Neither ward nor servant

January 20th, 2011

On the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s famed inaugural adrress where he challenged Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” this quote from Milton and Rose Friedman is apt:

“Neither half of the statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society. The paternalistic ‘what your country can do for you’ implies that government is the patron, the citizen the ward, a view that is at odds with the free man’s belief in his own responsibility for his own destiny.  The organismic, ‘what you can do for your ‘country’ implies the government is the master or the deity, the citizen, the servant or the votary.”

H/T Don Boudreaux