Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Freedom to Say No is the Only Freedom

My choice for president, Austin Petersen, understands freedom of association and how it is at the base of every other freedom that we have. None of the other candidates do.

Freedom of contract, which is the bedrock of free enterprise, is just free association in business transactions. Freedom of speech is the freedom to agree or disagree with any other person. It is the freedom to formulate an opinion of your own and to share it with others, if you wish. It is also the freedom to stay silent, when others want to force an agreement. There is no other kind of freedom besides the right to say no or yes -- as we choose.

The people who say that freedom from hunger is a kind of freedom are actually advocating slavery. They think by existing we have a right to force others to feed us. The people who advocate freedom  from disease want to enslave others to heal us. They are too scared to conscript doctors, the way they are currently conscripting bakers, but they want to force healthy people to pay the doctors to heal the sick. The people who say every person has the right to live in a house are in favor of slavery to force people to build other people houses. Or to pay for houses that are already built. Even those who say we have a right to be free of fear or terror want to enslave others to protect them. Everything has a price and everything requires people to agree in order for it to get done. There is no problem that can't be solved in the free market. But in order for the market to work, every participant has to have the right to say "No!"

It's that simple. And in theory, the Objectivists agree. But you have to wonder sometimes when they are talking about how capitalism is behind industrialization and how industrialization has brought us a higher standard of living, whether they really don't understand the difference between free enterprise and capitalism.

A natural state of poverty? I just don't understand what that means. There were rich people in the Bible. There were rich people in the United States of America right after the revolution -- as well as right before. Why does Yaron Brook think our natural state is poverty? And isn't poverty a relative term -- which would have no meaning without a comparison with contemporaries?

There is something about city people that makes them think land ownership as a measure of wealth does not count.

Sometimes I think there are people who use "capitalism" and "free enterprise" interchangeably -- and I give them the benefit of the doubt and agree with them. But here Yaron Brook, Ayn Rand's successor, shows that he does know the difference, and he thinks that until incorporation of collective business entities with limited liability that allowed industrialization to go full throttle occurred, everyone was poor. Really, everyone? What about George Washington? Was he poor? How about John Hancock? Poor? Thomas Jefferson? A poor man?

But maybe Yaron Brook does not care about the major founding fathers. Maybe he is talking about the little guy. Maybe he means the great multitudes.

This is a guy who has just published a book titled Equal is Unfair. So I am confused. Does it matter there were more poor people than rich? And what about the middle class? Until the end of the nineteenth century, most middle class households had servants. They were not rich,  but certainly not poor. Very, very few rich people. Is that what bothers the author of Equal is Unfair?

Austin Petersen, on the other hand, understands that freedom is the ability to embrace technology and capitalism -- or to stay aloof from it. He champions the rights of the Amish to their segregated lifestyle as well as the rights of New York businessmen. And by the way, I understand some Amish can be quite wealthy -- while practicing free enterprise, but not capitalism. Imagine that!

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