32 Ounces of Freedom

Steven Hayward has a few ideas about freedom:

Sure, am I really less of a free person if I can’t buy a 32-oz soda?  Or get a plastic bag in my local store?  In isolation, not really.  But what about when I can’t buy a 32-oz soda, can’t burn a fire in my home’s fireplace (now an air quality regulation in many places), can’t build a spiral staircase from my back deck (as I learn this morning from the San Luis Obispo County planning department), can’t own a gun (New York, Chicago), can’t get plastic bags at the store any more (even though I not only recycle them but reuse them for many of my own purposes), can’t patronize Ubercars because the incumbent taxicab monopoly gets the city council to block the new business in the name of “consumer protection” (naturally), or can’t start a small business except with great difficulty and dead-weight expense to the local bureaucracies?

Curtailing behaviors for “the greater good” almost always go awry (or are intended to from the start). When the idea is that we are going to pass laws that protect everybody, we generally end up neither protecting everyone but almost always doing damage to individuals. Freedom starts with the citizen, not the citizenry. Once we move away from an understanding that freedom is for each person and not the collective, we buy into falsehood that the experts are best at figuring out what freedoms are best delivered up to the altars of safety, diversity, etc.