I have never understood the modern progressive or liberal mind, or the conservative mind for that matter, but one day years ago I ran across the terms positive freedom and negative freedom and it hit me. I had an epiphany. I finally had an insight into the liberal mind and why they want to limit and deny us so many of our freedoms.
In the modern liberal’s mind, being able to choose whether or not to purchase health insurance is a negative freedom. If you have the choice not to purchase health insurance and you do not, you may become bankrupt with the cost of healthcare. If you are forced to buy health insurance at least some of your costs are paid by the insurer and not you, thus they believe forcing you to buy health insurance is a positive freedom.
Another example is education. Forced mandatory schooling is a positive freedom since it is generally confirmed that the higher level of education one has the higher their lifetime income will be, leading to a better quality of life. Being able to leave school when you choose is a negative freedom.
In today’s pandemic nightmare, liberal’s often use this logic of positive and negative freedoms to justify travel restrictions and the arbitrary closing businesses. The liberal mind thinks that by denying your right to earn a living and restricting your movements they are giving you freedom from the virus.
Liberals want to deny us our freedoms because they believe that by denying certain freedoms, they are granting freedoms we otherwise would not have, and they apply the same logic to everything. Limiting free speech through “hate laws” grants you freedom from hearing those you disagree with, forcing taxpayers to pay for welfare gives freedom from poverty… the list can go on and on.
Oddly, as a libertarian I can almost see the logic in such ideas and why it’s appealing to many, but it’s twisted logic as your rights and other freedoms are being denied. Why should I be forced to achieve an arbitrary level of education if the career I choose does not require it? Why should I be forced to buy health insurance if I am in good health, have the financial means and am willing to play the odds that I can cover any costs out of my pocket and save the money that I would otherwise spend on premiums? Why should I be denied from saying what I think, denied the ability to make a living, or choose where to live? Do I really have the right not to be called names so my feelings are not hurt?
The problem is that you can only be granted these “positive freedoms” through enacting laws forcing you to do something. How is that freedom? If you must enact a law to grant a freedom, that “freedom” never existed. Our rights and freedoms already exist, and laws should protect those freedoms and not penalize someone if they choose not to do something. If a freedom needs to be legislated to force someone to do a specific thing, was it ever really a freedom or right?
Many of these freedoms the liberals want us to have cost money paid for by the taxpayers. My right to free speech cost me nothing, as do most of the freedoms protected in the Constitution. Creating these “positive freedoms” can only be done by the government and the more freedoms the liberals want to impose the larger and more costly our government grows and the more of our real freedom and rights are taken away.
The positive freedoms liberals believe we should have must be enforced through laws. And laws are obeyed through the implied threat of force or the use of force itself. If you do not believe this, the next time you get a speeding ticket refuse to pay it. Refuse to show up in court when summoned for not paying it. Then refuse to be taken to jail for not showing up for court and see what happens. Take any refusal to obey a law to its ultimate conclusion and you soon realize laws are enforced though the barrel of a gun wielded by the government. Freedoms and rights must be protected by force if necessary, but can never be “granted” through force.
Today’s liberals think that you have a right not to be not to be poor, be free from the Corona virus, free from global warming, etc… But they ignore the cost of the deprivation of our true freedoms and rights we must give up to give us those “positive freedoms”. These “positive freedoms” often cost money, requiring someone to buy health insurance is a tax. Freedoms do not require you to pay for them and do not need laws to enforce them. Freedoms and rights are free and only need laws to protect them, not to enforce them. Forced participation in “positive freedoms” resembles fascism, not freedom.
Liberals want to deny us our freedoms because they believe that by denying certain freedoms they are granting freedoms we otherwise wouldn’t have. They ignore those freedoms they claim to be granting were already there. We always had the freedom to get an education, to restrict our movements ourselves to slow the spread of pandemics and we can police hate speech by responding through our own freedom of speech.
One of my favorite quotes to misuse is by Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” He may have been referring to a dispute with the Penn family at the time, but his quote can be aptly applied today to the philosophy of negative and positive freedoms.
Ultimately, the liberal mind believes we should have the freedom to be free from the consequences from our own decisions and actions. Ironically, the only way give us the “positive freedoms” they desire is to give government more power to take away our true freedoms and rights.