I will be on your side so long as you don’t hurt other people or take their stuff. Can we allow each other freedom so long as our fellow citizens are not hurting other people or taking what is not theirs? It seems like a simple, reasonable request.
I suppose the rub is defining what hurts other people in an interconnected society. Here is a lineup of “victimless crimes” that I would define as individual freedoms.
Not wearing a motorcycle helmet; However, it is hard for society not to step in when:
- We see the grief of friends and loved ones when someone dies unnecessarily,
- Or loved ones (or institutions) must give lifelong care to someone with permanent disabilities,
- Or when our collective medical costs are driven up via insurance rates, medicare costs or hospitals of last resort rates.
Gambling; However, it is hard for society not to step in when:
- Losses cause grief and pain for innocent dependents impacted by losses,
- Or when a gambler falls back on social safety nets due to those losses,
- Or when we see a bread winner commit suicide in despration leaving behind dependents, friends and family.
Illegal Drugs; However, it is hard for an interconnected society to stand by when:
- Impaired driving hurts or kills someone
- Or a drop in productivity harms the potential of the individual as a breadwinner for their family
- Or dependency is developed
- Or when mental health issues are enhanced by drug use.
I am certain that we could list many, many more examples of individual liberties spill over to affect those around them.
I get it, and, yet, individual liberty… the freedom to choose for yourself is important in a way that cannot be overestimated. We must allow one another to make mistakes, even profound ones that affect their loved ones.
Just my opinion. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
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