Principles of Freedom – Statism vs. Liberty
This is a topic that could make an interesting book and could take hundreds of pages to explore. In the limited space we have, I will give you the basics. You may want to make a more thorough study of these ideas. A few things you may want to look into include a pamphlet by Eisenhower’s Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson, called “The Proper Role of Government”, and books such as “The Law” by Bastiat, “We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident” by DeMille, “, “The Making of America” by Skousen and “The Federalist Papers”. I also strongly encourage all to read the original Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, even if you have read them before.
In essence, Statists believe that the masses (which means you and me and our friends and neighbors) are not informed or intelligent enough to make our own decisions about important things. They believe we must be “managed” or controlled for our own good and the good of society. They believe that people exist to serve society and, by extension, the bureaucracy of the state which “cares for” the members of society. If left to our own devices and decision-making, they think we will either do foolish things that hurt ourselves and others or we will act with evil intent to damage others or take things from them.
To save us from these evils, they desire to institute controls on the people. They try to force us into their concepts for education, health care, retirement, caring for the poor, management of our lands and property, safety when we drive our cars or motorcycles, the way we produce products and many other areas. They work to enforce these mandates through the imposition of fines, confiscations and incarceration. They attempt to indoctrinate our children to be docile and obedient in government schools which mandate content and curriculum requirements.
In contrast, Liber (the latin root of liberty, libertarian, and other such words) means the state of freedom to choose and act for oneself, assuming the responsibility for those actions. In essence, liberty means the individual is accountable for their choices and is willing to face the outcomes of those choices without asking others to step in or pay the price. By taking that responsibility, they remove the reason for the Statist’s “protection.” An environment of liberty encourages productivity, industry, success, charity and good will. Statism encourages dependency, lack of productivity and reliance on others to “take care of us”. Those who honor liberty believe the government exists to protect our rights and freedoms and to serve the people, not be served by them.
In reality, we live in a constantly shifting balance between these extremes. That balance was considered by our founders but the emphasis was on personal freedom and responsibility. As we have shifted more and more to the side of control, taxation, debt and management of our affairs by the government, we have become less free, less productive, less successful and more concerned as a society with what we “get” instead of what we can “give”. John Adams said “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The decay of our society is specifically linked to our unwillingness to be personally moral and responsible. That is the great challenge of our day – to turn that tide and become again a people that chooses freedom, liberty and all that goes with it.