MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Freedom Is a Stabilizing Influence – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on February 5, 2022

Free to try, and fail, Americans prospered, building a country that became the envy of the world. Economic barriers and restrictions on movement between the states were forbidden, making the United States the largest free-trade zone since the Roman Empire. There were no feudal obligations or status; no military conscription (except during the Civil War); no income tax or Social Security tax; no licensing laws or monopoly privileges to protect favored interests

https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/freedom-is-a-stabilizing-influence/

by Scott McPherson

The nativists at Breitbart are sounding the alarm. “Reports: U.S. Society Grows More Divided Amid Diversity” was a headline at Breitbart on January 28. The reports noted come from the Associated Press and the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace. Both suggest a growing divide between different people in the United States, and apparently foreigners are to blame.Freedom was the crucible for generations of diverse peoples, raising productivity, wages, and living standards to levels never before seen in all of human history.
[Click to Tweet]

According to the Breitbart story, “the AP report comes as academics admit that the United States is being politically divided by the ‘demographic shift’ caused by immigration of global migrants into an otherwise stable society.” In other words, things would be great if poor people from other countries just stopped trying to improve their lot in life by emigrating here. The Carnegie Foundation claims that the United States is “perniciously polarized” and “especially susceptible to polarization” through “the durability of identify politics in a racially and ethnically diverse democracy.”

It cannot be denied that considerable effort is employed to push people into warring tribes, based on superficial differences of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or the politics of envy that vilifies the prosperous and productive. But handwringers on the right who fret about immigration misdiagnose the problem. A quarter of Republican voters, according to a recent YouGov poll, think their candidates should prioritize “securing the border,” compared to 5 percent who want tax cuts. Only 8 percent of the “law and order” party cares most about rising crime. Leftists, finding in every perceived problem the catalyst for another government program (like secret, government-funded flights of immigrants to locations around the country and generous welfare handouts), fuel the fire.

The first issue that ought to be addressed is the very notion that the United States is a democracy. The word never appears in our Constitution or its political antecedent, the Declaration of Independence. Early American statesmen warned against democracy and had no use for it as a system of government. The failure of the political right and left to uphold the principles of our constitutional republic politicizes everything and polarizes everyone. A return to limited, constitutional government would do more to stabilize our society than any border wall.

The diversity found on this continent throughout the history of European settlement is beyond comparison. People with different languages, customs, and religions found their way from Great Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and elsewhere, laying the foundation of a thriving society. Dreams of personal liberty, security against religious and ethnic persecution, and the opportunity to own land drove millions of people to leave everything behind, most likely forever. No officious bureaucrats, “swarms of Officers,” harried the people. These colonists were poor, insular, and provincial, to be sure, but the cold, stark reality of hacking their lives from a forbidding wilderness was foremost in their minds. Through the cold, stark reality of a North American winter, and the brutal summer heat and biting insects, these different people from many cultures built cities, towns, and villages from the Atlantic seaboard to the foot of the Appalachian mountains, their independent spirits, ironically, binding them closer to each other even as they became estranged from their home countries. They rejected the ancien regime in their hearts if not yet in form.

When the lone remaining colonial power in the region, Great Britain, began to exercise arbitrary authority over these people in the 1760s, tensions increased until they reached a literal breaking point. War brought political independence and a new country uniting all, in several states, under a federal government. The Constitution of 1787, which became the law of the land in 1789, ushered in a new age. Political stability was provided by a written document to restrain this new government, specifically limiting and enumerating its powers and including a Bill of Rights. Radical notions like equality before the law, individual rights, and reverance for private property and freedom of contract would take root and grow, and the result was an explosion of effort and ever-expanding opportunities.

Free to try, and fail, Americans prospered, building a country that became the envy of the world. Economic barriers and restrictions on movement between the states were forbidden, making the United States the largest free-trade zone since the Roman Empire. There were no feudal obligations or status; no military conscription (except during the Civil War); no income tax or Social Security tax; no licensing laws or monopoly privileges to protect favored interests; no regulations dictating working hours or a minimum wage; no free housing or government healthcare or food stamps; no war on drugs or restrictions on gun ownership. General education and literacy rates were quite high, despite the absence of a large and expensive public school system. Teachers were often itinerant, and certainly not unionized. Foreign visitors marveled at the motivation and cooperation of Americans and how little interaction they had with their government.

A glaring exception was slavery. This evil institution was allowed to continue for nearly eight decades. It was abolished in 1865 by the Thirteenth Amendment and the last obstacle to fulfilling the promise of the Declaration of Independence, that all are created equal, was finally removed.

To this land, the poorest and most ignorant of the world would flock. By the millions they came, in wave after wave, from Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Eastern Europe, and the Orient. Throughout the 19th century, they came relentlessly, escaping centuries of persecution, religious intolerance, and economic stagnation. Except for occasional and short periods, there were no restrictions placed on newcomers. From the end of the Mexican War in 1848 until 1920, there were no immigration restrictions at all. In a January 29 piece for RedState, the writer Bonchie said that “a country cannot sustain itself with the rule of law being so ignored and its borders so flaunted,” but during a century of open immigration, the population and economy of the United States flourished. The arts and humanities thrived. Freedom was the crucible for generations of diverse peoples, raising productivity, wages, and living standards to levels never before seen in all of human history. What we need is a return to the principles that made such a revolution possible.

Be seeing you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: