Tag Archives: Offense

On Liberty

25 Nov

This Thanksgiving, you can be thankful for the fact that you can celebrate Thanksgiving any damn way you want to. That is the true mark of America: very individualized personal freedom.

Big BirdThe irony is both the Left and Right are constantly trying to control the general public’s behavior, and find great offense and shock (SHOCK) when their opponents do the same.

The Right wants your children to listen to prayer in public school. They want Manger scenes outside of city hall at Christmas (not Holiday) time. And most of all, they want you to keep your baby in your womb until its time to for him or her to come out.

While expressing constant outrage at these attempts to push personal beliefs on others, the Left simultaneously wants to you to hand in your gun, stop driving your gas guzzling SUV, and otherwise reorder your life to stop destroying the planet.

For both sides, the quest to change the individual behavior of every American is a matter of great moral and ethical importance. For every F-150 pickup with an “Abortion Kills Children” bumper sticker, there is a bicycle with a “Save the Earth” type decal.

The culture wars will continue in America, but do not fear. Soon gays will be able to marry and we’ll all be smoking pot – the arc of the American story is a constant bending towards personal liberty. And not just happy-fuzzy personal liberty. It will bother Libertarians to hear, but America is indifferent to offensive, destructive, bad-for-the-common-good personal liberty.

You will continue to be able to own guns with no training required on how to use one, or registration of how many guns you own. You will continue to be able to kill your baby as long as it hasn’t been born yet. You will continue to be able to smoke tobacco your whole life and then get the government to pay for your lung cancer treatment. You can drive a tank that gets 3 mpg, skip all public transportation, and never recycle a blessed thing in your life. You have the personal freedom to not just be destructive to yourself, but to others as well. In America, we err on the side of liberty, with little regard to offense or impact.

Of course, there are certain behaviors we as a society have deemed favorable, and while we don’t mandate them, we do encourage them. This is well established, but is changing as well. Traditionally, our society thinks owning a home and having children is a good thing for the general welfare. Therefore, there are tax incentives (and some straight handouts) for doing those two things. These are carrots – do what you want, but if you do these couples things, we’ll pay you a little extra.

What is changing is the coming round of sticks to add to the carrots. Our list of advantageous behaviors to modify is growing. And when the carrots don’t seem effective enough, we turn to sticks. There are plenty of carrots for employers to offer healthcare to their employees. But not enough companies are participating. So, for the first time, sticks in the form of penalties to companies who fail to provide are proposed. There are ample tax rebates for companies who upgrade their manufacturing processes to be more environmentally friendly. But the carrots are not enough – a cap-and-trade stick-based program is coming soon.

The arc remains to liberty. Americans don’t like curtailments on their freedoms. And sticks are supposed to be for rogue regimes, like North Korea. Is non-health-insurance-providing Walmart a rogue regime? Don’t answer that.

Be thankful for your liberty today. It is the defining mark of our nation. Do whatever you want today, like read a blog. Or go eat turkey. Or tofurkey. And think about how much behavior modification you advocate and deride (but only if you want to).