Freedom is the Prerequisite to Prosperity

by Gary Alder 

Many times we think of freedom as equivalent to prosperity and therefore use the two words interchangeably.  While the mere mention of either of the grand concepts connoted by these words definitely evinces an exhilarating thrill that surges throughout our souls, there is great instructional benefit in examining the differences and relationship of the concepts.  The relationship between these two terms in my estimation is more tandem than parallel.  That is to say that freedom is the prerequisite to prosperity.

If prosperity is the term we use for “winning the prize” then freedom is the corresponding term to be thought of as “entering the race.”   If we couldn’t enter the race then we are automatically precluded from winning.  It must therefore also be concluded that we are precluded from losing (failing to win) if we are not entered.  We are just spectators or perhaps better described as non-participants if we take the position of not even seeing what is going on.  Now leaving the metaphorical concept of the race let us return to a more rigorously defined argument.

 The precise definition of freedom that I will use to begin with is found in Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.–”A state of exemption from the power or control of another”  In other words freedom can be described as not being under the control or oppression of another.  This therefore demonstrates the concept that a certain condition can only be brought about by the absence of another condition-in this context the absence of oppression.

 The source of the concept of freedom is the concept of free will or agency (sometimes called free agency or moral agency.)  Free will presupposes that we have will (desire) and can exercise that will.  Those of us who believe in God count that as the greatest gift next to life itself that God has given us.  Those such as freedom loving philosopher and writer, Ayn Rand, who do not believe in God but understand the fundamental nature of this principle, attribute it to a part of being a human being.  In either case we must admit that free will or agency cannot be taken away from us.  If an armed thief offers a choice “your money or your life” you can still make the choice but are not free from the consequence of the choice you make.

 We are always subject to natural consequences for the choices we make.  The big problem is that we often look at arbitrary action by others in the same light as natural consequences.  Inasmuch as our agency is subject to arbitrary intervention as well as natural consequences, we would hope that we could minimize this means of control in society.  Freedom can be described as the physical implementation or manifestation of the spiritual concept of agency.  We turn to government, or we establish a government to provide and execute just laws to restrain that unrighteous arbitrary intervention by others in the exercise of our agency.  But what if it is the government that is our oppressor?  Who or what restrains the government?  In the United States, the greatest defender of freedom in the world, the only viable answer to that question is the US Constitution.

 While our Founders and the Framers of the Constitution laid out the course for us to practice freedom and have prosperity, we note with deep regret an abandonment in our country of these principles.  We must rediscover the path that has been so clearly laid out by those patriots and statesmen.  Lasting prosperity can only be obtained by perpetuating freedom-for freedom is the only foundation upon which prosperity can be built.  If we build upon any other foundation we will fail.