Freedom is Responsibility

by Harry Browne

The Orlando Sentinel, July 6, 2001

Charley Reese has repeated a false idea about the relationship between freedom and responsibility. ["I Believe in Freedom but Not Libertarians," July 1.]

Referring to my book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, he said, "Browne makes it crystal clear that the only way to achieve total freedom is to jettison all attachments and responsibilities — to family, to country, to people, to government and to morality. In other words, only when you become a lone wolf outlaw do you achieve maximum freedom."

Actually, the book points out that most people accept relationships — with relatives, business associates, acquaintances, and others — that are totally inappropriate for them. The way to be freer is to be yourself, let those who don't like it drift away from you, and let those who do like it gravitate toward you — so your relationships will add to your life, not detract from it. The book offers ways to obtain a freer, more satisfying life.

Conservatives and liberals like to say that Libertarians want freedom without responsibility — meaning they don't like the way others use their freedom. They want government to enforce their concepts of morality and responsibility on others, even though government never does. Instead, politicians impose their own way on us — to reward their friends, punish their enemies, and acquire more power.

Conservatives and liberals too often hope to use government to evade responsibility for their own problems. Just blame government for not using its power in the way it should have.

But freedom is responsibility. When you're free, you're automatically responsible for your own future. The Freedom book shows why you must recognize the consequences of your own acts — why you must take responsibility for whatever situation you're in today — why you shouldn't blame others for what you don't like about your life — why you must make your own decisions so you can be responsible for your own future — and how to do that without the bad consequences you might be afraid of.

Libertarians believe in real responsibility. We want you to be free to live your life as you want to live it, not as Al Gore or George Bush or Charley Reese thinks best. We want you to be able to learn from your own mistakes and become a better, freer person — just as we want to learn from our mistakes and grow in the process.

We believe you can take much better care of yourself than the politicians can. We want to reduce government to where you pay no income tax, free you from the politicians' Social Security, and let you be responsible.

I hope that appeals to you. Its reward is a better, freer life.

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