Many libertarians, eyeing the relentless expansion of the state, worry that freedom is marching backward. But are we really worse off than we were 40 years ago?
She surveys many aspects of freedom in modern life and concludes that on the whole we have gained more freedom than we have lost. Missing from this survey, however, is one critical area in which freedom has shrunk dramatically.
Economic freedom, especially the freedom of economic creativity, has contracted.
Anyone who actually creates new wealth has seen their freedom to create attacked in the last 40 years. Farmers, builders, manufactures and small business people all have seen their choices progressively reduced. Individuals have far fewer choices when it comes to such activities as raising crops, building houses, building factories, designing products, setting work rules or even running a corner store.
Most of us do not see this contraction of freedom because we are not actual economic creatives. Most of us work for creatives, we ourselves do not create the businesses that pay us or the products and services they sell. We merely implement the innovations of others. We do not personally bump our noses against the government restrictions that the people who employ us and sell to us do.
Restricting the freedom of economic creatives ultimately restricts the freedoms of everyone. Without the material necessities and luxuries provided by the creatives, the rest of us cannot implement our own choices. If the State controls your access to food, shelter, medical care, transportation, information etc. the State controls you. All modern tyrannies began with economic control and then used that power to suppress other freedom.
We seem to be on the same path, albeit in slow motion. Although most of us might feel more free today, in reality we are losing the economic creativity that ultimately makes us free.