How Much Is Liberty Worth?
Recently, I found an interesting piece on Seth Godin’s blog about the fear of giving. As libertarians, we have a reputation of acting in our own self-interests (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This is a reputation very much deserved, as it aligns with our beliefs with regard to individual liberty and personal responsibility, but it also accurately portrays our giving, political and otherwise.
As individuals we act in our own self-interest, but as a group, we fail to adequately fund groups and candidates in line with our principles or invest in entrepreneurial efforts that decentralize authority. The analogy used in that piece about giving was one that showed that in an emergency situation, one rarely considers the cost of action:
‘If you are walking by a pond and you see a child drowning, do you save her? What if it means ruining a very fancy pair of Italian shoes?’ Okay, if we assume the answer is yes, then why not spend the cost of those shoes to save 20 kids who are starving to death across town or the world? There’s really no difference. Or by, extension, invest in research or development that solves a problem forever… The issues are proximity and attention.
As we face the ever-growing threats to our liberty, it would seem that those active in the liberty movement, whether as an “R”, “D”, “L”, “I”, or anyone else who has “seen the light,” would be clamoring to give money to local groups, statewide and national organizations, candidates running for office, and activists that work against the two-headed snake of Big Government. Are we in an emergency situation today?
Godin points out the success of the Mormon church (as well as many of the Christian religions) as they set a standard for how to become and remain a member in good standing with regard to financial matters:
The Mormon Church says, ‘tithe’. Loosely paraphrased, they say, ‘10% is a lot, and 10% is enough.’ This is actually very smart, because they’ve created a difficult but achievable standard, a way to be a member of good standing in their tribe.
When my dad ran the local United Way drive as a volunteer, he pushed for one percent. ‘One percent isn’t a lot, but it’s enough.’
My first question to you is “How much is enough?” If I asked you to contribute a certain percentage or a dollar amount to support the cause of liberty, what would that number be? (I’m honestly soliciting your feedback here: [email protected])
Additionally, do you think that the these groups and candidates ask for donations often enough? Do they ask too much? Or just the right amount?
My final question for you to consider is this: How much is Liberty worth?