Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”     James Madison

January 21, 2009

Quote Of The Day

by Brad Warbiany

From Obama’s speech (as retold by Ezra Klein):

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

Free men and women accomplish great things every day by voluntarily joining together for common purpose in a mutual self interested described by Adam Smith’s invisible hand. Those free people are the reason that we today can live in a level of affluence that would astound anyone living prior to the industrial revolution.

But those “big plans” to which Obama refers are not the actions of free men and women. In fact, they are the actions of unfree men and women who have been coerced to be the piggy banks which fund “big plans”.

The man who helps an elderly lady carry groceries is a free man joined to a common purpose. The man who donates his money to a charity feeding the homeless is a free man joined to a common purpose. The man who works hard at his job in order to design a piece of technology or improve a process that adds to human productivity is a free man joined to a common purpose.

Which isn’t to say that unfree men cannot achieve great things. The pyramids, the Great Wall, and the Hoover Dam are great things. But they are certainly not the product of free men*.

* PS – Some may argue whether the Hoover Dam is a product of free men, since it was free men contracting with the government who built it. I completely agree that those workers were free men. The taxpayers who were footing the bill, however, were not.

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2 Comments

  1. Excellent point. Freedom has sure come to mean a variety of things.

    Comment by Akston — January 21, 2009 @ 10:56 am
  2. If they continue with all this bailout nonsense, they may well get flipped off by Adam Smith’s invisible finger.

    Comment by Stephen Gordon — January 21, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

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