Let us begin with a few core principles and then expand upon those tenets to develop a simple view of freedom with will inform so much of my positions on public policy, society, government, and life in general. 

    Tenet 1.) Power is a function of choice.

Now in saying that power is a function of choice I am almost manipulating the necessities that arise out of the mere definitions of the words.  Power is in most simple terms the ability to make a determination.  You have power if you influence or dominate a choice or a decision and it doesn't matter if that effect on choice comes from force or will or right or consent or intimidation or by no effort at all the mere existence of such influence on a determination or decision is power quite simply power is the ability to choose.  The effect or weight of the power is of course dependent on the amount of influence or control of the choice and the breadth or bound of the power is determined by the choice being influenced.  

Tenet 2.) Responsibility is a function of Power and therefore also a function of choice.

 I say that responsibility is a function of power simply because that is typically the consensus in society as I understand it.  If I had sole power, or choice, in a matter and I alone determined the decision to be made then that outcome is my responsibility.  If someone in the army or in a corporation or on a team follows a clear order from a higher ranking member or officer then it is not the person following the order who is held accountable but the decision maker who we would hold accountable in the matter.  It is the coach or the team captain in sports who is responsible for the plays because they make the calls and it is the athletes who are responsible for their execution.  Throughout our society everywhere we look we see that responsibility is a function or both Power and subsequently a function of Choice because of my first tenet.

Tenet 3.) Liberty / Freedom is also a function of choice but more importantly is a type of power. 

Liberty and freedom I will use interchangeably as they are in essence the same thing.  Liberty and freedom are closely related to power because both liberty and power are functions of choice.  On a simple plain Liberty is a form of power.  Liberty is a refined word for power limited to ones self.  While Power is a broad word for decision influencing ability; Liberty is power limited to those decisions that directly alter your own personal state.  You have liberty when you have power in your own life.

Tenet 4.) Consequences are a function of Responsibility 

Consequences are a function of responsibility.  While these words are not exactly synonymous they are very similar.  Consequences are the results of of the decision while responsibility is the level of duty or right or accountability and association with those results.  I think it reasonable to claim that in a perfect world consequences and responsibility should be perfectly connected and those responsible for something should reap the whole benefit or the whole cost.  This may seem cruel but we have the option of hedging our responsibility through a series of decisions.  For example we may choose to eat healthy or we may choose to eat less healthy and buy health insurance.  We may consistently choose to drive safely or we may simply choose to buy better insurance coverage.  Responsibility is nearly equivalent to liability and both in my mind and in our society generally require the burden of consequences when the argument is laid out in such a fashion so as liability and consequences are clear cut.

Tenet 5.) Time is the only other variable between power and responsibility and there is no other factor in determining consequences other than responsibility. 

This is fairly common understanding I hope.  Once a choice is made the consequence is inevitable and the consequence is the responsibility or liability of the person with the power to make the decision.  The only factor which separates the consequence from the power time.

Tenet 6.) Liberty is the power over all of those choices whose consequences fall only to you and simultaneously power over all decisions whose consequences touch you.

There if the only person feeling the consequence is individual X then for individual X to have liberty then individual X must have power over that choice.  Now, if another decision has consequences that effect individual X and other individuals then for X and those other individuals to have liberty they must all have influence on that decision with a reasonable connection to the level of their portion of the consequence.  Therefore if a decision effects multiple individuals then their must be a form of shared power for all to have liberty since liberty is essentially power over ones own life.

The Good Stuff

In these tenets I hope and expect that you will agree with me that I have done little more than expand and connect the principles of the definitions of these words I am making no attempt to establish some new idea but simply to point out the connections that already exist but which sometimes elude our conciseness at a given point. 

If we accept the 6 above tenets then it is clear that when we apply calculus principles we see that if consequences are a function of responsibility and responsibility is a function of power  the consequences are a function of Power.  Since Liberty is a type of power then consequences must be a function of liberty. If this is true then let us continue with the analysis.    If one person has power such as Liberty and delegates that power by choice to another then that person has made a decision with his power and that decision was to allow someone else to decide.  At that point I propose that the consensus would be that there is some sharing of power since the act of delegating is a form of influence and thus an exercise of power but not an absolute use of power but only a partial use mixed with a transfer.  Therefore the consequences would be shared by both the original and the later decision makers relative to the levels of influence or power exercised by each. 

It seems clear therefore that since the only separation between Liberty and the consequences of the exercise thereof is time then if one is absent then the other either is, was or will be absent as well with the only question being when.  There is a lag that is difficult to define between a lose of power and the loss of consequences and I would propose that the lag could be in either direction.  I suggest that either could disappear before the other but since one is a function of the other and time then when one vanishes the other will vanish once the appropriate time whether that be a positive or negative value expires.

I would argue then that if my consequences vanish my Liberty is in jeopardy because when I don't bare the burden of my own choices then I am no longer the only party to those choices and therefore it is no longer an issue of liberty.  If I have no consequences then I have no Liberty because when someone assumes consequences they must put limits on either the assumption or on the decisions.  For two individuals X and Y to both have liberty each must have power over those decisions that effect each of them respectively.   However, if X suddenly assumes all of the consequences of Y, X must either limit Y or limit the consequences assumed otherwise X will have over asserted his own power to assume.  Therefore by assuming the consequences he also assumes the power of choice.  For both to maintain liberty in such a scenario X must have all decision making power about both X and Y's life because X is then being effected by Y's decisions.  

I make all of these arguments to make this one.  When a government assumes consequences for choices of individuals or groups of individuals and places that consequence on others or the body as a whole then by necessity either the seeding individual or groups of individuals are losing their liberty by giving the collective power over their choices or the collective is losing their liberty by being forced to assume consequences of decisions to which they do not have control.  Government must only act as a collective organization for the facilitating of group decisions.  Therefore government must only have power over those decisions that individually effect a large number of those in the jurisdiction of that government.  Then government is a representative decision making body ensuring liberty for all by giving power to all effected but if government is involved in something that is not naturally a decision which effects the whole body then it is not a deliberative body facilitating liberty but a power facilitating its destruction.  

Government is by nature a condenser of power.  When government is condensing collective power over collective decisions it acts as a medium for liberty but the danger is that it will move beyond truly collective decisions and act as a separator, as it is now, between decisions and consequences.  The problem with this is that since consequences are a function of Liberty and Time the removal or separation of consequences means that liberty is being lost for someone.  The redistribution of consequences is an eventual redistribution of power we just don't know when they will come into equilibrium.    

The laws of nature establish clearly that every action has a proportionate reaction.  Why would we think that we can separate action and reaction thereby breaking the laws of nature without some catastrophic result? 

Leave a Reply.


    June 2010
    November 2009
    August 2009
    July 2009
    June 2009
    February 2009

    RSS Feed

    Ludwig von Mises: 'Used to the conditions of a capitalistic environment, the average American takes it for granted that every year business makes something new and better accessible to him. Looking backward upon the years of his own life, he realizes that many implements that were totally unknown in the days of his youth and many others which at that time could be enjoyed only by a small minority are now standard equipment of almost every household. He is fully confident that this trend will prevail also in the future. He simply calls it the American way of life and does not give serious thought to the question of what made this continuous improvement in the supply of material goods possible.' - Economic Freedom and Interventionism
    Conservative T-Shirts

Liberty, power, philosophy, Freedom, Taxes, Government , Immigration, Corruption