Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Individual Liberty

This is really simple. Whatever liberty you are granted may well come at the expense of some liberty for others. For example:

There aren't any zoning regulations. That gives developers the liberty to pave over wetlands and put a lot of houses and businesses on them. That later exacerbates flooding that destroys the property of people living nearby, after which they have less liberty than they did before.
In other words, substantial government intervention is required to protect liberty. All liberties are a tradeoff. If you are given liberty to drive unsafely, that deprives me of my liberty to drive. If you are given liberty to pollute, that deprives me of my liberty to breathe the air and drink the water.  If you are given liberty to sell contaminated or mislabeled food, that deprives me of my liberty to eat safely.

Libertarianism is obviously bullshit, and you don't have to think about it very deeply. We can argue individual cases, but there isn't any magic universal solvent.

Oh yeah, there's this famous quote from John Rogers:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.


Don Quixote said...

I LOVE THE QUOTE! Thanks for that!

Anonymous said...

It's always good to remember that the reason there is a US is people revolted against a government that also didn't think their individual liberty was important.

When designing the new government, these same people thought liberty was pretty darn important. So important that the entire bill of (10) rights were all individual rights.

That's why it's just weird to see people, particularly those in academia who profess to be smarter than the average bear, poo-poo individual liberty and rights entirely.