Liberty is based on the principle of property rights. A person has the right to their person and legitimately owned property, and to do with themselves and their property as they choose while recognizing the same right for everyone else. But what does that mean? What are the implications? How do property rights make us free? Are you willing to study the libertarian literature to find out? One of the implications is that you will be on your own; responsible for yourself; no politician or bureaucrat deciding what is best for you. Are you willing to accept that? People have to be willing to defend their liberty in order to keep their liberty. Are you willing to actually do something to defend your liberty? I see at least three things that are necessary to achieve liberty: study it, accept responsibility for it, and defend it.
But we are a free country you say. We participated in and won world wars to keep our liberty. I can travel where I want, live how and where I want, work at what I want, where I want. This is mostly true, especially compared to some other countries. Our lack of freedom comes as central planners deciding how to spend half our income, all kinds of regulations like building codes and licensing laws, government monopolies in health care, postal service, roads, education. We are so used to these things that we normally don’t even think about having choices. And when much of our life is centrally planned, we have no idea what would have happened without the central planning. We don’t know what we have missed in the way of innovation, progress and lost opportunities. Get another point of view from some of the libertarian and Austrian Economics articles and books which are readily available on the Internet.
Individual responsibility is fundamental to liberty. A responsible person has many choices to make about what they do and how they use their property. And the responsible person is prepared to take the consequences of their choices. To the extent that the government takes the responsibility to regulate what citizens can and cannot do, their liberty is curtailed. To the extent that the government takes the responsibility for the use of citizen’s property, their liberty is curtailed. There are many people who are willing to use the force of government to make others do what they think is right. A freedom loving people will want to be responsible for themselves and allow others the same right.
Those who do not defend their liberty will lose their liberty. I am not thinking about defending ourselves from assault, or our property from theft or vandalism, or our country from invasion. Those are all obvious invasions of property that most everyone would resist. I am thinking about the more subtle invasions of property in the form of government regulation, taxes, and expropriation of property. There are those who are quite willing to use the force of government to achieve their ends. What do citizens do to defend themselves from government invasion of property? All the years of my growing up in this country I cannot recall every having this discussion; not in family, not in school, not in university. It was not until I started to learn about Austrian Economics that our lack of freedom started to appear. We think of ourselves as a free country. We are not as free as we were fifty years ago and we are trending the wrong way. I think a political solution is still possible however slim the chances might be, but it will take effort.
It will take a sizable number of citizens who will educate themselves about Austrian Economics and liberty, and encourage others to do the same. Those who accept the inalienable right of property would also accept responsibility for themselves. Only such a group of citizens would hold the government to their only legitimate role of protecting the property rights of their citizens. Will you be such a person?