When most people see the phrase “financial freedom” they usually think of having enough money to do whatever they want. I don’t disagree with that interpretation but I would like to try to get you to think about it differently. Freedom, by definition, is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. My question is, “Are you and I financially free?”
If you aren’t aware, there is an internet service called Uber which allows anyone who owns a car to connect with people who need rides. Uber is usually installed as an app on smart phones and it is super convenient. Riders can rate drivers so if you get somebody who was rude or drove poorly you can alert other users so they can avoid using that driver. On the flipside, drivers can rate passengers so other drivers can avoid providing rides to people that may have dirtied the car or were rude themselves. It’s a near perfect free marketplace where rides are being traded for money and there is a wealth of feedback so consumers and providers can make smart decisions about who they want to do business with. There’s only one problem, there are numerous places where the government has made Uber illegal. “Why would anyone do that,” you say? Usually it is about protecting existing taxi companies from competition but that true intention is usually buried in a barrage of B.S. about public safety. This is what is known as crony capitalism and it is a plague on the United States at almost every level of government. If you are connected, you get special treatment. If you’re not, you don’t. How do you get connected? Usually by “investing” your money in politicians.
There is another cool internet service called Airbnb. It’s a take-off on the whole Bed & Breakfast scene where people open their homes to paying visitors. With Airbnb you can rent places to stay worldwide and avoid costly hotels and that’s precisely the problem. Hotels don’t want the competition so guess what is happening? Yep, they are getting their buddies in government to crack down and regulate what is another wonderfully consumer driven business.
I have lots of questions. Do I own myself? Am I free to do with my body whatever I want so long as I don’t infringe on someone else’s freedom? Obviously not. We have prostitution laws, drug laws, heck in many states I can’t even drive a motor vehicle without wearing a seatbelt! Why not if I own my own body? Just think about that phrase, “my own body.” The very idea of “own body” implies that it belongs to me, that I “own” it. I would like to posit the idea that we may not own ourselves as much as the government owns us, or at least thinks that they do. At the very best I think we are semi-free but we are definitely not free in the sense that we have the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. We definitely aren’t dictionary compliant “free.”
Do I own my car or my house? If I am really free then can’t I do what I want with those things that I own? If I want to give rides to strangers in exchange for a fee why can’t I? If I want to move out of my house for the summer in order to rent it out to summer theater enthusiasts in the Berkshires, why can’t I? Well, if the government says that I can’t, because they are trying to protect their cronies, then I can’t “legally,” which leads me to my final point.
All of this government regulation of our financial freedom does one of two things to us.
1) We are turned into semi-free citizens who are often put in the position of being indentured to the government and their buddies. A people that live in a vast quasi-postmodern-plantation, of sorts, where we exist for the benefit of the government and their cronies as compliant consumers, or
2) We are turned into criminals because we resist that control and end up breaking the laws that the government has put in place to keep us firmly established on their plantation. Either way I’m not happy because I prefer to be free. I prefer to own my own body and my own house and my own car and everything else I have gained through my own life’s sweat and toil. I especially prefer to be financially free where I can use those things that I own to make money via rental, trade, or outright sale. Is that so great a “sin” if we are really a free people living in a free nation? You be judge and think twice the next time you nod in approval of new government regulation in the interest of the “public safety.”
A friend of mine dubbed me “The voice of reason in a very unreasonable world” which I am flattered by because I am less than that. Having said that, if you enjoyed my writing I invite you to scroll to the very bottom of this page where there is a button labeled “Follow”. If you press that button you will receive a notification whenever this blog is updated with new posts. Thank you for reading.