It’s so easy to celebrate our “freedoms” with song singing, national holidays, and the obligatory pledging of allegiance to the flag. Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy to say the United States remains one of the freest places in the world to this day. Indeed, the United States has accomplished many great things as a nation. I’m happy to be an American who proudly celebrates my service in the United States Marine Corps. That said, we can and need to do much better.
Why do we have such a high standard of living while people in other countries struggle for basic life necessities?
I can’t say with certainty what our founding fathers would think about the United States leading the world in incarceration rates, serving as the world’s police force, or maintaining a welfare and regulatory state so immense that we now exceed $20 trillion in debt and ever growing. Cutting federal spending in any area now seems a task akin to trying to square the circle. I’m not sure our founding fathers would be singing along with us. To be fair, we surely have issues to resolve.
How to Win at Economics
A few years ago, I visited Cairo, Egypt. While touring the capitol, I was exposed to the unwealthy slums, and wondered why the standard of living there was so poor as compared to the United States. I have entertained the same thoughts as I’ve traveled throughout the world and visited many longstanding but horribly poor cities. Why do we have such a high standard of living while others in other countries, many established long before ours, struggle to deliver even basic life necessities to its people?
The answer is simple; freedom raises standards of living. Said another way, the libertarians are right! Tyranny works really well for the disgusting anti-social maniacs at the top of the inner circle who benefit by coercing their fellow humans into doing or not doing things against their will. Free markets work great for the moral and productive people of the world who thrive on voluntary transactions with others. It’s these people who benefit themselves and others simply by trading in their own self-interest.
The free market is what allows people to exchange things they value less for things they value more. In this way, both parties to the transaction are better off after the transaction. It’s a true win-win deal. The more of these transactions, the better for everyone. This is how standards of living rise. Free markets are also the only moral way to exchange goods and services because no force or coercion is employed in the exchange. People are free to trade or not to trade.
We need to get back to basics.
We need to get back to basics. The United States is the lone superpower in the world and maintains a relatively high standard of living as compared to the rest of the world because we have done a better job of preserving freedom over the years than many other countries. It’s that simple. Slowly, and mostly subconsciously, people are re-adopting the libertarian concepts that made the United States great in the first place.
Shifting Away from Tyranny
Marijuana legalization is a great example of our shift away from tyranny and back to libertarian principles. The majority of Americans now support legalization of marijuana. While this is certainly a good trend, the reasons underlying the shift are most important.
While I have absolutely no doubt marijuana has substantial medical uses, this is not the best reason to legalize it. Because free, competent adults ought to decide for themselves what substances, harmful or non-harmful, go into their own bodies, marijuana ought to be legal. This is the best argument for marijuana legalization. Only this position is compatible with a free society.
After all, free people wouldn’t tolerate the government deciding for us what substances are harmful and must be banned. There’s a strong case that drinking carbonated drinks is harmful to our bodies. I’m unaware of any argument for the medicinal uses of Coke or Pepsi. Personally, I choose not to drink carbonated beverages for this reason. However, I would be offended by any government effort to ban carbonated beverages based on an argument that it’s bad for my body. It’s my body. I get to decide.
We are slowly becoming a more tolerant and open society.
I would strongly oppose any government effort to ban any substance for competent adults to ingest; especially in a case where I have personally decided not to use the substance anyway. It’s about my right to decide for myself. It’s a freedom thing! It ought to be an American thing too.
People are starting to recognize that a free society can tolerate the concept that competent adults have a right to control their own bodies, their property, their money and their time. We have recently seen this philosophical belief give rise to the concept of same-sex marriage. It’s the same issue like marijuana legalization. Certainly, recent advances in the areas of legalized prostitution, euthanasia laws, gambling laws, freedom of religion, school choice and many other issues also prove the point. We are slowly becoming a more tolerant and open society. Someday, all victimless crimes will be abolished.
Concepts like racism still exist. Naturally, in a free society, people ought to be free to be peaceful racists. Brains and morality can never be legally imposed. However, free people must tolerate not just peaceful racists, but peaceful idiots of all types. So long as people are peaceful, a free society must necessarily tolerate all views; even idiotic ones.
Even in the midst of many examples of real racism, it remains the exception not the rule in the United States today. To be sure, racist people still plague us with their foolish views. However, most people today have adopted a position of tolerance toward people with differing levels of pigment in their skin or different philosophical worldviews. More sophisticated people realize the rights of others in a free society include the right to peacefully hold whatever views one wants on any issue at all.
Progress is never in a straight line.
I realize there are points to the contrary. Progress is never in a straight line. Indeed, we have had setbacks, and we will suffer more. However, this does not overthrow my point; we are slowly becoming a more libertarian society because people are becoming more tolerant of others. This is the big issue to keep your eye on.
I invite you to join the group of humans who respect the rights of all other competent adult humans to decide for themselves how to peacefully pursue their own happiness. Let’s work together to convince our fellow humans that freedom, peace, and love flow initially from true tolerance towards others.
We should vigorously protect a vibrant marketplace of ideas in all areas. We are always free to try to peacefully persuade others to adopt any particular view we hold dear. If we are to evolve as humans into a more peaceful and loving world, we need to always draw the line at coercion, fraud, and force of all types, on all issues, and at all times.