The commentary by M.D. Harmon on the opinion page of Nov. 5 begins with the claim that every dollar that the government spends reduces our freedom. While Harmon thinks that this is a self-evident statement, I believe it to be false. In order to demonstrate this, here are three examples of government expenditures that have increased our freedom:

First, the government spends a great deal of money building and maintaining roads. These roads enable us to travel for work and enjoyment. I have much more freedom of movement because the government spends this money.

Second, the government spends a large amount of money on education. In most cases, this education enables people to work, live, lobby government and otherwise engage in the world in many more ways than if they did not have this education. Education spending increases our freedom of opportunity.

Third, the government spends a large amount of money on Medicare and Social Security programs. These programs enable families who otherwise would have to take in elderly parents to have a little more freedom of choice about whether they want to do this. The programs provide retired people more freedom to live as they want.

While Harmon thinks that liberals promote security over freedom, it is not as simple as this. While there is no doubt that government spending takes tax money out of people’s pockets, it is not obvious that the result is a decrease in freedom. Sometimes, government spending increases our freedom. The trick is in finding the right balance.

Gregory Fahy


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