Why Do Some Defend Civil Liberties But Not Free Markets?Submitted by domenicsidoti on Wed, 12/19/2012 - 00:50
As the lone liberal convert in the Lions of Liberty group, (Read about my Ron Paul conversion) I felt adequately positioned to try to explain the reason that so called “progressive” members of Congress while defending issues of civil liberties neglect their equally important duty to defend free markets. As Ron Paul has pointed out many, many times, free markets cannot logically be separated from civil liberties. Economic freedom is but a member of the larger pool of liberties to which we are all entitled. Our statist legislature, mostly, but not always, on the left side, does not understand this. Many believe that they are actually protecting civil liberties with their onerous shackles to our fiscal freedom, because freedom has become a subjective term.
Freedom is not always the bowl of cherries we fantasize it to be. Sometimes freedom means higher prices, lower wages, or other undesirable short term effects that people feel entitled to avoid. I always use the example of a conversation I once had with a co-worker to illustrate this point. We were discussing the absurd infringement of liberty our state purveys by allowing the police to run license plates at random. After a passionate agreement over the unconscionable disregard for civil liberties such overreaching power displays, he turned the conversation to oil profits. He then said of gas prices, “The government should do something about it. It’s criminal what they are charging us. They are making all that money, it’s unfair, criminal….” His belief that governments should not be able to run checks on your record without proper suspicion, but that they should be able to interfere with what you are willing to pay at the pump was an obvious contradiction. To him and a more progressive me, however, there was no philosophical conflict.
My coworker and many others, including myself in a former life, regretfully misuse the term “liberty.” We believe we should have the freedom to be paid arbitrarily high salaries, pay artificially lower prices, or be insured against uninsurable risk. We mistake entitlement for liberty. It’s hard to defend economic liberty as a wage earner because market movement appears mostly unfair from that perspective. But what is less just than an arbitrary leash on the will of the market? The exercise becomes easier if you place yourself on the producer side of things. If you produced or possessed something that someone else would pay $1000 for, is it morally justifiable for the government to tell you that you are only allowed to charge $200? If an appraisal values your home at $300K, would you willingly accept $150K due to an FHA price ceiling? Does the buyer of your property deserve “freedom from” the truly fair price?