Introduction to Liberty
What is the essence of liberty? The following video from whyronpaul.com offers answers to this important question, with aid of video excerpts from interviews and speeches of Congressman Ron Paul.
(see video at the bottom of the article)
Liberty is a word that is frequently thrown around in America. You hear it in music, on the news and at school. But have we forgotten what it really means? How vital it is? Are we still using it as the lens through which we view government? When liberty is forgotten, it's impossible to recognize good government from bad. But there is one person who has consistently reminded us what it means. Ron Paul!
Let's take a moment to understand liberty.
The foundation of liberty is that you own your life. Think about that: do you own your life? Should somebody else get to decide what you do, what you buy, who you talk to, or should you? If you didn't own your life, another person could have the higher authority over your life than you do. But this right to your life and to make decisions for yourself are inalienable rights. So nobody can take them away from you.
Since you own your life, you can use it or you can waste it. But your freedom opens up the opportunity for creativity, where you can use your time, energy and talents to pursue whatever you want. Oftentimes the fruit of this pursuit is property. Property is the part of nature that you turn to valuable use, or that is given to you from another person by exchange of mutual consent. Your right to your property is also inalienable. And just like with your life, nobody can take it away from you.
It's important to note that these inalienable rights aren't given to you by other people. Instead, they are yours the moment you start to exist. But it's not just some that have these rights, it's everybody's rights. So just as you are entitled to your life and your property, so is everyone else to their lives and to their property. This means that all humans are equal in authority. No person has more rights than another, regardless of how strong or smart they are, how much they make or how many people support them. Think about it. Is there anyone so powerful and perfect that somebody should have to have forefeit their lives, property, or their right to make decision? The answer is obviously no. Everybody has the right to do with their lives as they please. People should be able to exchange property with whom they want, participate in whatever activities they want, and associate with whom they want.
Because all people are equally free, no other person or group of people can stop you from doing as you wish, unless you are infringing on somebody else's inalienable rights. This is the essence of liberty.
I think of liberty as being very simply self ownership. Who owns you who owns your life, who has the responsibility for you. I come from a natural rights viewpoint, which is similar to what Jeferson talked about, natural rights, god given rights that our lives and our liberties come outside of government. Government was not created there to allow us to have liberty. If we're going to have government which should be limited, it should be precisely to protect those liberties that are rightfully our own.
You might be saying to yourself: if I can do whatever I want and nobody can stop me, doesn't that mean I can murder or steal from somebody if I want to? The answer is no. Because remember: liberty is being able to do whatever you want, unless you're infringing on somebody else's inalienable right. This is why we have government, to enforce laws that protect liberty, and to prosecute people who break them. This should be its only role, but unfortunately this is not all our government does. Let's look at how government should be limited in order to protect liberty and just a couple of our current policies that we may take for granted.
In the United States, the federal government classifies marihuana as a schedule 1 drug. This means that if you possess or grow marihuana, even for your own personal use, it is unlawful. The drug enforcement administration can come knock down your door, take your marihuana, fine, and imprison you. But why? Because somebody else deems it too-dangerous or too-immoral. What if the government said the same thing about alcohol or cigaretes? You can personally decide not to use marihuana if you think it is too-dangerous or too-immoral. But it just simply isn't the government's role to legislate what behavior it deems ethical. It should only be concerned about protecting your liberty.
I think when you defend freedom, you defend freedom of choice and you can't be picking and choosing how people use those freedoms. So if they do things that you don't like and you might find morally repugnant, I as individual don't make that judgment. So I don't believe government can legislate virtue. I can reject it personally and preach against it, whether it's drugs or prostitution, but my solution comes from my personal behavior with myself and how I raise my children. But whether it's personal behavior or economic behavior, I want people to have freedom of choice.
Another commonly overlooked way the government oversteps its role of protecting liberty is through the use of taxes. Americans pay a percentage of their income in taxes, some of which is used for the purpose of providing social services for some Americans, such as medicaid and welfare. While some may believe that is is their responsibility to provide for those less fortunate, taxes mandate that everyone must comply, regardless of whether or not they agree. Should somebody else be able to take your property for a cause they deem important? This is a forceful violation of liberty, and amazingly you could be imprisoned if you choose not to financially support these programs.
Human compassion is an important thing to have. But "the false idea that it's a fair exchange when citizens pay taxes and receive government social programs, can do irreparable harm to a civilized society." Ron Paul. A more moral and efficient alternative would be leaving money in individual's pockets and allowing those that feel compelled by their own volition to provide for others through voluntary charity.
Taxation is theft. When you take money from one group to give it to another one - when you transfer the wealth. Taxation could be accomplished with user fees, highway fees, gasoline taxes, and import taxes, but the income tax is based on the assumption that the government owns you, owns all your income and provides the conditions on which they allow you to you to keep a certain percentage. That to me is immoral and the founders didn't like it. That's why the Constitiution had to be ammended in 1913.
Most of the time when people argue for more government the result is the use of coercion to accomplish some specific goal. But just as an individual cannot infringe on somebody else's liberty, neither can a group of people, such as elected officials, no matter who or how many are influencing them.
Liberty is the principle upon America was founded. It's what makes America different. Dr. Paul says that "to trully believe in liberty is to divorce it from any desired social or economic outcome." This means try not to manufacture a prefered way of life by telling people what to do. Liberty should be the single thread that runs through every government policy and every action we collectively take. It permits people to work out their problems, build lives, take risks, and accept responsibility.
Ron Paul is the only candidate who advocates freedom in all of his policies. A vote for Dr. Paul is a vote for freedom. A vote for any of the others is a vote for more government and less freedom. Check out the rest of WhyRonPaul.com for why Ron Paul to learn more about what Ron Paul has to say.