Individual Liberty Is The Least Contentious Way Of Settling Differences.

Is there a perfect system in which human beings interact with no conflict? Since nothing human is perfect the answer is obviously no. But politicians and demagogues have for decades held up the standard of perfection as the straw man to compare any perceived flaw produced by our free market capitalist economic system and our constitutional republic. When results created by individuals voluntarily cooperating don’t meet what our betters deem acceptable, they want to pass laws correcting this perceived injustice, or “fundamentally change” the system.

They are never asked: 1) Why is what they value, better than what results from decisions made by individuals cooperating voluntarily? 2) Does the decision-making process they desire (usually some form central planning) produce more satisfaction for more people than the process of voluntary cooperation by individuals under the rule of law? 3) Who decides what is the better outcome?

INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY vs. GOVERNMENT DECISION MAKING

It is not possible to come up with a single decision that satisfies everyone. It is sometimes difficult for me to decide what flavor of ice cream I want. Many times I am not happy with my decision the second I take the first bite. If picking just one flavor for myself is difficult, how much more difficult would it be for two people to choose one flavor? As more people become involved in deciding one flavor, it becomes exponentially more difficult for people to be pleased with the choice. How many people would be satisfied if one person was chosen to pick a flavor for everybody? What would be the difference if everybody voted, and people had to eat the flavor receiving that most votes?

One person choosing between many flavors for himself is voluntary cooperation in a market between him and the person producing the ice cream. If no one produced the flavor he liked, he could produce it for himself if he thought it was worth his time.

One individual choosing a flavor that everyone is forced to eat is a dictatorship. Even if this person is democratically elected by a majority.

Every person voting on a single flavor, and the flavor receiving the majority of the votes has to be eaten is democracy in action.

Are any of these systems perfect? No. But that’s not the question that should be asked. The question should be: which system would produce the most satisfied individuals, and which system would produce the most contention among individuals? It is obvious that the system that produces the most satisfaction is voluntary cooperation under the rule of law. Unfortunately over the last century we have elected leaders, in both parties, who are taking incremental decisions away from individuals, and making categorical decisions for all of us. They are acting like tyrants, but unfortunately they just reflect the tyrannical attitudes of the people who vote them into power.

We lose more freedom as more laws get passed. When people say “there should be a law for…” they are really saying I want to force what I value on people who don’t agree. Even a law against murder forces a particular value on certain individuals who don’t share that value. Fortunately most people agree that murder is not acceptable behaviour. But what happens when there isn’t an overwhelming majority of people who agree. How do you reconcile each persons values?

PROPERTY RIGHTS AND VOLUNTARY EXCHANGE

Our system was founded on property rights and voluntary exchange (contract). Each person owns himself and what he produces, and no one is allowed to take another persons life, take what he produces, or take what he receives in exchange for what he has produced. If he doesn’t want to make an exchange with another person, that person doesn’t have a right to force him into making the exchange.

This all seems very simple, and it is, until petty tyrants in the form of politicians, bureaucrats, thieves, do gooders, thought police, political correctness advocates, or the average citizen try to steal from, or force their values on, other individuals. The more laws that are passed, the more contention there is between people who would otherwise have no reason to be contentious.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT

The recent conflict in Indiana between a State version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, and gay rights activists who say this is legalizing discrimination, is an example of what happens when people won’t follow the simple rules of property rights and voluntary exchange.

Under our simple rules, if a gay couple went to a bakery and ask the baker to bake a cake for their gay wedding, and the baker said no, the couple would go to another bakery. Just as a gay person could go to a bakery and ask the baker if he was a christian, and if the baker said yes, he could walk out without purchasing anything. These are simply different sides of the same transaction. In the first the baker refuses to exchange what he produces (his property), with the other person. In the second case the gay person refuses to exchange money (which represents what he produces, aka his property) with the baker. Does it really matter why each person refused the exchange? It only matters when force, especially the monopoly of Government force, is introduced into the equation.

The first amendment of our constitution protects an individual’s freedom of religion, and the supreme court has previously ruled that, racial discrimination in the operation of public accommodations, such as restaurants and lodgings, affects interstate commerce by impeding interstate travel and is prohibited….”  at thefreedictionary.com.

How do you reconcile these competing rules, rights, or laws. The problem with having growing numbers of rules and laws, is that each person, or group, tries to use the force of government to impose their values on other people. It’s a never-ending battle of court cases that creates competing factions that continue to fight because nothing really gets solved. This was the result of the Roe vs. Wade decision. Instead of allowing each State to have its own abortion law, no matter how restrictive or permissive it was, five justices on the court imposed their view of abortion on the whole country. Actually the pro abortion activists brought the Roe case to court because they wanted to impose their view of abortion on the rest of the country. That decision has made the abortion issue more contentious over the years, not less.

If decisions are allowed to be made at the point of decision-making, there is less contention and conflict. Most laws take the decision away from the point where the decision should actually be made. Petty tyrants in or out of government, want to use government force to impose their values on others. Gay activists have come a long way from just wanting people and government out of their bedrooms, or was that just a straw man to get government to force people to accept their values. I don’t care what a person does, as long as they don’t “pick my pocket, break my arm“, or have government do it for them.

CONCLUSION

In a free society you have a right to associate with whom ever you want. When you choose your friends, you are discriminating against those who aren’t your friends. When you choose a wife, you are discriminating against other woman. When you make any choice, you are discriminating.

Since every decision is discriminatory, should government be more involved in individual decision making? Many people think it should. Why are individuals and groups seemingly in constant conflict with each other? Because over the last fifty years, government has taken over many of the decisions that individuals used to be free to make. I hope we are at the point where most of us can agree that Government encroachment into every aspect of our lives has to be rolled back, if our civil society is to survive.

If you want to know my thoughts on gay marriage read, Marriage Laws Don’t Expand Rights They Limit Rights.

Related ArticleMeet 10 Americans Helped By Religious Freedom Bills Like Indiana’s, by Mollie Hemingway, at the federalist.com.

Related ArticleGay Marriage Isn’t About Justice, It’s About Selma Envy, by Hans Fiene, at the federalist.com.

 

 

 

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