Since Thomas Frank (“The Left Should Reclaim
‘Freedom,’” Wall Street Journal, 9-16-09) never bothers to define
“freedom,” it’s unsurprising he reaches the wrong conclusions. He
conflates “positive” “freedom” with so-called “negative” freedom. There
is a world of moral and practical difference between government forcing
one group of people to provide goods to others who have not earned
those things (FDR’s version of “freedom”) and having government respect
and protect the right of individuals to decide for themselves what to
do (or not do) with their lives and their property (Jefferson’s version
of liberty). The latter is the mark of a free people. The former is a
sign of an abused people.
Despite what Frank states, “freedom” is all or nothing. Only slavery –
or “involuntary servitude,” if one prefers – comes in degrees. A leash
around one’s neck – no matter how long it is or how loosely held – is
still a sign of slavery. A government that “allows” people to gather is
hardly a respecter of liberty. When our nation had overt slavery,
skilled slaves often were “allowed” to keep part of their earnings and
to travel short distances. But it was the master who decided what the
slave would be “allowed” to do; how much of what he earned he would be
“allowed” to keep and how much he had to hand over to his master; and
whether he would be “allowed” to do anything, at all.
True freedom is not some “abstraction” as Frank would have us believe.
For those of us who understand the real-life consequences of not being
free, freedom is an intensely personal and central fact of our lives.
If Frank does not mind wearing a leash and wants to worship his master,
that’s his problem. But it’s my life, my money, my decisions, and my
responsibility. My life and my property belong to me, not to Frank, not
to my neighbor, not to a stranger, and most assuredly not to anyone in
government. I’ll thank him and all others who erroneously believe I
belong to them to simply leave me alone.
[Letter to the editor submitted to The Wall Street Journal.}
(from Don’t Get Me Started!