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May 5, 2009

Freedom Supports Our Humanity

Brooks channels Hayek
05/05/09 - CafeHayek by Russell Roberts

[edited] The classical liberal prescription for the good life is not about making as much money as possible. It's about the freedom to choose. It's about voluntary rather than coercive solutions, decentralized rather than centralized solutions, bottom-up solutions that are the result of many actions and actors rather than top-down solutions by experts.

Unfortunately, economists, Republicans, and columnists often use "the market" to mean only economic freedom. Most people take it to mean the stock market, or at most the monetary parts of our lives. (This seems to promote economics at the expense of community. -AG)

People ask how the poor can possibly survive if there is more liberty? Or they argue that the market "delivers the goods" but produces inequality. Some respond that economic freedom does indeed help the poor. They're right, but that doesn't comfort the skeptic who is worried about today's poor.

Freedom doesn't mean poor people starving. Freedom means that the government doesn't try to solve the problem of poverty, but rather it leaves the door open to voluntary community rather than coerced community.

Pocketbook issues are important, but they don't inspire. Freedom is important not because it makes us rich, but because it makes our lives more meaningful. Freedom does let us prosper, and it also lets us express what is important about our humanity. Top down approaches deaden that humanity.

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