No Freedom For The Poor In The Free Market ?

Socialists, argue that there is no freedom for the poor in a free market. At its most basic level, they argue, if the choice is taking a job you hate or starving you are “forced” to take the job.

This is an elegant piece of socialist sophistry because it tries to confuse economic well being and individual liberty, which are in fact entirely different things. What’s worse the socialists then try to use their alleged lack of freedom in the free market to justify their own use of violence to accomplish the “re-distribution” of wealth.

What do we mean by freedom ?

Freedom does not mean being able to pick from options you like as the socialists would try and make us to believe.

Freedom means being able to pick from the options available to you without threats of force from another.

If one option is much better than another then rationally you will take it, but that is not the same as being “forced” to take it. If you hold the winning lottery ticket you have a choice between claiming the prize and throwing the ticket in the bin. Rationally you will claim the prize but you have not been “forced” to do it.

It is no different when one of the choices is very bad and another not quite so bad. Given the choice between working in a child labour factory for a dollar a day or scavenging on a rubbish tip for food, most impoverished third world children would choose the factory. They have not been forced to work there, they have simply selected the best option from, the admittedly miserable ones, available to them.

Freedom is simply the right to make your own choices without threat of force from another, it has nothing to do with economic well being.

The nobles at the court of a tyrannical king may be very rich, but have no freedom at all.
A lone survivor on a desert  island may be the poorest man on earth but he has freedom.

Economic well being is important, freedom is important, but we must not to allow the socialists to get away with confusing the two.

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  • Anonymous

    I’m guessing this is in response to my comments about your post on the public smoking ban.

    Well I’m not a socialist, but too think that experience shows that in practice the poor do indeed have very little freedom in a free market. That’s not sophistry, that’s just understanding the term ‘freedom’ in the same way that I would imagine most people would understand it: As being able to express yourself and make reasonable choices about how you want to run your life, sufficient to be able to seek those things that you believe would lead to a reasonably fulfilled life. (Caution: That’s an approximate definition, I doubt the concept lends itself to any precise definition).

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