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RightNation.US: Independence Is Not Paradise - RightNation.US

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The desire of a young adult to live free of their parents says something of liberty. At some point, the security of reliable provision begins to pale in comparison to the allure of freedom. The ability to personalize a home, keep chosen hours, and freely associate with others is deemed worth the cost of independent living.

Most parents encourage this transition because it is the culmination of their parental responsibility. The ultimate goal of childbearing is raising productive contributors to society.

I find it strange, given this universal graduation to independence, that many among us turn back to the teat. Neighbor becomes mother under the welfare state. It is a process of regression, paradoxically labeled progressive, which reattaches the umbilical and suckles us back to infancy. Of course, no one wants to admit dependence. Instead, it is characterized as entitlement, and falsely conflated with liberty.

Such was the case last month when St. Cloud high school teacher Eric Austin responded to a campaign blog post on the subject of liberty. Norann Dillon, the Republican endorsed candidate for Minnesota state senate in SD43, had characterized liberty as “your RIGHT to make decisions – independently – for yourself and your family.” She relayed concerns from voters in her district in the wake of “bailouts, stimulus packages, and a massively intrusive health care bill.”

To this, Austin cried humbug:


Regardless of what you think of the bailouts begun by the Bush Administration, it is difficult to see where your personal liberty was being affected except for maybe your liberty NOT to live through another Great Depression. Personally, my liberty to live in a country that doesn’t spiral into economic chaos was protected, not taken away, by the bailouts.

As a teacher of a course on United States Government, Austin ought to be familiar with the distinction between liberty and provision. Setting aside his faulty economic premise, there is no “liberty not to live through another Great Depression.” Liberty is assured by prohibition of encroachment, not provision of sustenance. At one point, when he presumably moved from the care of his guardians to the rigors of personal responsibility, Austin understood this distinction and opted for freedom over dependence.

The characterization of liberty as freedom from want, perhaps only mimicked by Austin, does not comply with any actual definition. It contradicts our aforementioned common experience. No one leaves home with “the liberty not to live through” foreclosure, eviction, arrest, termination of employment, repossession, or any other hardship. Liberty provides opportunity, not outcomes.


The rest of [Dillon’s] post which laments this perceived loss of liberty is little more than desire for some libertarian paradise demonstrating a lack of understanding of the real world in which we live together and thus make some collective decisions together.

There is no libertarian paradise. Liberty is “a tempestuous sea” which takes us farther than “the calm of despotism.” It is not for the timid, as Jefferson noted, for it comes with no guarantees. Aspirations toward Utopia are the conceit of the progressive. Liberty provides nothing for free.

1 Comments On This Entry

Excellent, as always!
"Liberty provides nothing for free."
Including most importantly, itself.
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