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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Unreachable Peak

So, I think that crappy Kos post I've been going on about deserves yet more criticism. I've already shown that the "Freedom from Want" that he wants to promote is neither a freedom, nor a libertarian position, as he ridiculously claimed. My further point is that this idea doesn't even smell like an actual principle.

One of the nice things about actual libertarian principles, besides their utility and their morality, is their achievability. If I go through a day without being told to shut up (spouses don't count) then I am enjoying freedom of speech. If I spend time with friends and colleagues, and it never results in g-men knocking on the door, then I more or less have freedom of association. Or, in a more theoretically pure example, if I live on a deserted island, I can be guaranteed that no one else will coerce me in any way.

Freedom from Want, on the other hand, like the Utopian dreams of the Communists or Islamists, will never happen. I know that the Left is using "want" to mean "poverty," but I think it is useful to emphasize the other definition. When we consider that "want" also means "desire" it is clear that want is really an infinite appetite. They claim that Joe Public is not "free" to turn down the minimum wage job at Walmart because his other options suck. But since he is not being coerced, he really is free, he just doesn't want his other options. By their reckoning, although I am free to turn down a job at Walmart, I am not "free" to get on my private jet and fly to Paris this afternoon, since I don't have the money to own one. Which is a ludicrous concept. Is that a freedom to enshrined and enforced? The leftist sees a line between earning more than minimum wage and owning a Jetstream, but that line can only be drawn by feeling, and not by principle.

You can also see that their "Freedom from Want" is not useful as a guiding principle and will always strive and fail to reach Utopia. If I ever make the lucre to have a private jet, I still will not be "free" to spend a weekend on the moon. If that happens, I will not be "free" to visit Mars. Infinite appetite. The basic message is "you deserve whatever you want" instead of the libertarian message of "you deserve to be an independent and responsible individual." I think adults will prefer the second.

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