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  • Bob Armstrong

      Originally published in Manhattan Libertarians  SerfCity logov3i1 ( mirror )

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    The Faux Freedoms

    Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address, which became known as his “Four Freedoms” speech, “enumerated four points as fundamental freedoms humans ‘everywhere in the world’ ought to enjoy“[1] The two he copped from the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights, are fine; the two he came up with himself are illogical elitist socialist invitations to tyranny, i.e.: typical political BS. Here are his four freedoms as quoted by Wikipedia :

    1. Freedom of speech and expression

    2. Freedom of every person to worship God in his own way

    3. Freedom from want

    4. Freedom from fear

    The distinction in nature between the first pair and the second should be apparent. The first two are freedoms of individuals from interference by the state or other citizens. Roosevelt’s pair are nebulous wishes that are impossible for any human power to guarantee.

    In 1948 Franklin’s faux freedoms were expanded upon in the creation of the United Nations’ ”Universal Declaration of Human Rights”(UDHR)[2] coauthored by his widow Eleanor. In her address on its adoption,[3] Eleanor averred that “this is a good document— even a great document—” and “may well become the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere.”

    Well, I don’t think so. While a few of the articles are excellent restatements of the concepts of the founding documents of the US, particularly our Bill of Rights, the overall decline in intellectual rigor over the 160 years between those and this founding document of global government is disturbing. The thirty articles in this “declaration of basic principles”[3], explicitly not a treaty or legal obligation, could easily be cut in half with increased import.

    But the Declaration really goes off the deep end around Article 22 when the general thrust of the rights goes from so-called “negative” to “positive.” These terms are kind of inverse to their meanings like the labeling of “negative” (a surplus of electrons) and “positive” (an absence of electrons) due to a wrong guess by that other Franklin, Ben.

    As defined in the first Logic of Liberty[4], “a right is a freedom to choose”; a “power is a right to use force.” States are geographical monopolies of power. If they are to be anything other than empty wishes, so-called positive rights are powers to force one citizen to provide something to another.[5][6]

    So what are some of these faux freedoms? Perhaps the most amusing one in the UDHR is “Article 24: Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.” Gee, that’s a nice idea—if you can afford it. I won’t bother citing the rest of these BS rights, read them yourself by following the link to the UN in [3]. I leave the discerning of why they are BS as an exercise to the reader. The late Jeanne Kirkpatrick appropriately called the Declaration “a letter to Santa Claus.”

    What’s wrong with letters to Santa Claus? Consider the minimum wage[7]. This would fall under the UDHR’s Article 23(3): “Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity.” Problem is, not everybody is educated or productive enough to make (literally) very much. If a person does not make more than they cost, they cannot be hired. If the minimum cost is set by “Carnac the State” at a level above their worth, they will join the unemployed. The references listed present various historical cases and data. With the various state initiatives just passed, and a $7.25 federal minimum being promised, economists should be able to collect some definitive data over the next year and really quantify the function between unemployment and minimum wage. An interesting comparison to look at is France, which has a minimum wage of about $1700 per month, which, given their enforced 35 hour work week, is about $11.50 per hour. Overall unemployment is about 10%, twice ours, and is 25% for those under 26. The GDP per capita is about 30% less than ours and growing at about a third ours. A full one quarter of the employed population makes just that minimum wage.[8]

    These economic faux freedoms, which inevitably impinge against the true freedoms of individuals to make business with each other, do great pervasive harm to the general welfare of countries. This damage is quantified at www.freetheworld.com. The top quartile on their measures of economic freedom have GDPs per capita more than eight times the lowest quartile with the respective poorest 10% of the populations of the freest earning six times the poorest of the least free. Several of the countries that have increased their freedom scores the most in recent years are in Africa. A very consequential finding of their studies is that governmental foreign aid has no positive impact on economic growth of the poorest countries; economic freedom does.

    Incidentally, the US freedom score peaked in 2000 and has declined some since, although we are still in a three-way tie for third behind Hong Kong and Singapore.

    The US still remains relatively free compared to the rest of the world on these economic measures. But in terms of personal freedoms, we have fallen a very long way and continue in a nosedive. According to www. internationalliving.com,[9] the US has fallen from its perennial #1 ranking to #7 on their overall Quality of Life index. This is largely because we have now fallen out of the top category for personal freedom, knocking us out of the top 40 on that measure. And that was before we lost habeas corpus, much less the extension of the substance wars to Crisco (transfats), the sorts of “Freedoms From” that make us the #1 in prison population and energize cops into emptying, reloading and emptying 16 round clips into partying bridegrooms and home-alone 90-year-old women.

    I will discuss our faux “Freedoms From” and why I am looking for a truly free country to move to (resume at www.CoSy.com) in my next column.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Freedoms

    [2] http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ eleanorrooseveltdeclarationhumanrights.htm

    [3] http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_ Declaration_of_Human_Rights

    [4] http://manhattanlp.org/SerfCity/serfcity_ vol2_iss1.pdf

    [5] Walter Williams, http://www.capmag. com/article.asp?ID=2005

    [6] FDR’s “freedom from fear” is in a special category. While he expanded on it as a call for universal disarmament after the World War, virtually the entire preceding address to Congress was a call for no-holds-barred expansion of military spending in preparation for entering the War, which, of course, we did after Pearl Harbor the following December. Operationally, if you think about it, the closest guarantee to freedom from fear is the 2nd amendment.

    [7] Minimum Wages, Hans F. Sennholz: http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/ article.asp?aid=948; Unemployment by Legal Decree, Bettina Bien: http://www.fee.org/ publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=224; Sense and Nonsense on the Minimum Wage, Donald Deere, Kevin M. Murphy, and Finis Welch: http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/ reg18n1c.html

    [8] What Is Going on in France?, Pierre Garello: http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/ article.asp?aid=5790; https://www.odci. gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/fr.html; https://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ geos/us.html. See also http://www. brusselsjournal.com/node/865 for a rather bleak assessment for Europe, given the structural parallels between the EU and the old Soviet system.

    [9] http://www.internationalliving.com/qol06

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