Memorial Day and the Meaning of Freedom

Memorial Day provides the political class countless opportunities to ruin an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable holiday weekend. Like clockwork, local congressmen, mayors, city council members, et al. materialize at parades, picnics, and churches to give speeches about “freedom.”
But what does freedom really mean?
Just as we should repudiate Junk English in economics, we should demand precision when it comes to the language of political posturing! In other words, we should insist that politicians use defined terms (I’m not holding my breath).
In essence, freedom is the absence of state coercion. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.
Dr. Ron Paul explains this coercive reality behind those invoking freedom while advocating state action:
Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn’t be called taxes, they’d be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on May 29, 2017.