Johnson: Social benefit systems create freedom

In the past several years, I have become overwhelmed by the number of people who argue for libertarianism. This is America, and people can become whatever they want by working hard enough and earning what they receive! Or so goes the tale of the American Dream.

The principles behind libertarianism argue emphatically for the minimization of the state so that citizens are truly allowed to be free from one another. Why should the John Galt of our generation be forced to limit his freedom just so that some welfare queen can receive her unemployment check because she's too lazy to work? If you want people to become something, you have to let them get there by hard work – not by spoon-feeding them! This is what I have heard unanimously.

There are some things of which we can't be free, unfortunately. We can't choose what family we are born into. We can't choose if our mother took her prenatal vitamins, or if she smoked or drank while pregnant. We didn't choose to be born into poverty, to go to an inner city school as a child or even to have values instilled in us as we grew up. We know that it is these things which determine, to a large extent, our success or failure in this world. Even our drive to work hard is either genetic or taught to us by those we are lucky enough to interact with.

Let's say someone's freedom is limited because of the unlucky life he was born into. Could we not increase this individual's freedom with some type of welfare state? How can libertarians argue that freedom matters most when they simultaneously ignore the lack of freedom presented to some from the time they were born. It's simply luck that determines the vessel we find our consciousness in. Clearly, this bad luck should mean that people should be condemned to a bad life.

Libertarians could fire back that the money funding the welfare state would have to be paid for with their hard-earned money. Is that money you worked to earn really all yours? Your work ethic was taught to you, remember? The education that will get you a job later in life wasn't paid for by you, right? I'm not saying that all of your money should benefit the less fortunate. About 50 percent of your income would suffice, though.

What?! That's outrageous! Or not? If we value freedom and want people to make something of themselves in this competitive country, we need to aid those who are the most disadvantaged. You can't start a race with someone hogtied and expect him to succeed just because this is a "free" country. Hard work can get you anything in this county. Just don't be so thickheaded to think that you earned that drive to be a hard worker. If freedom matters, the only moral economic system is the one that benefits the worst-off the most.