Roosevelt had warped liberty ideas

By Tibor Machan: FNNM columnist

One of my colleagues at Chapman University told me how much he favors the following sentiment expressed by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

“I am not for a return to that definition of liberty under which for many years a free people were gradually regimented into the service of the privileged few.”

What kind of liberty was FDR talking about? Presumably the kind of liberty that would prohibit anyone from interfering with the actions of others unless those others endeavored to coerce their fellows, unless they violated their basic rights to life, liberty and property. Such a system does make it possible for some to rise above others, provided they do not use force or fraud in the process.

A system wherein such rights are diligently protected is often attacked on the grounds that some people might be employed by other people who then could give them directions, who could “regiment” them.

Remember that whenever you hire someone who willingly accepts your terms of employment and whose terms you accept, you can give them directions or “regiment” them.

Yes, among them there will be some who accept your terms reluctantly, believing that the terms could be different, more favorable to them. And some of them will be unable to act on their reluctance because they lack resources just yet needed for them to gain different, more favorable employment.

When I was a new refugee in the United States, I pretty much did not like my first job. I was a movie usher in Philadelphia, watching the same movie 50 times or so before a new one took its place while telling people to quiet down and helping them find a seat in the crowded theater. Then I was a short-order cook, then a bus boy, and then a draftsman before I finally reached the kind of work I found fulfilling — teaching philosophy.

Many folks I know and millions I don’t have gone through a roughly similar process in order to get to do the work they wanted.

By FDR’s edict, all these folks, including myself, would need to abandon their liberty to work for others — “the privileged few” — who may themselves have risen through the ranks akin to the way I and millions of others did.

The bottom line is that FDR’s sentiments are utopian and fascistic on top of that. He would probably want to be the one who would rearrange the economy so the privileged few would get demoted and some others would take their place. Or if he aimed to eliminate all privileges and inequalities of economic status, he would have to employ a humongous police force to make sure no one rises above anyone else.

This would be a police state. That is just what it appears FDR favored, seeing that he admired, of all people, Mussolini.

So thanks, but no thanks to FDR for his revised — actually perverted — idea of human liberty.

Tibor Machan advises Freedom Communications, parent company of this newspaper. E-mail him at:

TMachan@link.freedom.com