arguments against freedom considered
SECTION FOUR : What about the poor, and other fallacies




In this section I shall consider the typical counter arguments offered by those at least think to counter liberty/capitalism (rather than just reject it without consideration).

What will we do about the poor in a free society?

The best answer was given about 35 years ago by one Barbara Branden who answered "you will not be stopped from helping them". It may sound 'heartless' and 'cold' but it is the best answer because it refuses to accept the premise that 'we' are (automatically) obliged to any other and replaces it with the idea that we can help more when we choose to freely.

The only obligation you have unto others is to not initiate the use of force against them (you cannot interfere with another whilst expecting them to grant you the same though) . All other obligations (contractual, children) are chosen obligations. All those coercively stipulated by other people are unchosen obligations.

That is to say - you can help someone, I can help someone - but neither of us has the right to force another person into doing the same. If you disagree then think about it - by what standard, by what reason do you suppose that you have dominion over the life of another? We have already seen how one person being rich does not, by definition, cause another's poverty. Life, and economics in particular, is not a zero-sum game.

Consider the so called 'decade of greed', the 1980s, In the USA private charitable organisations received more contribution than ever before. Not through guilt, I believe, but through mankind's' benevolence toward his/her fellows. Were almost all taxes repealled would you reconsider the amount you contribute to charities? I know I would. The secondary problem with a government that takes over the care of the unfortunate is that people no longer feel as if their benevolence is necessary - that its being taken care of, after all nearly 50% of what they earn disappears!

Also who deserves the 'help'? If a man loses his job in an unforeseen closure then for awhile (until he seeks out new employment - even if that involves moving away from 'home' -I've done this!) then a kind act by others will be both appreciated and probably repaid. The recipient understands that what is being given is genuinely from the kindness of others, and would not suppose to demand it with the battle cry of the mediocre "its my right!!" No one can have the right to enslave another.

Indeed a free society allows a greater proportion of people to achieve a greater wealth. Observe the free-er societies such as the USA (especially between 1800 and 1930), the UK (And I refer to liberal UK of the last century) and what has happened in much of South East Asia in the last 40 years following a free-ing up of society. None of the above are examples of pure capitalism, pure free societies. They are the closest examples I know of. Compare this with the controlled economies of communist Russia, Cuba, China and Albania (all of whom are having to adopt new freedoms in order to avoid collapse). Compare North Korea to South Korea. Compare what you could achieve in business or your job if you kept virtually all your earnings, and were not regulated to the point of lunacy, with what you can do now in Britain.

I've explained how inventors and producers have helped each of us more than any number of Mother Teresas ever could. It may seem frustrating that many people are still in poverty, that is not a reason to restrict and choke people - its a reason to give them the freedom they need to succeed and bring to more people the benefits western 'free-er' societies have had. I'd love to see poor people enjoy life like I can (even in Britain today!), and I know the best way to ensure it, to give them the freedom to create and work, to catch up as much of the far east has done. Its a pleasure to see how many people enjoy life in the far east, how few starve compared to 40 years ago.

But aren't you guilty by inaction?

Take two people and dump them on desert islands, one is good at getting food the other is not. There is nothing unfair going on when the one less able dies. Its unpleasant but no one is forcing the failed into failure, unfair is characterised by other another factor (not the weather, not a broken leg, not genetics nor any feature of environmental reality). That factor would come about if, for example, he was regularly robbed or beaten by another person. I.e. only other people can make a persons situation morally unacceptable. Persons like dictators. It is true that if the successful man was forced to give food to the unsuccessful then both may survive, that is no justification for force. An end can never justify a means. I think the vast majority would gladly give voluntarily. The beneficiary would understand what was going on, there would be no belligerent calls of "it's my right" , indeed the beneficiary would probably seek to offer a service in return for the benefit. The relationship would be benevolent and mutually satisfying Where a government uses force to take action, favouring one group (by robbing another) we get divisive and adversarial relationships, as we see today with white v black, young v old, healthy v ill, business sector v business sector. When one person claims a 'right' to the product of another, an adversarial relationship is set up. Divide and conquer, political historians may conclude.

Lets consider another situation. Freedom of the individual has resulted in vast wealth, is it right to steal, by force, the wealth of those who created it (and thus own it) and give it to others. If you support personal freedom then it cannot be, if you desire a controlled 'slave' society then you will. The logic that states "the poor will die" if you don't force others to part with their property is, in my opinion, based upon a false premise, the premise that people are naturally unhelpful and 'bad'. It seems a dismal view of so successful a species, and an arrogant assessment by one who supposes him/herself fit to rule over you.

What about exploitation?

It is often held that a company seeks to exploit people, in a way this suggests they are explicitly or implicitly seeking to use the skills of a person at the personal cost of that person. To gain their productivity without returning value. Such is even levelled at companies investing in Britain, such as the Japanese companies in Wales, whose wages may well be less than the equivalent in Japan. That does not mean exploitation is taking place.

In what way are these Japanese companies forcing Welsh people to work for them, is it a legal requirement? If a company offers a series of jobs and people voluntarily come and work for them (for whatever reason, even where other choices are bleak) how can it be anything other than a reflection of demand and supply. By having these companies invest in areas where labour is cheaper it shows up the difference between the cost of living between two areas, for instance in the west and the third world. A company may go to Africa rather than America or Britain to hire a workforce. If you want redistribution of wealth then consider that every penny paid out in Africa isn't paid out in America or the west. If the jobs went to the west not only would the product cost more, there would be zero flowing into third world nations instead of the amount that flows now. Third world countries will benefit from this inward investment, in time the slow cash flow will build up as companies fill their production capacity there rather than here. The equalisation has begun. Think about it, if that Japanese company didn't come to Wales where would those people be working instead? If there were better options they'd be taking them. No job, no result of any kind is guaranteed, you have to choose the best of the available choices. What would the socialist do, force companies to go to places they might not choose, force them to employ at western rates (and then wonder why they fail)?

Lets consider the infamous Nike shoes example. If Nike went to one country and paid more than the market rate (for labour) the shoes would cost a little more, then Adidas would go to another country and employ at the market rate and trash Nike in the shops, because people will buy the best they can at the lowest price. Nike would not be able to support its factory. It is correct that companies go to the third world for cheaper labour, people who seek redistribution of wealth around the world should applaud this. A universal law forcing companies to act against their rational judgement would put both companies off even bothering to enter foreign markets. What would befall the inhabitants of those countries then?

To add one more comment. It is no more logical to suggest a 'buy British' campaign than to suggest a 'buy Basingstoke' campaign. One country does not 'lose' when individuals in it buy a foreign car, for instance. International trade is not combat. The idea that if Japan is getting richer we must be getting poorer is demonstrably untrue. Its untrue because wealth is created, not stolen from a static amount. All government interference with international trade, such as protectionism, favours and incentives are immoral (and they cost you money - thrice, once in tax, and again in the loss of what you could have bought with the same money, and then again in the limited choice set by state). I am embarrassed by the fact that I used to support protectionism when I was a teenager becoming interested in economics, and pleased to have left such an irrational notion behind!

What about inequality?

On why some people get higher salaries. When a business manager makes decisions and formulates a strategy which results in a thousand jobs and a stream of products people want, the wealth created is enormous. I have no problem with such people earning millions. I do have a problem with 'managers' who tag along because of 'connections' with government (for favours) or incompetents who cannot be let go because every law in the 'caring' society forces the company to carry him along (raising costs and lowering your chance of employment in the process). If you want to earn a lot, create a lot. The inventor of a new type of vacuum cleaner who does a years work then sells the design and then takes 5% a year may appear lazy compared to a road sweeper who works 10 hours a day. But almost any one can sweep the road - can you invent new things and organise their production and distribution? Think about why Bill Gates, Anita Roddick and Richard Branson are millionaires, and consider how much less wealth (in terms of jobs, choice, technology) would exist had they never been in societies sufficiently free for them to pursue their goals (at no ones expense ill add). Imagine how many potential creators may have given up in the face of irrational regulation and huge taxes. Consider your own situation in this light.

Inequality borne of racism or sexism (the belief that a persons' worth is derived from race or sex) is not an issue to be addressed by government. Where an attack takes place it is a crime in and of itself - and must be dealt with as such. Where a private employer uses prejudice in employing staff then I have one thing to say to him - "more fool you!". A rational employer will seek out the best possible workforce at the price he can afford - if he deliberately refuses some capable applicant based upon race or sex then he is an idiot. Another, rational, competitor would do well to 'snap up' such rejected people and 'wipe the floor' with the prejudiced business manager in the market place. This is what has been driving equality the world over - not legislation.

The idea that racism in work needs to be combatted with legislation or racial quotas (affirmative action) is in itself racism - in that it holds the race of the applicant as the measure of his/her worth. It also supports the false notion that employees are interchangeable with no one being more competent than any other. Moreover, each person is free to have any opinion, however morally repugnant and irrational. The friend of any oppressed minority is a free society where each individual can seek to achieve their goals, regardless of the opinions of others, not a bully boy state robbing on their behalf.

How dare you force me to be free!!

All people have a right to their thoughts, and therefore to their opinions. What they do not have is the right to impose their beliefs upon others. Some people claims that objective libertarians / capitalists are doing precisely this. They are not, and this is why they are not. There is one reality not a slew of them to suit each person. Capitalists do not seek to ridicule or belittle another's beliefs, you may believe anything you choose to, there is no punishment for this. What 'you' (plural) may not morally do is impose such beliefs upon others, in the way Hitler and Stalin and Mao did. You see capitalists (or pro-freedomists) do not seek to impose anything upon others. Capitalism is not a designed 'system' but more a lack of any imposition upon individuals, with the vital exception of the law that one must not initiate the use of force or fraud upon another (or this would contradict freedom). A socialist (or indeed any statist) system does exactly that. State socialism is about controlling people, it considers that left alone people will tend to be bad, and they 'need' to be interfered with to correct this. The arrogance is that the socialist legislator considers himself a better judge of your life than you.

A society of individual freedom, and its consequence capitalism, is the one society that does not force you.

Conclusion

There are many issues around freedom worth discussing. All of them basically come to the argument that one person (or group) does not have the right to force another. Perhaps at this stage (thanks for staying with me!) you may wish to voice your agreement / disagreement with what I have written, or raise a specific issue, or perhaps you're looking for links, further reading or ideas on what you can do the create change.

Lets move on to Section 5 -thoughts and further reading.