Liberty, maybe people will be more industrious in their own care, and more appreciative when they receive assistance.

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