The True Face of Freedom Wears a Mask

Kwame Anthony Appiah in wsj, Sat/Sun Aug. 8 – 9, 2020:

What’s the iconic image of American freedom? To judge by countless rock and country songs, it’s rolling down the highway, possibly with the wind in our hair. Sure, there were comforts back home, but also expectations and obligations, and now, rockin’ down the highway, you’re free from all that.

But what does it take to roll on down the highway? Well, a highway, for starters. The federal government built the interstate highway system, using its constitutional prerogative of eminent domain hundreds of thousands of times to keep it straight, while collecting taxes to pay for its construction and maintenance. And then you can only speed down your lane because you know that the other cars are moving in the same direction. Governmental power, exercised through a veritable trailer-load of law, is what makes it possible to keep truckin’ on.

Minimal-state libertarians tend to revile regulations while prizing private property and the free market. But property rights are meaningless without legal procedures to sort out ownership and mechanisms of enforcement to protect it.


The piece is extremely long and takes up most of page C4 in tiny print, so self will resist quoting too much. The upshot is: There’s precious little freedom in the sick ward and less still in the graveyard.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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