(Most) Americans Do Not Want Freedom

 

Ask a kid to choose between chocolate and vanilla, and the answer will come immediately. Offer them 32 flavors of ice cream, and they are locked in indecision.

Adults are no better.

Most Americans – and the vast majority of humanity – like to be told what to do. They invariably prefer to work in a “plug-and-chug” job rather than one that requires initiative and the risks and responsibilities that come with them. Initiative is hard and it is scary.

This is why most people go-along to get-along. Why they follow masking mandates and vaccine mandates. Why they are content to be miserable in the herd.

As I have written many times, this is a basic problem for libertarians: most people are terrified by choices.

The only saving grace is that, in times of crisis, the majority is irrelevant. The only people that matter are those who are willing to put their energy where their mouth is. Hitler and Lenin never won a majority – but their followers were more committed. The American Revolutionaries could not count on the majority of the colonists to be enthusiastic about the cause: they led, rather than followed, the majority.

Right now, we need passionate leadership for a new direction in America. We need it desperately. And we do not need it to be backed by a majority – just an energetic and risk-tolerant minority. Because the majority just want to be told what to do.

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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    iWe: As I have written many times, this is a basic problem for liberatarians: most people are terrified by choices.

    I don’t think people are terrified of choices unless the consequences of the wrong choice are devastating.

    It’s like going to a restaurant you’ll only visit once and ewverything on the menu looks good.  The only bad outcome is if someone orders something you wish you had instead.  No terror there.  But nowadays, people are faced with the choice of keeping their principles vs. keeping their jobs (feeding their families).  Only those with the means can buck the system can afford to do both.

    I usually think of the Christians who pledged the oath to Caesar, knowing it to be a lie.  They didn’t have the conviction to become martyrs because they were in survival mode.  That’s what I see a lot of today.

    iWe: Right now, we need passionate leadership for a new direction in America.

    I agree!  We had that in Trump.  On one podcast, someone commented that Trump was like chemotherapy.  He was what the country needed at the time, even though its a difficult process to go through.  No, it doesn’t have to be Trump (although he would work for me), but it has to be someone who has the means to buck the system and survive all the negativity that follows from doing the right thing . . .

    • #1
  2. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Stad (View Comment):

    iWe: As I have written many times, this is a basic problem for liberatarians: most people are terrified by choices.

    I don’t think people are terrified of choices unless the consequences of the wrong choice are devastating.

    It’s like going to a restaurant you’ll only visit once and everything on the menu looks good.  The only bad outcome is if someone orders something you wish you had instead.  No terror there. 

    And yet people choose to limit their choices where they can. There is no bad answer in 32 ice cream options. But it STILL takes much longer and more thinking for people to down-select the ice cream they want.  People don’t like investing time in things like that. 

    Government mandates offer some instinctive cover: “if I just do what I am told, then it will be OK.” Even though we know this is nuts, especially in the long run.

    • #2
  3. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Stad (View Comment):
    I usually think of the Christians who pledged the oath to Caesar, knowing it to be a lie.  They didn’t have the conviction to become martyrs because they were in survival mode.  That’s what I see a lot of today.

    Sure. But there are many – many 50% of the population – who welcome such governmental overreach because it limits their options.

    • #3
  4. DonG (CAGW is a hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a hoax)
    @DonG

    Hot take:   Repeal the 19th Amendment to move the balance towards liberty and away from security.

     

    • #4
  5. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    Hot take: Repeal the 19th Amendment to move the balance towards liberty and away from security.

     I would suggest that we should also add property requirements to make it necessary for voting.

    • #5
  6. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    There is some solid evidence that a lack of experience and trust leads to wanting a king (someone to make the choice).  Using the ice cream analogy, the kid stalls simply for lack of experience with Rocky Road.

    America isn’t designed for strong leaders.  That’s how we ended up where we are.  America is designed to be a strong nation (people) with leaders that will do the people’s bidding.  Sure, it’s a little more complicated, but that is the basic design.  Sometime back around the turn into the twentieth century, the nation (people) lost interest and apparently haven’t tried to find it.  I think that is when states’ rights and individual liberty started slipping through our fingers but may have been earlier.  

    Fixing it the right way takes longer, so we might need that king you’re asking for. 

     

     

     

    • #6
  7. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Isn’t there always a trade-off between liberty and order?  Even on issues as (relatively) apolitical as speed limits, most people understand that what we do affects others, and that there is such a trade-off.  The hypothetical trade-off between liberty and security is the basis of Locke’s social contract theory.

    I can also cite Thomas Sowell for his astute observation that “there are no solutions, only trade-offs.”

    So it seems to me that the hypothesis in the OP lacks understanding of this basic reality.  The assumption seems to be that liberty is always and obviously the only reasonable choice, with no trade-off, and that people who disagree are pathetic, weak-willed sheep, or perhaps lemmings. 

    • #7
  8. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    You have an uncomfortable talent for raising points that I am totally aware of but in no way want to stop and dwell on. I have friends and family members at all levels of talent and acuity. There needs to be opportunities for all that are willing and able to work, and for the unwilling we now provide a fine selection of feral cities. Moving on to some topical memes now.

    • #8
  9. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Isn’t there always a trade-off between liberty and order?  Even on issues as (relatively) apolitical as speed limits, most people understand that what we do affects others, and that there is such a trade-off.  The hypothetical trade-off between liberty and security is the basis of Locke’s social contract theory.

    I can also cite Thomas Sowell for his astute observation that “there are no solutions, only trade-offs.”

    So it seems to me that the hypothesis in the OP lacks understanding of this basic reality

    This misses the point.

    I am not opposed to law – far from it. But the endless unconstitutional infringements on our liberty that we have endured since the civil service still started realizing they could liberally fill in the blanks for all laws passed by Congress (and Executive Orders) are NOT about security. They are about aggrandizement of governmental power. And they are usually accepted because most people, most of the time, are not going to argue about infringements on their rights.

    Take the TSA. Why have millions of hours been wasted removing shoes or insisting that people NOT bring food or water on board, or putting up with obnoxious and pointless searches? Because people want to fly. And because, to many of them, the pointless theatre is comforting.

    • #9
  10. Dominique Prynne Member
    Dominique Prynne
    @DominiquePrynne

    iWe: Most Americans – and the vast majority of humanity – like to be told what to do.

    Sheep.  Most Americans are sheep.  As long as they have their circuses and bread, they have no further aspirations.  It is scary and hard to handle the mantle of true freedom. 

    iWe (View Comment):
    There is no bad answer in 32 ice cream options.

    Yes…yes, there is.  Mint-Chocolate Chip.

    Your analogy reminded me of my halcyon days working at Pancho’s Mexican Buffet where I worked the enchilada station.  You had four choices – Beef, Cheese, Chicken or Sour Cream.  Inevitably, a family with a pre-schooler would come thru the line and they would ask Little Timmy which of the enchiladas he wanted.  Little Timmy would freeze with choice paralysis while the parent would ask me to list the options again – beef, cheese, chicken or sour cream.  The service line would be backed up while the 4-year-old pondered his choices.  I would scoop a cheese enchilada onto a plate and wait for Timmy to inevitably select a Cheese enchilada – and then put the pre-plated cheese enchilada on Timmy’s tray.  Kids always wanted cheese.  

    • #10
  11. DonG (CAGW is a hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a hoax)
    @DonG

    Lawst N. Thawt (View Comment):
    There is some solid evidence that a lack of experience and trust leads to wanting a king (someone to make the choice).  Using the ice cream analogy, the kid stalls simply for lack of experience with Rocky Road.

    People want a strong king, because a strong king has a strong army to protect the people from outsiders.   Back in the day, having a strong king was the only way to achieve ordered liberty. 

    • #11
  12. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    iWe (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Isn’t there always a trade-off between liberty and order? Even on issues as (relatively) apolitical as speed limits, most people understand that what we do affects others, and that there is such a trade-off. The hypothetical trade-off between liberty and security is the basis of Locke’s social contract theory.

    I can also cite Thomas Sowell for his astute observation that “there are no solutions, only trade-offs.”

    So it seems to me that the hypothesis in the OP lacks understanding of this basic reality

    This misses the point.

    I am not opposed to law – far from it. But the endless unconstitutional infringements on our liberty that we have endured since the civil service still started realizing they could liberally fill in the blanks for all laws passed by Congress (and Executive Orders) are NOT about security. They are about aggrandizement of governmental power. And they are usually accepted because most people, most of the time, are not going to argue about infringements on their rights.

    Take the TSA. Why have millions of hours been wasted removing shoes or insisting that people NOT bring food or water on board, or putting up with obnoxious and pointless searches? Because people want to fly. And because, to many of them, the pointless theatre is comforting.

    And yet you still fail to see any trade-offs for any of the things that you complain about.

    I actually agree with your conclusions, substantively, on many points.  I think that the vaccine mandates are stupid.  I think that the TSA screening is a bit over-the-top, though I don’t object to the searches in principle, because someone can smuggle a gun or bomb on board.

    It is this type of brief, emotional, rather simplified argument that I find weak and lacking in nuance.  This is not unusual, iWe.  It seems pretty par for the course, here and elsewhere, for people taking a libertarian position.  There is an overblown claim of constitutional rights, coupled with an inaccurate assertion that the policy in question is pointless or has no benefit.  This is usually coupled with an apparent lack of understanding as to how the other political side could use the exact same arguments in favor of policies with which you probably disagree.  Like abortion, for example.

    Richard Epstein is an example of how to make a good libertarian argument, I think.

    Making a good argument, in my view, usually means arguing that the incremental benefits of a policy are not worthwhile in light of its costs, including enforcement, inconvenience, and the liberty interest of our fellow citizens, which is important but not sacrosanct.  It’s not a very exciting argument, and no one gets to wave the old “Don’t Tread On Me” flag or get morally outraged.

    • #12
  13. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Dominique Prynne (View Comment):

    iWe: Most Americans – and the vast majority of humanity – like to be told what to do.

    Sheep. Most Americans are sheep. As long as they have their circuses and bread, they have no further aspirations. It is scary and hard to handle the mantle of true freedom.

    iWe (View Comment):
    There is no bad answer in 32 ice cream options.

    Yes…yes, there is. Mint-Chocolate Chip.

    Your analogy reminded me of my halcyon days working at Pancho’s Mexican Buffet where I worked the enchilada station. You had four choices – Beef, Cheese, Chicken or Sour Cream. Inevitably, a family with a pre-schooler would come thru the line and they would ask Little Timmy which of the enchiladas he wanted. Little Timmy would freeze with choice paralysis while the parent would ask me to list the options again – beef, cheese, chicken or sour cream. The service line would be backed up while the 4-year-old pondered his choices. I would scoop a cheese enchilada onto a plate and wait for Timmy to inevitably select a Cheese enchilada – and then put the pre-plated cheese enchilada on Timmy’s tray. Kids always wanted cheese.

    The old Pancho’s on Grant Road in Tucson, or is there another Pancho’s somewhere?

    • #13
  14. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Speak for yourself.

    • #14
  15. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    This part of human nature is exploited by those in charge. I believe it was Scott Adams who about 20 years ago invented the term “confusopoly”; if memory serves he was talking about phone bills.

    Since then we’ve seen the method employed very usefully with Obamacare.

    I, for one, don’t have what it takes to grind through a bill from the hospital (though I saw my mother do it more than once). Ironically, she was more than happy to go along to get along; she actually told me at one point that she was very happy to send us kids to whatever school the government wanted; that the decision about which school would have been too much for her.

    I’ve wondered more than once how she and my father would have handled all the Covid restrictions; my gut tells me they would have happily done whatever those in charge told them to do, as it would have been easier.

    Their five children have drifted in two opposing directions; myself, a brother and a sister are ready to arm the barricades and are fighting restrictions at every turn. Another brother and sister are drifting along and saying things like “believe the science” and “for the common good”.

    • #15
  16. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    Lawst N. Thawt (View Comment):
    There is some solid evidence that a lack of experience and trust leads to wanting a king (someone to make the choice). Using the ice cream analogy, the kid stalls simply for lack of experience with Rocky Road.

    People want a strong king, because a strong king has a strong army to protect the people from outsiders. Back in the day, having a strong king was the only way to achieve ordered liberty.

    The last king we had started out well and then lost it, quite literally, which is always a problem when relying on one person.  Fast forward from 1778 until 2021, it is a good reason not to even rely on a single strong political leader.  Let’s say we end up with a presidential candidate that 75% of the people will vote for and 2 days before or two days after the election, this one in a million person drops dead. 

    We don’t need strong leaders.  We need to strengthen the nation, which means strengthening the people.  This is the answer for the Right and the last thing the Left would want because they can’t wield power over a strong nation.  

    • #16
  17. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Lawst N. Thawt (View Comment):

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    Lawst N. Thawt (View Comment):
    There is some solid evidence that a lack of experience and trust leads to wanting a king (someone to make the choice). Using the ice cream analogy, the kid stalls simply for lack of experience with Rocky Road.

    People want a strong king, because a strong king has a strong army to protect the people from outsiders. Back in the day, having a strong king was the only way to achieve ordered liberty.

    The last king we had started out well and then lost it, quite literally, which is always a problem when relying on one person. Fast forward from 1778 until 2021, it is a good reason not to even rely on a single strong political leader. Let’s say we end up with a presidential candidate that 75% of the people will vote for and 2 days before or two days after the election, this one in a million person drops dead.

    We don’t need strong leaders. We need to strengthen the nation, which means strengthening the people. This is the answer for the Right and the last thing the Left would want because they can’t wield power over a strong nation.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “strengthening.”

    Both Washington and Adams wrote of the importance of having a moral and religious people.  They weren’t referring to just any religion, but to the one that America had at the time.

    If the people are strongly moral and religious, relatively little government regulation is necessary.  Is this what you mean by “strengthening the people,” or do you have something else in mind.

    • #17
  18. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Regarding following instructions and restrictions, I think this is also a way to outsource responsibility. 

    I’m watching in real time a few moms who are neurotic in following Covid restrictions for their children. If their kids do end up contracting it, they’ll be able to tell themselves that it’s not their fault, as they did everything they were told. 

    I was in the company of one young family recently; their nearly two year old is completely nonverbal (though NOT quiet). I interacted with her a bit and her demeanor was definitely off. The parents shrugged it off as a reaction to never having been to a park, seldom in the company of anyone aside from her family, never having been even to a grocery store. Their attitude was “what are you going to do?”. It obviously never occurred to them that they had any agency in the matter.

    • #18
  19. Dominique Prynne Member
    Dominique Prynne
    @DominiquePrynne

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    The old Pancho’s on Grant Road in Tucson, or is there another Pancho’s somewhere?

    The Pancho’s I worked at was in Louisiana.  I worked there during the summers while I was in college.  I think it got to be a sizable chain in the later 1980s with stores across Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and apparently, at least one in Arizona. Now you are thinking of fresh sopapillas, aren’t you?

    • #19
  20. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    iWe (View Comment):
    People don’t like investing time in things like that.

    That’s why coins were invented . . . to flip for such occasions . . .

    • #20
  21. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Dominique Prynne (View Comment):

    iWe: Most Americans – and the vast majority of humanity – like to be told what to do.

    Sheep. Most Americans are sheep. As long as they have their circuses and bread, they have no further aspirations. It is scary and hard to handle the mantle of true freedom.

    iWe (View Comment):
    There is no bad answer in 32 ice cream options.

    Yes…yes, there is. Mint-Chocolate Chip.

    Your analogy reminded me of my halcyon days working at Pancho’s Mexican Buffet where I worked the enchilada station. You had four choices – Beef, Cheese, Chicken or Sour Cream. Inevitably, a family with a pre-schooler would come thru the line and they would ask Little Timmy which of the enchiladas he wanted. Little Timmy would freeze with choice paralysis while the parent would ask me to list the options again – beef, cheese, chicken or sour cream. The service line would be backed up while the 4-year-old pondered his choices. I would scoop a cheese enchilada onto a plate and wait for Timmy to inevitably select a Cheese enchilada – and then put the pre-plated cheese enchilada on Timmy’s tray. Kids always wanted cheese.

    I let my children choose, but their choices were limited. Never more than two.

    • #21
  22. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I think that the TSA screening is a bit over-the-top, though I don’t object to the searches in principle, because someone can smuggle a gun or bomb on board.

    Any half-wit could smuggle a weapon in front of the TSA. What they do is mere theater. And we are blessed that our enemies are few and stupid.

    • #22
  23. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Dominique Prynne (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    The old Pancho’s on Grant Road in Tucson, or is there another Pancho’s somewhere?

    The Pancho’s I worked at was in Louisiana. I worked there during the summers while I was in college. I think it got to be a sizable chain in the later 1980s with stores across Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and apparently, at least one in Arizona. Now you are thinking of fresh sopapillas, aren’t you?

    I wasn’t thinking of sopapillas, but now I am.  Yum.

    I think that the Pancho’s in Tucson was independent, but it’s been a long time, and I’m not completely sure.  Either way, it’s making me hungry.  :)

    • #23
  24. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Lawst N. Thawt (View Comment):

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    Lawst N. Thawt (View Comment):
    There is some solid evidence that a lack of experience and trust leads to wanting a king (someone to make the choice). Using the ice cream analogy, the kid stalls simply for lack of experience with Rocky Road.

    People want a strong king, because a strong king has a strong army to protect the people from outsiders. Back in the day, having a strong king was the only way to achieve ordered liberty.

    The last king we had started out well and then lost it, quite literally, which is always a problem when relying on one person. Fast forward from 1778 until 2021, it is a good reason not to even rely on a single strong political leader. Let’s say we end up with a presidential candidate that 75% of the people will vote for and 2 days before or two days after the election, this one in a million person drops dead.

    We don’t need strong leaders. We need to strengthen the nation, which means strengthening the people. This is the answer for the Right and the last thing the Left would want because they can’t wield power over a strong nation.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “strengthening.”

    Both Washington and Adams wrote of the importance of having a moral and religious people. They weren’t referring to just any religion, but to the one that America had at the time.

    If the people are strongly moral and religious, relatively little government regulation is necessary. Is this what you mean by “strengthening the people,” or do you have something else in mind.

    Yes, but it is more than just moral and religious.  It’s intelligence and understanding too.  Knowledge is power.  We are governed by our own consent which means the power rests with the people.  We the people have a tremendous amount of power and can use that power to vote any old idiot into any office we please.   I suppose then, what I mean by strengthening the nation (the people) is education and training in more or less how to wield the power in their voting finger. 

    • #24
  25. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    iWe (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I think that the TSA screening is a bit over-the-top, though I don’t object to the searches in principle, because someone can smuggle a gun or bomb on board.

    Any half-wit could smuggle a weapon in front of the TSA. What they do is mere theater. And we are blessed that our enemies are few and stupid.

    I don’t know about that.  They caught me with ten whole Johnson’s Hot Italian sausages in bread as sandwiches for the long flights and kept my in line for an hour, checking Every Single Thing in my bags, including sticking in thermometers and taking internal temperature readings of the sausages.  They even brought in an explosives expert from another building to oversee the examinations.

    I asked what was wrong.  They said they couldn’t tell me, but “Everything lit up!”

    Their determination?  Probably nitrites as a preservative in the sausages.

    • #25
  26. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Flicker (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I think that the TSA screening is a bit over-the-top, though I don’t object to the searches in principle, because someone can smuggle a gun or bomb on board.

    Any half-wit could smuggle a weapon in front of the TSA. What they do is mere theater. And we are blessed that our enemies are few and stupid.

    I don’t know about that. They caught me with ten whole Johnson’s Hot Italian sausages in bread as sandwiches for the long flights and kept my in line for an hour, checking Every Single Thing in my bags, including sticking in thermometers and taking internal temperature readings of the sausages. They even brought in an explosives expert from another building to oversee the examinations.

    There determination? Probably nitrites for preservatives.

    The detonation was purely precautionary. Had to be done.

    • #26
  27. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I think that the TSA screening is a bit over-the-top, though I don’t object to the searches in principle, because someone can smuggle a gun or bomb on board.

    Any half-wit could smuggle a weapon in front of the TSA. What they do is mere theater. And we are blessed that our enemies are few and stupid.

    I don’t know about that. They caught me with ten whole Johnson’s Hot Italian sausages in bread as sandwiches for the long flights and kept my in line for an hour, checking Every Single Thing in my bags, including sticking in thermometers and taking internal temperature readings of the sausages. They even brought in an explosives expert from another building to oversee the examinations.

    There determination? Probably nitrites for preservatives.

    The detonation was purely precautionary. Had to be done.

    They’re always better when slightly exploded. 

    • #27
  28. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    iWe (View Comment):
    There is no bad answer in 32 ice cream options. But it STILL takes much longer and more thinking for people to down-select the ice cream they want. 

    I’d have to think about it if there was no butter pecan in the mix.

    • #28
  29. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    So it seems to me that the hypothesis in the OP lacks understanding of this basic reality.  The assumption seems to be that liberty is always and obviously the only reasonable choice, with no trade-off, and that people who disagree are pathetic, weak-willed sheep, or perhaps lemmings. 

    No, the OP made it quite clear that liberty is often the unreasonable choice. Subjugation and order is the easy path. But you are right that those who choose the latter are pathetic, weak-willed sheep. 

    • #29
  30. dukenaltum Coolidge
    dukenaltum
    @dukenaltum

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    Hot take: Repeal the 19th Amendment to move the balance towards liberty and away from security.

     

    Hotter take…  Reduce the franchise to tax paying property owners and restrict it from all group that receive any funds from government i.e.  Government Employees and recipients of any form of welfare from student loans to Social Security. If you want Security in the form of Government funds you need to sacrifice your Liberty.  

    • #30