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Once civil liberties are lost, they are difficult to regain. While it is the duty of government to protect the health and welfare of society, this must be balanced against the potential permanent loss of individual liberties.

Edward Gibbon (historian) pointed out that the Athenians ceased to be free when the freedom they wanted was from responsibility.

Freedom is a form of health and welfare. It is the right to speak or think as one wants without being hindered, and it is restraint and absence from despotic government, allowing individual responsibility.

John Locke (philosopher) wisely stated, “This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it, but by what forfeits his preservation and life altogether.”

No constitutional right is secure if it conflicts with the orthodoxy of the day. To governments it often is not a question of policy but an exercise of power to order submission to restrictions that obviate fundamental freedoms.

The ravages of COVID-19 have caused governments to curtail many freedoms. The question is: Are we willing to forgo freedoms in the present, thereby risking their permanent loss? If not, allowance must be made for those who choose to exercise their own responsibility without endangering others.

In exercising government’s most fundamental obligation: to safeguard life, liberty and property - it must be remembered that property and capital are not soul-less abstractions. Capital is accumulated effort and innovation, the sum of human achievement and imagination. Property eliminates destructive competition of economic resources.

It is necessary that a proper balance be attained when lockdown rules or other restrictions that violate freedoms are sought to be imposed, so that the perception is that they deserved to be obeyed, rather than fear for lost liberties.

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Jack Levitt

Bozeman