Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The meaning of a free society

Hi, my name is Thomas Bell, and I will be appearing as a guest columnist for the Sun once or twice per month. I'll be giving you my opinion about different subjects, from my point of view.

I have a different outlook from the liberal v. conservative claptrap. I fall outside of the left v. right political line. My philosophy is simple. I believe in the philosophy of liberty. I believe in the mindset of being free. In other words, I want to live in a free society.

Some of you may ask, "What is a free society?" A free society is a philosophy that holds that people shall have the right to exercise unlimited freedom in their own lives, freedom to live in whatever manner they choose, freedom to pursue their own goals, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal rights of others to exercise that same freedom. As long as they don't hurt each other, the people should do anything they want.

In other words, as long as a person doesn't murder, rape, burglarize, defraud, trespass, steal, or inflict any other acts of violence against another person's life, liberty, or property, the government should leave him or her alone. In fact, the only purpose of government is to secure individuals rights and to prosecute people who violate those rights.

A radical idea? It is the same thing that Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence.

Since you have liberty, you have to be responsible. Individual liberty and personal responsibility are opposite sides of the same coin. If you want liberty, you have to take responsibility for your actions, and vice-versa. Since the only role of government in a free society is to secure your rights, you have to be responsible if your decisions and/or actions are unwise.

While most people are just and honorable, some people are evil, and you have to protect yourself from the latter. In a free society, you have the right to use the tools in order for you to protect yourself. If you wait for the police to show, the criminal has won, and you will lose.

What are some other specific applications of libertarian principles to real-world problems?

Education: complete separation between school and state, including repealing of school compulsory-attendance laws. This would mean a completely free market in education, in which parents, not government, would decide the best educational vehicles for their children, and the schools will be more competitive to meet their demands.

Welfare: immediate repeal of all welfare mainly on moral grounds, but also on the terribly destructive aspects of government welfare programs. Stealing is stealing, and it's against God's Eight Commandment, whether it's stealing from others to give to yourself, stealing from the young to give to the old, or stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

Health Care: the crises in health care, especially with respect to ever-rising prices, is due to heavy government involvement. These laws and programs should be repealed in favor of a totally free market in health care.

Foreign Policy: oppose involvement in foreign wars as well as all foreign aid. The foreign policy concept is nonintervention, the same concept as the Framers envisioned. The U.S. government should be limited to protecting the country from invasion, but should stay out of the affairs of other nations. The people involved in trade, however, will go out into the world and interact with the rest of the world's society.

Taxes: and if these government programs don't exist, you won't need to pay any income tax, or any tax (remember God's Commandment against stealing?). Pay for the limited government functions with voluntary charity (2 Corinthians 9:7). Repeal the IRS and the income tax and leave people free to keep the fruits of their earnings and decide for themselves how to dispose of their wealth (e.g., keep it, loan it, donate it, give it away, or destroy it)

We just scratched the surface. With the exception of slavery and several minor exceptions, the philosophy on which the United States was founded through around 125 years was a free society. In 1890 America, the following government programs were virtually nonexistent: income taxation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, economic regulation, occupational licensure, a Federal Reserve System and fiat-paper money, immigration controls, and gun controls. And the nation flourished.

In the 20th century, the American people abandoned their principles of liberty in favor of a socialistic welfare state and the controlled and regulated society. And the rest is history. I want to reverse this trend.

A free society is the most practical, moral, humanitarian, and ethical. The controlled and regulated society is intellectual sloth.

Now, I tackle local, state, and national issues. Some may agree with some issues, while others may disagree with others. But I am consistent: I believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility, and limited government, and I am for those issues that agree with the aforementioned principles, and I am against those issues that agree with the opposite.

However, if I can start a lively debate, especially about liberty, I accomplished my goal.

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