Welcome to the 53rd Carnival of Liberty, where we celebrate the rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence.
Speaking of Jefferson, the Carnival kicks off this week with Rick Sincere at Rick Sincere News and Thoughts, who attended a Cato Institute book forum last week on The Quotable Jefferson, a collection of Jefferson’s writings, and reviews the book. Listen to the book forum (MP3 courtesy Cato Institute) and read Rick’s excellent review of The Quotable Jefferson. (And click the book to purchase a copy.)
Dan Melson at Searchlight Crusade‘s Reflections Approaching Independence Day considers the founding of the United States, what it means to be patriotic, and what Bugs Bunny has to say about the matter.
And the matter is that in this country, we were all intended to be rulers of our own domains, however small they may be. Thanos at Noblesse Oblige drives cross country, views a few of these domains in Of Kings and Queens and Freedom, and dreams of a world where everyone is both noble and free.
How do we get from here to there?
Nigel Watt at Libertarian Youth has the answer in Another justification for libertarianism: Our government was intended to protect the equal rights of all, and no more. When it’s asked to do more, it must necessarily violate the rights of someone or other.
Government should, in fact, do nothing, because that’s what it’s good at. Unfortunately, government is very good at getting involved in things it has no business in, such as religion. Doug Mataconis at Below The Beltway says that Getting Government Out Of The Marriage Business and turning it back over to religious authorities is the proper way to preserve the sanctity of the institution of marriage.
Rob Miller at Roblog brings another prime example of stupid government policy screwing up an otherwise good idea in Liberty and Affirmative Action. Far from ending discrimination, affirmative action as it’s been implemented actually is not only discriminatory, it’s also harmful to the people it was theoretically intended to help.
During the Great Depression, the U.S. instituted central planning for the production of milk and milk products. Since then, many states have followed with their own central planning programs for milk. Farmers and other dairy companies are largely successful at getting milk to the store despite the government’s interference, generally through sheer determination to succeed despite all obstacles government has thrown in their path.
But those obstacles don’t just affect large farmers and dairy corporations. Perry Eidelbus at Eidelblog argues in The freedom to assume risk that we don’t need this central planning, especially after what it did to milk in New York City, to one Amish man in Ohio, and to every dairy consumer in the country. A market experiment in Arizona, regulated out of existence (from CoL XLI) earlier this year, showed that the price of milk today is about double what it would be in a truly free market.
But is it safe to not regulate? Doug Mataconis at Below The Beltway points out in Safety, Speed Limits And The Nanny State that when the government loosens up on its control over people, the end result isn’t necessarily the sky falling in and millions of people dying.
Another set of stupid government policies involves so-called “progress,” or the imposition by government of “social justice.” These policies are patently ridiculous, but some people actually need an explanation of why government can’t create social justice.
Lisa at The London Fog provides one explanation in I think it’s Big Brother that has to be looked after, not the people, courtesy of Milton Friedman: The “welfare state philosophy of doing good with other people’s money, at its very bottom, is a philosophy of violence and coercion.” Rather, the people individually are the best equipped to create the social justice they desire.
Because asking government to do anything inevitably leads to corruption, as Mapmaster at The London Fog points out in Buying corruption, one donor and democrat at a time: The attempts by Western society to spread “democracy” and other “progressive” ideas around the world “continue to fail miserably to bring progress and justice to the third-world, and actually perpetuate corruption and injustice. Genuine progress, when and where it has been made, has been from within societies and has been largely incidental to the so-called ‘incentives.'”
Cody Herche at Legal redux asks Is the Republican Party still the party of conservatism? They certainly don’t act like it lately, nor do they even follow the somewhat libertarian principles written directly into part of their platform. (And this is part of the reason the Libertarian Party is growing so much lately.) In fact, to read the headlines, they seem quite corrupt these days.
Speaking of corruption, Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff at Mondo QT looks at the connection between corrupt politicians snorting cocaine and eminent domain abuse in Squibs & Sparklers. They must have been high when they proposed the Fort Trumbull redevelopment.
One of the most important libertarian principles is the freedom to express one’s views and engage in political discourse. That freedom is constantly under threat, especially in the schools. Matt Johnston at Going to the Mat notes two incidents this summer of high school valedictorians who departed from school-approved speeches, and wonders if this is The Death Knell for Valedictory Speeches? (One of them, Kareem Elnahal, was covered at Homeland Stupidity.)
Richard G. Combs Spouts Off about the suppression of speech in Italy and asks that everyone Support Oriana Fallaci, a noted journalist and author who fought the Fascists in World War II, and is still fighting them. She faces prison in Italy for writing negative statements about terrorists.
Another important libertarian principle is the right to property, which was significantly eroded in the U.S. in 2005 with the Kelo v. New London eminent domain Supreme Court decision, which as you’ll recall, involved corrupt politicians high on cocaine. The decision generated a lot of backlash, and a lot of abusive takings. Richard G. Combs Spouts Off again with Two views of the Kelo backlash and answers the question of whether there was enough backlash to have any significant effect.
But all of this is based on the principle of negative liberty, put simply, freedom from external coercion. Unfortunately, language not only influences our thoughts, it constrains them, and sometimes it misleads. It shouldn’t surprise anyone, then, that the concept of negative liberty as freedom is so widely misunderstood. Nor should it surprise anyone that “positive liberty” (a misnomer) is so frequently confused with freedom. Wenchypoo at Frugal Wisdom from Wenchypoo’s Warehouse rants about the distinction in Freedom To and From.
What a wild ride! If you’ve still got tickets left, you can go back to the top and ride again. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to host the Carnival and a privilege to attempt to make a coherent narrative out of wildly diverse topics. That, though, is the nature of a carnival: Many different rides, shows and attractions, all under one umbrella. So is it the nature of a free people, left to their own devices, to create, to build on their creations, and thereby to advance civilization. May it ever be so.
Carnival of Liberty LIV will be held next Tuesday, July 18 at Ogre’s Politics and Views. If you would like to follow the Carnival as it travels, or host the Carnival in the future, visit Below the Beltway.