The use of the word free in a free market economy is not about price but about the voluntary nature of two people freely choosing to transact for their mutual benefit. Those that conflate free choice with free cost gloss over and detour around the fact that nothing is free unless another person, by their own volition, acts compassionately towards another. A gift, charity, and other goods and services are free to the recipient only because another person voluntarily choses to give those things freely. Those that understand this distinction understand that compassion is virtuous only when it’s voluntary.
A person steals something from a store and gets away with it. The stolen good is free only because the person escaped undetected. Therefore, is free not the desired ideal price in society? Everyone enjoys getting something for nothing. The distinction between taking something from another at no cost versus a person voluntarily giving something at no cost makes all the difference in the world. The distinction is that of a criminal and a philanthropist — an immoral versus a moral person.
Do not overlook another key distinction. In both cases two parties are involved. The recipient, by theft or by compassion, possessed a good that originally belonged to another.
Every person possesses certain unalienable rights including the right to life, liberty, and property. As an autonomous and self-directed person I use my physical and intellectual abilities to preserve life. I act independently and exercise good judgment to ensure my own preservation. I freely choose to employ my abilities to produce, and what I produce is my property. Property rights are the recognition and implementation of a system to ensure the enjoyment and practice of our unalienable rights.
Under no circumstances does any person have an unalienable right to my property, which by extension is a claim on my labor. If this were true then any one person can claim another person as a servant or slave. Does any person have an unalienable right to compel their neighbor to repair their house, mow their lawn, or tend to their crops? Likewise, does any person have an unalienable right to take their neighbor’s food, clothing, transportation, money, or other property?
Those that believe this act as modern day slave holders expecting others to labor –to produce — at no cost to them.
Our Union was formed based upon certain self-evident fundamental, transcendent, and immutable truths. Specifically that every person is endowed with certain unalienable rights which provides free markets, free choices, and free society. In a word, this is freedom. This is what it means to be a free person.
Free choices are about people acting autonomously and directing their own lives. People are free to choose their occupations, where they live, who they associate with, etc.
Free markets are the natural extension of our unalienable right to liberty. People freely choose to engage in trade. Nobody is forced to exchange their property with another. Nobody is forced to give their property to another without receiving something mutually beneficial in return.
Free society reflects and acknowledges the will of the people to live in ordered liberty, to live harmoniously as free people exercising their unalienable rights without violating the unalienable rights of others. As a result government is formed for the sole purpose to better protect every person’s unalienable rights. That is the beginning and end of good government.
These elements of freedom, personal and economic liberty, and unalienable rights created the most prosperous conditions in the history of mankind.
However, when government acts capriciously or arbitrarily it violates the very purpose for which it was instituted. In theory government is supposed to apply all laws equally to all people and act as a disinterested independent body abiding by the rules and constraints placed up it by the Constitution.
Just as nobody has an unalienable right to my property or my labor, neither does the government. If government takes property from one person and gives it to another person, it is equally as repugnant and immoral as if your neighbor took your property. If government social programs provide goods or services to one part of society by taking property from another part of society it is nothing less than plunder. Remember, compassion is only virtuous when voluntary. When government forcibly takes property from one person to give to another that isn’t compassion or benevolence. It is theft. It is plunder. It is tyranny.
This is where the last of the “free” concepts enters into the equation. When government provides something to somebody at no cost it is considered free. A person receiving government supplied medical care, food stamps, etc. often views these things as free. In these cases free is really about price to the recipient. The thought that free is the ideal price is absurd and dangerous. That’s because nothing is free unless a person voluntarily chooses to provide something for free.
Demonstrably, anything the government provides isn’t free. However, another dynamic factors into the equation. Those receiving “free” things from the government do provide something in return. That is a vote. The insatiable appetite for more free things in exchange for a vote is a pernicious cycle.
Eventually society becomes more and more dependent upon a paternalistic government until people are reduced to subjects merely subsisting on government’s trickle down compassion.
History is replete with examples where elements of subservience, dependency, and subjection enslave entire populations to some form of centralized authoritarian source. Nobody prospers or flourishes. Living standards decline dramatically. There is no chance of success or failure as everyone is equal and banished to a life of mediocrity. This is what it means to be a slave, a dependent, a subject.
Freedom has a cost. Freedom isn’t free. You can’t buy freedom with votes. Government certainly isn’t going to give back your freedoms freely. Freedom requires duty and responsibility to yourself and your posterity.