Concepts: “What Does ‘Free’ Mean?” (Smaller Government)

(You can enlarge the article by clicking it.) This is a local, small town magazine, and John Van Huizum writes a regular piece that I will critique here-and-there. Here is my first installment:

I wish to write a response to a recent Concepts article by John Van Huizum, entitled “What Does ‘Free’ Mean?” There are a couple issues worth responding to or in-the-least offering a differing viewpoint on. The first of Mr. Huizum’s positions that needs de”concept”ualizing is the idea of “greed.” Mr. Huizum spoke of history, something Dr. Sowell reminds us of in the telling of Richard Sears ferocious greed in wanting to overtake Montgomery Ward.[1] This type of greed leads to lower prices. Alternatively the Fords, Rockefellers, and the Carnegies found ways to offer goods at lower prices. This type of greed leads to Carnegie — for instance — becoming a “prodigious philanthrop[ist] – building more than 3,000 public libraries in 47 states…, founding Carnegie-Mellon University and the Carnegie Institute of Technology (C.I.T.), establishing Carnegie Hall in New York, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and much more.”[2]

In a wonderful response to Donahue’s 1979 challenge to Milton Freidman on the issue of greed and if greed has ever caused Dr. Friedman to doubt capitalism. Milton Friedman responded that “the world runs on individuals pursuing their own interests, the great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory from an order of a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of the grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and free trade.”[3] So I wish to proffer another history that maybe, just possibly Forbes is taking into account and Mr. Huizum is not.

Another point worth politely rejecting is the definition given to Forbes by Mr. Huizum on freedom: “free from ANY government regulation.”[4] This is a fallacy of straw-man.[5] Mr. Huizum does not show a full knowledge of Forbes understanding on this matter. Nor does the facile dealing with this complex issue and the putting forth of a false definition as if-it-were Forbes do this topic justice.

One last point, the most important. Unlike big business when it makes mistakes, big government cannot go out of business. Unlike corrupt government, corrupt business cannot print money and thereby devalue a nation’s currency. Businesses cannot coerce you by force (tax liens, garnishing of wages, or armed IRS officials, etc) into an action. So the “greed” of the corporation pales in comparison to the greed of government.[6] Which is why our Founders stated that, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government” (Patrick Henry); “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master” (George Washington).


FOOTNOTES


[1] Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2004), 361.
[2] Michael Medved, The 10 biggest Lies About America (New York, NY: Crown Forum, 2008), 132; see also, “What Did He Get for That Money?
[3] Milton Freidman on the Phil Donahue Show – “Greed” (VIDEO)
[4] John Van Huizum, Agua Dulce/Acton Country Journal, Vol. XXII, Issue 21 (May 26, 2012), 19.
[5] a) Person A has position X; b) Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X); c) Person B attacks position Y; d) Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.
[6] Dennis Prager, Still the Best Hope (New York, NY: Broadside Books, 2012), 35-36.

Facebook Comments