Saturday, December 31, 2016

Your Life, Your Work

The freedom philosophy is a life philosophy.

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This collection includes essays by Jeffrey Tucker, Lawrence Reed, Dan Sanchez, Isaac Morehouse, Zachary Slayback, David Veksler, Eileen Wittig, and Joey Clark.

Introduction by the book’s editor, Dan Sanchez:

You might be surprised to find yourself reading a personal advice book from FEE. Isn’t the mission of the Foundation for Economic Education to spread ideas about markets and liberty? What do those subjects have to do with career success and self-improvement?

As the essays in this book make clear, the broader freedom philosophy isn’t only a political and economic philosophy. It’s also a life philosophy.

The human spirit thrives under freedom. When we’re free, our incentives line up just right, and our potential is unlocked. Our natural drive to improve our own lives through purpose-driven action is given free rein. Civility, friendship, and abundance are fostered as we engage each other in reciprocal service for mutual benefit.

These happy effects are undone to the extent that we’re unfree. When others restrict or dictate what we do with our persons and property (whether for their own gain or “for our own good”), we are obstructed from fully pursuing our own happiness.

This is true when it comes to compulsory political bonds: drug prohibition, business regulations, health care mandates, etc. But it is also true when we compulsively (even if voluntarily) submit to the wills of others: when give in to conventional wisdom and we let domineering parents, teachers, counselors, bosses, spouses, or friends intimidate us and determine the courses of our lives.

When we are the ones trying to lord it over others, we not only ensnare our victims, but entangle ourselves. We enfeeble ourselves by becoming dependent on the grudging (and therefore unreliable) service of others. And a meddlesome preoccupation with other people’s choices is invariably futile and only distracts us from attending to our own affairs.

This is not only true when we become hooked on political power, but also when we become moochers, busybodies, and petty tyrants in our personal and professional lives.

As Leonard Read, founder of FEE wrote,

“The directing of, or the meddling in, the creative activities of others—the dictator role—is so compellingly corrupting that no person, interested in his own upgrading, should ever accept the role. If he has made the error of acceptance, abdication for his own mental and spiritual health would seem advisable.”

Moreover, in both public and private affairs, freedom and enterprise are impossible without responsibility and independence. And dependence is inseparable from subservience. This is why privilege and the dole are disempowering and debilitating, whether the favors and handouts come from the government or from parents.

When everyone is hopelessly ensnared in each other’s affairs, life becomes less of a dance and more of a wrestling match: less of a tango and more of a tangle. Cooperation yields to conflict. Sweet harmony is drowned out by bitter discord.

In public affairs, we see this play out in the the global contest of powers and the domestic clash of special interests. In private affairs, it manifests in the even more “domestic” tugs-of-war that occur within unhealthy relationships: between husband and wife, parent and child, boss and employee. Very often these conflicts arise out of a lack of freedom in the broader sense: when at least one party is not treating either herself or the other person with dignity: that is, as an autonomous and responsible individual in charge of her own life.

The following essays explain how embracing the broader freedom philosophy can enhance your own life. They deal with how you can gain peace of mind and motivation by taking ownership over your own thoughts and feelings, how you can thrive and prosper at work by taking ownership over your own career, and how you can learn and grow by taking ownership over your own life-long education.

This book is about your life and your work: emphasis on “your.”

  • Dan Sanchez is an essayist, editor, and educator. His primary topics are liberty, economics, and educational philosophy. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He created the Hazlitt Project at FEE, launched the Mises Academy at the Mises Institute, and taught writing for Praxis. He has written hundreds of essays for venues including (see his author archive),,, and The Objective Standard. Follow him on Twitter and Substack.