Liberty and Feeding the Poor

In his essay You Can’t Sell Freedom to a Starving Man, written in 1976, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“One who claims that “you can’t sell freedom to a starving man” really means “freedom is all right in its place, but these people are starv­ing and they will receive sustenance only if I coerce you into giving them food.” This proposition fails on two counts.

·          First, the near-universal accep­tance of the second axiom (the obligation to share) and mankind’s natural empathy for fellow human beings in trouble virtually guaran­tees that no one shall starve in a free society. Strangely enough, the acceptance of the second axiom and man’s sympathetic response become heightened the more open society becomes; statism and compulsion cultivate ugliness, alienation and a lack of camaraderie. The guarantee against starvation does not insure against want of material things, mankind will always experience unfulfilled desires, given his nature of a being possessing insatiable wants in a world of limited resources.

·          Second, the statement seems to contend that a free society cannot produce and distribute those goods, services, and ideas required to alleviate starvation. The converse is true. A free market, operating with­out restraints upon human creative output, produces a greater abun­dance of material value than any other method known to mankind because the free market or volun­tary exchange system accords with the basic nature of man. The mar­ket reflects the competing subjec­tive values of each member of society and thus more nearly approximates the sum of all those desires.”

Read the entire essay here,


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