Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Freedom and Consequences

This is an idea I've discussed a time or two in the past and don't be surprised if it's repeated as a theme in the future.  Freedom and consequences are the central point of my particular take on libertarianism. 

We should be free to make choices and free to pay the consequences of our choices. 

Recently a Congressman from the Northeast, in a rally on the steps of the State Assembly, told a crowd of union supporters that sometime's it is necessary to get out on the streets and "get a little bloody" to defend their rights to collectively bargain.  Now, I'm all for Freedom of Speech, and I'm all for the voters of his state showing him the consequences of making poor speech choices.  Do we really need people encouraging violence?  Do we really need our elected officials encouraging violence?  There are no excuses. 

Consequences are great, but really only when enforced.  If this Northeastern state, or really any state, continues to elect people who preach violence or hate or intolerance then there is no consequence. 

Let's look at where we're making mistakes about Freedoms and Consequences.  A bunch of banks made some really bad decisions.  The consequence?  Billions of tax dollars thrown at them to bail them out.  Zero interest loans to invest more.  So, not exactly a consequence.  Instead, the answer has been to restrict Freedom.  1000's of pages of new regulations coming, a new bureaucracy to manage, and absolutely no consequences to the companies who made bad investments.  Ahhh, but the whole system may have collapsed.  There are other ways we could have stabilized the situation.  If we introduce consequences then maybe we don't need these 1000's of pages of new regulation.  But new regulations are better than specific consequences, right?  Why punish only the guilty when you can restrict the liberty of everyone?

State Senators in Wisconsin are still hiding from their duties in representing their state.  The consequence is that 1000's of state employees are going to be laid off.  One recent report I read is that the governor is looking to withhold their pay if they don't show up to work.  That raises an interesting question.  If they're fleeing the state to "protect their constituency" aren't they in fact working by refusing to work?  Here's a better question?  Who's going to approve their expense report for that hotel in Chicago for their working retreat?  Sometimes consequences are expensive.

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