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Freedom Works Real-world libertarian approaches to big problems

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Our company’s founder, and the descendants who continue to lead Freedom Communications Inc., come at the world with an idea: to advance human liberty. For libertarian R.C. Hoiles, who bought the Santa Ana Register in 1935, that meant limited government, respect for the individual, free markets, free trade and progress through voluntary relationships.

How would R.C., whose birthday we mark later this month, grapple with today’s seemingly intractable problems? In the short essays below, we make proposals with little or no consideration for political feasibility. We suggest policy goals consistent with concern for personal liberty as the ultimate political good. We believe that "freedom works" because it is the natural state of human beings. Social arrangements that corrupt this state, that force individuals to behave against their own best instincts, cannot work in the long run.

We acknowledge that Utopia is not an option in an imperfect world filled with imperfect people, a world of trade-offs, where every policy has costs as well as benefits. Nonetheless, to think boldly about freedom in human affairs is not just a talking point or discussion-starter to us (although it serves that purpose as well). In the end, even small steps toward freedom are worth working toward, because human beings are meant to be free and because … freedom works.

Fighting poverty – Most people through most of history have lived in poverty.

Providing health care – Personal responsibility may be undermined more in health care than in any other aspect of life.

Reducing crime – In the developed world, America is known for high rates of both crime and incarceration.

Improving education – R.C. Hoiles was famous – or infamous – for his objection to the very premise of schools run by the government.

Confronting global warming – The conventional wisdom says global warming is a definite devastating problem, definitely caused by manmade CO2 emissions.

Fighting terrorism – The most effective way to neutralize terrorism against the United States is to pull the military back from all its overseas outposts …

Relieving traffic congestion – Everyone who lives in Southern California will agree that traffic congestion is indeed a serious problem.

Illegal immigration – For almost 150 years the United States had no laws restricting immigration …

Dealing with urban sprawl – Environmentalists have been aghast at what they view as "urban sprawl" – the spreading of "soulless" suburban development across the once-pristine landscape.

Relief from natural disasters – Even before the Southern California fires were contained, the usual suspects began decrying the supposed lack of resources that taxpayers have provided to the government.

November 7, 2007

Alan Bock [send him mail] is Senior Essayist at the Orange County Register. He is the author of Ambush at Ruby Ridge and Waiting to Inhale: The Politics of Medical Marijuana.