Monday, November 28, 2016

Liberty Schmiberty

I have been thinking about this post for some time; given some of the dialogue in my recent posts, it seems about time to get it out.

From the article, I summarize: days to travel across country; no air-conditioning in your private rail car; weeks to travel overseas; no overnight mail; no entertainment on demand; no air-conditioning in many of the places you visit every day – maybe not even in your own home; poor heating; no radio; your limo constantly breaking down; no falafel; Wi-Fi?  Ha; your wife dies in child-birth; your children not living past two years of age.

Everything about technology, comfort, travel, entertainment and information is overwhelmingly better today than one hundred years ago.  But it isn’t only in the private world where life has improved.

In some rather important matters, we are under less government oppression than during much of the last century: from 1914 – 1918 and from 1941 – 1945; during the 1960s and early 1970s if you were male and of the right age there was a good likelihood you would be forced to go overseas to die.  However one describes today’s economic condition, it is not as bad as during the 1930s. 

All-in-all, even poor Americans and Europeans live better than 98% of the people who ever lived on earth.  In the last 50 years, more people globally have been pulled into the middle-class than during any time in recorded history – just consider China and India.

All of this has happened under the watchful eye of the Federal Reserve and an increasingly active federal government.  Maybe more government and more intervention are not so bad.  “Life would be even better if we had more liberty,” they say. 

Maybe.  But given the historic human condition, how does one complain about life and the level of liberty today?


If the argument for liberty is that you will have more stuff or you are free to do more things, it is a losing argument.  In the developed world, especially in the west, we already have more “more stuff” and can do more “more things” than most people have or can do anywhere else in the world.  Compared to all of history?  Incomparable.

The argument for liberty that works is the moral argument.  The argument for libertarianism is the non-aggression principle with its uncompromising respect for private property.

The “more stuff” argument will not be very persuasive to most living in the developed world – and those in the less-developed world have bigger problems to think about.

The moral argument will work with moral people.  This is something to consider when one contemplates strategies to increase liberty.


  1. "If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that, too." – Somerset Maugham

  2. And our lives are more managed by tens of thousands of regulations and laws. The power of Geo. III pales in comparison to the FedGov's. The draft is not active but the system to immediately implement is in place - you must register for the draft.

  3. So true and it hardly requires a collidge degree to grok that we're drowning in 'stuff' to the point of a moral imbecility.
    A Libertarian is first and foremost, antiwar. Period.
    I remember when the TEA Party first took root.
    In my small town I talked to TEA people young and old about the usual truth, justice and American way mantra. What struck me like a kick in the head was the fact that practically every one of them - men, women and youths, were pro war. In the ME, in Africa, on the moon, as long as the flag was being waved and the 'support the troops' mantra was playing. the only thing they hated about just or unjust war was it cost too damn much, period.
    Pathetic, uninspiring and just plain wrong..

    1. "A Libertarian is first and foremost, antiwar. Period."


    2. If libertarianism (google spell check STILL doesn't recognize this word) is to get traction among the unenlightened, it would be for its anti-war position. I'm thinkin' the push-back against the non-stop, infuriating jingoism at sporting events, etc., might be a start. I mean, how much of that crap can anybody take. My reactions at sports bars regarding this have gone from threats to "yeah, right".

    3. If I owned an NFL, MLB, or NBA franchise, I would immediately cease playing the national anthem and there would be no fly-overs or salutes to the soldiers.

    4. When one thinks about it being antiwar is not only opposing violent government intervention in the lives of foreigners, it's also opposing violent government intervention in the lives of one's own countrymen. Most of a government's domestic laws and regulations are simply acts of war against its own subjects.

  4. I agree with the general idea here that the moral case has to be primary, though in making assessments about the conditions we live in, the conclusions that we draw will inevitably depend upon our bases for comparison.

    There can be no question that the travel, communication, and access to information at the present time are greatly superior to those available a hundred years ago.

    But there are other respects in which our society does not measure up very well. While most people have had a lot of formal education, the quality in most cases is highly suspect and the cost is becoming prohibitive. Our health care system has likewise become astronomically expensive and quite dangerous, and by some estimates it has become the leading cause of death. On the whole, families are not functioning well, with rampant divorce, kids born out of wedlock, etc. Rates of depression and other mental illness have also gone up a great deal in recent decades. The kids growing up now are markedly less healthy than previous generations.

    If you read Weston Price's book "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration", it also becomes clear that some other societies have enjoyed excellent health without the technology that we have access to today. They had an excellent understanding of the foods that were needed to develop properly, give birth easily, and maintain resistance to infectious disease. Sound nutrition gave rise to wide dental arches, so their teeth was plenty of space for their teeth to come in straight. No need for dentists or orthodontists.

    So we need a broader perspective to properly assess the pros and cons of our present conditions than the one laid out by Boudreaux.

    1. More than a century ago there was also more civility among people, and discourse was more refined. Life was also more formal than it is today. One did not address strangers or even casual acquaintances by their first names. People took pride in their appearance in public more seriously than today. They did not go around in sandals, shorts and shirts hanging out. Nor were tattoos, bizarre body piercings and profane language regarded as normal and socially acceptable.

      I think that the absence of a "cultural glue" that binds us together, if even loosely, is contributing to a sense of alienation that many people experience. One senses this almost everywhere now as smart phone fidgeting is a substitute for human interaction, even for couples out on dates. Technology has no doubt liberated us from drudgery and boredom, but it has also acted as a narcotic chaining us to virtual social worlds residing in our gadgets, encouraging us to drift apart from each other in the real world.

  5. Amazing. Young people are indoctrinated into the belief that wars advance social justice. With this license, anything is acceptable.

  6. Moralism Schmoralism

    "The moral argument will work with moral people. This is something to consider when one contemplates strategies to increase liberty."

    Except that morality is unfortunately, ultimately subjective, per individual, as per the tenets of methodological individualism, [at least as I understand it :-) ].

    Therefor, under the assumptions of methodological individualism, no two people can have the exact same moral values. Surely?

    23 years ago, I ran a local libertarian party meetup group. We would often get curious persons attending, people who did not know what a libertarian was.

    I would always try to quickly explain by saying something along the lines of :

    " There are two basic arguments for libertarianism, one is the moral argument, the other is the scientific argument. The moral argument is most widely known via the works of Ayn Rand, and the scientific, or economic argument is best presented by persons such as Ludwig Von Mises, Murray Rothbard etc.

    What is interesting to myself now is that Lew Rockwell, who runs/founded the Von Mises Institute - an institute that promotes the ideas of a social scientist, _not_ of a moralist, and who used the assumptions of methodological individualism to base his economic theories on - out of that same institution, [Rockwell] nowadays almost exclusively tries to persuade via non-scientific "moral" arguments :-) .

    For example, on page 15 of his "Against The State" book he says:

    "...instead of trying to teach all Americans the equivalent of 3 graduate courses in economics, history, and political philosophy - the anarcho-capitalist society demands of the public only that it acknowledges the basic moral ideas common to just about everyone..."

    And so it goes...
    Regards, onebornfreeatyahoo

  7. "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3)

    Liberty was formally lost in America when the 18th-century Enlightenment founders made liberty a goal (almost a god) instead of a corollary of implementing Yahweh's perfect law of liberty (Psalm 19:7-11, 119:44-45, James 2:12) as the supreme law of the land.

    "[B]ecause they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law ... they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind...." (Hosea 8:1,7)

    Today's America is merely reaping the inevitable whirlwind resulting from the wind sown by the constitutional framers.

    For more, see online Chapter 3 "The Preamble: WE THE PEOPLE vs. YAHWEH" of "Bible Law vs, the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective" at

    Then, find out how much you REALLY know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar and receive a complimentary copy of a book that EXAMINES the Constitution by the Bible.