Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Power of Freedom Overcomes All Obstacles

Don Boudreaux explains how the immense strengths behind freedom and the human spirit provide the power to triumph over all obstacles - both those obstacles that result from natural disasters like earthquakes, and man-made obstacles like taxes and regulation.  Call it a "Ganesha-like" power of freedom to overcome all obstacles: 

"Freedom is a beautiful flower with more robustness than crabgrass. Freedom is not delicate or easily uprooted, and is not a frail institution that collapses and dies the moment it is attacked by some element foreign to its nature. If it were, we all would long ago have been well and truly enslaved.

The human spirit seizes opportunities to flourish even with less-than-maximum scope; it naturally resists being confined to the arbitrary will of others. We do not all fall in line behind the commissar or Congress’s commands simply because we’re ordered to do so. (How many Americans really care if the busboy at a restaurant is an “illegal” alien?) And even when we abide by the letter of legislation, we are wonderfully crafty at violating its spirit if that legislation is felt to be inappropriate.

So, too, with the free market. It is perhaps the most remarkably vigorous of all human institutions. Heavily taxed and loaded with arbitrary regulations, the market keeps on keeping on. Entrepreneurs creatively find ways around government intrusions or they discover techniques for reducing the intrusions’ ill effects.

Everyone who understands the logic of markets knows that, say, the unexpected destruction of a factory by an earthquake will barely slow the market’s relentless push to improve living standards. We understand that markets are remarkably resilient at dealing with natural obstacles such as mountains that separate suppliers from customers, or weather disasters that destroy existing inventories and supply lines.

Although we’d be even wealthier if these obstacles and weather disasters never materialized, their existence does not condemn us to everlasting poverty. Entrepreneurs—given sufficient freedom—are guided by prices and profits to overcome these obstacles. Likewise, entrepreneurs—given sufficient freedom—are guided by prices and profits to overcome government-erected obstacles.

To point out that freedom can be hobbled and hamstrung by a predatory State and nevertheless continue to shower blessings on ordinary men and women is to praise freedom—to applaud it loudly and lovingly."

18 Comments:

At 10/31/2010 12:23 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

Nice thought.
However, there are many places on the earth today where bad government does seem to have crushed their economies.
Not to mention murder by governments. Dead men tell no tales.

 
At 10/31/2010 1:07 PM, Blogger Jason said...

It sure would be nice to be free. Now we can only judge ourselves free in relation to others. In my opinion to be free you need to be independently wealthy or totally poor. Anywhere else on the spectrum is a pawn of someone.

The one thing that we still do have is the freedom to save and eventually leave the rat race. Massive inflation may impair that a bit.

 
At 10/31/2010 1:57 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

The human spirit seizes opportunities to flourish even with less-than-maximum scope; it naturally resists being confined to the arbitrary will of others.

I don't know about needing others for freedom, Jason. I think the quote above shows freedom can be an internal quality. As such, while what others do around you does impact you, you can nevertheless be free. On the other hand, maybe I just spent too much time inhaling in the 70s :)

 
At 10/31/2010 3:08 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Therefore, you support the freedom expanding system and not the freedom denying system -- with your buying choices.

 
At 10/31/2010 7:27 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Not all intrusions have ill effects.

 
At 10/31/2010 7:33 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

100% freedom would include the freedom to impair your neighbors freedom. Therefore your freedom is limited by what you are willing to allow others to have.

That is why we have regulations: they protect our freedom.

 
At 10/31/2010 8:09 PM, Blogger Jason said...

But Hydra, impairment is now a widely overused excuse to extort conformity from people. This is why smoking, eating bad food, or, my personal peeve, expressing opinions others find offensive, is more and more shunned, or outright prohibited.

We should all stop and make an assessment of what exactly does it mean to be free and compare that to our lives, I don't think we will like the results of that exercise.

 
At 10/31/2010 8:11 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"100% freedom would include the freedom to impair your neighbors freedom. Therefore your freedom is limited by what you are willing to allow others to have.

That is why we have regulations: they protect our freedom.
"

Here are 3 rules to follow: Don't initiate force against others, don't defraud others, and keep your word.

Start with the idea that you own yourself. All else flows from that, and should lead to the conclusion that you have a right to life, liberty, and property.

 
At 11/01/2010 3:02 AM, Blogger Moataz said...

100% freedom would include the freedom to impair your neighbors freedom. Therefore your freedom is limited by what you are willing to allow others to have.

100% freedom is the right to live your life as you see fit, according to your own values, without any coercion and not for the sake of others (i.e. we ain't our brothers keepers and we don't sacrifice the rights of some for the needs of others no matter how great those needs maybe).

All this hinges on the condition that you do not initiate force against others. If you do force will be used against you via a central body i.e. government. So there’s no such thing as one person’s right to rob, enslave, or murder his neighbor.


That is why we have regulations: they protect our freedom.

They're called laws not regulations. Regulations are coercive and violate our freedoms

 
At 11/01/2010 5:15 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Entrepreneurs creatively find ways around government intrusions or they discover techniques for reducing the intrusions’ ill effects.

...while government finds way to make it stick to a hostile business, especially those who lord over government and regular people.


How many Americans really care if the busboy at a restaurant is an “illegal” alien?

Legitimately present citizens do, especially when businesses use them for no good end. This is done as a threat to US citizens, and/or as a way to get around the law. Thankfully, vigilant citizens report these businesses and make sure that justice is rendered.

Unfortunately for businesses, there is no divine mandate given to them. As much as they think they are above criticism, businesses are not. Stop playing the Almighty as a business and the smiting stops.

I'll gladly watch with some popcorn, every time a business gets caught and justice is rendered upon them. Unlike what is suggested, government is ever present and (in the case of the US) able to reach anyone, anywhere, anyhow, with anything it so desires.

 
At 11/01/2010 5:41 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"This is done as a threat to US citizens, and/or as a way to get around the law. Thankfully, vigilant citizens report these businesses and make sure that justice is rendered"...

Got something credible to back that up with sethstorm?

BTW sethstorm they're hiring in Los Ramones...:-)

 
At 11/01/2010 9:11 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Freedom needs a lot of help these days. Big government is almost 2/3 of our economy and is getting far bigger, far worse by the day.

Huge new taxes are coming Jan. 1. The EPA is determined to cripple 80% of our energy supply. The medical industry will be tied in knots. Financial regulations will take years to work out, cost a fortune, and limit lending.

We need to handcuff government, to explicitly limit its taxing, borrowing, spending, and regulation powers.

 
At 11/01/2010 12:21 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


Got something credible to back that up with sethstorm?

By being in a state that is a final stop for illegals that don't get caught, I do. If they get caught and deported before they head on up to Ohio, so much the better. Unfortunately there are various industries (e.g. roofing, other types of construction, etc.) that have priced out legal citizens, conditions and/or wages. It's bad enough that I repeatedly get asked not to report them.

It gets odd that you stop seeing locals do it, and you end up seeing people more at home in Mexico. I don't know their status, but I sure don't see the same people stay for long.


BTW sethstorm they're hiring in Los Ramones...:-)

Unfortunately, Mexico enforces their border regulations a lot more strictly than the US does. There are people with that kind of experience, lack of ties to the cartels, and firepower that would gladly take on that job.

 
At 11/01/2010 11:01 PM, Blogger juju said...

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
Thomas Jefferson

 
At 11/02/2010 12:04 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

But Hydra, impairment is now a widely overused excuse to extort conformity from people.

Yes. I agree, but that in no way impairs the argument that we have regulations to protect (and equalize) all our various freedoms.

Your argument is that we do a bad job of equalization, not that regulations are not necessary to protect our freedom, and ensure that one person hasn't got more than another.

I believe that this fundamentally comes down to properly classifying property and protecting its ownership. The way to manage this and have a free market is to consider the controls as property which can be bought and sold.

Consider community deelopment. Some are opposed, claiming impairment becaus new housing raises THEIR costs. Their calculations may be incorrect, or the calculation of developers claiming a larger tax base (negative impairment) may be incorrect.

I propose letting the county decide how many building permits they will allow, based on a supportable growth rate. But the right to build is a uniform right, so the county should issue chits for partial building rights to every taxpayer. A developer would have to go out and buy enough chits to equal one development right for each home he wishes to build.

This way, those that are opposed to development can simply withhold their chits. But now they have to bear the cost of not selling them, so there is a price on their right to say "no". However, if a devloper manages to buy enough chits, he is approved to build, providing he meets the other building codes.

You would have a market solution to what is now often a highly political event, and you would still have control over "runaway" growth that causes enormous up front capital outlays.

 
At 11/02/2010 12:07 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

OK Thomas, but how do we define the equal right of others except by law?

True enough, tyrants use the law to draw the rights unequally. That is whay I suggest that rights are property themselves and may be bought and sold, such that the market decides what is an equal, or at least a fair, transaction.

 
At 11/02/2010 12:17 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Freedom needs a lot of help these days. Big government is almost 2/3 of our economy

===========================

C'mon, it is widely accepted that consumers represent 70% of the economy, and government one third.

OK, so you are counting governments hidden costs, but if you do that, then you also have to count all of industry's hidden costs with the same kind of calculator, and all the hidden costs of private activiities as well.

After you equalize everything on your new scale, you are back to the conventional wisdom that conumers are 70% and government is 30%.

If you believe it is really 2/3 of the economy and it should be cut in half, what are you going to do with the 33% unemployment, it would cause? You would have to quadruple the economy to absorb all those workers, and how will you do that with an investment of 1/3?

I don't see big government is 2/3 of MY costs, even if I don't count ANY benefits from government. Sorry, I cant buy the 2/3 argument.

 
At 11/02/2010 12:35 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

100% freedom is the right to live your life as you see fit, according to your own values, without any coercion and not for the sake of others......



Right, so how is that different from saying that 100% freedom would include the right to impair others?


=============================

If you do force will be used against you via a central body i.e. government......


Right, so how is that different from saying that regulations (enforced by government) protect our freedoms?


The problem is that we then use politics as a means apply force the government to apply regulatons unequally, so as to give ourselves more protection or other people less protection. Anyone who engages in partisan politics is essentially intitiating force against others.


"vigilant citizens [who] report these businesses and make sure that justice is rendered" are only claiming an impairment which may or may not exist. They are using politics to initiate force against others.

I make no claim as to whether their complaint is legitimate or not. I would only submit that if it turns out the retaliatory damage caused is greater than the intial damage incurred, then the forces applied were assymetric and one party wound up with fewer rights.

 

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