Monday, March 13, 2006

Quote of the Day

I've been perusing J.S. Mill's On Liberty online and I came across this essential quote:
[T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right.
This should be the organizing principle for a society based on a left-libertarian belief system. Think of the tax money we'd save if we curtailed legislating things outside the legitimate concern of the state and only of concern to the individual-- yes, South Dakota I'm implying you. Then we might rightfully sit back happily and say we are indeed the land of liberty. Until the day the state is as weak as can be, but can still carry out its duty of protection and societal welfare -- directed and happily constrained by the popular will -- liberty will be as elusive as Plato's forms.