Testing liberty against slavery
So, what does it mean then when some of you argue that we can't have complete liberty? That we need restraints on our freedom? Well, you do the maths: What you're really saying is you prefer to take your liberty with just a little bit of slavery. And as F.A (Baldy) Harper used to say, "Strange is a concept of 'liberty' [where]…you enjoy the right to be forced to bow to the dictates of others."
Some of you will try to wriggle free of what's just been pointed out by declaring that you disagree with that simple sentence at the top of the post. Harper was onto your ploy and, paraphrasing Lincoln, he pointed out what it gains you:
We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different but incompatible things.
Harper sagely rebutted most of the bromides that are used to argue that a little bit of slavery does you good, which is what you're saying when you tell me the price of liberty for you is too high. You know the sort of thing; you've head them all before: "Our liberty is maintained because the government can only do what advances the general welfare" ... "Though our power to vote, infringements on our liberty are prevented" ... "Government does not violate our liberty because it just provides goods and services people want" ... Taxation is the price we pay for civilization ... To them all, Harper applied the simple yet rigorous test of 'examining the statement for slavery,' and then demolished them by pointing out that the statements are simply pleas by those who exercise them to wield coercion over others.
Read a summary of Harper's use of slavery to test liberty at the Mises Blog: Distinguishing Liberty from Slavery. It's good.