20A008 Reason, Choice and Freedom by Jim Davies, 2/25/2020    


Is freedom fitted to everyone, or just to a fortunate few?

There's one well-meaning and deep-thinking friend of mine who thinks, with regret, that a large fraction of humankind isn't intelligent enough to grasp the sublime principles of liberty such as are taught in the Academy. Many others have tried valiantly to persuade friends to become Libertarian, only to be rebuffed; some Congressman once scorned us with words like "people do not want freedom; you can't even give it away!" It can be discouraging.

Such folk are quite right in one sense: vast numbers have been fooled, and bribed with a false promise of "security." Trust us in government, they say, and we'll look after and protect you. It's a wicked lie; any protecting that might be needed will be done by those conscripted to fight so that government will be safe! The truth is inverted. But the problem remains: lie though it is, very many believe it. Their brains have been so well washed they have a terrible time trying to imagine society without government.

Here's why I think they are wrong. Human beings - hom. sap. - are by a very wide margin better able to reason than our nearest rivals. It's true that some species are much more intelligent than we may have previously supposed, but still the gap is enormous. Business Insider rightly remarks on this, noting for example that crows are on the cusp of discovering one aspect of Archimedes' Principle, when thirsty; and that primitive tool-making is not exclusively a human activity. Well and good, and not too surprising, given that evolution takes place usually in rather small steps. BI proposes that the only unique human attribute is that of symbolic language; but I suggest that under-states the difference; we humans also use reason to a massively greater extent than any other species, and that it's that which is our most distinguishing feature. Other species are far more skilled than we are in other ways; many swim much better, many fly without effort, aviation fuel or ATC, many have senses of smell, hearing and sight far beyond our limited abilities. But reasoning things out is our big and unique advantage.

Reason moves us to question, to explore, to unravel the "Why?" and "How?" of everything. Why do the sun and moon rise and set as they do. Why does the clear night sky have all those bright dots. Why do we exist. How did life begin. How did everything begin. Why can boats float, and how can we stop them capsizing. Why are there so many species of life, how did they come to be. How can we move more efficiently, obtain food more easily, shelter more comfortably; and so on ad inf. Reason is what we use to make tools and toys, and to improve their designs.

Reason is also the basis for choices; every hour of every day we encounter alternatives, and choose among them, usually (and best) using reason. A simple shopping expedition employs dozens of choices based on judgment and reason - and, delightfully, different people reach differing decisions based on their own choices of criteria, their own subjective values. Very rarely are the contents of two shopping carts identical.

True, we may sometimes toss a coin, or choose by emotion or "gut feel" more than logic, and sometimes those other attributes are vital - in the choice of a spouse for example. But reason underlies the choice - or else, trouble may follow.

That then is the primary way humans operate and function; and the result is all around us. Our species dominates the Earth, we are the finest product of the long evolutionary process; and that's so because we have the ability to reason and so to choose. Without reason, choice would mean nothing; and without the power to choose, reason would be useless and that key human attribute, frustrated.

Just as reason and choice interdepend, so do choice and the freedom to exercise it. The whole process of thinking out a design, or a plan, or an acquisition, and making a choice accordingly is pointless if some extraneous factor prevents the execution of the choice made. One of Milton Friedman's best and most popular books is his Free to Choose; in it he shows how choices are severely curtailed in important areas such as schooling, labor, money, charity, and many others.

Some of that government choice-destruction is massive, some trivial; and some, hung over for ever from some earlier time such as rules about where liquor can legally be bought and sold. Should you wish to buy a new Ford Model T today (supposing Ford Co was willing to produce them again) at a rock-bottom price because all the modern bells and whistles would be missing, Nanny government would not allow the choice. Yet that model was immensely popular and transformed the American style of life. Should you wish in 2036 to buy in Britain any gas-powered car, you'll be out of luck: Nanny there mandates that new cars from 2035 must be electric.

So, our power to reason can be exercised only by making choices, and that freedom to choose is therefore the birthright of every person, not just of some intellectual élite. Yet choices are what government prohibits or curtails. Accordingly government is in its core nature antithetical to this primary attribute of human nature. It began about 10,000 years ago, and has continued 10,000 years too long. Please help end it.

What the coming free society
will probably be like
How freedom
was lost
How it is being
The go-to site for an
overview of a free society
Freedom's prerequisite:
Nothing more is needed
Nothing less will do

What every bureaucrat needs to know
Have them check TinyURL.com/QuitGov

How Government Silenced Irwin Schiff

2016 book tells the sad story and shows that government is even more evil than was supposed