Are we really to believe that the freedom to make money should stand on the same level of religious liberty?

August 24th, 2011

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend says no (coincidence that the oppressive stamp act that resulted in the Boston Tea Party was known as the Townsend acts?).

But to place economics on the same level as religious freedom seemed to me almost blasphemous. Are we really to believe that the freedom to make money should stand on the same level of religious liberty? Are the words of Milton Friedman equal to the Sermon on the Mount?  I don’t think so. But maybe in the eyes of Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan, they are. . . .

I say, why not?

But the freedom to earn one’s living is not the same as the freedom to emasculate government. It’s a mistake to enshrine individual liberty without acknowledging the role that a good government plays in preserving and promoting it. Look at places like Haiti, Somalia, and the Congo to see what happens when governments aren’t around much.

Um, no. The failure of Haiti and Somalia and Congo isn’t the failure of government to “be around.” The failure of those states is oppressive states that do not respect any individual liberty.

When government is marginalized, it’s not just individual freedom that suffers; the economy suffers too. A vibrant capitalism requires a legal system: contracts must be honored, fraud punished. Markets have to work, and for that we need a strong infrastructure of roads, rail, energy, and water and sewage systems.

Um, enforcing contracts and punishing fraud is one of the (few) areas most libertarians agree is a valid purpose of government.

Good government sets us free to spend our days in fruitful endeavors, not evasive action motivated by fear and distrust. Government regulations reassure us that speeding drivers will be arrested, that the financial products we buy won’t cheat us, and that it will be safer to put our money in banks than under our pillows. If we can’t trust our food to be healthy, our drugs to be safe, or our planes to fly without crashing, we’ll waste a lot of productive time.

The author opens up by criticizing a libetarian for opposing food stamps and Medicare, but now shifts to things like punishing crimes and making planes safe. Notice the shift, here.

Freedom takes work, by each of us, and by our government, to create the place where each of us can prosper. The freedom to sleep under a bridge is no freedom at all. We can only be free when we work together for the well-being of all Americans–including the least among us.