Contrary to the line from the Kris Kristofferson classic, “Me and Bobby McGee,” freedom isn’t just another word for nothing left to lose.
Instead, freedom is the primary value worth fighting for, because without freedom in all of its various forms, every other value is impossible. It is for this reason that I am such an advocate of freedom, and why I participate in and promote the largest annual gathering of free minds each year, FreedomFest, throughout my various publications.
This year, freedom has faced an acute and grave threat via the government lockdown and shelter-in-place orders. And while one can argue whether or not the virus mitigation orders that were imposed by government were warranted, nobody can argue that these orders haven’t had a pernicious effect on our economy.
Moreover, it’s quite evident that the pandemic has been a boom to one actor in our collective drama — big government.
“The pandemic of COVID-19 coronavirus threatens a world-wide wave of sickness, but it’s the healthiest thing to happen to government power in a very long time,” writes J.D. Tuccille, contributing editor for Reason.com. “As it leaves government with a rosy glow, however, our freedom will end up more haggard than ever.”
Some of that government intervention includes more than $6 trillion in various spending bills, and that number is likely to continue to get bigger and bigger before the COVID-19 crisis is over.
Then there’s the Federal Reserve, which just today confirmed what the market bulls wanted to hear, i.e., that it would continue to keep the money spigot wide open by continuing to keep interest rates at zero, not just for the rest of 2020, but also through 2022.
Here’s the money quote from the Fed’s policy statement released just today:
“The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term. In light of these developments, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.”
Translation: The Fed’s got your back, baby.
Given the boom in big government, which is being facilitated by its handmaiden, the Federal Reserve, you can bet that one big unintended (or perhaps very much intended) consequence of it all will be a bigger government and a small individual citizen.
That’s unfortunate, too, because despite the widespread stay-at-home orders that were imposed by so many states, the worst of the economic damage is starting to subside.
We saw that in the May jobs report, which came in at an estimate-crushing 2.5 million new jobs created vs. expectations for job losses of 7.7 million. That’s a 10 million job swing! Yet even here, politicians from both sides of the aisle are claiming credit for the job gains by saying that it was the Paycheck Protection Program that allowed companies to rehire workers.
Here’s a personal maxim that I recommend you keep in mind: Always be skeptical of people who run out to claim responsibility for something that others actually do. A corollary to this maxim is to always be skeptical of those who claim to have all the answers to complex problems.
Another way to think about it is like this: In the name of public health, the government shut down the economy. Then, the government stepped in to “save the day” with massive stimulus — stimulus that represents a growing and pernicious debt that is owed by each citizen. Now, the government is claiming victory and taking credit for a rescue from the clutches of depression.
So, I ask you, can you not see something afoul in this?
Finally, I will say that, in keeping true with my aforementioned maxims, I do not claim to have the answers to the complex problem of combating a global pandemic. I also understand human fallibility and that inevitably, government, scientists, medical professionals and citizens are going to get some things right and others wrong.
Yet, what we also need to keep firmly in the forefront of our minds is that freedom is the best disinfectant for any viral plague — be that a literal viral plague, as in the case of COVID-19, or a philosophical plague consisting of pell-mell bad Keynesian economic stimulus and the imposition of draconian lockdowns on the rights of citizens to engage freely in the commerce of their choice.
So, you see, freedom’s not just another word for nothing left to lose — it’s the only word that matters. It also is the best disinfectant to bad ideas.
Remembering a Personal Hero
“Man’s proper stature is not one of mediocrity, failure, frustration, or defeat, but one of achievement, strength, and nobility. In short, man can and ought to be a hero.”
It’s not often that someone or something you discover in your teen years continues to be a constant source of pride, pleasure and discovery well into your fifties. Yet, that’s precisely what the work and life of the late and great Mike Mentzer has done for me. Mentzer was a brilliant man and a pioneer in the sport of bodybuilding. He was someone who used a honed sense of reason and an independent mind to help countless aspiring bodybuilders discover the most rational way to build lasting muscle mass.
Me with my copy of the highly recommended, “High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way.”
Sadly, Mentzer died nine years ago today (June 10, 2011) of heart complications. He was just 49 years old. And in a sad and strange twist of fate, Mike’s younger brother, Ray Mentzer, who was also a personal hero, died just two days later.
Though both men have been gone since 2011, their legacy of applying reason, science, principles of logic, and a heroic worldview to their lives and work will always be a source of inspiration to me, and to the countless fans of their work around the world. So, here’s to a heroic sense of life — may it live on in the best within us all.
Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.
In the name of the best within us,