Sunday, November 2, 2008

Innocence and Freedom

Consider a recent argument in favor of a housing bailout:

I know many, many innocent people who just wanted to buy a home...Now the innocent people have houses worth $200,000 less than their 2005 purchase price.

The innocence of a homeowner relative the innocence of an uninvolved taxpayer is arguable. But innocence isn't the key issue pertaining to bailouts. They key issue is personal responsibility, an idea that is closely tied to freedom.

If someone bought an overpriced home, that was their decision, just as if someone decided to invest in beanie babies or NASCAR collector plates, that too is their decision. They, and nobody else, are responsible for the outcome. Forcing that responsibility onto someone else who had no involvement is a most clear violation of the other person's freedom.

Is it sad that people make bad economic choices? Of course. But what is most sad is the idea that anyone thinks it is ok to force the outcome of their bad decisions onto others. In the same way that we would not sentence one man for another man's freely executed crime, we should not burden one man with another man's freely made economic decisions.

As I've shown before, government economic policies such as subsidies, bailouts, stimulus and inflation are counter-productive, but even more important to recognize is that they are also counter to individual freedom.

Freedom to make bad decisions is inherent in the freedom to make good ones. If we are only free to make good decisions, we are not really free.

- Ron Paul