It is often the belief by people that freedom is the greatest of all life’s gifts. An inalienable right that all men (well humans) are born with, or something deep and inspirational like that. I’m here to argue however that it is relatively weak on the value scale in life.
The inspiration for this article comes from a short story today begins as many bad jokes do:
“Mother Theresa walks into the White House to speak with Ronald Reagan. When they meet she scolds him greatly pointing out the fact that the US is the richest country in the world and yet it has poor people. To this Reagan responds that “They may be poor but they are free.” to which Theresa (apparently) responded “That is bullshit. The free that are hungry desire food, not freedom. The homeless that are hungry desire housing, not freedom. The poor that are free desire aid, not freedom. Freedom is only important to those that have all that the less fortunate do not.”
Now I’m sure I embellished a bit but the basic point is the same. When you ask a starving man on the street what he wants most of all, you are more than likely not to hear “freedom”. Which comes back to a term that was introduced to me in the “Theory of Justice” course at Western Washington. Based on a book by a man named “John Rawls”, he introduces the concept of “Primary Goods”.
There are certain goods that no person should be without, those things are called “Primary Goods”. I don’t recall what his were but by personal opinion mine would be, food, health, education, and shelter. Now you might think that at least one of these things are superfluous but allow me to explain.
All humans (in fact all living organisms) require food (I include any nourishing material under the tag of food) to survive. Few things that are readily and consistently available will kill you faster than being without food.
The next important factor is Health, now you can easily place shelter under the blanket of Health and I would be willing to accept that. Without a proper and universal healthcare system you aid in the spread of disease and birth defects. Neither of which is a positive addition to any living thing. Likewise over a billion dollars a year is lost in reduced man hours because of injury and illness. In most studies that I’ve seen the introduction of a diverse and available healthcare system results in a net gain of revenue for the country involved.
Education comes in third but it is hardly unimportant. A good education is critical to the furthering of a species…period. If we do not work very hard to create a proper, comprehensive, and efficient education system we essentially are preparing our own demise. Let me drop some information on you for instance in the US:
33% of people don’t know the 3 branches of government
75% of people knew at least 1 of the AI judges…
50% of the US States don’t require Civics and Government to graduate.
Now let me reiterate the depressing information above. It’s not that 33% of US citizens do not know what the 3 branches do it is that they don’t know what they are period. Our country is actively creating less and less competent people and this is an incredibly dangerous thing to do. Even college is nothing more than job training, people in large do not go to college to educate themselves.
The final factor in furthering humanity is shelter. Proper sheltering helps quell many diseases and it reduces overall health issues related to temperature and environment (that are not disease related like hypothermia). It’s relatively obvious so I don’t feel that it requires any further explanation feel free to comment if you disagree.
Once you have fulfilled all of the primary goods, that is when freedom starts being the most important thing to deal with. Because until that happens, the only people who value freedom, are those that have the primary goods. Likewise the people who have lived their entire life with these goods will never appreciate them or appreciate just how horrible the life of a person who is without them is. Freedom feeds no-one, freedom heals no disease, freedom houses no people, and freedom educates no-one. What freedom does is allow these things to be freely dispersed and the problem is that freedom is not used in such a way. For that reason, Freedom is worthless.
I can see no positive gain from ‘for-profit’ versions of any primary goods and the mere act of doing these things solely for profit is a slap in the face to all living people (regardless of whether or not they are within your domain). The moment people stop attributing an intrinsic (and dominating) value to Freedom and begin working on the truly valuable goods is the moment that I feel that the US will truly be a country to admire.
A person can bash these sort of beliefs all they want, but considering the following information:
The top 10 "happiest" countries:
5. The Bahamas
The U.S. ended up on the 23rd place, the UK on 41, China is 82, Japan 90, and India an unhappy 125.
These sort of studies are done all the time, and you can almost always correlate the ease of acquiring the primary goods in the nations with their ranking on the happiness scale. There are always special exceptions, however the overall pattern is difficult to overlook. Well…apparently not all that difficult considering the garbage I’ve been reading and witnessing on the topic of healthcare and education.
A small clarification that is a common retort to this is: “What about countries under Tyranny they want freedom.” I would point people back to the paragraph just above the list of countries. When people desire freedom, they want it for the things it is supposed to aid and enhance. You’ll also find that some of the most unhappy places in the world not only do not have any freedoms, they have no primary goods as well.