On Freedom and Liberty (May 24, 2010)

. . .

F          “Freedom and liberty are easy to define and difficult to protect and balance.  Assign Mill on Liberty.  That is the run of the mill solution.  Yet freedom and liberty are much more complex in practice.”

L          “Who constrains your freedom and liberty?  If prices are controlled by the government, are you free?  If prices are controlled by a private monopoly, are you free?  Monopolies from Microsoft to Monsanto are greater threats to our freedom than the not infrequent bumbling actions and inactions of incompetent and officious government officials.”

F          “I have a beef with four beef producers controlling the price and quality of beef.  From what I read, every major industry in America is monopolized.”

L          “Which constrains our freedom and liberty.  The chance, albeit slight, of restraining the monopolies and protecting our freedom requires government involvement.  That realization is the beginning of frustration.”

F          “And a few private sector monopolies own Congress and thwart any possibly effective legislation.”

L          “A generation ago, then-Senator Philip Hart of Michigan worked to break up monopolies and confronted Texaco, the oil company, who asserted in ads:  ‘We’ve been working to keep your trust.’  They worked hard and kept their trust.  Those oil companies have their own special charm.”

F          “How do we regulate the financial institutions that are ‘too connected to fail’?  They limit our freedom and liberty.  Lehman deserved to fail and was allowed to fail in part because Paulson did not like Fuld, the President of Lehman.  Washington Mutual deserved to fail and was allowed to fail in part because a West Coast bank is not among the East Coast players.  The other institutions deserved to fail and yet were bailed out.”

L          “It is not pretty or easy.  Why not limit the size of every financial institution to 100 billion dollars?  There are no economies of scale above that limit and many benefits from more players.  Any financial institution with more than 100 billion in assets is a direct threat to our freedom and liberty.”

F          “Great, but the financial sector will veto it.  And regardless of what Congress directs, the regulatory agencies are captured by those who are intended to be regulated.  Investment banks and others realize that no investment pays a greater return on investment than purchasing a piece of a politician.  Money invested in R&D or in HR or in PR does not come close to providing such a handsome return.  Purchasing an entire government agency is cheap and tax deductible as a business expense.”

L          “It is not easy or pretty.  You are doomed if you do and doomed if you don’t.  On the other hand, when the invisible hand begins to backhand the people, the heavy hand of the government is often the only recourse.”

F          “On the other hand, it seems that the government comes around when it is not needed and is not around when it is needed.”

L          “It is not pretty or easy.  I have worked for years with some agencies that are useless.”

F          “Need I say more.”

L          “I would like to see private sector initiatives such as the Young Americans For Freedom allying with the Innocence Project to protect freedom and liberty.  The white boys are too fixated on limiting taxes on their greens fees when they should be concerned about freedom and liberty for those who are black, brown, red, yellow and ivory.”

. . .

[See the “e-ssay” dated Mar. 26, 2007 titled “Who Is Your Big Bad Bogeyman?” and dated Sept. 4, 2009 titled “The Meltdown Continues, Subtly.”]

Bumper stickers of the week:

Freedom is not free so pay your taxes and shut up

Boycott Arizona

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