It is time for us to carefully examine our liberty and freedom. I speak of the economic freedoms to choose and act, not freedom from want. Liberty is freedom from restriction or control. It is self ownership.
Ensuring a portion of society has freedom from want, on the other hand, can reduce liberty. To hand out resources requires somebody to give them away. If this is done voluntarily, it is freedom of action. If it is done by government coercion, through taxation and redistribution, it decreases freedom to act, hence decreases liberty.
Economic freedom ensures the right to act so long as no harm is done to a non-consenting party. It provides the right to choose for oneself – how to use your own resources and time – but not the right to choose for others. Economic freedoms are correlated with greater wealth, better health, less poverty, enhanced environmental quality, and improved quality of life.
The economic decline beginning in 2008 was followed by a decline in economic freedoms. According to the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World index, the United States was the 6th freest country in the world in 2008. America’s freedoms have declined, however, from 8.4 out of 10 (10 being the most free, 0 the least free) in 2000 to 8 in 2008. The U.S. has lost economic freedoms due to larger government, more business regulations, and a decrease in the security of property rights.
Given the correlation of economic freedoms and quality of life, it is time to reflect on our freedoms and changing institutions. To ensure our prosperity and that of future generations freedom and liberty must reign.